All golfers want to play the best possible golf that they can. A big part of making that happen comes in hitting your irons pure. Several aspects go into being able to pure your irons.
Here’s how to hit irons pure:
- Start with a neutral grip
- Use a relaxed 30-degree forward posture
- Align parallel to the left of the target line
- Use proper swing sequencing: Address→Backswing→Downswing→Impact→Release→Finish
- Rotation your hips 45 degrees
- Shift your weight into trail and lead sides
- Use an impact position with hands ahead of clubface
In this article, I will provide you with details on those needed ingredients to be a pure ball striker with your irons. Read on to learn:
- What hitting irons pure means
- How to hit your irons pure
- Common mistakes in trying to hit your irons pure
- A drill to pure your irons
- Training aids to help you pure your irons
What Does Hitting Irons Pure Mean?
Hitting your irons pure means that you are compressing the ball at impact. This is an event where you strike the ball first, then the ground, as you move on to your release and follow-through.
That is the main premise of a purely struck iron shot. Being able to compress the ball at impact requires you to be mindful of several technical aspects of the golf swing.
We will take a look at those next. These steps will help you start hitting the ball purely with your irons.
Pure iron shots just sound different. Have a look, and listen to Rory McIlroy puring his irons above.
Check this out: How To Stop Pulling Golf Shots And Avoid That Frustration!
How to Hit Your Irons Pure
As stated above, the trick to hitting your irons purely is getting into a good impact position when we strike the ball. So how do we get into that good impact position? One which will allow us to pure our irons?
Here are the 7 steps you can do to hit your irons pure starting today:
- Use the right grip
- Use a relaxed 30-degree forward posture
- Align parallel to the left of the target
- Use the proper swing sequence
- Rotate your hips 45 degrees and shoulders 90 degrees
- Shift your weight into trail and lead sides
- Use an impact position with your hands ahead of the clubface
This will ultimately lead to pure iron shots!
We have to start with good pre-swing fundamentals. This is your first step.
Step #1- Use the Right Grip (Neutral is Most Common)
The pre-swing fundamentals really set you up for being able to pure your irons. They lead everything off. Even the professionals go back to these aspects when they are off a bit.
Making sure your hands are placed on the club correctly is extremely important. After all, your hands are your only connection to the club. They have a massive influence on what your clubface will be doing at impact.
A good neutral grip is the standard. This is one where the hands are working in tandem and not fighting one another. The V that is created with your thumb and pointer finger, on both your right and left hand should be pointing over your trail shoulder. The trail shoulder for a right-handed golfer is your right. The trail shoulder for a left-handed golfer is the left.
The hands should be connected. You can connect them by either interlocking or overlapping your trail hand pinky finger and your lead hand pointer finger. I do not recommend a ten-finger, or baseball grip.
It is OK for your grip to be slightly stronger or weaker, but you must always have your V’s running parallel to each other. This ensures that they are working together.
Step #2- Use a Relaxed 30-Degree Forward Posture
How you set your body up as you address the ball is another very important pre-swing fundamental. This is something that has a direct impact on your impact position.
Good posture means that you are relaxed and ready to move away from the ball correctly.
You are bent slightly forward from your hips, about 30 degrees forward from standing vertically. Your back is straight, from your tailbone to your head.
Your arms will hang down naturally from your shoulders. Your lead shoulder will be set slightly higher than your trail.
Step #3- Align Parallel To The Left of Target Line
How you set your body and club up, in relation to the target, will affect where the ball goes. Not just that, it will also affect your ability to pure your iron shots.
Good alignment means that your body lines, which include your feet, knees, hips, and shoulders, are set parallel to the left of your target line. Parallel right for our left-handed friends.
Step #4- Having Proper Swing Sequencing– Address→Backswing→Downswing→Impact→Release→Finish
After your pre-swing fundamentals are in line, you next want to look at the proper sequencing of your swing. Both as you go back, away from the ball at address, and especially on the downswing and through to impact.
Many golf coaches talk of the swing in terms of swing positions. It is sometimes referred to as the P system. This system of talking about the positions in the swing and the order, or proper sequencing, looks like this:
- P1- Address Position
- P2- Takeaway (Half-way Back Position)
- P3- Backswing
- P4- Top of the Swing
- P5- Start of Transition in Downswing
- P6- Club Parallel to Ground in Downswing
- P7- Impact
- P8- Release- Club Parallel to Ground in Release
- P9- Release- Transition into Finish
- P10- Finish Position
Everything must flow and follow this pattern in a certain way in order for the golfer to hit pure iron shots.
The video above is a rundown by coach James Parker of the swing positions as coined by the great instructor Mac O Grady.
Step #5- Rotate Your Hips 45 Degrees
In addition to the key positional checkpoints, three basic principles make up the athletic motion of a golf swing. These are extremely important in being able to hit pure iron shots.
The rotational movement of your hips and upper torso around your spine is the heart and soul of a good golf swing. The golf swing is a circular motion. The hands and club make this journey from set up to the top of the swing to impact and to your finish.
As you move back, you want to rotate your hips as close to 45 degrees as possible. Your shoulders should move as close to 90 degrees of rotation as possible. Both of these happen around a fixed point. That fixed point is your spine.
The biggest key takeaway of your hip and shoulder rotations is this…the separation between them helps create potential power in your swing. This is otherwise known as X Factor.
Let’s say you do get your hips rotated back to 45 degrees and your shoulders to 90 degrees. The difference between those, 90 degrees minus 45 degrees, gives you an X factor of 45 degrees.
That wind-up is what creates potential energy and power in your swing.
In step #4 above, I mentioned the proper sequencing. That goes hand and hand with this idea of good rotation. Once you wind up going back, you need to properly release it as you swing down. Rotating the hips first, followed by the shoulders and upper body.
Step #6- Shift Your Weight into Trail and Lead Sides
Your weight shift loads weight and pressure into your trailside on the backswing. That is followed by unloading and transitioning that weight and pressure into your lead side. That transition happens from the downswing, through impact, and into the finish.
As was touched on in step #5, the body rotates as you go back and as you swing down. As you rotate, the transfer of weight and pressure in the feet go hand in hand.
At set up, your weight distribution is about 50-50. 50 percent on your lead foot and 50 percent in your trail foot.
As you start to rotate back with your body, you will stay centered with your core, sternum, or center mass. However, you will shift pressure into your trail foot. At the top of your backswing, you should have at least 65-75 percent of your weight or pressure into your trail foot.
Pro Tip: Here’s the tricky part. The best players in the world, the best ball strikers, already have their weight or pressure moving into their lead foot even before their hands reach the top of the swing. Most amateurs do not do this.
As you transition down from the top of your swing, you gradually shift weight and pressure into your lead foot. All the while, you are staying centered with your core or center mass. Basically, your sternum.
You will have most of your weight or pressure fully into your lead foot at the finish.
Check out the video below from Clay Ballard on these principles. These are vital in being able to produce an effective and powerful swing. These principles, if correctly applied, will help get you into a powerful impact position, which will lead to poured iron shots.
Step #7- Use A Good Impact Position With Hands Ahead of Clubface
All great ball strikers have one thing in common. They all get into a proper impact position. That is the key to hitting pure iron shots. All of the steps above help you in being able to achieve a good impact position.
If you look at the best players in the world, you will see various ways to take the club back. Some are more flat going back. Others are more upright. Some have a clubface that is slightly closed at the top. Others have one slightly open.
What all great ball strikers have in common is an almost identical impact position. This is why they hit their irons pure.
A pure iron shot is a result of good impact.
A good impact position is one in which…
- Your hip are clearing and starting to face the target
- Your chest is over the golf ball
- Your lead leg is straightening
- Your trail knee kicks in toward the ball
- The back of your lead wrist is flat and facing the target
- The club shaft is roughly at 10 degrees of forward shaft lean
- The clubface is square to your target line
You will be in good shape if you can check off each of these bullet points. If you can keep the club moving at a good pace post-impact, you will be in even better shape. And if you finish in a good, balanced finish, you will ultimately hit pure iron shots.
This sequence of events allows you to compress the ball at impact. In this event, you strike the ball first, then the ground, as you move on to your release and follow-through.
The clubface will become slightly delofted at impact, creating a good launch condition. Your ball will achieve the proper trajectory for the club you are hitting and in turn, should land softly near your target.
2 Common Mistakes Golfers Make When Hitting Irons
Some of the most common mistakes I see golfers make when hitting their irons are the following…
Trying To “Help” the Ball Up
This is very common. Seeing golfers try to help the ball, or swing up on it, in an attempt to hit it better. The lofts on each of your clubs are made in a way to take care of that. You do not need to help the ball get up in the air. In doing so, you add loft to the club. In a good impact position, you want to actually slightly deloft the club.
Hitting down and through the ball, by way of the ball, then the ground, is the proper way to hit pure iron shots. At the moment of impact, the shaft should be roughly at 10 degrees of shaft lean. That means your hands are in front of the ball. The clubhead is behind.
Being Impatient on the Downswing
As I mentioned, the golf swing must happen in a certain sequence with athletic movements. A very, very common mistake golfers make is being impatient on the downswing.
When this happens, golfers try to “hit’ with their hands from the top down. What does this mean? Instead of allowing your body to shift into your lead side and the hips to clear first on the downswing, golfers lead with the hands and upper body. You need to be patient. Let the correct sequence happen the way it was meant to.
The sequence of events in the downswing should be as follows:
- Pressure Shift Into Lead Foot
- Hips Start to Unwind, and Clear
- Chest Starts to Unwind
- Hands Narrow
- Club Falls Behind and Shallow’s
- Clubhead Moves into Ball at Impact with Proper Shaft Lean
More on GolfSpan: How to Hit Irons – Perfecting The Games’ Essential Hit
Drill to Pure Your Irons
Here is a great drill to help you pure your irons. I use this often with my students
Get the Powder Out to Pure Your Irons
I make a line on the ground with powder and have my students place the ball about 6 inches behind that powder line. The idea is to try and hit the ball first and then make your divot after the ball and on the powder line.
This gets the low point of your swing more ahead and where it should be. You must lead with your hands and create proper shaft lean.
More great information: How To Hit A Fade – Tips To Achieve A Controlled Fade
Training Aids to Help You Hit Pure Iron Shots
The following are some great training aids I use with my students to help you start to pure your iron shots!
The EyeLine Golf Speed Trap
This is an awesome training aid to assist golfers in getting into a proper impact position. It helps train your low point, which basically means getting you to hit down into the ball. It also can help you in learning how to shape shots, and learn how to hit draws and fades. Just a great and simple training aid!
The HackMotion Wrist Trainer
I was recently approached by the folks at HackMotion and introduced to their amazing technology. This wearable wrist sensor measures wrist angles throughout your swing. Namely at the address, the top, and at impact. You want a flat lead wrist at impact for accuracy and power, with your hands slightly ahead. You will hit poor shots if you “scoop” at impact or have too much wrist extension.
You CAN learn how to pure your irons in golf! It is not as hard as it first seems. However, you must first understand what it takes to do so. Then you must practice the concepts behind hitting your irons pure.
Here are the steps you can follow:
- Begin with a neutral grip.
- Assume a relaxed posture with a 30-degree forward lean.
- Align yourself parallel to the left of the target line.
- Follow the proper swing sequence: Address, Backswing, Downswing, Impact, Release, and Finish.
- Rotate your hips 45 degrees.
- Shift your weight between your trail and lead sides.
- Position your hands ahead of the clubface at impact.
Hopefully, this article has been informative in helping you achieve your goals of better strikes with your irons. The drill I shared with you is a great starting point. Incorporate the two training aids I shared into your practice as well, and you will be well on your way!
PGA Professional Brendon Elliott is the founder of Little Linksters, LLC, and its nonprofit arm, the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development. He is the winner of 25+ prestigious industry honors, including the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development award. Brendon is a respected coach, businessman, writer, and golf industry expert.