Struggling With Fairway Iron Shots

June 28th, 2018
VIDEO: Transcript

If you’re struggling with hitting your Sterling Irons or your irons in general from the fairway from tight lies, then I’ve got a few things here that can hopefully help you out with that. First of all, I want to say, as a pro now, I remember in high school and college when I was 14, 16, 18, 20 handicap that these particular shots, I actually preferred having the ball just off the fairway in the light rough or in the first cut there, or in just some light rough because then it oftentimes would sit up and it was almost like it was teed up for me, so it was a little bit more forgiving and a little bit easier to play, so perhaps, that’s the case for you as well, and then when you get on the fairways, like oh, there’s not much room to work with there, it’s just – they make you a little bit more nervous. So, I understand what you’re going through there and I definitely remember what that’s like. As far as a couple things that can help, a few things that can help, first, I would say, if you’re already playing the Sterling Iron Single Length Irons, or single length irons in general, I think that’s going to help because all the clubs are the same length, of course. They’re the same weight, same swing weight, same lie angle, we can play them in the same ball position, and they’re designed to be able to do that. So, that, right away over time as you get used to them, that can certainly help you play shots from tight lies from fairways a little bit easier. Beyond that, as far as the technical thing goes, with modern golf instruction today, we’re often taught that to have a lot of shaft lead and when you do that, the clubface – let me get that on there – the clubface, when you have it straight up and down like this, points like this, and then the more you move the shaft forward, the more the loft goes down, so in a lot of cases, for a lot of your irons, particularly with your higher-lofted irons, the lower effect of loft here at impact and the lower launch, and it’s going to have less spin, so you’re going to get a little bit more distance with that. However, if you overdo it a little bit, then with the club leaning forward like this, this sharp part of the club here, it’s called the leading edge, the more it goes forward, the higher chance that it can grab into the ground, so if you catch it just a tiny bit fat, it’s going to be a lot more penal than if you’re really far forward like that with the shaft, in an effort to get a higher smash factor, you get more distance, that kind of thing, as opposed to if you’re vertical or just slightly forward. So that would be one of the first things, I would say, is just be careful about having too much shaft lean, and unrelated to that, I would also say, rather than maybe hitting – catching the ball in the downswing and taking a big divot, try and maybe sweep or collect, or pick the ball. I know it’s pretty common to be taught to take divots and to hit down on the ball in the golf instruction of the world, however know that there are really good players that generally don’t do that. Jack Nicklaus, for one, he has a pretty good record. He was known to not take much divot and just kind of sweep or collect, or pick the ball. Count Yogi, if you’ve ever heard of him, they call him the greatest player you’ve never heard of. He played back in the Sam Snead days. Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker – there’s quite a few good players out there that are just picking and collecting, and sweeping the ball, and what happens when you do that, is you get, if you’re not going to be catching it on the downswing so much and really hitting the ground, then you have a little bit more forgiveness. So, if you catch the ground just a tiny bit behind the ground and your shaft isn’t too far forward, you can still get away with it; you’re not going to lose much speed, the club is still going to come through and the hit the ball, and drive through it. So, there’s a little bit more forgiveness that way, and if you catch it a little bit thin, that’s okay too, so by not having a lot of excessive shaft lean or just having a little bit, just watching too much shaft lean, and then trying to sweep or pick, or collect the ball, brush it off the ground, there’s less likelihood, and you can get away with a little bit more when you do that, and then along those lines, I would watch the ball position in your stance because on a related note, if you have it further back in your stance, typically, you might, if you hit it well, you might hit it farther because the clubface is delofted here, but again, you’re effectively making the shaft come in more forward, and there’s a greater chance that you can hit it fat like that. So, watch having the ball position too far back, watch having it too far forward because with the ball sitting on the ground like that, with a swinger, there’s a natural down, a natural leveling out, and a natural – you don’t have to try and head down, you don’t have to try and catch it on the upswing, so try and position the ball where you’re catching it just on the way down and maybe almost level, but you don’t want to be too far forward because then, you have to chase it a little bit and drift towards the target, I guess, a little bit more to make sure that you don’t hit it fat. You can have some sway like that and you still hit the ball okay, but I guess if we’re talking, trying to help you play these tight lie fairway shots a little bit better, be careful about having it too far forward or too far back in your stance and too far forward in your stance. Middle-ish is okay and you can kind of experiment around with that a little bit. From a ball position standpoint, that’s going to give you a little bit of forgiveness.

And then lastly, I would also say, to be smooth when you’re hitting your iron shots, so if you’re a little bit tentative, a little bit nervous about playing the shot, you can have a little bit of tension and a little bit of fear in your body and you’re sweating just a subtle amount, not like, oh, my gosh, I’m like, so far to the shot, but just like a subtle amount can put a little bit of constriction in your body, and if you go to the tetherball example where you got a maypole and the ball is going around, if the string is relaxed and smooth, the ball’s going to be coming around every time in the same point of space, but if you give put a little tug in the rope, it’s really going to disrupt the fluidity, and then when the ball comes around, it’s not going to come through in the same point in space. So, similarly, when you’re dealing with a golf club, we don’t have a lot of room to deal with here as far as hitting a good shot, so try and be smooth. It doesn’t mean be slow or guide it, you want to go fast for a full swing, but you want to watch the amount of like, tension and hardness in your swing. A quick little drill to help with that is a humming drill or an air blow drill, so while you’re swinging, hum or if you don’t want anyone hearing you humming, maybe blow a little air out through your nose and mouth such that you can sense it but other people can’t hear; it’s not going to bother other players on the course or maybe hitting next to you on the range, and while you swing, monitor the flow and the sound of the hum or the flow of the air, and if it’s like, pretty consistent and you can make a swing like that, then you’re probably going to be pretty loose and pretty relaxed, and your tetherball is going to be coming around the same point of space there again for these tight lie shots, but if there’s like a ugh like when you’re swinging, then there’s a little bit of hardness that you can alleviate from your swing there and you can work on alleviating bringing down a little bit the amount of oomph in your swing. Again, still go as fast as you can but just be smoot and watch the tension, and when we’re talking about these tight lies, you don’t have much room to work with, you want to be as consistently smooth, so that when you’re swinging, again, that club, like the tetherball is going to be coming around the same spot every time and that will help you deal with these type of shots a little bit better.

So, just to recap here, watch the amount of shaft lean, try and pick, sweep, or collect the ball, watch your ball position, don’t get it too far back, don’t get it too far forward, middle-ish is pretty good with the single length irons here, those are going to help you hit these consistently, and then watch the amount of rigidity and tension in your swing and use the air blow trick or the humming trick to practice swinging fluidly so that your club is going to be coming through there consistently and give you some better strikes like that. So, put those things into practice, give those things a little bit of try, spend a couple sessions working on that and hopefully, that will improve your confidence within your performance with hitting these iron shots from the fairway or from tight lies.