If you want to understand how to hit long irons, you have to get to the root of the problem. Anyone who has ever played a few rounds of golf know it’s harder to hit long irons than nearly any other club in your bag (looking at you driver and 3-wood). With this article, we’re going to break down how to hit long irons higher and further, why it’s difficult to hit them, and fixes for the most common problems.
How to hit long irons
The most similar comparison of how to hit long irons are hybrids. Hybrids were essentially created to assist golfers who had a hard time with long irons, and needed a little more assistance in hitting them accurately and high. Confidence is key, but until you watch yourself launch a few long irons into the green from around 200 yards out, it’s hard to be hopeful.
How to hit long irons high
With long irons, you are not hitting down to produce backspin. Instead, you want to launch the ball. To hit long irons higher, you only need to make small changes.
While you still take a divot, it will be smaller than with your mid-irons and wedges. Just like with your driver, hitting up (even if it’s only a few degrees) increases launch angle. Play the ball in the middle but slightly ahead, roughly 4-5 inches inside your front foot. By taking this approach it will establish the necessary rhythm.
Instead of reinventing your swing, simply widen up your stance and it will be easier to elevate. Think about how you close your stance up when you chip. Reverse engineer this based on loft and desired swing and it makes sense.
We want to keep your expectations in line with height. Hitting long irons high does not mean reaching an elevation similar to that of your 9-iron. When we talk about these clubs going high, we mean getting them off the ground. Something that flies 10 feet in the air and rolls 100 of 200 yard is not high enough. Something that has nice shape, flies about 80-90% of the way and simply feels good is what we’re looking for.
How to hit long irons with maximum distance
You want to hit your irons high and easy, but there are some natural roadblocks. As an amateur golfer (and especially a high-handicapper), your irons will roll out. You also need to temper expectations when it comes to how high you will hit long irons. When learning how to hit long irons, do not be afraid of this.
You will lose distance by placing too much of an emphasis of generating spin. Maybe you hit a 4-iron 200 yards. A good 20 yards probably comes in distance after carry. Embrace this. While it may prevent you from landing just over a trap and cozying it up to the pin, don’t worry.
Another key aspect of hitting the ball high and far is rhythm. A 4 or 5-iron is still an iron. Your swing should not be as hard as with your driver. Treat it like a mid-iron. A mistake many golfers make is trying to get every yard out of each swing. We know this is a section about how to hit long irons far, but dropping your swing speed by a couple miles per hour means better and more consistent contact. This consistency leads to longer carry.
As hitting long irons becomes more natural you will get better at controlling roll. Until then, maximizing distance comes from increasing launch angle, staying away from adding spin, and not over-swinging.
Why are long irons hard to hit?
You will not find a reasonable golfer who makes an argument long irons are easy to hit. It’s plain and simple, long irons are harder to hit than nearly any other club. However, being able to confidently pull a long iron out of your bag is essential to lowering you scores and dropping the handicap to a respectable level.
A lot of what makes long irons difficult to hit is the approach golfers take. We touched a little bit on rhythm already but this is a key point. These are not drivers or woods. Keep the swing smooth and pretend you have a mid-iron in your hand.
As far as the actual swing goes, staying still is an overlooked part of long iron play. Since the shafts of your 4 and 5-iron are longer than other clubs people tend to move or pull out of these swings early. Stay still, keep your hips and shoulders in sync and stay down.
When you move forward or move your head, it leads to chunks. Pulling your shoulders out too early leads to hooks and slices depending on how square you are at impact. The difficult part is long irons do require shoulder and hip turn. This is where timing comes in. Keep the rhythm of a mid-iron and you’ll hit it pure. Lastly coming up as you make contact leads to skulls or too low of a shot. These are general rules to follow but are exacerbated with the longer, long irons.
Most common issues (and their fixes)
What are the two biggest fears on any shot? The snap hook and big slice. What irons go the longest? Long irons. What are we here to do today? We’re learning how to hit long irons.
Long irons travel further off the club than most clubs in your bag, especially away from the tee. When you’re hitting into the green you do not want your misses to be big. If you’re already off the beaten path, a bad swing can be enough to take you out of the hole entirely.
Snap hooks are most often caused by overswinging, too steep of a swing, and pulling away too early. When you have too steep of a swing you are producing wedge-size divots but with terrible results. Remember that these are longer clubs and you need to sweep across the turf, rather than coming from above. Additionally, when you are getting good flight but still pulling it, stay down a little longer and find the sweet spot in your follow through.
A big slice with long irons boils down to two things, moving forward or not enough rotation. Moving forward is identified by hitting weak shots away from your body. In this case, stay back on the ball and power through at the bottom. With not enough rotation you will hit the ball strong, but off in direction. Adding a little snap at the bottom, with wrists and body, will get you back on target with the pin or fairway.
Mike is a weekend golfer and a devoted fan of the game who turned his passion into the writing experience. Any day he keeps it under 80 is a cool day. When he's not writing about golf his is playing.