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Golf/Penetrating iron shots


QUESTION: Hi there Eddie,

I'm just returning to golf after 10 years hiatus. I had a handicapped of 16 then. The reason I gave up was poor iron shots. I tend to hit my irons ballooning thus my distance suffered. I'm always admire irons shots that you could actually hear the ball.  I was searching for help online and I found your article on helping a guy who lived in Scotland.

I'm intigued with the step by step instructions that you listed. Well, I have just returned to golf and went to the range about 2 times. Now I really want to seriously improve my iron shots by following your guidance. I hope to get back to the range soon to stick on to the fundamental of solid ball striking with penetrating shots.

I hope you could share with me a few more tips and techniques that I could follow during my practice to become a better ball striker.

Cheers Eddie.  Your article really inspires me.

ANSWER: Hey Matthew:

Thank you for the kind words and I hope what I say can help you, but remember, you need trained eyes on you to help you perfect drills and technique changes to lower your ball flight.  Find a good professional (recommended and talked about) in your area and ask for some help, it's the fastest way to get you back on track.  

Bottom line to ballooning iron shots is your adding loft at the bottom of the swing down at the ball.  That is due to back of left hand collapsing and right hand moving under in a scooping motion, thus adding loft at impact.  Result:  higher trajectory, loss of distance, fat shots, thin shots, topped shots, sculled shots.

DRILL:  The best thing you can change is your mental picture of what you are trying to do with the golf club.  In order to lower the ball flight, loft must come off at impact (deloft), not be added.  In order to deloft the clubface at impact, the shaft MUST be leaning forward towards the target, the handle closer to the target than the clubface at impact.  Picture the clubface delofted so much it would drive the ball more forward instead of up or more along the ground instead of in the air.  A mental picture of that would start the process nicely.  

Instead, this is what happens with you.  About a foot or so from the ball, your hands throw the clubhead at the ball in an attempt to "hit" the ball.  By letting your wrists unhinge incorrectly, your hands throw the clubhead out in front of the handle, so at impact, the handle of your club is actually pointing back behind the ball, and the shaft is leaning away from the target......exactly backwards of what you should do.  

So, start small.  Take your hands out of the equation for a while.  Start with a 9 iron.  Make the backswing a little more than waist high with a very slight hinge of the left wrist.  There will be a slight angle between the clubshaft and your left arm.  Then, in slow motion to develop the skills, move the handle of the club past the ball (about your left thigh) before allowing the clubhead to hit the turf.  The leading edge of the clubface should hit the turf past where the ball is.  Again, start slowly.  Understand what it is you're trying to do with the club and clubface.  

Small swings, very little hand/wrist action.  Half a backswing, slight hinge.  In the forward swing, in order to keep the loft off the clubface, you must keep the handle in front of the clubface through impact.  The shaft must be leaning forward towards the target at impact.  The leading edge must rip turf in front of the ball.  These are the keywords that will help you contact the ball correctly and produce a lower, more penetrating ball flight.  

Make sure to get some professional help as well.  It's much faster and keeps you on track to your goals.  Best of luck in 2013, glad your playing again.

Eddie Kilthau
PGA Professional

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


I've tried to hit the balls in lag position and managed to hit lower tracjectory shots but the dreadful thing is that I shanked more than half the shots. I'm confused with my hands' positions. My guess is that I'm not getting used to hit shots in hand forward position from my previous early release swings.

Can you share some quick tips or drils that I could practice?

Many thanks,

ANSWER: Matthew:

My guess is your too close to the ball.  Your arms needs space to swing around your body.  If you get too close, and your trying to hit it lower, there is a tendency to shank it.  So take your normal set up position like you have been doing to hit it lower, then just back up about an inch or two.  See what happens.  Usually, I'll see people shift their weight into their front toe instead of into the outside of the left shoe back towards the heel.  So, back up some and then be aware of your balance as you swing to the finish.  


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


I've been practicing hitting the balls much more penetrating than before. I checked the ball marks on the club face which are usually towards the middle and bottom end of the grooves. However I don't gain much distance because I managed to check my swing speed quite low at 70-75mph. I'm trying to improve my ss consistently at 10mph more.  I tried to swing at a more relaxed pace and it helped but not consistently.

Do you have any tips that I can practice?  Thanks in advance.


You must get more speed than that.  Need to get stronger and more flexible to swing it faster.  Forearms, hands and wrists need to get stronger.  I would consult with a fitness/flexibility expert on this as there are tons of ways to help yourself in this area.  Ask around, find out who knows about golf and has worked with golfers in this area.  They can give you some simple exercises to do in all areas or can put together a workout routine for you that will increase your overall strength and flexibility.  Also, in the meantime, get yourself a heavy club or make yourself a heavy club and start swinging it.  I actually got a piece of rebar steel, put a grip on it and used it to swing, warm up and strengthen my golf muscles.  Weighed about 8 lbs.  The best video series I have seen is Roger Fredericks' program.  Check that out at  

Eddie Kilthau
PGA Member


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Eddie Kilthau


I am a PGA golf professional specializing in teaching the game.


I played collegiately at Arizona State University, then turned professional in 1981. I became the shortest player to ever play in the United States Open at Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh & missed my PGA Tour card by 2 shots in 1986 at PGA West, La Quinta, California. I have been teaching for 26 years in Phoenix, Arizona & I am currently the Director of Instruction at the Vistal Club in Phoenix and owner of Victory Golfworks.

Business Administration, Arizona State University. PGA Business School I - 1986, PGA Business School II - 1992, PGA Advanced Business School III - 1995. Certified PING Clubfitter - 1999. PGA Teaching & Clubfitting Seminar - 1992. Numerous Southwest Section PGA educational seminars.

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