Welcome to Play Smart, a regular GOLF.com game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.
Hitting your irons well is an absolute must if you want to make birdies. Sure, you can drive, chip and putt your way to some low scores, but if you want circles on the card, you have to hit it close with your irons.
The first step in hitting the ball closer to your target is understanding how the clubhead works. Priority No. 1 is always to get the clubface square at impact. If you can do that, your ball will fly toward your target. Simple, right?
Well, not always.
As the clubhead approaches impact, you will subconsciously make the necessary adjustments in an attempt to square the clubface. The problem is, those movements rely on timing and that means a lack of consistency. For better results, try a stronger clubface on the way down.
As GOLF Top 100 Teacher Andrew Rice notes in the video above, when the face is shut, you have to make some adjustments to get everything squared up. An easy way to do that is by leaning the handle forward at impact, which delofts the club. Coincidentally, that also happens to be a great impact position if you want to hit crisp iron shots.
“You need to get the hands forward and deloft the club,” Rice says. “That’s going to get the clubface square.”
Conversely, if the clubface is open coming into the ball, you have to get your hands (and the handle) further back at impact, which adds loft and keeps you from compressing the ball.
“Anything you can do to get that clubface stronger on the way down to incentivize you to get those hands forward, that’s going to give you cleaner access to the back of the golf ball,” he says. “Give it a go.”