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5 Simple Ways You Can Improve Your Iron Play

When you're stuck in a period of poor iron play, it can make each round a real struggle. 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 directly impacting our score on the day, the way we strike our irons can be the difference between a head-scratching round and one which breeds confidence for the future.

If it's been a round of fats and thins, or slices and hooks, it can overshadow an otherwise enjoyable day. On the way back to the car park, or perhaps over that post-round pint in the clubhouse, we're left to reflect on where it all went wrong.

If that sounds in any way familiar, here are five tips to improve your iron play, helping you take your golf game to the next level.

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 work 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 biggest problem. Most of us tend to miss on one particular side of the golf course, so that gives us the option of playing with that 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 ideally never) miss left of that target line.

Cure those fat shots

As well as struggling with the shape of our iron shots, another similarly infuriating (and slightly embarrassing) feeling in golf is the dreaded fat shot. After catching one heavy, you'll feel those vibrations reverberating along the club shaft and often watch the ball struggle to cover half of its intended distance.

There are quite a few possible causes of fat shots, but one of the most common reasons is the inability to get your weight into your lead side in the downswing. If the lowest part of the arc of your golf swing is happening earlier than is ideal, 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.

The best way for you to improve your strike and banish those chunks forever is to work on getting your weight shifting forward as early as possible in the transition from backswing to downswing.

Step Drill: Take the golf club back and, as you do so, let your lead foot (left for a right-handed golfer) step in towards your trail foot. As you commence 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 as simple as that, and a drill that you'll see from total newbie to professional levels!

Know your distances

Knowing the distance you hit each and every one of your irons helps take the guessing out of your golf game. If you understand the distances each club covers, you'll be able to make better decisions before each shot, and committing to your shot is a big part of becoming a successful golfer.

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 save the data, including the chosen club and resultant lie to obtain Club Stats.

It gets better... Shot Tracker is now available on Apple Watch and Wear OS. Get more info here.

If you know that an 8-iron covers 150 yards right on the limit, you can step up with a 7-iron and put a more controlled golf swing on the ball. This approach will make you more consistent, and you'll hit far fewer erratic golf shots.

Knowing your yardages will also help ensure you aren't falling into the trap of coming up short on approach. It's a common theme amongst amateur golfers that we confuse 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, it's worth remembering that - regardless of your handicap level - chances are you don't have anywhere near the ball-striking prowess of a PGA Tour pro.

With that in mind, and because course designers have a habit of surrounding greens with peril all around and pins tucked in the nastiest spots, the sensible play in almost every situation would be to play to the heart of the green.

It's an approach used more often than not by Jack Nicklaus (and he did alright), while often leaders of professional golf tournaments will play for the centre of the putting surface to try to limit any calamitous scores caused by getting a little too greedy.

If it's good enough for some of the world's best, why are we all still flag-hunting every round? The conservative play is a far better play moving forwards. And with the likelihood that we can't hit the centre of the green on demand, your miss might end up right next to the cup. just a little added bonus.

Become a shotmaker

In our first tip above, we talked about taking one side of the golf course out and making your usual shot shape work for you - but how often do you consciously try to hit other shot shapes?

At times we will find ourselves in a spot of bother on the golf course, and the scene ahead may call for a particular shot shape to advance the golf ball as far as possible.

There's no better place to experiment with different shot shapes than the driving range. It can actually be a welcome deviation from your usual practice routine if you spend some time trying to hit the likes of high fades and draws, low stingers and punch shots on demand.

If you can work on implementing a few of these tips into your own game, before long your irons could become a real strength on the golf course.

As we suggested, the driving range is the place to go to put these ideas into practice, read more driving range tips here, and start the journey to becoming the golfer you've always wanted to be.

Interested in more golf-related tips?

Click here to discover our key learnings from the 2022 U.S. Open


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