Solid iron play gives you the chance to make birdies. It’s not exactly rocket science.
You’re hitting greens, and hitting greens in the right spot, so you’re bound to improve and score better. If you have a solid iron game, you’re one step ahead.
No matter if you’ve got a fluffy lie in the semi rough, a bare lie on the fairway, or if you’re playing in the wind - if you can control your irons, you’re going to give yourself the chance to make birdies and pars. It’s not all about hitting it 300 yards down the fairway.
A solid iron game can bring your game up a notch. Look at guys like Zach Johnson and Luke Donald. Their iron play has a huge influence on their ability to score well, even though they don’t bomb it off the tee.
Know your ball positions
The inconsistencies amateurs suffer with their iron play is that they chop and change ball position too often. That leads to either catching it heavy, or thin. You need to have a routine where you know the ball position of your 8-iron versus your 5-iron.
Placing the ball in a different area in the stance is going to determine the length of the swing, the swing path, and how upright you’re going to be in your backswing.
For me, when I get over an iron shot, I make sure my ball position is correct. If I’m hitting a shorter iron, I’ll try and have a steeper backswing, to try and get that crisper strike. For something like a 5-iron, I’ll move the ball slightly further up my stance and maybe not take quite as big a divot, but I’m still going to compress the ball.
Weight distribution is pretty much 50/50, so try not to favour any side. You want to compress the ball. The only way to do that is to make sure your weight is 50/50 at address. When you’re coming into impact, just make sure you move onto your left side.
Keep it together
I like to keep things together in the backswing. You can see my hands are set outside my right leg.
This creates width initially, which is good for increasing distance, but look at both of my arms - they are straight on the takeaway, which is going to keep my arms and my body connected. That’s a big point to pure your irons, and something that the best players in the world do exceptionally well.
You need good connection to create a consistent strike. The right arm is going to do two things; keep my arms and body more connected, and increase my width on the backswing. I’m giving myself a good chance of distance and improving my strike. That’s what I’m thinking about on the way back.
Accelerate into the ball
From the top of your backswing, think ground up. You want to get your left knee moving towards the target. As your weight moves onto the left side, your hands are going to drop down onto a steeper angle.
When you’re coming down on a steeper angle with your weight moving towards your target, you’re going to create that descending blow. You should get a nice crisp divot, and you’re body will rotate onto the left side.
From halfway down - when your hands get to the waist area - it’s all about acceleration. You’ve got to accelerate through the ball in order to create spin on the ball. You should get a nice little divot with a bit of acceleration and control on the shot.
Andy Carlton is the Head PGA Professional at Paisley Golf Club. For lessons, call Andy on 0141 884 4114. Follow him on Twitter @PaisleyPro.