How to Hit Down on the Golf Ball for Your Iron Shots

By Todd Kolb
June 11, 2019

Troubling Controlling Your Iron Shots? Learn How to Hit Down on the Golf Ball and Finally Start Hitting Stellar Shots Every Time.

If you want to be a good iron player, you need to know how to hit down on the golf ball.

You’ve probably already heard this before. It’s common advice. But knowing what you should do it and knowing how to do it are two entirely different things. In fact, many golfers would tell you there’s a reason that the pros can hit down on the ball consistently while many amateur players cannot. These golfers would claim that it’s a challenging and nuanced skill—a skill that weekend warriors can’t easily learn.

I’m here to tell you that’s just not true. It’s easier than you think to learn how to hit down on the golf ball. In fact, all it takes is a few small adjustments in your setup and swing to start hitting down consistently.

I’m going to walk you through three simple changes you can make in your:

  • Ball position
  • Handle position
  • Transition

But first, I want to make sure we’re on the same page about what it actually means to hit down on the ball.

What Does it Mean to Hit Down on the Golf Ball?

To understand this concept, visualize the arc drawn by the clubhead as you swing your iron. The lowest point in that arc is what we call the low point of your swing. As you swing the iron toward the low point on your forward stroke, the clubhead moves in a descending motion. Once the clubhead passes through the low point, it arcs upward again.

Pretty simple, right? Before the low point, your clubhead is descending. After the low point, your clubhead is ascending.

When you’re hitting shots off the tee, you want hit your low point just before you make contact with the ball so that you’re catching the ball on an upward motion. (For more tips on adapting for driver shots, we have some great insights on that, too.)

But with irons, you want to make contact just before hitting the low point so you catch the ball on a descending blow.

Now, the moments we call “just before the low point,” “at the low point,” and “just past the low point” are all a fraction of a second apart. It’s no wonder hitting down on the ball feels like such an impossible feat to pull off consistently.

Here’s why it’s easier than you think.

How to Hit Down on the Golf Ball

Hitting down on your iron is not about timing. It’s not about changing your swing. It’s about positioning the low point of your swing slightly in front of the ball. And you can make that happen naturally with a few small adjustments.

Try these:

Ball Position

Your best bet for iron shots is to position the golf ball in the center of your stance.

Many golfers make the mistake of positioning the ball too far forward. This can be a great move for your driver. But when you want to hit down on the ball, a center placement helps ensure that you’ll make contact with the ball just before your swing reaches its natural low point.

Handle Position

Believe it or not, handle position has an effect on low point.

When the handle of your iron is behind the clubhead—meaning the shaft leans slightly away from the target—the low point also moves backwards. If you position the handle slightly in front of the clubhead—more towards the target—the low point moves forward.

As a result, you have a decent chance at getting a good iron shot if you move the handle just a little bit in front of the golf ball. This moves the low point forward, making it easier to make impact before hitting the low point.

In the Transition

This tip is a little less certain than the other two, but I’m going to offer it, anyway, because I find this advice to be true about 85% of the time. That is to say, it’s more than worth a shot.

When you make your transition to swing down, think about pulling the club with the lead hand rather than throwing the club out and down with the trail hand.

Pulling with the lead hand tends to move the low point forward, whereas accelerating down with the trail hand often has the opposite effect.

These may seem like too nuanced an adjustment to make without putting in a lot of practice time, but there’s actually an easy way to get the feel for the difference in your body. Here’s what you do:

As part of your pre-shot routine, take a few practice swings with your lead hand only. Your trail hand does nothing. It doesn’t touch the club at all. You’re just holding the club in your lead hand and giving that hand total control of your swing movement. Take a few swings like that before hitting your shot. Most likely, you’ll naturally allow the lead hand to pull the club just as it had to on the practice swings.

Hitting Down: A Condensed Guide

Hitting down on the ball is the key to better iron shots. Essentially, you want to make impact just before hitting the low point of your swing. This is achievable for even the most casual golfers if you make small adjustments to move the low point of your swing forward.

Try:

  • Positioning the ball in the center of your stance.
  • Moving the club handle slightly in front of the clubhead.
  • Pulling on the club with your lead hand in the transition.

Simple as they are, these changes will help you finally hit down on the ball each and every time. The result? More precision and control in your iron shots for your best-ever scorecard.

What Do You Think?

Do you have any difficulty hitting down? Do you have your own techniques to recommend? Any questions or debates you want to raise?

Whatever you’re thinking, let us know in the comments.

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