Long irons are not easy to hit. It is just true. It is fun to watch someone else strike a 3 iron 230 yards and watch it draw right onto a green, stopping on a dime.
I say it is fun to watch other people because for most of us, seeing a shot like that is more something that we watch on television rather than being something that we produce ourselves.
For most amateurs and especially beginners, long irons are kind of like a curveball in baseball and a drop shot in tennis, rolled into one, but there are some ways to make long irons more hittable.
Reading this article will give you some tips and ideas of how to hit long irons and make it a little less difficult.
When you can hit a pure long iron shot consistently, you can do almost anything in golf and our hope is that this tutorial gives you the tools you need to start your journey towards good long iron play.
Step By Step Instructions
1. Check Your Equipment
If you are a beginner then you should have a set of beginner clubs. They are more forgiving and have a larger sweet spot than players clubs but they can also still give you good distance even if you do not hit the ball as pure as you hoped.
Read our article about the most forgiving iron sets and remember that those sets include your long irons as well.
There are some other options for your longer irons including hybrid clubs and driving irons. Hybrid clubs vs long irons is a topic that will be approached later in this article, but to see our article about the best driving irons and hybrids on the market, just click on the name below:
Choosing the right long iron is one of the most important steps to long iron play, but there are other equipment issues that come into play as well. Finding the right golf ball that spins less, is easier to hit, and allows for the energy of the club to be transferred into the ball. If you use a dead, waterlogged, or subpar golf ball then even your pure strikes will feel like mishits.
2. Find Your Target and Consider Your Most Consistent Shot Shape
Consistency for beginners is difficult to begin with, but it is especially difficult when it comes to your long iron game. With that said, even the inconsistency of a long iron brings with it a consistent shape to your shot.
If you slice the ball often, then you should play that slice, and if you draw the ball you have to do the same. They key here is to know the shape that your long irons most often produce and to use that shape in aiming for your target.
For your long irons you want to have a slightly wider stance than shoulder width apart. This extra width makes it easier to get a full turn with the general rule being, “the longer the club, the wider the stance.”
With your wider stance, the ideal ball placement is in the front-center of your stance. Many amateurs want to move the ball too far forward in their stance in an attempt to help get the ball off the ground, but this is a mistake.
Doing this makes it easier to make contact with the ball when your club is on the way up rather than down and that leads to thin or topped shots more often than not.
4. Grip Pressure
Grip pressure is important because gripping the club too tightly causes tension in the arms and hands which leads to less freedom and athleticism in your swing.
The “death grip” that most amateurs put on their club for every shot does little more than to take away distance and control in the player’s attempt to improve both. Grip your club firmly but not tightly and let your body and the club do the work.
When it is time to start your swing, the takeaway is key. Think low, wide, slow, and controlled. That may seem like a lot to think about, but after a few practices it becomes second nature.
Your first move in the takeaway should be your clubhead moving back and low and then staying out wide rather than going up on the same steep plane that you use for your wedges. You want an inside-out swing and that will not happen if you do not bring the club out wide.
6. Make a Full Turn
When you are hitting long irons, a full turn may not look the same as it does for your driver. A good rule on the long irons is to think “80% backswing” because in reality you will go more than that and probably end up just short of parallel to the ground which is exactly what you want.
Remember your long irons will be more down into the ball and they need to be more controlled than the swing that you use for your driver or fairway woods and that control starts with your turn.
7. The Downswing
The downswing is where many beginning golfers blow it. We want so badly to destroy the ball, and in our mind the harder we swing the farther the ball is going to go. If you have been playing golf for very long then you know that is very rarely true.
In fact, a slower, controlled swing that makes solid contact with the sweet spot of the club face will always outperform a wild, high speed swing that misses the sweet spot altogether.
With your long irons, also make sure to hit down on the ball. There is a tendency to put the ball more forward in your stance and to make contact as your club is going up. That is not how to hit a long iron and will normally result in either thinning the ball or topping the ball completely.
Hit the ball first, take a divot second and allow the club to the do the work for you. Here is a good chart that shows you the attack angle you should take with your swing, and you will notice that you should be hitting down on the ball:
(Photo courtesy of wizgolf.com)
8. Maintain Your Balance and Hold Your Finish
A lot of these instructions have focused on control. You want to control your body, control the club, and swing at a speed that you can control. Maintaining balance is all about control and it is in that balance that you find what we call “effortless distance.” When you are balanced through your swing you get the most out of every aspect of it and that is what you are looking for.
One of the best ways to show that you maintained balance is to strike a “golf pose” at the end of your shot. All of the good golfers do it. For about 1-2 seconds, they hold the club at the end of their swing and watch the ball. It is in this finishing hold that you see the balance that they had throughout the swing.
Check out this video from Chris Ryan Golf for a great beginner’s tutorial called “How To Pure Your Long Irons”
Long Irons or Hybrids?
When Should I Swap My Long Irons For Hybrids?
In our opinion, if you are reading a “Beginner Series” article, then the answer to this question is “right now.” You should immediately switch your 3, 4, and maybe even 5 iron for their hybrid equivalent. They are just so much easier to use and to hit and their advantages far outweigh their cons.
Long Irons Vs Hybrids
There are a lot of reasons that some players use hybrids and others use long irons, but in general there has been a big shift since hybrids became mainstream. There are so many advantages to playing hybrids and long irons are traditionally so difficult to hit, even some professionals are replacing some of their long irons with hybrid clubs.
- Pros For Using Long Irons
- You get improved feel.
- Many players prefer the look of an iron.
- You get more spin and more shapability.
- Pros For Using Hybrids
- They are easier to hit.
- Their ball flight is just as good.
- They land softly on the green.
- They are great out of the rough and better off of the tee.
- They are more forgiving.
- They travel farther.
Check out this video for 5 tips to hit long irons pure and straight by MrShortGame Golf:
Final Thoughts On How To Hit Long Irons
Long irons are quickly losing some of their usefulness in golf, but tour pros and scratch golfers still use them considerably more than they use hybrids. The feel that they provide and their ability to help shape shots the way that you want them means they will continue to be around for a long time.
We hope that you enjoyed this tutorial, that you used the videos and instructions well, and that you learned a little bit about hitting a long iron. These are difficult clubs to hit, but we believe if you follow our advice and instruction you will be hitting them well in no time.
Comment on this post about your experience with long irons. Do you hit them well, poorly, or somewhere in between. We would also like to know your preference…Long irons or hybrids?