In this golf tip we are going to look at the correct start position and swing for using a driver verses an iron.
Initially, if we look at the two clubs, a driver and a 7 iron, you can clearly see that there is quite a difference in length between the clubs, several inches. The driver is much longer than the iron to enable the club head to swing on a much wider, larger arc and this allows you more time to generate speed in the club head as it accelerates around the bigger swing arc and therefore it allows you to deliver more club head speed into the golf ball which translates to more distance.
As you are swinging the driver at a higher speed, set your feet and stance width wider for the driver than for the iron to allow you a firm, solid, well balanced base to make this wider swing arc from. If you set the end of the handles both together in the address position you can see that effectively you will also be standing much further away from the ball with the driver than you will for the swing with the iron. You can also see that the clubs sit very differently because of the length difference in the shafts. The driver sits much flatter to the ground than the iron, so the swing will be flatter for the driver and more upright for the iron swing from this position.
Because of the difference between the swings here we need to adjust the ball position to allow for this. As the iron swing is more upright, the club head will travel straighter down the target line, whereas the flatter driver swing will see more of an arc approach to the target line and therefore the ball. To accommodate this difference in the club head approaching the target line, the ball is positioned more forward in the stance and therefore further down the target line with the driver than for the iron. This allows the driver club head to arc into the target line and provides the time for the club face to square up and point towards the target as it strikes the ball. If the ball is played from the centre of the stance with a driver, the ball will be struck to the right of the target as the club face will be arcing in towards the target line and as it connects with the ball earlier on it's arc, the club face will be aiming right at impact, sending the ball to the right of the target.
With the ball position moving more forwards with the driver, to opposite the left heel, it is important to set the toes, knees, hips and shoulders all parallel to the target line and not allow the knees, hips or shoulders to rotate left of the target line. To keep all of these four areas parallel to the target line, set your head back behind the ball and your hands over the top of the driver. Your weight will be set slightly towards your right side and your right shoulder will be slightly lower than your left. You are now ready to make a flatter swing with your driver, allowing the club head to approach the ball on a shallower angle and sweep the ball off the tee peg, catching the ball slightly on the club head's upswing to fire the ball into the air.
Your iron set up, as the swing will be more upright, needs to see the head and hands set slightly left of the ball. Your weight will be slightly on your left side at set up with the ball further back in the stance. From here you will be able to make a more upright swing with the club head that will allow the club head to attack back down towards the ball more steeply down than with the driver, making a downwards strike on the golf ball which forces the ball to spin up the club face and into the air.
Working on these differences at both set up and during your swing will allow you to hit great shots with both your driver and your irons.
Driver vs. Iron Swing – The Correct Start Position and Swing
In golf, it is hard enough to learn one swing. The variety of fundamentals and techniques that you have to master in order to hit good shots is intimidating, and for a beginner, it can feel like an impossible task. When you start to think about having to master two swings – one for your driver, and one for your irons – the challenge of the game gets even greater. So, is it necessary to learn two different swings in order to play good golf? No, but you will have to alter your technique slightly between your driver and iron swings if you wish to optimize your results.
First of all, it is important that you set aside the notion of needing to create two completely different golf swings. Many amateurs go down this path, and it is always a mistake. Your swing should look largely the same whether you are using a driver or any one of your irons. The differences between those two swings should only be subtle, and they may not even be evident to the naked eye. If you are making drastic changes as you switch from a driver to an iron, you are doing something wrong.
With that said, you do need to understand the basic differences that are found between your driver and iron swings. When hitting a driver, you are almost always doing so off of a tee. That means that you don't have to hit down through the shot to get the ball up off the turf – because the ball is already up off the turn to begin with. Instead, you can sweep through the shot and wipe the ball cleanly off the tee without the club head ever touching the ground. Of course, if you try to do that with an iron shot from the fairway, the results are going to be very disappointing. Instead, you need to hit down through your iron shots, and you should be taking a nice divot out of the grass after you have contacted the ball. The difference between picking the ball clean off of a tee and hitting down through it on the fairway is why you need to make slight alterations to your swing mechanics.
The adjustments that you need to make will start with your address position and then move into the actual swing itself. Most of the important changes are going to be in the way you stand next to the ball – get your address position right for both your driver and your irons and you can expect to hit great shots on a regular basis. Without a good stance, however, it will be difficult to achieve consistent results with any of your clubs.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please reverse the directions accordingly.
Before you start to work on making changes between your driver and iron swings, it is helpful to know how these two types of swings are alike. As mentioned above, they have more in common than you might think, so make sure you have a clear picture of what parts of your swing need to be carried throughout the bag. After all, you don't want to make changes to your swing if they aren't necessary.
Following are three areas of your golf swing that should be unaffected by the transition from driver to irons.
- Rhythm. The rhythm and tempo of your golf swing should be the same no matter what club you are using, or what kind of shot you are trying to hit. This is absolutely critical. If you are going to find consistent success striking the golf ball out on the course, you need to be using the same rhythm as much as possible. The good news is that once you find your own personal rhythm, it should be relatively easy to repeat it over and over again. As long as you don't make a conscious effort to change your tempo with different clubs, your natural timing should carry over from shot to shot.
- Balance. Another key to the golf swing is balance. This is an important part of your fundamentals regardless of which club is in your hands. Between these first two points (rhythm and balance), you have the two main keys on which you can build a quality golf swing. Even if the rest of your technique is far short of perfect, you will be able to hit plenty of good shots simply by having nice rhythm and balance in your swing. Much of your time spent on the practice range should be dedicated to fine tuning these areas because they are so vitally important to the ultimate quality of your ball striking.
- Confidence. This last point is not a technical tip, but rather a mental one. Many golfers pick 'favorites' in their bag, and they feel more confident when those clubs come out to play. For example, you might decide that you love to hit your driver. There is nothing wrong with that – having a positive attitude is a big step toward hitting good shots. However, if you decide that you hate hitting your irons at the same time, you will be doing yourself a major disservice. You need to carry the same confidence in your swing throughout the bag so that you can perform up to your capabilities as often as possible. Since the driver swing and iron swing are very similar, you should feel good about your ability to transfer success in one area over to the other part of the game.
Good fundamentals are good fundamentals, regardless of the club that you happen to be holding for a particular shot. If you can swing the club with good rhythm, proper balance, and plenty of confidence, you are going to do very nicely for yourself on the course.
Despite the many similarities, there are still a few differences between your driver and iron swings that you need to consider. Even if you have been playing golf for a long time, you may have never thought of these specific points as it relates to tailoring your swing to the club in question. Again, no drastic changes should be made, but take note of the differences listed below so you can optimize your swing with each type of club.
- Swing plane. This is the main difference between the driver swing and the iron swing. When hitting a driver, you want to swing the club on a flatter plane (more around your body). By contrast, you want to swing your irons on a steeper plane (more up and down). These planes are actually set up for you by the lie angle of the club that is built in to the design. When you set your club down behind the ball at address – with the sole of the club flat on the ground – you will be establishing the shaft angle that you can use to determine your swing plane. If you were to set your pitching wedge and your driver down next to each other in this manner, the difference in lie angle would quickly become evident.
- Length of swing. Your driver is the longest club in your bag, so it requires the longest swing. It really is that simple. As your clubs get shorter, your swing should get shorter right along with them. This can be a tricky point because you want to maintain your tempo while still shortening your swing to match the club in your hand. For most people, it is pretty easy to make the proper backswing with a short iron – the challenge comes with the driver. Since it takes more time for the driver to complete the backswing, many amateur golfers 'give up' on the backswing and start forward before they are ready. The result is a weak drive out to the right of the target, which is a miss that most amateur players can easily understand.
- Ball position. Getting your ball position right is a crucial part of hitting good shots. With a driver, the ball should be positioned up near the front of your stance. Most players find success when they line the ball up with the inside of their left foot, but you can experiment until you locate the ball position that serves you best. For iron shots, you never want to go behind the middle of your stance. Wedges should be played from the middle, while longer irons will work their way up toward the front of the stance (but should never pass the ball position of the driver).
As you can see, none of these changes are major swing adjustments. Each of the points can be addressed quickly and easily, usually within the set up prior to your swing. You might be tempted to make more radical adjustments to your swing technique in hopes of finding great results, but that method will most often lead you disappointed. By understanding these simple, and subtle differences between the driver swing and the iron swing, you can begin to hit the best shots of your life.
Adjusting Your Address Position Properly
Most of the work that you need to do in order to adjust your golf swing for a driver or iron swing is going to be done at address. Playing from a great address position is important on every shot because the stance you use will largely dictate the shots that you are able to hit. If you ever get a chance to watch golf on TV, pay particular attention to the way the players stand prior to hitting their shots. Although their swings will vary from player to player, their address positions look incredibly similar. That's because a good address position is based on simple, consistent fundamentals like the ones listed below.
- Flexed knees. You should always have a comfortable amount of knee flex in your legs prior to starting your swing.
- Good balance. As highlighted above, good balance is a key to playing good golf, and it all starts at address.
- Straight back. A straight back position will encourage a full backswing turn, which is what you will need if you hope to create power in your swing.
- Chin up, eyes down. Your chin should be up so that you can keep your back straight, but your eyes should be looking down at the ball.
- Relaxed. Placing your body in a tense position is never going to lead to good golf, so make sure your muscles are relaxed and comfortable before taking the club back.
A golfer who is committed to long term improvement will take the time to build a quality stance that they can use over and over again. There is no doubt that working on your address position isn't exactly an exciting process, but it is one that can pay big dividends in the way of lower scores.
Of course, once you have that great address position in place, you need to know how to adjust it in order to best serve a driver or iron swing. To take a stance that is conducive to hitting a driver or iron shot, the first key is to build your stance around the club. Instead of just walking up to the ball and taking your stance without even thinking of which club is in your hand, you want to take your stance based on the club that you are holding. The order of operations is very important in this case. If you build your stance first, you will then have to go back and make changes to make it match the club. Start off by building a stance that fits the club you have in your hand and the whole process will be simplified.
To build your stance perfectly around the club that you are using – whether it is a driver or an iron – follow the step by step process outlined below.
- Before walking up to your ball and taking your stance, you should fully prepare to hit the shot. This preparations include picking out your target, picking the right club, visualizing the shot, and taking a quick practice swing. Only when those steps have been completed should you walk up to the ball and get ready to go.
- The first action that you take when you arrive at the ball is to place the club head down on the ground. This should happen before you plant your feet or do anything else to establish your stance. Place the club head on the ground behind the ball with the sole of the club flat on the turf before you do anything else. Only when that has been done can you move on to the next step.
- When the club is placed on the ground, it will establish a lie angle for you to work with. The shaft of the club will be angled off the ground by varying amounts depending on the club in question. For a short iron or a wedge, that angle off of the ground will be rather steep. With a driver, the angle will be quite shallow. The key at this point is to not manipulate the angle of the club shaft relative to the ground. Hold it in place and build your swing around the position that the club has taken.
- Move your feet into position based on the location of the club. You should be able to reach down comfortably and grab the handle of the club when your feet are in the right place. If you feel like you are too close or too far away, don't adjust the angle of the club – instead, adjust the location of your feet. When your feet have found a good position, add a little flex to your knees and the lower body portion of the stance will be complete.
- As a last step, adjust the angle of your upper body slightly depending on the club you are hitting. With a driver, you want to 'feel' tall at address, while it is okay to bend over your iron shots a little bit more. This last adjustment is more of a feeling than it is a scientific measurement – you should feel tall over your driver, and more bent from the hips over your irons.
It is crucial that you get into good habits when it comes to building your stance prior to any shot. The great thing about the process above is that it can apply to any of the clubs in your bag, from the driver all the way down to your shortest iron. If you complete the process correctly, it will take care of most of the adjustments for you, so you can simply focus on making a great swing.
Most of the tweaks that are required to your swing will happen at address, but there are a still a couple of points that you have to keep in mind once the clubs starts in motion. The golf swing happens to fast to have a long list of points in your head, so you need to limit your in-swing thoughts to just one or two simple points.
Following are two key in-swing adjustments that you can make depending on whether you are hitting a driver or an iron shot. Use one or both of these points as swing thoughts to help you strike the ball cleanly as often as possible.
- Around with a driver, up with the irons. This is another point that goes back to feel. When you are taking the club back away from the ball, you want to have a feeling in your hands and arms of what you are trying to do with the club. With the driver, you should feel like you are trying to swing the club around your body. On the iron shots, you should feel like you are swinging the club up into the air. Now, remember, neither of these should be dramatic changes. Don't force the club to go way high up over your head or extremely low around your back – simply use the feeling of flat with the driver or steep with the irons to point yourself in the right direction. By using these thoughts for just a short while, you can train your body to move the clubs properly back and through the shot. Before long, you will naturally swing the club on a great plane, and you won't have to consciously think about this point.
- Centered with the driver, get left with the irons. Balance is always going to play a key role in your golf swing, no matter which club you are hitting. However, as you move down through impact, you should be trying to get onto your left foot faster when you are hitting an iron shot as opposed to a driver. Getting left will allow you to hit down through the ball and take a divot, which is exactly what you are hoping to achieve. Since you don't want to hit down through your driver, keep your weight centered longer on the downswing so you can sweep the ball perfectly off of the tee.
There is no need to dramatically change your swing simply because you have gone from a driver to an iron. Golf is already a hard game, but it would be nearly impossible if you had to create a whole different swing for each different type of club. With that said, you can't create the exact same swing from club to club, either. Playing well is all about making small adjustments, and that is certainly the case when it comes to tailoring your swing to a specific club. The information above should help you get into a good body position prior to starting your swing, as well as helping you with some in-swing thoughts. Great players are able to make confident swings with all of their clubs, so get to work on mastering your technique throughout the bag and you will be on the road toward better golf.