Compress Your Iron Shots With This Drill

In this video, PGA pro Ben Emerson offers a great drill for how to compress the golf ball with your irons

PGA pro Ben Emerson demonstrating how to compress the golf ball with your irons
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

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How to compress the golf ball

It's one of the best feelings in golf: you've ripped through an iron shot, striking the ball first and removing some turf post-impact. It's something tour players do time after time and in the video and article below, PGA pro Ben Emerson runs through a simple drill that will help you compress your irons better than ever before... 

One of the questions I get asked a lot is, ‘how do I compress my irons?’ It’s a really interesting one because when a lot of you are working on your swings, most of the time you're focusing on things like how to improve your takeaway or get into a certain position in the downswing. However, the only thing the ball really understands is impact, so it’s vital for a player to develop a better understanding of what it looks like. 

What has made this difficult is that golfers have been misled over the years when it comes to the ideal set-up. If you think of a normal address position, with the ball in the middle of your stance, most people will have their hips very level and their hands sitting straight below the middle of their chest. But impact doesn’t look like that. 

If this is something you struggle with, it's vital to fix your golf swing posture, but it's also worth putting more of your attention to the position in the swing that's ultimately the most important. When approaching impact, some of the best players in the world do something very different to their amateur counterparts. Their hips have cleared, their chest has cleared and their hands are in front of the golf ball - this is one of the things all great golfers do.

When you’re trying to get the ball to go into the air, especially when just starting out in the game, it can be hard to get your head around this process. That’s because it seems counter-intuitive to hit down on the ball to make it go up. So what ends up happening is golfers get their weight onto their back foot and they cut across the ball in an attempt to scoop it into the air. That's the opposite to what you want to do and is also why some golfers end up needing an over the top golf swing drill if they've developed a slice.

PGA pro Ben Emerson demonstrates a bad impact position and a good impact position

Avoid scooping the ball (left) and commit to hitting down on it to make it go up (right)

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

The consequences of this disastrous move are two-fold. For starters, you lose so much distance because the club isn’t in the impact position it’s been designed for. It’s either back how it started with the shaft completely perpendicular to the ground or it’s leaning back, adding even more loft to the club. In addition, you also lose control of the strike as the margin for error is greatly reduced.

So, a drill to get you back on track involves starting at impact and working back from there. Take your normal set-up position, determining how wide your stance should be, then push your hands forward and rotate your hips and chest as Ben demonstrates in the video above - that’s where you want to be when you strike the ball.

PGA pro Ben Emerson showing the ideal position approaching impact with an iron

This drill will help you master the low punch shot

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Rehearse how that feels before doing some awareness training. Swing to the top and then try to return to that new impact position. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate here as that will help you ingrain the move needed to improve your ball striking. It'll also help you learn how to play the low punch shot, which is so valuable to have in your locker.

Add this drill into your practice routine. It'll feel alien at first, but over time, it will enable you to compress your iron shots so much better and add distance and accuracy to this part of your game.

Ben Emerson
Top 50 Coach

Location: Sand Martins GC 


Ben’s modern approach to golf coaching has seen him become one of the most sought-after coaches in the country and teaches none other than Robbie Williams. His honest, modern and fun style of coaching has help thousands of golfers of all ages and abilities and he has been coaching for over 20 years.


Advice for practice:

Start with slow, small swings. If you can’t do it small and slowly there is not a hope in hell of doing it at full speed with a full swing! In other sports such as rugby or martial arts they slow learn new moves/plays before making them at full speed. 


Teaching philosophy: 

‘Why guess when you can access’ Ever new student goes through a full TPI movement screen, 3D motion capture and pressure plate analysis as well as TrackMan and 2D video analysis. Coaching is based on facts and not guess work. 


Most common problem:

A lack of clubface understanding and awareness. I get golfers to aim the clubface directly at the target and get them to make a slow swings and deliver the club to the ball with an open face, then repeat the same thing again but with a closed face, followed by one at the target. Giving them full awareness based on feelings errors to find a happy middle ground.