Beginners Guide To Iron Play

Kevin Craggs explains how to hit your irons consistently more solid and control your distances so you can hit it closer.


Golf Monthly Top 25 coach Kevin Craggs offers his beginners guide to iron play to help you strike yours sweetly everytime.


Check your setup

Throughout our beginners guide to golf you will notice the starting point should be your address position. It is no different here.

The key here is to position your sternum right over the ball at address.

Golf Swing Tips

A lot of golfers have a tendency to setup with their body leaning back behind the ball, often in a subconscious attempt to get the ball up in the air.

From this position you will really struggle to find the ideal ball first, turf second contact you are looking for. You won’t be able to compress the ball properly at impact creating weak strikes that lack flight.

When standing at address make a simple check that a line runs through your shaft, belt and up to your chest.

This will help the consistency of your strikes which in turn will help you control the distance of your iron shots.


Maintain spine angle

The position of your spine at impact should resemble the position it is set in at address.

If you are setup correctly, maintaining your spine angle like this will help to ensure that you deliver the club onto the ball correctly to produce a pure strike. This is something to check everytime your practice your iron play.

One great way of working on this is to get hold of a medicine ball and putting it between your backside and a wall.

Make some slow practice swings making sure the medicine ball stays in place throughout your swing.

If you don’t have a medicine ball you can use your trusty umbrella and lean it up against your backside.

Focus on maintaining contact with the umbrella from address right through to after impact.

Importantly, as you try to maintain your posture, make sure you make a full, athletic turn. Remember - you are trying to turn your body around a central fulcrum that remains constant, your spine angle!


Dumping the club

This is one of the common faults that causes inconsistent ball striking and is worth pointing out in any beginners guide to iron play.

It means that from the top of the swing the left hip starts to turn very early and the club is dumped on the ball with the hands very much behind the line of impact.

What we are really looking for is the left hip to shift towards the target, with the hands in front of the ball at impact.

When practising try putting an umbrella down just in front of the ball to create an impact line.

Put yourself into the position at the top of your backswing, feeling a movement down towards the target and then the position at impact, making sure that your hands are in front of the umbrella.


Don’t sway

Swaying off the ball as you take the club back is also a cause of poor striking.

Again you can use an umbrella to help prevent this from happening.

When practicing take your setup and push an umbrella in the ground, pointing straight up from just outside your back foot.

You will notice a gap between the top of your leg and the umbrella and should look to maintain this gap you swing to the top.

Preventing this swaying will give you a far more solid base from which to attack the ball.

Another great drill for ball striking involves placing a tee infront of the ball at address. This is designed to help you find purer contacts and stronger ball flights.


Create lag

I can’t emphasise enough the importance of not turning the hips away as you start the downswing.

In order to encourage you to drive down and forward you can also switch the umbrella outside your front foot.

This time you should start with a small gap between your leg and the umbrella at address.

This gap should close as you start your downswing as your weight shifts down and towards the target.

You can even place an umbrella or tour stick either side of your stance to further ensure that you are completing this important move and are compressing the ball it impact with your hands ahead of the club.


Beginners Guide To Iron Play Checklist

Check your body is over the ball at setup.

Avoid swaying on the backswing.

Drive your front leg forward on the downswing.

Make sure your hands are ahead of the club at impact.


Shot on location at Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Turkey by Paul Severn

Thomas Patrick Clarke
Sports Digital Editor

Tom Clarke joined Golf Monthly as a sub editor in 2009 being promoted to content editor in 2012 and then senior content editor in 2014, before becoming Sports Digital Editor for the Sport Vertical within Future in 2022. Tom currently looks after all the digital products that Golf Monthly produce including Strategy and Content Planning for the website and social media - Tom also assists the Cycling, Football, Rugby and Marine titles at Future. Tom plays off 16 and lists Augusta National (name drop), Old Head and Le Touessrok as the favourite courses he has played. Tom is an avid viewer of all golf content with a particularly in depth knowledge of the pro tour.