For a lot of golfers, I know when I say don’t swing all-out with the driver, it’s a lost cause. They want to bust that thing as far down the fairway as they can. But with irons, there’s no excuse for swinging out of control, because you almost always can use a longer club. If you grab an iron you have to hit perfectly to get to the green, go back and take the next longer iron. Not using enough club on approach shots is the silliest fault I see. With the right club in your hands, you’ll swing within yourself, make better contact and hit more greens. It’s even a good idea to make a three-quarter swing, because you’ll tend to hit it flush and not lose any distance. I can forgive the power obsession off the tee, but with the irons, you have to think contact and control. Let’s go over a few keys.
First, consider the lie. From the fairway, position the ball in line with the logo on your shirt. But if you’re in the rough, play it back an inch or two, and put more weight on your front foot at address. That’ll naturally make your swing steeper and promote ball-first contact.
Next, make sure you start your downswing with a little bump of your hips towards the target. You’ll feel more on top of the ball at impact. I like the feeling of the chest ‘covering’ the ball as you swing down [above].
Finally, drive your whole trail side – the shoulder, hip, knee – through the shot. The trail hand should feel like it’s moving towards the target. That’s how great iron players squash the ball off the turf and send it to the green.
Butch Harmon is a Golf Digest Teaching Professional.