The privilege of being a great iron player was, in the past, reserved for the legends of the game.
But today, top players all know how far they hit each iron almost to the yard and can replicate the impact conditions that produce great strikes... a clubhead that descends into the back of the golf ball producing a divot after contact. Or, as Dave Pelz used to say, hitting the small ball, before the big ball (ie. the Earth!).
People can sometimes be afraid of taking a divot and learn to adapt their swing style to lift the ball off the ground cleanly. This hits the ball higher and with less power than a descending strike would produce.
The best place to strike an iron is the centre of the clubface. Sounds simple, yes, but if you place your ball and club on a level surface and look at where the middle of the ball actually touches the club, you will see it is probably about 4-5 grooves from the bottom. This is slightly below the middle of the club.
If you don’t take a divot, then this is where you will hit the golf ball from. The club needs to be travelling downwards as it impacts the golf ball in order for this position to rise slightly on the face. Here’s how to get that strike.
Tee peg drill
Placing an alignment stick or tee just outside the golf ball in a position that is in line with the back of the golf ball but won’t interfere with your swing is a great way to check if your divot comes before or after the strike of the ball.
Once the ball is gone, have a look at your divot in relation to the aid. If it starts after the tee, on the same side as the target, then all is well. If it starts before the line or you don’t have one, then you are not striking the iron as efficiently as you can.
If the line is before (or you don’t have one) try allowing the hands to lead the clubhead down into the back of the ball.
Practice with all your clubs
You are allowed up to 14 clubs in your bag and you need to learn to like them all. There’s no point carrying that many if you have no intention of using them. Dogs, after all, are much more fun to take for a walk. Practice with all of them.
If you are on the range, start with your wedges and work up all of your clubs after few balls each. If you are just playing on the golf course, challenge yourself. Play the hole differently all the time. If you can and your club allows it, play off different tees every time you go there or take a different club now and again.
Don’t get into a habit of playing the same hole the same way all the time - you will only become complacent with your course management and familiar with a few clubs in your bag.
Scott Clark is the Director of Golf at Prestonfield Golf Club. For lessons, call Scott on 0131 667 8597. Follow him on Twitter @ScottClarkPGA.