It’s common knowledge among golf players that mastering iron shots is one of the hardest journeys one can embark on. Although irons have become more forgiving than ever in the last 30 years, they’re still hard to tame when compared to drivers, fairway woods, or hybrid clubs.
Also, the construction of iron clubs is fundamentally different than other clubs. So, it’s normal that players make mistakes with their irons without even realizing it. The result, in most cases, is a high handicap.
So, we’ve decided to address the biggest mistakes a player can make with irons and how to solve them. This post might be the one to change how you play irons forever. Please pay close attention.
Why Fixing Iron Mistakes in Necessary?
Before we point out the mistakes you may be making with your irons, it’s important to understand why addressing them is important.
In general, irons are used right before you enter the short game. So, when you’re not utilizing the full potential of the irons before you switch to a pitching wedge or a putter, you’re essentially putting more pressure on your short game.
And we all know what happens during the short game. It takes players months sometimes years to develop a good short game. Most rookie players rely on their tee shots or fairway shots to cover as much distance as possible.
If your short game is weak, you’re putting yourself in a really bad place by not addressing the iron mistakes. Even if you’re good with your short game, you can improve your overall handicap by fixing the issues with iron shots.
Main Culprits Behind the Shots
Basically, there are three main reasons why you might be struggling with your iron shots. Some players suffer from all three while others suffer from a combination of two or simply one. Let’s see what these reasons are.
The Lack of Clarity
As unlikely as it may sound, this is the biggest reason players can’t seem to control their iron shots. As humans, we have the power of visualization. It can be a very powerful tool when you know what to visualize. It helps our body to sync with our brain and translate the signals as they’re supposed to.
At the same time, visualization might be your biggest enemy if your concept is not clear. Where most players go wrong is that they try to hit the ball up in the air. That’s what you’re supposed to do, right?
Well, not exactly. The only reason irons have loft is to get the ball in the air. In an ideal scenario, the loft on the club is responsible for getting the ball in the air while your swing will get the distance.
When you try to get the ball up in the air, you’re not utilizing the full potential of the club. As a result, you’re losing distance. Even worse, you’re messing up the direction of the shot.
Moreover, when you try to flick the ball up in the air, you bring your divot back. Divot is the lowest point of a swing where the club sole touches the grass. The ideal divot for iron shots is after the ball which can only be achieved if you hit down on the ball.
So, get your concept clear and visualize accordingly. Visualize that you’re hitting down on the ball instead of hitting up on it.
Club Face Angle
This is the 2nd biggest culprit in our opinion. You might be squaring up your club face at address. Or, you might not be. Whenever it may be, there’s a chance that your club face is opening up at impact. It’s one of the most common reasons why players hit bad iron shots.
A worse scenario would be when you’re aware that your club face has opened. If you’re mid-swing, your natural instincts will kick in and you’ll try to square it up. As a result, the entire flow and sequence of the swing are disrupted. You may have squared up the face, but your distance will take a toll.
As for the reason behind the open club face angle, there might be a few. The most obvious reason is wrist action. Cupping of the wrist, to be precise. We’ve discussed everything there is about wrist action in golf in one of our guides. Check it out!
When you cup the wrist unknowingly, your club face gets open. As you come down the swing and continue with the same angle, you might slice the ball.
This is one of the many variations of swing faults. Hanging back during a swing is when you put too much weight on your training side of the body. In ideal scenarios, you’re supposed to put the majority of your weight on the front foot. It’s especially true for longer clubs such as 3-iron, 3-wood, or drivers.
The easiest way to fix this problem is to shift your weight at address. If you believe your weight distribution is correct at address, it might be getting messed up sometime during the swing.
A great tip to mitigate such issues would be pushing your hips toward the target as you initiate the downswing. In fact, it’s the ideal way to initiate a downswing. When you push your hips laterally toward the target, you give your trail more room to come down shallow.
To maintain the balance, you’ll automatically shift the weight to the front side of your body. This kind of movement might take a while to get used to. We recommend practicing the lateral push at the driving range before you get out to impress your friends.
Minor Mistakes that Might be Costing Shots
If you don’t relate to any of the reasons we’ve shared and you still struggle with your shots, there might be something minor at fault. In golf, a minor mistake can become a major headache in no time.
Swinging Too Hard
It’s golf we’re talking about. Not baseball. Not cricket. In golf, you surely want to hit the ball hard to cover your desired distance but when you swing too hard, the results are counterintuitive.
On paper, a harder shot is supposed to get you more distance. But you can only hope to get the maximum distance if you’re hitting the sweet spot of the club. It’s easier to do with drivers and woods because they have a large club head and a large sweet spot. Irons don’t.
So, when you swing harder than necessary, you’re increasing the chances of a mishit.
Death grips are a common phenomenon among amateur golfers. Basically, a death grip is a grip so tight that your fingers look dead. It’s not always voluntary. Sometimes the muscles just tense up during the swing.
The best advice we can give you to prevent a death grip is to relax. Take a few deep breaths before you swing. And even if you miss or hit a bad shot, it’s not the end of the world. Because golf is just a part of life.
Improper Body Alignment
It’s partially related to the club face angle. At address, you need to square up both your body and the club. The club should be square to the target while your body should be square to the ball. If you’re standing in an open or close position, you might be hampering the club face angle at impact.
The best way to mitigate this issue is to use an alignment stick. Place an alignment stick directly pointing at the target and square yourself up with the stick.
Golf is a game of timing. It might not look like it because the ball is stationary as opposed to other sports such as baseball or cricket where the ball comes at you. In golf, timing is all about the tempo of your swing.
Forced swing or slow swing will not get you the desired results. You need to be confident with your swings and know exactly how much power you want to produce. Do you know what’s the best way of timing your golf shot? Repetition!
Not Accelerating Through the Shot
A common thing to notice among new players. They start the downswing with all the speed they can gather only to die out as they reach impact. However, you’re supposed to accelerate through the shot smoothly.
You don’t necessarily need to start with everything you’ve got. You can increase the swing speed gradually to make sure that you have the most power at impact. The best way to diagnose this issue is to record yourself swinging, directly from the front. If you see yourself losing speed as you reach the ball, it’s time to work on it.
Irons are a fundamental part of golf. When there were no fancy drivers or hybrids, irons were a golf player’s best friend. To this day, professionals prefer to use irons because they offer more control. If you’ve been struggling to build up your skills for irons, we hope this guide helps you find the balance.