The mid irons are a group of clubs that can get ‘lost in the shuffle’ as you work on your game.

Senior Mid Irons Lesson by PGA Teaching Pro Dean Butler

When you head to the driving range for a practice session, you probably have a few things in mind that you’d like to work on. For one, you want to make sure to get some practice in with your driver, since you know that club plays an important role in nearly every round. The wedges are important, as well, so you are going to hit plenty of shots with those short clubs. Along the way, you will probably want to work on some other long shots like those you hit with your three wood and hybrids. And, of course, you should make time to stop by the short game area for some putting and chipping practice.

But what about the mid irons? You’ll probably wind up hitting a few shots with these clubs as you go through the range session, but it’s unlikely that they will ever be the focus of your work. And that’s a shame. If you stop to think about it for a moment, you’ll realize that mid irons actually play an extremely important role in your game. For the average golfer, mid irons are going to be responsible for hitting many approach shots in a given round. The pattern of hitting a driver off the tee on a par four, followed by a six- or seven-iron approach, is one that many golfers will recognize.

In this article, we are going to offer some advice on how you can improve your mid iron play as a senior golfer. Of course, as you might expect, the tips for a senior golfer working on his or her mid iron game are not going to be much different from the tips offered to any player trying to improve in this area. There are a few senior-specific tips we’ll include later, but much of this discussion is applicable to golfers of all ages.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Some Valuable Goals

Some Valuable Goals

What should you be trying to do with your short iron shots? The obvious answer might be to ‘hit them close to the hole’. That’s the end result you are going to have in mind, but you can set your sights on some intermediate objectives that will make that outcome more likely. If you can produce quality mid iron shots that meet certain criteria, you’ll have a far better chance of maneuvering your way close to the target.

The three points below are goals you should consider setting for your mid iron game. Of course, it’s ultimately up to you whether or not these are goals you’d like to pursue, be we present them here for your consideration.

  • High enough to stop. It’s not necessary to hit sky-high approach shots like you see the pros on the professional tours do so frequently. It’s great to be able to hit the ball way up into the sky with your irons, but that ability is not a requirement to shoot good scores. What you do need to do, however, is manage to hit the ball high enough to stop it in a timely manner. If your typical mid iron shot flies so low that it needs a few bounces and a little roll out to come to a stop, you’ll have trouble attacking flags and making birdies. Ideally, you will send your mid irons high enough to stop the shot after one or two bounces and very little roll. The ability to control the ball like that after it lands is one of the reasons pro golfers are able to set up shorter birdie putts than their amateur counterparts. Later in the article, we will offer some advice on how to add elevation to your mid iron shots.
  • Turn it both ways. This is a big one – and it is a point that not many amateur golfers can claim. If you would like to really make big strides with your game, one of the most powerful things you can do is learn to turn your approach shots in both directions. That means being able to hit a draw on command as well as a fade. Many golfers seek out this skill off the tee, where it is valuable but actually not as important as it is from the fairway. If you can hit either a draw or a fade depending on the situation at hand, you will suddenly be able to take dead aim at the flag no matter where it is located on the green. For instance, players who only hit a draw with their approach shots struggle to reach the right side of the green, and players hitting a fade have trouble getting the ball over to the left. Instead of having to play away from the flag due to your ball flight, having the versatility to bend it both ways means you can attack the hole far more often.
  • An alternative distance. Assuming you play golf on a reasonably regular basis, it shouldn’t take too long to establish your standard distances with your various clubs. You might find that a ‘normal’ swing with a 7-iron tends to send the ball approximately 150-yards in the air, while an 8-iron can cover somewhere between 135 and 140. Those are great numbers to have in mind, but there is bound to be a 10 or 15-yard gap between these mid irons, which can leave you in a tough spot when you draw a bad number for an approach. So, in order to play as many quality mid iron approaches as you can, it’s important to know how to alter your distance a bit with each of these clubs. You aren’t going to want to try hitting the ball extra hard to add distance, since that usually leads to trouble, so the common plan is to take something off. Most players are going to find taking distance off their approach shots means choking down on the club just a bit. If you move your hands down on the grip an inch or so before taking your stance, you should find that the ball travels a little shorter than it would otherwise. Practice this adjustment on the range before you use it on the course.

If you were able to successfully check off all three points listed above, you would be in a great position to play quality mid iron shots on the course. Now, with that said, you need to understand that doing so is not going to be an easy feat. You’ll need to put in some good work on the practice range before you can expect your mid iron game to make any meaningful strides. Nothing comes free in golf, so plan on earning any improvements you would like to see.

Hitting Higher Shots

Hitting Higher Shots

In this section, we are going to get into the specifics of how you can hit the ball higher with your mid irons. This is an extremely valuable skill to develop, and one you might not have thought much about until now. If you think about the approach shots you usually hit with your mid irons, do you feel like it’s often difficult to control them after they land? Are you only able to attack hole locations which are in the back of the green? To open up a whole world of new possibilities on your approach shots, one of the best things you can do is learn how to hit the ball higher.

Let’s take a look at a few key tips which will hopefully help you elevate the ball with these important clubs.

  • Move it up slightly. One of the simplest adjustments you can make is to move the ball up in your stance just a bit. Even by moving the ball an inch or two to the left (as you look down from address), you should be able to raise your launch angle and achieve a higher overall flight. While this is a relatively simple adjustment, it isn’t one that you should think of as ‘automatic’. Anytime you change anything about your swing – even if it is something simple – there is sure to be an adjustment period required. That is certainly the case here, so plan on hitting some shots at the range with this new ball position in order to get comfortable. If anything, you might feel like you simply need to stay down a little longer through the hitting area in order to get to the ball.
  • Lead with the legs. In order to hit the ball high, you need speed through the hitting area. Speed is going to provide you with backspin, and it is backspin that is going to help the ball keep climbing after the initial launch. If you can launch the ball at a reasonable angle and then use spin to take the shot higher, you will be left with an overall trajectory that serves you well. One of the best ways to pick up some speed through the hitting area is to lead with your legs in the downswing. Rather than using your arms alone to force the club down toward the ball, start the downswing by turning your lower body toward the target. As the legs get going, allow your upper body to hang back a bit. Once the legs have a ‘head start’ on the downswing, you can then kick your upper body into gear and fire the club through impact. When done properly, this kind of swing sequencing will lead to plenty of power and consistently clean ball striking.
  • Use the right clubs. Sometimes, the equipment you use can actually fight against what you are trying to accomplish on the course. If you want to hit your mid iron shots higher, make sure your clubs aren’t making that impossible to achieve. You need to have shafts which are light enough for you to create sufficient speed, and also flexible enough for you to bend them in the downswing. It’s common for golfers of all ages to use clubs which are actually too heavy and too stiff for their swing dynamics. If you are wondering about the fit of your clubs for your game, visit a local golf store or pro shop and ask them to help you with a club fitting session. The right equipment won’t make this game easy, but it will take one hurdle out of your way.

It probably won’t be just one thing that allows you to create the kind of trajectory you would like with your mid irons. For instance, you might gain a bit of height moving the ball up in your stance, and you may get a bit more by switching to clubs that are a better fit for your swing. By continuing to work through various factors and making small improvements, you can wind up with a ball flight that makes it much easier to attack flags from all over the course.

Learning Two Curves

Learning Two Curves

Right from the start, we want to make something clear – this is not going to be easy. You shouldn’t expect to just head out to the range for a single practice session and come away with the ability to turn the ball in both directions on demand. This is a skill that takes plenty of time to develop, so you will need to be both patient and dedicated if you want to make it happen.

To start with, some good news – you already know how to turn the ball in one direction. No golfer plays completely straight shots, so it’s certain that you already favor a draw or fade with your current iron game. Even if you don’t love the ball flight you have in place at the moment, it is at least a point to start from. You can build on what you already have until you have the ability to pick a draw or a fade based on the situation at hand.

So, how do you go from hitting one ball flight to having two that you can trust? The process will be a little bit different for every player, but we hope the tips below will point you in the right direction.

  • Think subtle. You aren’t trying to hit a hook and a fade here – you are trying to hit a fade and a draw. With that in mind, make sure that your adjustments are subtle rather than dramatic. For instance, you might decide to open or close your stance in order to encourage the ball to turn in one direction or another. That’s a good idea, but you don’t want to overdo it. As you are practicing on the range, move your feet just slightly and watch how the ball reacts. It’s much better to make a series of gradual changes rather than trying to make one big dramatic change. No matter how you are trying to alter your stance or swing in order to produce a new result, the best way to go is to make subtle changes until success is achieved.
  • Pre-swing changes are best. Ideally, you will be able to more-or-less preserve the way you swing the club from address on to the follow through, so you don’t have to adjust the actual swinging motion from shot to shot. To keep your swinging motion steady and still produce different ball flights, you’ll want to make pre-swing changes. That could mean a change in your ball position, a change in your grip, a change in your stance, etc. The idea here is to alter something about the way you prepare for your shot in order to produce the desired ball flight for that situation. Again, this is not easy, but it can be done.
  • Develop trust. It’s one thing to manage to curve the ball in two different directions during practice – it is another thing entirely to manage to do the same with any degree of success on the course. When you take your newfound ball flight options onto the course for the first time, you may be surprised at how hard it is to trust the shots you’ve developed. You will still trust the standard ball flight you’ve been using, but the new shape is going to be hard to believe in. For instance, if you have always played a fade, it’s going to be tough to believe that you can actually aim out to the right of the target and play a draw (even if you have proven you can do it on the range). Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about this lack of trust other than to gain experience one shot at a time. Keep going to your new shot when the situation calls for it, even if your confidence is relatively low. At some point, you will start to see successful outcomes, and those successes will begin to nurture your confidence. It’s a great feeling if you get to the point where you can decide on a draw or fade based on the situation at hand, knowing you have the skill to pull either shot off properly.

It’s uncommon for an amateur golfer to possess the ability to move the ball in both directions on command. In fact, this is a skill that isn’t even possessed by all professionals. Should you decide to take on this challenge, know that you are in for a lot of hard work, and the potential reward if you make it happen is a brand of golf that you’ve never before been able to play.

Mid Iron Tips for Seniors

Mid Iron Tips for Seniors

To wrap things up, we would like to touch on a few points that are specific to senior golfers. For most seniors, it isn’t necessary to do things much differently than they’ve been doing them all along. Sure, you might not hit the ball quite as far as you used to, but other than that the game is the same regardless of your age. In fact, it can’t even be assumed that you have lost yardage just yet. Maybe you’ve improved your swing and picked up a few yards!

With regard to seniors playing mid iron shots, the ability to get the club to move down through the turf at impact is something that should be noted. Some senior golfers have issues with their hands and wrists, often related to arthritis. If that is an issue that affects you to some degree, it might be tough to take a big divot. That’s okay – you’ll just want to plan on picking the ball cleanly off the turf rather than digging down aggressively.

Another thing to keep in mind is the importance of the golf ball you choose to play as a senior golfer. If you have lost a bit of swing speed, try picking out a softer golf ball that will provide you with plenty of spin even if you don’t smash down through impact. We talked earlier about hitting the ball higher, and the ball you opt for can play an important role in that equation, as well. With the right ball, the right equipment, and the right technique, it should be possible for you to get the ball up off the ground at least enough to stop it promptly when it lands.

There are few feelings in the game of golf quite as satisfying as striking a great mid iron shot up to within a few feet of the hole. Quality approach shots with wedges are relatively common, so they don’t quite offer the same thrill as a six- or seven-iron that stops within tap-in range. We hope the advice in this article will help you produce some of your best mid iron play as a senior golfer. Good luck!