If you play enough golf, you can always tell the difference between a well or poorly struck golf ball by the sound and feel it makes coming off the club face. Unfortunately, from an amateur’s perspective, those clank and thud sounds are far more common than desired. When it comes to hitting those crisp, clean iron shots, I see nearly ever amateur make the same mistake–high hands at impact. But, what does that mean exactly? Let’s dive into our first swing tip of the year: How low hands can help create better contact.
Before we begin, let’s touch base on the importance of lie angle and how that can dictate an arrant shot. I highly suggest getting “fitted” for a set of irons before you buy, as many players have to make an adjustment to their lie angle based on their swing. Let’s take a look at the picture below. If you are coming through impact with the heel of the club down and toe up off the ground (A), you will most likely miss left. This is because the heel will dig into the turf first, causing the toe of the club to shut down and pull the ball to the left. Vice versa (which is most common), heel up and toe down (B) will result in a shot missed to the right. This can be corrected by a fitting expert by bending your irons up or down, so that the full sole of the club (C) is flush and evenly distributed through turf interaction.
A common mistake:
Now let’s get back into the original swing tip. Low hands for better contact. Going back to the paragraph above, most amateurs don’t get fitted for clubs and thus, have a toe down, heel up, type of impact creating a lot of missed shots short and right. This is because they get “steep” with the club by either coming over the top or getting tall throughout the downswing, giving the club no where to go post contact. I went ahead and demonstrated what I mean by high hands at impact and how that effects the golf shot. Let’s take a look at the next few pictures of the bad from the view of a right handed golfer.
At setup, you can see an angle (red lines) between the shaft of the club and arms. Now notice the green line, which represents the club head and the right elbow at address. At impact, the hands can’t be above this green line. If the hands are above or “high”, then we have become too steep at impact, resulting in most likely a toe down situation at impact, and leaving what I like to call bloopers into right field. What causes this? There are a few different instances that can cause high hands at impact. Three of the more common issues are either A: an over the top swing and “throwing” your hands at the ball, B: lack of body rotation through impact, or C: getting tall with the body. All three of these issues will result in the club having no where to pass and getting “stuck” at impact.
How to fix this:
You will notice most players finish with the shaft of the club vertical on the follow through. This is an indicator that the player is too steep at impact with most likely little body rotation. What I like to teach in these certain situations is the importance of body rotation, holding your spine angle a little bit longer through the swing, and trying to finish with low hands through impact. Keeping your waist bent throughout the swing will help hold your spine angle a little longer. This will contribute from not getting upright or “tall” at impact. The idea of low hands through impact is trying to return your hands to where they started at address, even though this is nearly impossible. This idea and feeling encourages the shaft to shallow out on the downswing, thus, preventing a steep or vertical attack. Focusing on finishing left will help with body rotation, allowing the club to freely pass in front and around your body instead of high and vertical. Take a look at the pictures below on how to accurately come through the impact zone, emphasizing on how the hands at impact don’t go above the green line.
I highly encourage you to take a video of your iron swing if you are frequently leaving shots short, or shot and right. Closely examine your impact position and your divot pattern. If your divot patter is half the width of the sole of your club, then there is an issue. More than likely, the shaft is too vertical. If this is the case, try these swing tips and focus on those three indicators mentioned in the paragraph above. You will instantly notice and feel the difference of a clean, crisp iron shot by solely focusing on low hands through impact.