It can be a real struggle out there when your iron play is letting you down. The golf course can feel a lonely, unforgiving place when you don't know where the ball is going from one swing to the next.
As well as impacting your score on the day, the way you strike your irons can be the difference between a head-scratching round and one which breeds confidence for the future.
If your 18 holes was full of fat shots, hooks and slices, it can really put a dampener on an otherwise enjoyable day. It's not just a simple case of a single ruined scorecard, it could take you weeks to recover and get out of that funk.
If you've ever trudged towards the car park searching for where it all went wrong, then this list is for you. Check out our five golf tips to help get your iron play into great shape.
Eliminate one side of the golf course
In the short term, before you've managed to put the hard hours in at the driving range, you'll need to make do with what you've got for a few rounds.
Hopefully, if you've played enough golf recently, you'll have an idea of your usual miss - or the one that causes you the most grief. Most golfers tend to miss on one particular side of the golf course, so that gives you the option of playing with a predictable shot shape in mind.
If you're a consistent fader (or slicer) of the ball (that's where the ball curves left-to-right for a right-handed golfer), taking this approach means you aim left of your target, safe in the knowledge that you will rarely (or preferably never) miss left of that target line.
Or that’s the idea anyway! Those Golf Gods can be a fickle bunch.
Cure those fat shots
Any time you catch one a little fat, you feel it. Those vibrations reverberate along the club shaft and shake you to your core, while your ball generally collapses with a whimper way short of its target. It's a shot that's both infuriating and slightly embarrassing - and something we all want to avoid!
There’s quite a few possible causes of fat shots, but one of the most common reasons is not getting your weight into your lead side in the downswing. If you’re ‘bottoming out’ too early, you'll usually take a nasty divot well behind the ball, and the club will lose much of its momentum as it heads into impact.
Let’s put an end to those chunks and the humiliation that comes with them. All you need to do is practice getting your weight moving forward as soon as you start your downswing. With a bit of practice, you'll be striping those irons like a pro!
Step Drill: Take the golf club back and let your lead foot (left for a right-handed golfer) step in towards your trail foot. As you start your downswing, take a step back into your original address position and swing through. This drill helps you feel the required weight shift (albeit exaggeratedly), and you'll learn to get through the ball. It's that easy, and it can help every golfer from beginner to pro.
Know your distances
Knowing the distance you hit each of your irons takes the mystery out of your golf game. If you know your yardages, you'll be able to make smarter decisions before each shot and that's a vital step towards playing your best.
The Premium Shot Tracker feature on your Hole19 app is perfect for allowing you to save the yardage of each golf shot with each of your clubs. You can then store the data, including the chosen club and resultant lie to get Club Stats.
Oh, and in case you didn't know, Shot Tracker is also available on Apple Watch and Wear OS. Get more info here.
If you're 150 out, and know that your 8-iron covers 150 on the limit, you can step up with a 7-iron and put a more controlled golf swing on the ball. It'll make you more consistent, and you'll hit fewer wild golf shots if you’re not swinging out of your shoes.
Having yardage data will also mean you can avoid the trap of coming up short. It's a common problem that amateur golfers mix up our maximum yardage and average yardage of the same golf club - thankfully, Club Stats will show you both.
Stop pin seeking
When you're standing over an approach shot, remember that - regardless of your handicap level - you don't have anywhere near the ball-striking prowess of a PGA Tour pro.
Course designers also have a habit of surrounding greens with peril all around and tuck pins into the nastiest of spots, so the sensible play is to shoot towards the heart of every green. It's an approach followed by Jack Nicklaus (and he did alright), while pro golfers who hold the lead going down the stretch try to limit any calamitous scores by doing the same.
If it's good enough for the world's best, why not give it a try? The new conservative play will give you more of a margin for error when your strike is a little off.
Become a shotmaker
So we mentioned above how you could take one side of the golf course out and make your usual shot shape work for you - but how often do you actually make a conscious effort to hit other shot shapes? It might sound a little outside your comfort zone, but give it a try - you might be surprised!
You might find yourself in a spot of bother, and the scene ahead may call for a particular shot shape to advance the golf ball as far as possible. Levelling up your shotmaking ability could make a real difference.
There's no better place to experiment with different shot shapes than the driving range. It can actually be a welcome break from your usual practice routine if you spend some time trying to hit a few high fades and draws, low stingers and punch shots. When you can start to hit them on demand on the course, the look on your buddies’ faces will be more than worth it!
Take some time and work on implementing a few of these tips into your own game, and before long your irons could become a real strength. The range may need to become your second home for a while, so you can read up on some useful driving range tips here.