There are fewer satisfying feelings in golf than flushing an iron shot to within a few feet of the pin.
Unfortunately, this happens less often than it should, leading to amateurs despising their irons. In this post, I teach you 8 tips to hit your irons pure, for optimal distance and spin on approach.
I will take you through every step of the golf swing from your stance to the low point, helping you strike cleaner iron strikes for superior consistency. In addition, I shall touch on the mistakes amateurs typically make when swinging an iron.
What Does Hitting Irons Pure Mean?
Butch Harmon explains that you hit your irons pure when you connect the ball on your downswing and avoid scooping it up off the floor. In other words, you strike the ball before the clubhead touches the ground. That results in your low point occurring after impact.
Professionals strike the ball and then proceed to take a divot out. Because of the optimal compression at impact, they produce significant distance compared to most amateur golfers.
Tiger Woods illustrated that perfectly at the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open. After every shot that he hits, he moves the ball back, and at the end, there is a long straight divot. That shows how he flushes most of his iron strikes and achieves optimal distance and spin control:
As amateurs, I suggest focusing less on your divot and more on making clean contact with the ball. If you can consistently do that, you will notice a remarkable improvement in your iron yardage and accuracy.
8 Tips to Hit Your Irons Pure
Tip #1: Stand Closer To The Ball
Remember, your irons carry shorter shafts than a driver. Therefore, you need to restructure your setup for striking the more compact clubheads. Before you decide on your preferred ball position, take a few practice swings so that you can catch the ball on your downswing.
If you stand too far away from the ball, you will attempt to correct your plane during your swing, causing you to reach for the ball. That can lead to shots out of the toe of the club or an open clubface at impact.
Tip #2: Forward Weight
Contrary to the age-old theory, the first step to pure iron shots is to place approximately 60% of your weight onto your front foot. Some coaches believe that sets you up to lose balance at impact, but it helps get you into position for a pure strike.
Me And My Golf explain that this position enables you to strike down on the ball and generate optimal compression at impact:
If you place excess pressure on your back foot, it prompts you to hit up on the ball. That is suitable for a tee shot, but not irons, as It can cause you to strike the ground before the ball, resulting in a topped shot or loss of power at impact.
Tip #3: Ball In Line With Lead Heel
Harmon recommends employing the same ball position for every iron shot. He favors aligning it with the logo on your shirt, which works for right-handers, but not so much for lefties. If your legs are shoulder-width apart, your logo lineups with your lead heel.
Me And My Golf agrees with Harmon and offers a simple solution for consistency with your ball positioning. They also recommend placing the ball on the inside of your front heel for all shots. But suggest moving your back foot to widen your stance for different clubs.
For example, if you are hitting a 3-iron, you will move your trailing foot a few inches back to widen the stance. That helps you cater for the longer club and still promotes you strike it cleanly on your downswing.
Furthermore, if you are hitting a 7-iron or 8-iron, you should position your trailing foot closer to your front leg. That closes your stance slightly.
Finally, if you hit a 9-iron or wedge, you need to bring your back foot slightly closer to the lead leg than you would for a mid-iron shot. That helps you cater for the shorter iron length without impacting the rotation of your hips and torso. Thus, delivering for a clean strike.
Basically, you never change the position of your ball. You only reposition your trailing leg to widen or shorten your setup.
Tip #4: Rotation
A standard error made by amateurs is swaying from the front leg to the back leg. This eradicates all momentum produced from supreme hip rotation.
When you sway away from the target, you place all your weight on your back leg and send the club offline. It is challenging to shift your weight back to your front foot and can lead to you hitting the ground before the ball.
The other problem with limiting rotation is that amateurs struggle to get their club on plane when the shaft is parallel to the ground. That could cause the golfer to hit across the ball and generate side spin that prompts a slice.
Tip #5: Swing Wide
Although your backswing doesn’t determine the outcome of your shot, an incorrect takeaway can send your club off the target line, causing an erratic strike.
Harmon recommends that you swing wide to the top so that your hands are towards your trailing shoulder and not by your head. You need optimal rotation to get into this position at the top of your backswing.
Once you are in this position, it prompts the desired swing path bringing the clubface square to the ball at impact.
Tip #6: Straight Line Release
Clay Ballard recommends that rotation is the answer to getting the golf club out in front to catch the ball before the low point of your swing. He explains that you achieve that by opening your shoulders and hips through contact for supreme power:
The momentum from this action sends the clubhead hurtling towards the ball, helping increase the coefficient of restitution (COR) for optimal ball speed. By following this approach, you enjoy crisp iron shots and increased yardage.
Tip #7: Strike The Ball On Your Downswing
One reason why the average golfer struggles to strike irons is because of the angle of attack. Unlike a driver, where you hit the ball on your upswing, irons require contact on your downswing.
If you strike the ground before your ball, you will hit it fat, or your clubhead could bounce up and catch the top of the ball. That is why the clubface needs to catch the ball before it touches the turf.
Me And My Golf demonstrates a handy drill that you can do on the driving range. Draw a line with chalk and place five to ten balls on it. Next, focus on hitting down and catching the ball cleanly. Executing this drill should leave your chalk line intact. If there are any divots on the line, it shows that you hit the ground before the ball.
Another drill that you can undertake to promote pure iron shots requires only your golf towel. Place the cloth a few inches behind the ball, and focus on bringing the clubhead down after it. That will help you get used to the motion of hitting down on the ball.
Tip #8: Low Point
The term low point is self-explanatory. It means the lowest point that the golf club head reaches in your swing arc. Your clubface needs to strike the golf ball towards the bottom of your downswing for optimal compression of your golf ball at impact.
That means that the low point comes after impact. You can practice this drill using the chalk method of Me And My Golf, and you don’t actually need any golf balls. Draw the chalk line, and focus on hitting the turf after it.
Therefore, you will improve your muscle memory of the motion to consistently repeat that swing.
As your ball striking improves, you can start to take larger divots on your iron shots and learn how to impart controlled back or sidespin on the ball. However, as a beginner or high handicapper, focus on catching the ball cleanly first.
How Do You Hit Your Irons Pure Every Time?
By following the above instructions and tips, you should begin to enjoy consistent iron strikes. Stand closer to the ball than you do with woods or hybrids, and strike it before the clubface catches the fairway.
Hitting down increases your compression at impact, thus imparting accelerated speed onto the ball. That leads to maximum distance with your irons.
Saying it is easier than executing it, which is why you need to put the practice in to perfect the art of ball striking. Without practice, you cannot train your muscle memory. That makes it harder to repeat the required downswing for optimal distance.