You hear it all the time: "Hit down on the ball and take a divot." And it's good advice, but you have to be in position to actually do it. In fact, a few positions. Let's look.
First, play the ball in line with the logo on your shirt, on the left side of your chest. It's hard to hit down on the ball if it's way up in your stance, but moving it way back is no good, either. With the ball back, you're less likely to make a good shift to your front side on the downswing—and that forward shift is the most important move into impact.
The second position is staying in your posture as you swing down and through. The instinct to straighten up is common, either to try to lift the ball or because it's more difficult to turn while staying in posture.
A good thought is to feel like you're "on top of the ball" with your chest at impact, like your chest is looking at the ball. That'll help keep you down and into the shot.
The third piece is driving your right side—arm, shoulder, knee—at the target (above). This prevents you from slowing down before impact and trying to flip or scoop the ball off the ground. Good iron players really fire that right side, extending the right arm and pushing through with the body. Think of a shortstop throwing hard to first base for a double play; nothing stays back. —With Peter Morrice
MY FAVORITE DRILL TO FEEL SOLID CONTACT
If you hit a lot of fat iron shots, chances are you're not shifting to your front foot in the downswing. Even hitting thin shots usually means your weight is back—instead of crashing into the turf, the club misses the ground and catches the ball when it starts swinging upward. Work on my favorite drill to groove solid strikes.
Grab a short iron, take your setup, then angle your back knee inward so your back foot is up on its toes (above). That will push the majority of your weight to your front side. From this setup, hit some half and three-quarter shots. You'll make ball-first contact with your weight forward at impact and feel a nice push off your back foot as you go through.
Mix in some regular swings from your normal setup, feeling your weight firmly on your front side during the forward swing.
Butch Harmon is based at Rio Secco Golf Club, Henderson, Nev.