Vintage Lee Trevino video reveals the secret to hitting crisp irons

lee trevino hits a tee shot during the 1971 open championship

Follow this advice from Lee Trevino to improve your ball striking.

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Welcome to Play Smart, a regular game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.

There aren’t many golfers who’ve owned their swings the way Lee Trevino has. The six-time major winner might not have been the most conventional player, but he sure knew how to get the ball in the hole.

Along with being a heck of a golfer, Trevino is also an elite talker — and he’ll impart his wisdom on anyone who will listen. The best advice he gives comes in the form of some great swing tips.

I’ve written plenty about the Merry Mex’s swing instruction, but seemingly every week, I uncover another gem. That was the case this week as I stumbled on the video below in which Trevino explains the secret to hitting solid irons.

Trevino’s key to solid irons

Hitting a solid iron requires hitting down on the ball to produce ball-first contact. This allows the club to do its job, creating solid contact with plenty of backspin. But when recreational players stand over the ball, they far too often try to help the ball into the air.

“Don’t try to lift the ball up,” Trevino said. “The secret to playing is to push the ball in the ground.”

It can feel a little counterintuitive to hit down to make the ball go up, but that ball-first contact is what produces the spin that elevates the ball.

“What makes the ball come up in the air,” Trevino said. “Is compressing the ball into the ground. Then it works up the grooves, and that’s what gets loft on it.”

It can be tempting as a new golfer to try to help the ball in the air. But when you do that, you’re destroying any chance at solid contact and robbing yourself of power. Remember, if you want to hit the ball solid, hit the little ball (golf ball) and then the big ball (the Earth). If you can do that, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better ball striker.

Zephyr Melton Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at