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    • Instruction: How to hit high, soft irons

    By Brian Conser, Head Instructor, TOURAcademy TPC Scottsdale

    Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Keegan Bradley can hoist the ball up in the air with the best of them. This gives them a tremendous advantage over low-ball hitters, because they’re able to land the ball as if it’s falling down a chimney, and be more aggressive attacking those difficult front hole locations. It also makes it easier to hold the ball on very hard, firm greens. For the average golfer who isn’t able to generate a lot of spin and stopping power with their mid- and long irons, launching the ball high is sometimes the only way to get the ball relatively close to the hole. Here are several keys to help you launch your irons high and soft.

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    Picture the ball leaving the clubface on a very high trajectory, as if it were being launched off an extreme uphill lie, and then set up accordingly. Position the ball more forward of center in your stance, closer to your front heel, and lean the club shaft ever-so-slightly back so that the clubhead is more in line with your hands. Due to these adjustments, your spine should tilt farther away from the target than usual, lowering your right shoulder so that it sits well beneath your left.

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    Because of the set-up adjustments, the shaft will arrive at the ball in a much more vertical position—rather than with a lot of forward lean—which helps launch the ball higher. To create additional loft, have the feeling that your wrists are re-hinging faster on the follow-through side, creating an “L” between your right forearm and shaft halfway through. This encourages the right hand to unhinge a little sooner through impact, and not remain so bent back, adding more loft to the face.

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    The shaft should exit a little higher than normal—i.e., around your neck and up toward the sky versus around the left shoulder and to the left—which again promotes an earlier rehinging of the wrists and more of a hoisting effect. Think ferris wheel versus merry-go-round. The higher and more vertical the finish, the easier it is to maintain the true loft on the face at impact and launch the ball up quickly.

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    The biggest key to hitting your irons high and soft is to match your swing to the image that you’re trying to produce. That goes for the finish as well as the setup. At the completion of the swing, your head should be tilted slightly back with your eyes looking skyward, following the track of the ball. If you’re looking down or straight ahead, then it’s a good bet the ball launched lower and hotter than desired. Follow the ball up vertically, and you should hoist the ball up vertically as well.

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