Considering the number of times you are going to be using the clubs in a single round, knowing how to correctly hit long irons makes a lot of sense. Whether you are looking at hitting the green, or trying to lay up for a chip near the pin, this is one of those key shots that will completely shape the rest of your round.
But there are several things you need to do in order to get the best out of the shot. So, that’s what we are going to explore.
Remember, some people argue that long irons are only for those that are serious about the game. Also, there are other arguments that it should be limited to low handicappers due to the difficulty in hitting the ball.
But while they do have strong arguments, we are going to show that it needn’t always be the case. You just need to be ready to play around with your shot.
Table of Contents
The Problems People Face
When it comes to a long iron, people face different problems, and most of them are all connected to our technique and a mis-understanding of what to expect from the shot.
The truth is that achieving a sense of consistency with a long iron shot is not going to be easy. People get drawn into seeing that perfect 3-iron covering 200 yards before dropping onto the green stone dead next to the pin.
Well, even a low handicapper is going to struggle to pull that sort of shot off on a regular basis, so perhaps it’s best to forget all about that for now.
So, basically we are guilty of putting ourselves under too much pressure when it comes to hitting a long iron. What we are going to do right now is get you back to absolute basics.
Begin By Opening Up Your Stance
The first thing you need to do is to open up your stance a bit. That means widen your stance with your feet being wider than your shoulder, but only just.
The reason for this is you need to be able to get in the complete shoulder turn to hit a long iron. Most people simply close up too much, and the outcome of that is they cannot perform the full swing.
Closing your stance means your swing is stunted. In the case of a long iron, it’s going to have a tendency to come up short, or things are not going to be as smooth as they should be.
With your stance, it should be a case of your shoulder effectively sliding underneath your chin through the backswing. This creates a smoother motion, and it will also lead to you being able to fully rotate your body.
Lining Up with the Ball
The point at which you make contact with the ball is another point that needs to be discussed. In this situation, it should always be the case that you hit the ball front and center. Nothing else is going to perform as well as hitting it in that position.
The problem is that high handicap players, and even a large number of mid handicap players will push the ball too far in front of their stance.
This is all due to a desire to get the ball up into the air, but by focusing on this, what we do is we overcorret our positioning and stance leading to us making a poor connection with the ball.
Also, when you hit the ball too far in front, you are really making the all-important impact on the up part of the swing. It means you are losing out on some of the energy you would have otherwise been able to achieve, and that’s going to lose you power and distance.
As the Irons Become Shorter
But here’s a key point to make with your iron shots in general. As the irons become shorter, then the positioning of the ball should be moving more to the middle of your stance.
This is because of the changes that take place in the rotation of your body. There’s less of a need to really open up the stance and to move the body to such an extent.
The Power and Tempo
Yet anothe misconception held by so many people is that they believe you need to swing a long iron harder and faster than a short iron. Well, that’s not true.
Instead, the power and tempo should be the same no matter the club. You need to allow the loft of the club to do its job, and that means swinging the club the exact same no matter which number is attached to the iron itself.
A Smooth Swing
Aside from consistent power and tempo, we must stress the need for a smooth swing with every iron shot. If you fair to do this, then your iron shots are more likely to end up going all over the place, and then you are going to feel as if you are unable to hit long iron shots at all.
If your swing is smooth, then it means you are more likely to be able to get that perfect connection at the point of impact. A swing that isn’t smooth becomes juddery, and you are far more likely to close up the club face resulting in mishits and generally being disappointed with your shot.
Staying with the issue of the swing for just a moment, and we need to look at the backswing in particular.
Some people think about the distance and panic. They then go ahead and try to produce a backswing as if they were hitting a crisp driver. If you are thinking along these lines, then stop right now. It’s wrong.
Instead, for long irons, you need to be going for about 80% of your driver backswing. So, think about what that is like, and then dial it down a touch in order to be perfect.
Your Hand Position
We have looked at stance, lining up with the ball, and your swing. However, we cannot forget about the important thing which is your hand position.
Now, in an ideal world, your hands are going to be slightly in front of the ball. The difficulty is that so many people will have too much of a forward press, and that’s going to have a negative impact on the shot. So, just slightly is important.
Thinking About Your Longest Iron
Because of hybrid clubs, it can often be the case that a 5-iron is the longest iron that anybody has in their bag. That does mean there needs to be some slight adjustments to how you are going to play the shot.
In the case of a club such as a 5-iron, which is really a mid-iron, then you need to be aware that this particular club is highly versatile and brilliant at what it does. You just need to know how to hit it.
You must never rush through the transition in your swing. That leads to you expending more energy than you would like to use before you are making actual contact with the ball. You then lose distance, as well as a certain amount of control.
What you need to do, and this will help your consistency, is to build speed through the down part of your backswing rather than right up at the top. This will then lead to you striking the ball with the maximum amount of power and control leading to a better shot as a result.
An Extra Tip
Finally, here’s a little tip when it comes to using your long irons. If you are a mid to high handicap player, then never use a long iron if you are even just in the semi-rough.
You need to remember that the loft on a long iron, such as a 2-iron as an example, is going to be pretty low. If you try to use this iron from the rough, then your chances of getting a good, clean connection are going to be pretty much zero.
Instead, if you are in the semi-rough, or worse, then go for a shorter iron to concentrate on getting out of trouble before going for the green. It may involve an extra shot at this point, but it will save you problems in the long-run.
To Sum it Up
So if you want to hit better long irons, and do so on a more consistent basis, then you need to follow the key points mentioned above.
What it means is you open your stance, have the ball front and center, and focus on your swing. Don’t alter the power you use, keep it smooth and consistent. By doing so, you will open up and rotate your body enough for the shot to be made.
Mastering the art of the long iron shot isn’t easy. However, keep these points in mind, and you may very well see a bit of a difference in what you can achieve.