Tom Tucker is a World Golf Teachers and United States Golf Teacher Federation-certified golf instructor. He may be contacted via his website or at the Plum Creek driving range in Batavia, NY.
I have had many students ask me why they seem to hit their irons so high and why the pros hit theirs with a low penetrating trajectory.
The truth of the matter is that the pros can hit their irons high or low at will, but for most of them their “go to” flight is a lower boring trajectory than most amateurs can manage.
The trajectory of ball flight depends on equipment and technique.
On the equipment side, it relates mainly to the loft of the club – although shaft flex also plays a part. Every iron has a manufactured loft, but that loft changes at impact to dynamic loft.
Dynamic loft is the manufactured loft combined with the angle of attack, which is usually a negative number for most irons. If you are reading the dynamic loft number off a trackman simulator, about 2 degrees of shaft flex also has been taken into account in their algorithm.
For example, a pro swinging an 8 iron with a manufactured loft of 38 degrees, with an attack angle of -5 degrees, and good forward shaft lean at impact, will end up with a dynamic loft in the neighborhood of 28 degrees, or possibly less.
This is because the pros hit their stock swings with more forward shaft lean than amateurs, which de-lofts the club even more and strengthens the distance attained from their strike.
Amateurs, on the other hand, usually don’t maintain a consistent attack angle or club path, and they usually add loft to the club at impact by flipping the club before their swing bottoms out. This produces a high, weak ball flight.
Here’s how you can attain good forward shaft lean at impact and produce a lower, more powerful ball flight with your irons without resorting to closing your clubface artificially at impact – which produces erratic shot dispersion.
- Set up with your weight distributed 50% – 50%, or perhaps even 45% – 55% favoring your front leg.
- Execute a centered pivot on your takeaway and backswing, taking care to keep your head still, and not allowing weight to transfer laterally into your rear leg, keeping your rear elbow close to your side.
- When you reach the top of your backswing, wherever that may be, start your downswing with a lateral weight shift forward towards your target. Only your lower swing center should move (your navel), your upper swing center (a spot about three inches above your solar plexus, between your shoulders) should not move forward. This keeps your attack angle from becoming too steep. Simply keeping your head still while you shift your hips gets this done.
- As your weight shift and downswing commence, take care to keep your rear elbow close to your side so that your horizontal attack angle approaches from inside the target line, not down the line or outside in. If it’s tending to go outside the line on your downswing, you are probably not shifting your weight adequately and spinning your hips open too soon, which causes a casting motion and a steep, weak strike.
- Your strike should be executed with your weight forward and your hands forward of the ball, which defines forward shaft lean.
- Your hips may be slightly open, but the explosive part of the swing happens simultaneously as you shift and strike at impact, as the left leg pushes up off the ground and your hips rotate, adding the last elements of speed and power into your strike. Your hips should feel like they are opening the fastest just after impact.
This sequence takes practice, but it’s worth the effort if you want to strike your irons like the pros.
Here’s an excellent drill I developed to help you develop this transition movement:
With your club taken halfway back and your weight 50% – 50%, simply practice shifting your hips laterally towards the target while keeping your head still. Perform the drill in front of a mirror to make sure that your head isn’t moving forward with your body. After you’ve shifted your hips forward, your weight should feel like is 35% – 65% favoring the forward side.
Just keep repeating these motions: shift – return; shift – return
For more details and variations of this drill, click here:
Short Swing Transition Drill
As always, I recommend 100 reps at a time when you are practicing any movement. Practice this move for 2 1/2 minutes and you should get in just over 100 reps.
Love your practice, enjoy your golf,