The mark of a good player is the ability to hit any shot in the bag. Sure, he might have weaknesses, but he doesn't avoid a shot out of fear of failure. To become proficient, you need a full repetoire, and you might as well start with the shots that give you the most trouble. For many golfers, that's the long irons.
Why are long irons difficult? First, they have the smallest effective hitting area of any club in your bag (except the putter). Second, because they are low-lofted, mistakes with them are magnified.
To nail your long irons consistently, you've got to sweep the ball off the turf. Here's how:
The proper setup for long irons positions the body so contact is made at the lowest point of the swing. To achieve this, set your feet shoulder-width apart, with your weight distributed evenly between both feet. The ball is an inch or two inside your left heel and your hands are even with the ball, just about where you want them at impact. Keep your grip pressure fairly light; tension will inhibit the full swing you need for success.
Swing Low and Long
Your goal is to sweep the ball off the turf at impact, so begin the takeaway accordingly. Don't pick the club up with your hands; drag it back low along the ground, keeping the clubhead on the target line until your body turn forces you to bring it to the inside. Make a full coil of your shoulders, allowing your hips to turn and, if need be, your left heel to lift off the ground.
Unwind and swing the club smoothly into impact. Don't force it: The shafts of the clubs are long enough that centrifugal force will provide power. A long, low backswing sets you up for a shallow angle of attack into the ball, which will sweep the ball off the grass, making the most of the club's effective loft.
Drill: Clip the Tee
To ingrain the long, low takeaway required for solid long irons, tee the ball up just above the ground. Place another tee about 18 inches behind the ball, directly on the target line. Hit practice shots trying to clip the back tee with a shallow takeaway. When you can do it consistantly, do it with the ball on the ground.
Private Lessons 1999 Time4 Media, Inc., used under license by GolfServ Online, Inc. Instructional information provided by Golf Magazine.