TunkTIPS Tips for Better Golf

Hit Better Long Golf Shots--Long Irons and Fairway Woods

Most of my students have trouble hitting long irons and fairway woods. The fact is (unfortunately) that these clubs are difficult to use.   The less loft on the golf club, the more difficult the shot.  That is the key to long fairway clubs - great contact! You can mis-hit a short iron and get away with it.  Not so a long iron, fairway wood or hybrid, which must be struck solidly to produce decent results.

Your instinct will tell you that you have to swing harder to hit the ball farther.  As a result, most golfers swing too hard with the longer shots. You should use the same amount of effort as your pitching wedge, and you will get a rewarding result. You can also improve contact by improving your angle of approach. Angle of approach simply means the direction the club is traveling when it strikes the golf ball. Hitting a driver is easier because you can use a tee, which allows you to hit up on the ball. The short irons are easier because you have more loft on your club, which allows you to hit down on the ball. The long fairways clubs are difficult because your club must travel level to the ground at impact to produce good results.  

Here is a simple drill that will help you feel the correct angle of approach and gain confidence in your ability to use the long clubs from the fairway:

1.  Tee the ball up off the ground about a half inch.

2.       Check your ball position so the ball is played forward in your stance (about two inches behind the left heel for a right handed  golfer). You also want to check and make sure that you are far enough from the ball that the butt of the club is at least four inches away from your left thigh.

3.       By reaching for the ball and teeing the ball in the air, we will shallow out your swing which will allow you to approach the ball on a good angle. The goal is to clip the ball solidly off the tee without taking a divot.

4.       Keep working on making a nice level approach.  If you take a divot behind the ball or top the ball, you are hitting up on the ball - no good. If you break the tee or take a divot in front of the ball, you are hitting down too much on the ball.  Once you have achieved good contact and the ball is flying nicely, start lowering the tee. Keep lowering the tee until the ball is on the ground. If you start to struggle go back to the tee for a couple of swing or simply imagine the ball is sitting up on a tee.

Extra Credit Opportunity!

Warning!!!  This drill is only for those golfers that are serious about being seriously good!

As many of my students will attest, I like to practice hitting my long clubs by placing the ball in a divot. This may sound strange, but I find that by taking a nice easy swing and focusing on a level approach into the ball, I can actually hit nice shots out of shallow divots - even with a three wood. This is a drill to help me overcome the temptation to swing too hard or to try to help the ball in the air. Once I go back to placing the ball on the grass, it seems like stealing! I suggest consulting your local PGA pro before trying this drill on your own; you should not attempt this drill if you have fragile wrists, swing too hard, or tend to take large divots.  Doing this drill properly has been known to cause large smiles, increased confidence, and feelings of superiority over playing partners. If you start hoping your ball lands in a divot so you can show off to your friends, you should immediately consult your local Pro!