Creating Variety in Your Iron Game Part 4

Your first objective when working on your iron
game should be to simply develop your ability to make solid contact, and hit a repeatable ball flight shot after shot. It doesn’t much matter what ball flight that is – draw, fade, etc. – as long as it is repeatable and you can rely on it.

However, if you wish to take your game to another level and lower your scores even further, you will want to develop your ability to craft a variety of different ball flights depending on the shot you are facing.

For example, when faced with a hole location that is on the far left hand side of the green, hitting a fade into the target probably won’t work very well (for a right handed golfer). To access that hole location and give yourself a chance at birdie, you want to have the ability to hit a draw to match the layout of the hole you are facing.

Many golfers think they aren’t good enough to shape shots in different directions, but it might not be quite as hard as you think.

The first thing that you need to understand about shot shaping is that the ball is going to head in the direction that the club face is pointing. Many of the golf tips irons players use fail to point out the importance of the position of the clubface at impact.

When you are thinking about controlling the club face to generate a certain ball flight, remember that everything is in reference to the path that the club is swinging on. So, to make the ball draw to the left (again, for RH golfer), you will need to swing through impact with the club face pointing to the left as compared to the swing path. If the face is pointing to the right at impact, a fade or slice is the likely result. If you hope to gain control over your ball flights with your iron game, controlling the club face is your first job.

So what shots should you work on hitting with your irons? There are three shots that you should be able to call on when you need them to conquer almost all of the challenges you will face in your iron game.

1. The punch shot. Being able to hit a punch shot with your irons should be a required skill for any serious golfer. A punch shot is simply a low iron shot that is usually hit with less than a full swing. This is a handy shot to be able to hit because it can help you keep the ball out of the wind, make it easier to bounce the ball to a back hole location, and more. To play this shot, start by choking down on the grip of the club and moving the ball position back in your stance.

2. The high draw/fade. Ideally, you will be able to hit the ball high while curving it in both directions. This is important because a high shot will usually stop quicker, meaning you can attack more hole locations without risking your ball bouncing off the green and into trouble.

Without a doubt, this is going to be your biggest challenge within the iron game – most players can hit a high iron shot in one direction, but it takes skill and practice to be able to turn it both ways. However, if you can put in the practice time to make it happen, your game will improve dramatically as a result.

3. The go-to shot. Above all else, you should have one iron shot that you know you can count on when you need it most. This is the ball flight that you go to when you are nervous, or are facing a particularly difficult shot. It might not be the perfect choice for the hole in front of you, but it is the one you are most confident in. Having this security blanket will give you a shot to pick when you are unsure of what your best option might be.

One of the best things you can do for your iron game is simply to experiment on the practice tee. When just hitting some balls on the driving range, you don’t have to worry about hitting a few bad shots – so go ahead and try to create some different ball flights. You will quickly find that some are easier for you to hit than others. As you gain experience, you should be able to add more and more shots to your repertoire. Once you gain confidence in those new shots, it will be time to try them out for real.