Editor's note: This is the fifth in a 10-part series.
The key to hitting crisp iron shots is understanding where the club bottoms out. The club has to reach the bottom of its arc in front of the golf ball to hit a solid iron. A tour player's club will bottom out 2 to 3 inches in front of the ball. The average player's club will bottom out 2 inches behind the ball. On a good iron shot, the ball is compressed. You're actually pinching that ball down into the turf.
If you stopped a good player at impact, their hands are somewhere around the left thigh. Their hips are open at impact, and all their weight is on their left side.
One of the drills I like to use is to put three balls in a line, perpendicular to your stance. Put 4 or 5 inches between each ball. Then hit the middle ball. (You don't hit the ball that is too far away or the one closer to your stance.) It's a good way to gauge where your divots are beginning. You always want your divot in front of those two balls that are left sitting there. If the divot is behind the two remaining balls, you know you've made contact with the ground too soon. Get those hands ahead of the ball.
Another way to get used to this is to "pre-set" your impact. Mimic impact, with 95 percent of your weight on the left side, your right heel in the air, your hips open, your hands slightly ahead of the ball and the clubface at the backside of the ball. Start from that position. Now make a half backswing and hit some half shots for awhile so you get the feel for what your impact position should be like.
For Jeff Mietus' video demonstration of this tip, go to www.buffalonews.com/golf. WNY PGA club pros will offer weekly tips in Wednesday's editions of The News. Next week's tip is from Tim Fries, head golf pro at Transit Valley Country Club.
Jeff Mietus, assistant pro, Transit Valley Country Club.