Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)

Approach Shots

Shoot For The Sky

How to launch your irons higher
By Jason Day Photos by Dom Furore
February 18, 2015

The Masters might make you think of azaleas in bloom, Amen Corner or the green jacket, but it makes me think about hitting sky-high iron shots. That's the only way to get the ball close to some of the pins at Augusta, especially when you've got a 6-iron or longer into the green. Flighting the ball higher makes my carry distances more predictable and gets the ball to stop quicker—two major control factors. That really helped me win the Farmers Insurance Open in February. Torrey's greens were so firm, I needed to drop my irons in softly. There are several things you can do at address and during the swing to create a higher trajectory. And the beauty is, you can pick the adjustments that work best with your current swing. Start with this one: Visualize the shot. If you think about hitting it higher and look up at address to how high you want the ball to go, you'll often subconsciously adjust by tilting back, setting more weight on your rear foot, and so on. Read below for other ways to launch your iron shots.



Increasing the loft of the clubface at impact will definitely increase the height of the shot. But how you do that could affect your shot shape, so adjustments are necessary. Try these two ways to add loft:

1. Set your clubface so it's pointing slightly right of your target at address. From there, resist the urge to square the face at impact. Note: An open face will promote a left-to-right shot for right-handed golfers, so you might want to adjust your aim or swing path accordingly. It's easier to add height to a fade than to a draw, so I like to open the face and swing on a path left of my target.

2. Picture your hands above the ball's position, not pushed forward, at impact. It can help to set the clubshaft in a vertical position at address—straight up and down. Good players often lean the shaft toward the target to compress iron shots. They can still hit it high because they've got a lot of clubhead speed, but most amateurs need to hit with the shaft more neutral to achieve a higher trajectory.



I wouldn't advise you to swing wildly fast, but you need to make an aggressive move through impact to increase backspin, which makes the ball fly higher. Make these two adjustments to boost your speed:

1. Keep your body turning through the shot. The club moves fastest when it's propelled by your arms and body rotating together. You can't create power for a higher flight if you're all arms. Even worse, if your body stops turning through, your arms will whip past you and flip the clubface shut. That's a low hook.

2. Swing your hands high to the finish (right). Slinging the club up and over your lead shoulder not only creates speed through the shot, it promotes a higher launch. Don't rush to make this high-hands finish. If you set up as I've described—a little more on your back foot, with the ball forward—you're pre-setting a high finish. Then just make a level strike with plenty of speed, and you'll launch it into the sky and parachute it onto the green.

*Jason Day, 27, won the 2015 PGA Championship.