The Proper Way to Hit Irons in Golf

by Mike Southern
    Notice the position of Sergio Garcia's head, posture and balance as he takes a nice divot for a few keys to a well struck iron.

    Notice the position of Sergio Garcia's head, posture and balance as he takes a nice divot for a few keys to a well struck iron.

    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

    For too many golfers, irons are a mystery. Even though they hit solid drives off the tee and perhaps can even hit an iron off a tee, they simply cannot hit an iron shot off the ground, even when they have a good lie in the fairway. Good iron play is not difficult to learn, but it does require a slight change in your setup--and mindset.

    Descending Strike

    When most players want the ball to go up in the air, they think they should swing upward. When you are hitting a drive, where the ball is perched on a tee, this is correct. However, when the ball is sitting on the ground, an upward strike is impossible. To get the ball up in the air using an iron, you must hit down on it with a descending strike.

    Move the Ball Back

    To strike down on the ball without making major changes to your swing, instead make a simple change in your setup. Move the ball back in your stance. For most players, this means setting up with the ball in the middle of your stance. In this position, the clubhead is still moving downward when your normal downswing brings it into contact with the ball.

    Lean the Club Shaft Forward

    With the ball in the middle of your stance, place the clubhead behind the ball at address, with the shaft leaning slightly forward. When the shaft is leaning forward and the ball is in the middle of your stance, your normal swing automatically creates a downward strike on the ball. The ball will be pinched between the clubface and the ground, causing it to move up the clubface and create backspin; this makes the ball rise into the air.

    Take a Divot

    Because the clubhead is traveling downward when it strikes the ball, it will continue moving downward. When the clubhead hits the ground, it will also take out a small divot. Taking a divot lets you know you really have hit down on the ball. The divot should not be very deep. Some players do not take much of a divot at all. However, the divot should be in front of the ball. If the divot begins behind the ball, it means you have hit the ball fat.

    Stay Level When You Swing

    High-handicap players, especially, are afraid to hit down on the ball and take a divot. They stand up as the clubhead reaches the ball, which results in a thin hit. Make sure you stay level when you make your downswing. Not only will you take a divot, but you also will be rewarded with a solid hit.

    About the Author

    North Carolina native Mike Southern has been writing since 1979. He is the author of the instructional golf book "Ruthless Putting" and edited a collection of swashbuckling novels. Southern was trained in electronics at Forsyth Technical Community College and is also an occasional woodworker.

    Photo Credits

    • Richard Heathcote/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images