Thursday, May 12, 2011

Three Drills To Hit Your Irons Straighter

What is the scoring shot in golf? Many recreational golfers would say driving, or putting. The pros advise us that we should become good chippers. But for the pros themselves, the shot that makes the difference is the iron into the green. They win more tournaments by putting for birdies than by chipping for pars. Here are three ways to make your irons your scoring shot, too.

1. Make good contact. That means ball first, ground second. The divot mark should start in front of the ball, not underneath it, and definitely not behind it. Here's one way to train yourself to do that. Put a tee in the ground, lined up with the leading edge of the ball, but far enough away so you can hit the ball without hitting the tee.

When you hit the ball with, say, a 7-iron, the start of the divot mark should be in front of the tee. If the divot mark starts behind the tee, that is a sign of swing errors, to numerous to mention here, that contribute to hitting the ball off line. Get this part right, and your shots will straighten out. [Note: you can only do this drill on a grassy area, not on mats.]

2. Build your iron swing around your wedge swing. The wedge swing is compact and precise. It's the swing with which your tempo and rhythm are the best, and where you're thinking only about hitting the ball straight, not far.

Hit three balls with your pitching wedge, using a full swing. Then hit one ball with an iron, copying the unforced feeling of your wedge swing. This will teach you to associate an easy, smooth swing with your irons, and that is how you hit them straighter.

3. Work on your setup. Yes, turn setting up into a drill, starting with the placement of your hands. Grip down so about an inch of the butt end of the shaft sticks out. This will give you more control of the clubhead.

Put the ball in the center of your stance, in this fashion. Stand with your heels together, the ball centered between your feet. Move your left foot to the left, and your right foot to the right by an equal amount, so that your feet are now as far apart as they should be for the shot, and the ball has remained in the center.

Aim yourself at the target. Many golfers hit beautiful shots, but miss to the right because that is exactly where they were aimed. Put a golf club on the ground, pointed at a marker in the distance. Put another club on the ground about two feet away and parallel to the first one.

Take your stance with the club in your hands resting on the shaft of the first club, and your heels resting against the shaft of the second club. Turn your head to look at the marker. Study where it is in your field of vision. On the course, where you cannot use alignment clubs, this picture is what you will rely on to know that you are properly aligned.

Now, practice these three aspects of your setup over an over. Place your hands right, place the ball right, aim yourself right. Then step away and start again. The more times you repeat this drill, the farther you go to making these three things automatic.

Good contact, easy swing, good setup. These are three steps that will have you hitting more greens and putting for more birdies.

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