7 Tour Pro Iron Play Tips

DP World Tour pro Connor Syme shares his top tour pro iron play tips

Connor Syme hitting an iron shot
(Image credit: Paul Severn)

There are a host of things tour players do that you don't, so who better to learn from. In the article below, DP World Tour pro Connor Syme shares seven keys that he relies on to keep his ball-striking sweet...

1. The set-up

The set-up is overlooked but it's vital if you want to strike your irons well and create the swing you want. My dad, Stuart, is also my coach, and something we’ve always worked on together is creating a great, stable base from which to start the swing. This keeps me engaged, and from here I’ll be able to swing freely without any restrictions.

Connor Syme setting up to hit an iron shot

A stable base is an essential starting point for hitting crisp iron shots

(Image credit: Paul Severn)

With a 7-iron, your feet should be a fraction more than shoulder-width apart and the ball perhaps a third of the way between the middle of your stance and your left foot. This puts you in the perfect position to get the ideal strike on the back of the ball.

2. Engage the legs

When I say “keep myself engaged”, I’m talking about the legs. If you can engage your legs and get yourself set, you should see an improvement in your strike. I would tend to just bounce my knees a little bit to get myself set up properly and feel a little tension in the thighs.

Connor Syme setting up to hit an iron shot

Feel a little tension in your thighs as you engage your legs at set-up

(Image credit: Paul Severn)

The sway starts with the hips, so I keep my legs nicely flexed. From there, my turn comes from my upper body, and it’s almost impossible to get my weight onto the outside of my heels, where problems arise.

If you start turning with the lower half, that’s when striking becomes an issue, because you’re changing your centre of gravity. You’ll have to compensate later in the swing and rely on timing to hit good shots. With a stable base and your legs engaged, you really can’t move too much off the ball with your upper half.

3. The grip

With other fundamentals like the grip, people can have slight differences of opinion, but from a face-on position I would always try to have two knuckles on show in my upper hand. If you have got your thumb then overlapping on top, that will give you a pretty neutral golf grip.

Connor Syme demonstrating a neutral golf grip

Having two knuckles showing on the lead hand is a good guide to follow for a neutral grip

(Image credit: Paul Severn)

That gives me the best chance of completing my backswing with no restrictions going back. I see a lot of people who have a weak golf grip, and that can lead to a slice as they get a little bit inside. From that position there is really nowhere to go. The only option is to go over the top, which will lead to trouble.

4. Strength from the ground up

Retaining right knee flex is massive here. For me, the golf swing is about starting with strength from the ground up, and the knee must remain flexed as leg stability is so important.

Connor Syme at the top of the backswing

Strength comes from the ground up, so it's important to keep flex in the back leg in the backswing

(Image credit: Paul Severn)

If I can keep my legs in the correct position, the club will almost slot into the correct position, too. I’m always thinking about my leg action in the golf swing and if I get it right, then I really don’t have to think about things like width – it all just follows naturally.

5. Takeaway

The takeaway in the golf swing is critical to good ball-striking, too, and for me this starts with the chest turning away from the ball. I’m then trying to take the club away so that when it’s halfway back, my coach standing directly behind me shouldn’t be able to see the shaft of the club as the clubhead should be obscuring it.

Connor Syme hitting an iron shot

Turn your chest away from the ball and let the arms and hands follow

(Image credit: Paul Severn)

If I can find this position and then take the club up to the top, it’s much easier to swing back down on the same line, too. The key thing is that if it gets out of line at this point, you will have to compensate somewhere else in the swing, and every time you have to compensate you’re making it more difficult to consistently strike the ball well.

Connor Syme demonstrating a good and bad takeaway in the golf swing

If you get this part of the swing wrong, you'll be making compensations that lead to inconsistency 

(Image credit: Paul Severn)

6. The 60% drill

Sometimes when I’m working on my ball-striking I will swing at a slower pace, which helps me to feel where the ground is a little bit more during my action. Say my 4-iron swing is about 100mph, then I might drop down to 60mph, so about 60%.

Connor Syme doing a drill to improve his iron play

Swinging and hitting balls at a slower speed will help you sync up your body and improve your iron play

(Image credit: Paul Severn)

I would set up exactly the same and swing exactly the same but really focus on brushing the ground through the ball. The ball won’t go as far, but it gives me a feeling to try and recreate when I go back to full speed. It's a great way of learning how to compress the ball and flush your irons

Some guys will do half swings to try and improve their strike, and that’s another great way of finding where the ball is and getting your body moving in a good way. The feet-together drill is another way of doing that, but swinging at 60% and trying to just brush the turf through the ball is something that works well for me.

7. Ball position

If you’re struggling with heavy or thin iron shots, then check your ball position. Even if you feel like the rest of your set-up is good, a poor ball position will still throw your striking out. The perfect ball position will allow you to complete your arc at the right point. I use alignment sticks all the time when I’m struggling with my strike.

Connor Syme using alignment sticks to sort the correct ball position

Use alignment sticks when practising to stay on top of your ball position

(Image credit: Paul Severn)

If you have it too far back, you’re going to arrive at impact too early in the arc and either hit it fat or come in too steep. Alternatively, if it’s too far forward, you’ll either hit it clean or catch the ground too early as you’re almost on the way up again by the time you make contact, so it becomes very difficult to catch the ball flush.

Connor Syme demonstrating two bad golf set-up positions

If you have the ball position too far back (left) your swing is likely to get too steep (right) 

(Image credit: Paul Severn)

I would start with my wedges more or less in the middle of my stance, driver up towards the front heel, and my 7-iron about a third of the way up from the wedge position. Ball position is key and I spend a lot of time making sure mine is just right with every club.

Andrew Wright
Staff Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x