Why Do I Hit Iron Shots Fat?

Use these tips from John Jacobs to eliminate heavy strikes with your irons

A golfer hitting an iron shot into a par-3
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

It's an issue that plagues many golfers of varying levels, so in the video and article below, PGA pro John Jacobs offers some simple advice on how to stop striking your irons heavy.

Take a moment to think about how the club travels from the top of the backswing to the finish position. The clubhead moves along an oval-shaped path and the key to understanding where hitting fat golf shots comes from is to think about the lowest point of that arc.

The ideal place is about two inches past the ball - your divot should start after you’ve made contact, not before. One of the main reasons golfers struggle with this is they are desperately trying to get the ball in the air. Instead of keeping their upper body over the ball they lean back, which causes the sternum and the low point to move away from the target. The result is a heavy contact.

As a remedy, try this drill. Place an alignment stick adjacent to your left hip at address, as pictured below. The idea is to let your hip bump into the stick as you start a proper downswing sequence. This will prevent you from leaning back and will help groove a motion that’s far less likely to produce fat strikes.

A golfer setting up to hit an iron shot

Try and make contact with the stick as you start your downswing

(Image credit: Kenny Smith)

The next element to consider is your angle of attack. Hitting the ball fat is often a consequence of swinging too steeply. To prevent this, feel like you take the club back with your arms while rotating your shoulders around your spine.

This motion should feel more around your body, as opposed to a steep up and down movement. To practise this flatter action, try to hit from a side hill lie where the ball is above your feet. This will encourage the desired swing plane.

A golfer hitting an iron shot from a sidehill lie with the ball above his feet

Hitting shots with the ball above your feet will shallow out your angle of attack

(Image credit: Kenny Smith)

Finally, consider how weight distribution in the golf swing affects the consistency of your ball-striking. As you draw the club back, your weight should shift to your back foot, before it ends on your front foot as you swing through to a nice, balanced finish.

A golfer's swing follow-through

Shifting your weight through the shot should result in your trail heel coming off the ground

(Image credit: Kenny Smith)

A really handy checkpoint here is the heel of your back foot. In the finish position, it should be up, showing that you have moved your weight through the shot more effectively.

John Jacobs
Top 50 Coach

Location: Cumberwell Park

John has been Head Professional at Cumberwell Park in Wiltshire since it opened in 1994. He gets as much pleasure teaching beginners as he does county players, although being Wiltshire's Head Coach, Boys Coach and Girls Coach means he's always in demand. He also works with England Golf, and was England Coach Of The Year in 2020.

He's had the pleasure of working with many top players over the years, and has fond memories coaching the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tom Lewis before they made the leap into professional golf. John specialises in swing analysis and short game development.