We have all been there. 195 yards into the green and ideally we would hit a 4 iron or 5 iron. We remember the last time we hit a 5 iron it went as far as our chip across the green back on #2. Instead of pulling a 4 iron or 5 iron we decide to hit a hybrid and hope it does not go too long. So, why is it that most amateurs cannot hit a 3 iron, 4 iron or 5 iron? If you struggle to hit long irons, golf instruction might be for you. I suggest contacting Patrick Kelley today.
Well, there are a few factors that come into play but the most important one is that it is extremely hard to turn over a longer iron. With shorter irons, we don’t have to turn the club over nearly as much because of the loft of the club. You probably notice that you hit an 8 iron significantly better than you hit a 4 iron, correct? Well, the higher the loft the more you will get away with when it comes to getting the club through impact.
Another major factor is that most amateurs rarely, if ever, practice hitting longer irons. Every now and again we will pull out a 3 iron just to see what we can do but we never try it in a pressure situation. That said, there is a reason hybrid clubs have become so popular over the years. I recently acquired a 4 hybrid and it has been a life saver. I can hit it anywhere from 185 to 205 yards and it allows me to keep the 5 iron and 4 iron out of my hands.
If you are struggling to hit a 3 iron or 4 iron you are not alone. To hit them correctly you need to turn the club over quite a bit at impact. You may want to practice trying to hit some long irons dead left (if you are a right hander) just so you know you are turning the club over. If you aren’t comfortable over the ball with long irons just accept hitting a hybrid or lay up with two wedges. One stroke is not going to kill your round. You can pick it right back up by hitting a putt or making a great chip.
Do not feel as if you must be able to hit long irons to shoot in the 70s. I am living proof that terrible long iron players can still play golf as a single digit handicapper.
Update from a scratch golfer
The main reason hitting long irons is difficult for an amateur is the fact that they do not turn their shoulders to hit the golf ball. They use their hands and arms to drag the body back on the backswing and pull the body forward on the downswing. Instead, the body/shoulders should lead on the backswing which will create lag, allowing the body to lead on the downswing.
The secret that most people do not know is the hips do not create speed in the golf swing. Instead, the speed is created by depth in the backswing and using the core and right lat to drive under on the downswing. The left hip actually braces at impact and does not actually create any speed. Look at PGA Tour pros just after impact. Where is their left foot and left knee? It is still on the target line. If they are “pulling” with their left hip there is no way their left knee and left foot could remain stable.
The first thing you need to do to hit long irons correctly is work on your posture and take away. Here are two videos that should help with that:
Why do good golfers struggle hitting long irons? Great golfers, even professionals, sometimes struggle with their long irons. Better golfers do not hit their 4 iron or 5 iron well because they get in a habit of getting down to the ball by dropping their right shoulder. This is not a terrible thing, but it can make hitting long irons difficult. Great golfers can hit a 7 iron or 8 iron fantastic but when it comes to the 4 iron, that slight dip in the shoulder on the downswing causes them to hit it fat.
You have likely been playing golf with a scratch golfer or a really good golfer and noticed they do not like to hit long irons off the deck. This is because when they dip the shoulder, they release the club just a bit early and end up hitting it heavy and sometimes even fat. It only takes one of these in a round to completely mess up every subsequent swing. Part of golf is understanding strengths and weaknesses. Great golfers play to their strengths and do not want to test the Golf Gods by trying to hit a 3 iron on the green in two on a par 5.
If you are a scratch golfer and you are looking to improve your long irons, you need to maintain your posture longer and get through the ball with your right side rather than dropping your right shoulder. You can get away with dropping that shoulders on your teed up driver or wedges but a 4 iron is a bigger problem. You will know the true scratch golfers from the wannabes by seeing if they can hit a 4 iron off the deck crisply. If you noticed they try to hit a hybrid or wood every time a long iron is needed, you know their weakness and can exploit it during the round. If they whistle a rocket down the middle of the fairway off the deck with a 4 iron to start the round, you are in for a long day.