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3 Tips To Hit Solid Iron Shots

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Are you struggling to hit solid iron shots? Here’s a scenario that plays out all over the golfing world. You’re playing with your weekly group of buddies and then it happens… again… a topper. You think to yourself, “That’s a great ground ball to second base.” Then, one of the guys yells, “Keep your head down.” Another one says, “Don’t move around so much.”

Though this advice is well-meaning, it typically causes more damage than good to your game. Don’t listen to them. Try these 3 tips to hit solid iron shots instead.

Tip 1: Weight Forward

Weight forward

When you set up for an iron shot with your weight forward on your lead leg and foot, good things tend happen. This setup helps move the bottom of your swing forward, and finding the bottom of your swing is the No. 1 fundamental in golf. The expert player can hit the ground in the same spot every time because he or she is setting up with his or her weight forward.

Many struggling golfers bottom the club out early and behind the ball. This happens because their weight starts and stays on the back foot/leg, which generally leads to a slice. My most successful students say they hit the ball more solid when they consciously set up with their weight forward.

Tip 2: Handle Forward

Handle Fowrard

Now that you’re set up with your weight forward, the handle of your golf club needs to be leaned forward as well. Having both in sync will shift your path more to the right for the right-handed golfer, and it will do just the opposite for the left-handed golfer. This type of path makes it more likely that you’ll hit a draw.

When your handle leans backward, you are opening the club face to the path. That leads to a slice, and it’s also a much weaker motion that will not allow you to compress the golf ball at impact as well.

Tip 3: Arms Straight

arms-straight-e1503338082112

Keep your arms straight as you strike the ball, and keep them straight through your finish. Having straight arms at impact and keeping them straight through the ball allows the forward wrist to flatten and the trail wrist to bend. This important detail also generates pressure into the back of the golf ball. Keeping your arms straight through the ball is crucial if you want to hit your irons solid.

The majority of golfers coming to me for golf lessons have their arms pulling apart through and after impact. Losing structure in your arms causes all sorts of issues, including the “chicken wing.”

Bonus Tip: Raise Your Belt Buckle!

raise the belt

Raising your belt buckle means to allow your body extend. Many struggling golfer stay down as they swing. As soon as they make contact, they’re basically done with their swing. Don’t do this. It’s key to allow your body to naturally move with the motion of the golf swing.

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Jess Frank is a PGA Teaching Professional at Deer Creek Golf Club in Deerfield Beach, Florida. He's owner of the Jess Frank Golf Academy, and his passion is to help golfers play better and have more fun on the course. Students have described his instruction style as non-intimidating, friendly and easy to understand. Jess works with every level of golfer, and his lesson tee includes complete beginners and high-level golfers. Playing lessons are also a very important part of his lesson program. His greatest joy is seeing his students smile and get excited about playing golf! Please feel free to email him at pgapro@jessfrankgolf.com or contact him directly at 561-213-8579.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Jess Frank

    Sep 17, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Hello Sam, thank you very much for reading my article and taking the time to make a comment on the post. You are correct in saying hitting the sweet spot is crucial and I often address this with my students. The majority of students I teach stay flexed over way too long and bend their arms way too much, especially the lead arm. So extending or raising the belt buckle and straightening the arm actually improves their arc or radius and makes hitting the ball more solid easier. Weight forward, arms straight and raising the belt buckle to the sky has helped golfers play better for sure:) Thanks again for your comments and have a great week!

    • sam

      Sep 18, 2017 at 2:26 am

      Hey, Jess …. you are responding to my comment below, namely:
      “The 3 tips will help duffers hit the ball but it still won’t be a solid hit because impact will still be all over the clubface. Only sweet spot hits will feel solid.”
      ———————-
      What most recreational golfers do is block their hips coming into impact because they cannot rotate their hips open and maintain the spinal tilt through impact. They block their hips in order to keep their balance because if they continued rotating their ‘belt buckle’ their Center of Pressure would move outside their feet area and they would topple over. Also they go erect coming into impact as a natural reflex to ‘hit hard’. It’s all so so wrong.

  2. OX

    Sep 13, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    If you don’t match your shaft flex with your swing speed you will have impact feel problems.
    A slow speed swing and a stiff shaft will make impact feel dull and not satisfying. You will only get solid hits if your shaft tip flexes adequately to whipsnap the clubhead through impact. With a stiff shaft you are not releasing the clubhead through impact.

    • H-Pylori

      Sep 17, 2017 at 8:14 am

      Match your shaft flex for added moi right?

  3. Speedy

    Sep 13, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Good tips, Jess. You got me back on track with my irons.

    • sam

      Sep 13, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      The 3 tips will help duffers hit the ball but it still won’t be a solid hit because impact will still be all over the clubface. Only sweet spot hits will feel solid.

    • Jess Frank

      Sep 17, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Hey Speedy! Thanks for reading and great to hear!:) Please let me know if you have any more questions!

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Instruction

6 things to consider before aiming at the flagstick

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One of the most impactful improvements you can make for your game is to hit more greens; you’ll have more birdie opportunities and will avoid bogeys more often. In fact, hitting more greens is the key to golfing success, in my opinion… more so than anything else.

However, there is a misconception among players when it comes to hitting approach shots. When people think “greens,” they tend to only think about the flagstick, when the pin may be the last thing you should be looking at. Obviously, we’d like to stick it on every shot, but shooting at the pin at the wrong time can cost you more pain than gain.

So I’d like to give you a few rules for hitting greens and aiming at the flagstick.

1) Avoid Sucker Pins

I want you to think about Hole No. 12 at Augusta and when the pin is on the far right side of the green… you know, the Sunday pin. Where do the pros try and aim? The center of the green! That’s because the right pin is by all means a sucker pin. If they miss the shot just a touch, they’re in the water, in the bunker, or left with an impossible up-and-down.

Sucker pins are the ones at the extreme sides of the green complex, and especially the ones that go against your normal shot pattern.

So go back to No. 12 with a far right pin, and say your natural shot shape is right-to-left. Would you really aim out over the water and move it towards the pin? That would be a terrible idea! It’s a center of the green shot all day, even for those who work it left-to-right. Learn to recognize sucker pins, and you won’t short side yourself ever again.

2) Are You a Good Bunker Player?

A “sucker pin,” or just a difficult hole location, is often tucked behind a bunker. Therefore, you should ask yourself, “am I a good bunker player?” Because if you are not, then you should never aim at a pin stuck behind one. If I wanted to shoot at pins all day, I’d make sure I was the best lob wedge player around. If you are not a short-game wizard, then you will have a serious problem attacking pins all round.

For those who lack confidence in their short game, or simply are not skilled on all the shots, it’s a good idea to hit to the fat part of the green most of the time. You must find ways to work around your weaknesses, and hitting “away” from the pin isn’t a bad thing, it’s a smart thing for your game.

3) Hitting the Correct Shelf

I want you to imagine a pin placed on top of a shelf. What things would you consider in order to attack this type of pin? You should answer: shot trajectory, type of golf ball, your landing angle with the club you’re hitting, the green conditions, and the consequences of your miss. This is where people really struggle as they forget to take into account these factors.

If you don’t consider what you can and cannot do with the shot at hand, you will miss greens, especially when aiming at a pin on a shelf. Sometimes, you will simply have to aim at the wrong level of the green in order to not bring the big number into play. Remember, if you aim for a top shelf and miss, you will leave yourself with an even more difficult pitch shot back onto that same shelf you just missed.

4) Know your Carry Distances

In my opinion, there is no excuse these days to not know your carry distances down to the last yard. Back when I was growing up, I had to go to a flat hole and chart these distances as best I could by the ball marks on the green. Now, I just spend an hour on Trackman.

My question to you is if you don’t know how far you carry the ball, how could you possibly shoot at a pin with any type of confidence? If you cannot determine what specific number you carry the ball, and how the ball will react on the green, then you should hit the ball in the center of the green. However, if the conditions are soft and you know your yardages, then the green becomes a dart board. My advice: spend some time this off-season getting to know your distances, and you’ll have more “green lights” come Spring.

5) When do you have the Green Light?

Do you really know when it’s OK to aim at the pin? Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help:

  • How are you hitting the ball that day?
  • How is your yardage control?
  • What is the slope of the green doing to help or hinder your ball on the green?
  • Do you have a backstop behind the pin?

It’s thoughts such as these that will help you to determine if you should hit at the pin or not. Remember, hitting at the pin (for amateurs) does not happen too often per nine holes of golf. You must leave your ego in the car and make the best decisions based on what information you have at that time. Simple mistakes on your approach shot can easily lead to bogeys and doubles.

6) When is Any Part of the Green Considered a Success?

There are some times when you have a terrible angle, or you’re in the rough/a fairway bunker. These are times when you must accept “anywhere on the green.”

Left in these situations, some players immediatly think to try and pull off the “miracle” shot, and wonder why they compound mistakes during a round. Learn to recognize if you should be happy with anywhere on the green, or the best place to miss the ball for the easiest up and down.

Think of Ben Hogan at Augusta on No. 11; he said that if you see him on that green in regulation then you know he missed the shot. He decided that short right was better than even trying to hit the green… sometimes you must do this too. But for now analyze your situation and make the best choice possible. When in doubt, eliminate the big numbers!

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Instruction

Is There An Ideal Backswing?

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In this video, I talk about the backswing and look into optimal positions. I also discuss the positives and negatives of different backswing positions.

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Instruction

Build A More Consistent Short Game Through Better Body Movement

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So far in my collection of articles on GolfWRX, I’ve talked at length about the importance of posture, stability and movement patterns in the full swing, particularly utilizing the GravityFit equipment for feedback and training load. Many coaches use the same equipment to teach better movement in the putting, chipping, and pitching actions.

To help give some more insight into exactly how they do this, I have recruited Matt Ballard to co-author this article. Matt is an Australian-based coach and short game specialist who has been working with Adam Scott for the past year.

Matt Ballard (right) with Adam Scott.

According to Matt, the short game issue that the club players he coaches struggle with is contact and delivering consistent loft with their wedges.

“Most people tend to get steep, the handle comes in first and not enough loft is delivered,” he says. “This means that the bounce of the wedge isn’t being used properly, which makes control of contact, trajectory, and distance very difficult. ”

As Matt explains in the video below, this problem tends to manifest itself in chips and pitches that are either fat or thin, fly to short or not far enough, and either check up too soon or go rolling on past the pin.

The really frustrating part is the inconsistency. Not knowing how the ball is going to react makes committing to a shot extremely difficult. This has the unnerving effect of turning a simple task into something difficult… and pars into bogeys or worse. For the past few months, Matt has been using the GravityFit TPro to teach correct set up posture and body movement for chipping and pitching.

“I use the TPro to first of all establish spine and shoulder position,” Matt says. “I like my students to have the feel of their shoulders and forearms being externally rotated (turned out). From this position, it’s much easier to control the clubface (i.e. not getting it too shut or too open). The second benefit of using the TPro is controlling the golf club radius during the swing, with the radius being the distance the club head is from the center of the body. Controlling the radius is paramount to becoming an excellent wedge player. The third reason I use it is to help teach that pure rotation from the thoracic spine (mid/upper back), minimizing the excessive right side bend (for a right handed player) that gets so many people into trouble.”

20170712-_MG_5867

Nick demonstrating how TPro drills can be performed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essentially, Matt uses the GravityFit TPro to train a simple movement pattern that, once mastered, all but eliminate the typical problems normally associated with chipping and pitching.

“When (golfers) learn to turn using their thoracic spine and keep their arms in front of their body, it has a dramatic effect on how they deliver the club to the ball,” Matt says. “They are now able to maintain width or radius on either side of the ball, shallow out the club, and engage the bounce (sole) of the wedge to interact with the turf effectively, which is a key trait of all excellent wedge players. Doing this greatly increases their margin for error from a strike perspective and produces a far more consistent outcome in terms of loft, trajectory and distance control.”

Here is Matt’s 5-step process that you can follow with the TPro:

  1. Push handles out in front of your body, keeping slight bend in elbow.
  2. Stretch tall. Feel the green spikes in your middle/upper back and your shoulder blades on the paddles.
  3. Hinge forward into posture for pitching or chipping (the shorter the shot, narrower the stance.).
  4. Slowly turn chest into backswing, keep arms out in front of body, and maintain pressure on the spikes and paddles.
  5. Turn through to finish position using normal tempo, maintaining same pressure on the TPro and keeping arms in front of your body.

In summary, using the TPro and Matt’s drill can help you train a simple movement pattern that can give you far more control over the strike, trajectory and distance of your chips and pitches.

Click here to learn more about the TPro. To discover more pearls of wisdom from Matt, take a look at his website here and his social media activity here.

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