Monday 3 February 2014

Quick Tips on How to Become a Better Ball-Striker With Your Long Irons

Do you have trouble making solid contact on a consistent basis with your long irons (ie. 3, 4, 5 irons)?  It's a very common problem amongst amateur golfers, although the advent of hybrid irons has definitely made things a bit easier for the average golfer.  Understanding how to strike the ball effectively by using your body properly will go a long way to building your confidence when standing over those long approach shots from the fairway.

What makes an exceptional ball-striker is the ability to differentiate between the upper and lower body at impact.  Being able to shift your weight into your lead foot allows you to stay behind the ball and utilize the true loft on the clubface, so the ball launches higher and lands softer.  The most common mistake that amateurs make with their longer clubs is that when they shift their weight left on the downswing (for right-handed golfers), their upper body goes with it. There’s no differentiation between the upper and lower body, and they typically come over-the-top of the ball and hit it to the right, or mishit it off the toe, which shoots it low and to the left.  On the flip side, if they try to stay behind the ball with their upper body, their weight stays on their back foot and they hit behind it. With no differentiation, they may still hit their short irons okay (because of the loft), but they’ll launch their longer irons, hybrids, and fairway woods too low. Here are two drills to help you create this differentiation and improve your ball striking.

Take your setup with a 5-iron and, from there, assume a good impact position. Move your weight into your lead foot and open your hips, but keep your spine tilted to the right, behind the ball, as it was at address. You should feel a good stretch between your upper and lower body, and your shoulders should be closed relative to your hips. Hold this position for a second or two, and then return to your address position and swing, trying to recreate the differentiation you felt between your upper and lower body at impact.

Place a towel or sponge (something that offers a little resistance) under your lead foot and, as you swing down, feel as if you’re applying pressure from the left foot into the ground, through that towel. This drill will teach you to shift your weight forward so that the clubhead doesn’t bottom out too soon and you hit the ball solidly, with the club’s full loft.

Practice this move at the driving range and keep repeating until it becomes natural.  You'll soon notice that your ball striking will improve not only with your long irons, but with all the clubs in your bag.

Stay warm and keep practicing with purpose through the winter so you're ready to shoot low scores as soon as the golf season arrives!

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