Monday Swing Analysis: You can still hit long irons; just copy John Cook
Editor's note: Every Monday, PGA professional Kevin Hinton examines the game of a recent tour winner and tells you what you can learn. A Golf Digest Best Young Teacher, Kevin is the Director of Instruction at Piping Rock Golf Club, Locust Valley, N.Y., and is a Lead Master Instructor for the Jim McLean Golf School at Doral Resort & Spa. He also teaches at Drive 495 in New York. He has seen thousands of swings, and has helped golfers of all abilities, from rank beginners to tour players. This week, he looks at how John Cook, who won the Montreal Championship on the Champions Tour over the weekend, hits consistent and high long irons. Nobody on tour hits a 1-iron anymore, and few have even 2-irons in their bags. But 3- and 4-irons are considered long irons by today's standards. Watch the video of Cook and follow Hinton's advice, and you can make the long iron an effective club in your bag.
Kevin Hinton: The first key to John's excellent long-iron play is his setup. He has taken a wide stance with the ball positioned in the front third of his stance. Also, the shaft is in a very neutral position, not leaning forward like it would with shorter irons. These things allow him to produce a relatively shallow angle of attack.
The setup is very similar to a driver, but not quite to that extreme because you still need to create a slight descending blow with a long iron to hit it successfully. Essentially, you need to set up in a way that allows you to "hit down" the proper amount. If you're struggling to hit the ball very high and are producing deep divots, you're likely setting up too much like with a shorter iron. If you top a lot shots or your swing bottoms out before the ball, you are setting up too much like with a driver. This causes you to swing "up" too much for a ball that is on the ground.
Next, in the backswing, John makes a full shoulder turn with a relatively straight left arm and a very gradual hinging of the wrists. This makes for an extremely "wide" swing that produces power as well as also helping to produce a shallow divot through impact. Notice how John allows his head to move a bit to his right as he loads his weight into his right leg. Keeping your head still and your weight on your left side is not helpful when it comes to hitting long irons. Through impact, John keeps his head behind the ball as he would with a driver. Also, the shaft is straight at impact, not leaning forward. This is definitely more of a sweeping swing.
And finally, copy his picture-perfect finish. He looks like he could stand there all day!