“I’ve had Sterling Irons for a year now, I’ve gone from a 12 handicap to a 3.5. These clubs are the best clubs on the planet, with getting fitted for these clubs I’ve have hit the purest golf shots of my life and I’ve been playing golf for 45 years and I am 49 years old. I am played all the major brands, these Sterling Irons I have are the best, just get fitted and your golf game will change forever with some practice.”
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.
If you are struggling with playing uphill slopes and bunkers, or just like to learn how to play those a little bit better, I’ve got a few things here that can hopefully help you improve your performance on those.
So, let us say that we’re on a slope like this and the ball is sitting on the slope here, and we’ve got to get it up and onto the green there, so what you could do is that if the slope is like this and you stand level to the slow, when you swing, basically, the wedge is going to go right into the slope. So, if you have arthritis or you don’t like the wringiness your joints, you can certainly play them like that and just play it as though it were a flat bunker shot, and then swing level to where that would be and just drive right into the ground and hit may be 1 to 3 inches behind the ball, and that’s going to pop the ball out pretty good, I think, but I think what’s a little bit better, especially again, if you’ve got some joint pain or something like that, then what you can do is you can put your weight on your back foot, and then raise your lead leg up, and then kind of tilt yourself to the slope, and what’s going to happen with that is when you swing, you basically want to keep your weight on your rear foot only and don’t move it from there, and then when you swing, you try and level yourself somewhat to the slope, and then you swing up the slope so that you are not going to be driving into the ground so much so it’s not going to hurt so much when you hit the ground like that, but what you have to keep in mind when you do that is that normally, we’ll use this so you can see what the clubface is doing, so normally, on a flat slope like this, the loft is going to be presented like this, but if you are kind of tilting yourself to the slope, notice what happens to the loft here: it’s going to get to be more loft, so if you are on the slope – this is a 57° wedge – sand wedge – it comes at 55° but I got it back to 57°, but anyway, if you tilt yourself this much and you swing and you arrive at impact with the sand like this, you can see the loft is almost going basically straight out. So, what you probably want to do with this shot is to take a lower lofted club, so this one is like I said, a 57°, so what you might do is take something, a gap wedge or a pitching wedge, or nine or eight, something that’s going to have less loft and I guess, you could play something like this, but you are going to have the swing really, really fast to get the ball to go far enough to get to the slide. I guess, just depends a little bit on the situation, so if you have a front flag and you don’t have any green to work with, then maybe that is okay, but if the pin is a little bit further out, then particularly since we’re on the slope here, so balance is going to be a little bit more challenging, and keeping your weight only on the rear foot there, then it’s a little bit easier to keep balance when you don’t have to swing is hard. So, a higher lofted wedge, you’re going to have two swing really, really hard with that with like a tilt like this to your body, so take a lower lofted club, it just depends on the situation, the severity of the slope and how far you want to hit it, but you can literally play this shot with a gap wedge, a pitching wedge, a nine-iron, an eight-iron, a seven-iron, a six-iron, it just depends a little bit on the situation, how much lower you need it to come out and how far you need the ball to go. So, I think that’s what I would say for that. Those are the main things. This, of course, assumes that you already know how to play a basic bunker shot. Those things aren’t really going to change that much. You still want to head roughly anywhere between one and 3 inches behind the ball. Hitting a little bit closer to the ball is going to make it carry farther and spend more, getting a little further back is going to make it not carry as far but it’s going to roll out. Both end up going about the same distance, it’s just a matter of deciding how much of a swing you want to make, and you got some forgiveness of they are. So, that’s no different, and then also, if you want to look at some other basic sand play on the channel to understand what the leading edge is doing and what the bounce is doing there on the bottom of the club as far as digging in or opening it up and using the bounce so it doesn’t dig again, and then of course, minding the lie angle if you are opening the clubface, but we won’t really get into that in this video. This is kind of assuming that you already know how to play a basic bunker shot and just look around on the channel if you need to find a video just for a basic bunker shot.
So, I think that’s all I would say for that. Just to recap, my general recommendation is to tilt yourself to this slope, put your weight all on your rear foot, just keep it there, and then swing with the slope, but instead of taking your normal, say sand wedge for example, you might want to take like a gap, pitch, nine, eight that’s going to have that lofted a little bit lower, and then you basically just play the same as you would on a normal bunker shot, swing at the slope there, hit the sand first, the sand is the deflective. It’s going to shoot the ball out, and then again, it’s just a matter of deciding how hard you want to swing, just use your instincts for that and make it be reactionary like you are throwing a ball to someone. You don’t really think about taking your arm back this far, throw this hard, you just kind of look at the target, and then instinctively react, try and be smooth, and you should be able to pull this shot all of it better.
So, give those things a try and hopefully, this will help you play a little bit better on those uphill sloped bunker shots.
If you’re looking for tips on chipping your sterling irons in tight lies, then I’ve got four things to help you with here.
The first would be just to stand tall. Part of good chipping when you have a ball and it is sitting on top of something and it’s not sitting on some grass that is fluffed up and basically teed up for you, you don’t have much room to work with there, so by standing pretty tall, you are sort of eliminating the possibility of hitting it fact or minimizing the chance that you can do it it fat, there is this measurement from where your neck and spine intersect with your shoulders in the vertebrae here, the C7 vertebrae, and wherever that moves is going to play a role in dictating where the bottom of your sweetheart in for your chipping. So, if you are standing pretty tall and position yourself such that the bottom of your sweetheart, you are barely touching the ground or just barely just barely, barely grazing the ground right there, then you’re going to minimize some chances of hitting fat. That’s the first thing, just to stand pretty tall as long as you keep your height, then it’s going to help out a lot, and actually, one additional thing that it helps with, is when you are playing a little bit taller were standing a little bit taller and you strike the ball a little bit lower on the clubface like this, that’s going to give a little more spin to, so generally speaking, there’s a thing called vertical gear effect so the higher up you strike the ball on the clubface, the less spin, and then as you move down towards the bottom of the clubface, the more it spins, so you can actually have good chips by hitting really low on the clubface, even such that about half of the ball is on the clubface than half the ball is off, so you can almost scull it in a way and still be okay, not all the way scull it but where you’d be hitting the equator of the ball, but as long as you’re just kind of picking up there, it’s going to give it a little bit more spin. So, standing tall can help minimize that chance it had a little bit of spin, so those are a couple of nice things there.
And then, the second tip I would say is to sweep or pick, or collect the ball, so don’t hit down on it, don’t take a divot. Whenever I’ve tried to take divots or hit down on at, you got to be really, really precise with where you are heading. Otherwise, you can catch it a little bit fat. There’s a little bit more margin of error when you sweep or collect, or pick the ball and you are starting to see this with good chippers on tour now, and as the instruction world notices that the good chippers are doing this, more players are doing it, more teachers are teaching it, so look at guys like Zach Johnson, Steve Stryker, guys that have really good short games, really good chipping games, and you will see that they are not taking a lot of divot and they are just brushing the ground, so that’s the second thing I would say.
The third thing is just to be smooth. So, don’t take it back, and it like a short amount of distance and jerk through, popped through, try and have a pendular type motion, a pendular type rhythm. That does a couple of things. When you are kind of working with a very light pendular motion, you are removing a little bit of the day-to-day muscle feels that we all have that sometimes, we feel a bit better, little bit worse, little bit tight, little bit more relaxed, and then you just kind of remove some of that and just work a little bit more with gravity and let the club do the work, then that’s going to be a little bit better for you. You will have a little bit more chipping distance control. So, if you take the club that, and then just kind of ride it smoothly through, it almost feels like you are not really doing anything. It feels like very little effort when you do that, but that’s going to help with your distance control, but then also, another good reason for that is if you have any kind of tension, we don’t have a lot of room to work with their did a good shot, so if you think about a maypole, a catheter ball going around a maypole, as long as there is no tension in that row, the ball is going to come around the same every time in the same spot, but if you put it a little tug on the road, it’s going to really disrupt the flow, and the ball is going to talk going around as smoothly, it is not going to come around in the same point of space, so that’s another reason to kind of be loose and boneless, and relax, and smooth, and rhythmic like that. It doesn’t mean to be slow for deliberate, or guiding it, just kind of go back to the pendular type motion, is the timing of gravity and it’s always going to be the same every day, so that’s going to help with a little bit of consistency, and then when we are talking about chipping from tight lies here, it is important that that club is coming through the same every time, and if you can remove a little bit of that human effort element to it, it can help your chipping from these tight lies.
And then, the last thing I would say is about ball position. So, you know there is a sweetheart there, you don’t have to try it down, you don’t have to try and hit up, so when you know that there is the swing arc, it is just a matter of positioning yourself in the right spot so that when you can be smooth like that, the ball is basically just getting in the way, so you want to have it be slightly on the way down were almost level not on the way up, of course, and to how you can do that, there’s a clever little way you can find where to put the ball position. I’m going to recommend, I will tell you to do it on the putting green, but if you think this will cause any problems with your superintendent or your local Pro, then maybe do it from the French – actually, maybe from the French may be a better idea, but you can maybe go, if you’re going to do it from the putting green, then maybe go about five or 8 feet from the hall, and then just do some very light chips so that if you do hit the ground, if you do hit the green, you’re not really going to damage it, and so there is no tighter lie in doing it from a putting green. So, if you can do all of these things, so stand pretty tall, sweep and pick it, try not to be taking divots, being smooth, and then you can use your modus if you have your feet pretty well together here, and they’re not moving your weight around too much from left to right, that when you hit the ball, pay attention to the subtlety of whether or not the striate it’s got to lean a little bit to get to it or you are catching up a little bit fat, and then you can just kind of like make subtle adjustments and then pay attention to where you need to have the ball and you can make it relative to your foot, relative to your head, your belt buckle, your logo, your swing cervical center, that C7 vertebrae I was talking, whatever you want to note where you need to have that ball to not feel like you are lunging towards it or not be catching it a little bit fat. So, that’s a little trick you can do, just doing these short little chips from the putting green, again maybe better from the fringe, so those are the things I’ll tell you as far as hopefully being able to help you chip from tight lies.
So, just to recap, stand tall to help minimize the chance of hitting it fat, sweep, pick, collect the ball, don’t take divots, that’s going to help your consistency and your ball striking as well, maybe give you a little bit more spin as well, nice little byproduct, be smooth, so don’t be jerking around a lot, it’s going to help you with the consistency and the position of your strike on the green, not on the green, the chip, and test for your ball position. If you think it is safe and if you think you’re not going to damage the putting green, do it from the putting green, otherwise, maybe do it from the fringe, just some short little chips and pay attention to whether or not to wear your string art is bottoming out and if you need to adjust a little bit one way or the other so that you can just stay in that same spot, keep your weight in the same spot and just make a smooth little arithmetic turned through the ball, simple and complicated, and the ball just gets in the way. So, those are the things I would tell you, give those things a try out when you are doing your chipping, and hopefully, you will improve your performance on those tight chipping lies.
If you’re having an issue hitting your sterling iron’s pitches a little bit fat and heavy, and you’re just dumping them short of the degree and then getting yourself in trouble, then I’ve got five things there that can hopefully help you out and get you making a little bit better contact on those pitches and get you just playing better.
So, the first thing is a technical thing here. So, oftentimes, in golf instruction, we’re taught to have the shaft leaned pretty far forward, and that’s okay, you can hit good shots like that and there’s no shortage of players that can hit shots like that, but from what this does with the club here is, when you look at the clubface as it comes down to the bottom of the club and it goes under to the bounce here, there’s this leaning edge, and the more you have the shaft forward, the higher chance or higher propensity, I guess I should say, that this club can dig and grab into the ground. So, for pitch shots in particular, I like to see people come through with a little bit more shaft vertical like this rather than forward because when you do that, it’s going to expose a little bit of the bounce there, so this underside, this curved underside of the club, so when you come through vertical like that, it gives you a little protection, so you actually can hit it a tiny bit fat and this club, the balance is going to keep it from digging, whereas if you have the shaft forward, then the leaning edge will grab and it’ll just catch too much ground and the club will stall in the ground before it gets to the ball. So, that’s the first thing I would say, is to watch the amount of shaft lean. It’s probably better, the better pitchers in the world – again, you can find exceptions, but as a generalization, better pitchers come through with a little bit more shaft vertical, so that’s the first thing.
Second thing is to stand tall when you’re playing these shots. There’s a thing that Mike Austin, one of my original teachers and mentors used to say, this point where your shoulders, neck, and spine come together on your vertebrae here, the C7 vertebrae, he called it the swing circle center, and wherever that is in the space, that’s going to dictate the low point, the bottom of your swing arc. So, if you are over here, the bottom of the arc is going to be over here; if you’re over here, the bottom of the arc is going to be over here; if you get down the bottom there, it’s going to go down; if you raise up, the arc is going to go high, so if you’re hitting a little bit fat, stay pretty tall so that when you are extending your arms down and holding the club, that when you have the shaft and the club straightened like that, then stand high enough that as long as you stay at that height, you’re high enough that you can’t hit it fat. So, that would be the second thing I would say, is just to stand tall and that kind of blends into this next point, is to sweep it, to pick it, collect the ball. Don’t try and hit down real hard, don’t try and take a divot. The best pitchers in the world, again, guys like Steve Stryker, Zach Johnson, those type of guys, they don’t take a lot of divot; they’re collecting it, sweeping it, picking it, brushing the ground, and you’re starting to see this a little bit more. Now that this observation has been made and the instruction world has kind of caught on, the players are catching on, now, you’re starting to see a lot more top players do that. So, if you see some videos of some guys pitching, notice that on their short little pitch shots here, most of the time, they’re just brushing the ground and just scraping it, not digging a big graveyard in the ground there. So, that would be the next thing I would say.
And then, the last thing is to watch your ball position. So, generally, I would say to maybe have the ball positioned – and again, I kind of equate it to where the swing circle center is, so you probably don’t want to have it back of your stance or back of this swing circle center, the C7 vertebrae because when you do that, then the more you move the club back, the more this leaning edge gets exposed and the more the shaft goes forward. Again, we’re talking about hitting pitch shots fat here, so you’re increasing the likelihood of hitting them fat by doing that, so you probably want to have the club, the shaft basically pretty well even with your C7 vertebrae and maybe the ball just a tiny, tiny bit before that, or if you want just a tiny bit of shaft lean, have the ball right in the center so that you don’t really have too much shaft lean, so that you’re setting up and being in a position where you’re not exposing the leaning edge, you’re catching it right at the bottom of the swing arc, and you’re sweeping and picking, and collecting it.
So, those are the things I would point out for you that hopefully can help. Watch the amount of shaft lean, don’t have too much forward shaft lean, stand tall, keep your C7 vertebrae up so that as long as you stay up, then you’re not going to hit it fat, and then that also kind of blends into sweeping and picking, and collecting the ball which also relates to the ball position, keep it pretty well in the center, maybe just even a tiny bit forward so that the shaft is coming back through pretty vertical or just a tiny, tiny bit forward.
So, those are the things I would tell you if you’re catching your pitches fat with your sterling irons. Put those things into practice, give those things a try, work on those a little bit, hopefully it’ll help, and yeah, it will hopefully improve your pitching.