No matter what your skill level, you know what a perfect iron shot feels like. That unmistakable squash of the clubface compressing the ball, pinching it off the turf. It's a big part of what makes golf so addictive. The trick, of course, is feeling it more often. You've heard about what the club should be doing at impact--the clubhead swinging downward, the path from the inside, the face square--but you probably have a better chance trying to feel what your body is doing. A couple of ground rules: First, it's tough to feel a position at impact, so let's call these moves through impact. Second, different players relate to different parts of the body, so here I'll give you six, from the hands to the feet. Feel these moves, and you'll start hitting those great shots over and over. And get even more hooked on this game.TODD ANDERSON, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, is the director of instruction at Sea Island Golf Club, St. Simons Island, Ga.
1.) FRONT WRIST FLAT; BACK WRIST BENT
A flat front wrist proves that the clubhead hasn't passed your hands before you reach the ball--a trait of all good ball-strikers. It helps keep the low point of the swing arc in front of the ball so you make a descending strike. A flat wrist also prevents you from adding loft at impact (you won't turn a 5-iron into a 6). When you hit with the grip leading the club-head, you get a penetrating shot.FAULT
The big mistake here is, the back wrist straightens, causing the front wrist to bend. This shifts the low point of the swing behind the ball, causing fat shots or hitting up on the ball.DRILL
Push a two-by-four. Take your setup with the clubface against one end of a piece of wood, then try to push it toward the target. You'll naturally flatten your front wrist and push with a bent back wrist (left). That's what you want in your swing.
2.) FRONT SHOULDER OVER FRONT FOOT
Getting your upper body stacked over your lower body on the downswing is critical to making ball-then-turf contact. The way to do this is to first shift your weight to your front side, and then let your body start to unwind. Feel your front shoulder pull away from your chin as your upper body begins turning toward the target. Follow this shift-turn sequence, and the club will stay to the inside on a power path to the ball.FAULT
A lot of players spin their shoulders open without shifting to their front side. This moves the swing's low point back, causing fat and thin shots and a glancing swing from out to in.DRILL
Practice from downhill lies. Gravity will pull your body to your front foot as you instinctively "chase" the ball down the hill (left). To hit it solid from a downslope, you have to move forward.
3.) FRONT ARM STRAIGHT; BACK ARM BENT
To swing into impact from the inside, your trailing arm should straighten gradually from its 90-degree bent position at the top. Your front arm should be extended throughout the downswing and well into the follow-through, when it starts to bend to allow for a comfortable finish. Keeping the front arm straight on the downswing helps you maintain the radius of the swing for predictable contact.FAULT
When the back arm straightens too soon, the front elbow collapses. This happens if you "throw" the club from the top to try to create power or to recover from an overly long backswing. The result often is poor contact and a serious loss of distance.FEEL
The back arm should fully extend just after impact, so feel as if you're throwing a punch at the ball (left). But remember, the back wrist stays bent.
4.) SHOULDERS TILTED; HIPS MORE LEVEL
At setup, your shoulders are tilted away from the target because your back hand is lower on the grip than your front hand. But your hips are basically level. This relationship should be intact at impact. It keeps the club inside and means your hips are leading your rotation. Keeping your shoulder tilt also helps maintain your spine angle, so your measurement to the ball stays constant.FAULT
The back shoulder pops out toward the ball, which drives the front shoulder down. This comes from trying to hit the ball hard from the top. With the shoulders too level, the club is thrown on an out-to-in path.DRILL
Get in your setup without a club, and clap your hands together. Then take your right hand to the top, and swing it down below your left (left). Groove this feeling of your shoulders tilted and your hips turning open.
5.) FRONT LEG STRAIGHT; BACK LEG BENT
There's a clear relationship between the front hip and the back knee: As the hip turns open, the knee kicks in. Some players feel the front hip pulling the back knee forward; others feel the knee pushing the hip open. Make some swings, and see which feels natural to you. What does this push-pull leg action do for your ball-striking? The back knee bending means your weight is moving to your front foot, and a good hip rotation helps preserve the body coil for more power at impact.FAULT
Most amateurs don't use their legs enough on the downswing. They hit with their arms and shoulders only, which leads to glancing strikes from out to in and pulls and slices.FEEL
A good sensation is that your back knee is driving toward the ball (left). This image will help shift your weight and turn your hips through the shot.
6.) FRONT FOOT FLAT; BACK FOOT ROLLED IN
The actions of your feet tell you what your legs are doing. Through impact, the front foot should remain flat, with the back foot rolling in. A braced front foot provides leverage so you can straighten your front leg, which helps open the hips toward the target. With your lower body leading the downswing, the club stays to the inside for a powerful delivery. And the weight shifting to your front foot moves the swing's low point forward, so you hit down on the ball.FAULT
Golfers who get stuck on their back foot tend to spin open, their feet twisting in the turf. The club cuts across the ball weakly from the outside.DRILL
Place a ball against the heel of your back foot and the side of your front foot (left). If you can swing without moving either ball, your footwork--and leg action--is very good.