How To Blast (Or Butter) Your Iron Shots
November 10, 2015
I've come out in the top 15 in driving distance on tour the past several years, so the driver is sort of what I'm known for. But power is really an asset with the irons. My stock 7-iron flies 190 yards, but when I need to get at a tucked pin I can push it to 205. I also can dial it back to about 150, which I've done at British Opens to keep the ball under the wind. A 55-yard differential with a single club can make for a versatile weapon. Whatever the range is with your irons, I'll show you here how to manage the short and long ends of it.
THE CONTROL SETUP
Growing up in Kansas, where the wind can howl, I learned that a low, running bunt with a 6- or 7-iron can be better than throwing a hard 8-iron up in the air. To hit the control shot, I open and narrow my stance, which shortens the swing. I play the ball just ahead of center, so I can sweep it rather than come down steep. Don't worry about the forward ball position producing height. The lower-lofted club will keep it down.
KEEP THE HANDS QUIET
Once I get in my bunt-shot address position, I choke down to reduce clubhead speed and give myself more control. I don't cock my wrists fully because I don't want an explosion of speed at impact. From the top, I unwind my hips slowly, again to avoid more speed. My hands stay quiet, the label of my glove pointing to the target past impact. And I try to clip the ball and not smash down, which can cause it to balloon.
THE POWER SETUP
To nuke an iron, I start by widening my stance to provide stability for the big swing I'm about to make. I also open my stance just like when I'm trying to bunt an iron, but here it's to give my hips a head start on firing through impact. I play the ball back in my stance an inch or two, which decreases the clubface loft and makes the ball fly about a club longer. Playing it back also helps me compress the ball at impact.
WIND IT UP AND POUNCE
After a deliberate backswing and transition from the top, I let it rip. I clear my lower body as fast as possible, knowing my arms will lag behind and come into the ball from the inside for a powerful draw. Control is still important, so I try to keep my right heel from springing up before impact. If you've swung all out, you'll find it hard to hold a finish. Nothing wrong with a little recoil to keep your balance.