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Assuming youre familiar with the phrase “Hit down to get the ball up,” you understand why its imperative to strike iron shots with a descending blow – that is, with the clubhead moving downward as it contacts the ball.

Its getting the how that stumps many golfers. Frankly, its quite simple.

Think of impact as a mirror image of your setup position, with the arms, hands and club returning to where they started. A correct, downward strike finds the hands leading the clubhead at impact, with the shaft leaning toward the target (i.e., the clubhead trailing the handle).


Hence, if you aim to achieve this position at impact, you must achieve it at address.

The first order of business is ball position. When hitting a wedge, the ball should be approximately centered between your feet. With each one-club increase in length (decrease in loft), the ball should be placed about a half-inch closer to your left (lead) foot. So, a 9-iron is half an inch left of center, and so on.

Next: hand position. The easiest way to nail this fundamental is to simply set up with your hands in the same spot – level with the inside of your left hip pocket – for every shot, wedge through driver. The balls position determines the amount of shaft lean, so the shorter the club, the more it leans.

Now youre set up for success.

Of course, theres more to hitting the ball with a descending blow than simply keeping your hands forward. Correctly transferring weight on the backswing and downswing is crucial. So is maintaining wrist hinge in the downswing. But it all starts at, well, the start. Get your hands, ball and club in the proper positions and the rest will follow.

So, now that you know both the why and how of striking irons properly, here are some tips and drills to help you put that knowledge into your swing:

One-Handed Practice Swing Grooves Downward Strike

Golf Drill: Right Heel Up at Address

Women: Why and How to Strike Down on Your Shots

Seniors: Achieve Your Best Shots by Striking Down on the Ball

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

This move, called “casting the club,” plagues legions of amateur players. When your wrists unhinge too early, you sacrifice power, your swing path becomes over-the-top and club meets ball while traveling level with the ground or, sometimes, moving up at impact. Instead, you want to pull the arms down from the top while keeping your wrists cocked, which creates powerful “lag.”

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

This is only acceptable with the driver (and not really recommended with that club, either). If your hands are behind the ball at address, you add loft to the club and diminish your ability to “trap” the ball against the ground – they key to generating powerful compression and backspin.

Sorry Try Again! - See Explanation Below

While theres some debate over how to begin the downswing – the consensus is, it should start with the left heel – theres no arguing this point: To hit the ball with a downward motion, you must shift weight to your left side after reaching the top. The lower body, torso and shoulders lead the arms and hands, which pull the clubhead into impact.