Bill Haas' weight shift is key in his success when hitting long irons. (Carr/Getty Images)
By Travis Fulton, Director of Instruction, PGA TOUR Academy
One of the things that helped Bill Haas get over the hump this weekend in our nation’s capital was his splendid iron play. Haas, a top-10 finisher six other times this season on the PGA TOUR, claimed his first TOUR win of 2013 on Sunday with a three-stroke victory at the AT&T National. Haas led the field with 25 birdies and also tied for fourth in greens in regulation (GIR), hitting more than 76 percent of his greens. For the year, Haas ranks 9th on TOUR in GIR at 69.02%, and is second in GIR from 150-175 yards (73.8%) and seventh from 200-plus yards (53.9%). Those numbers alone speak to his iron efficiency.
What makes Haas such a good ball-striker — not just with his irons, but with all his clubs — is his ability to transfer his weight forward onto his left side during the transition phase of his swing. By the time Haas starts down from the top, his center of gravity has already shifted forward of the ball and most of his weight is on his left leg. Coupled with a very forward ball position, this is what allows Haas to launch his long irons on a higher trajectory, so the ball lands softer.
Ball position is a critical element to getting more distance and height from your long irons. Most amateurs make the mistake of playing the ball too far back in their stance, with their head over the ball. This forces them to hang back and try to help the ball up in the air. Usually, they end up hitting the ball thin or smothering it. The best iron players on TOUR, like Haas, play the ball well forward with their long irons, and then they go up and get it by aggressively shifting their weight onto their lead side on the downswing.
If you want to hit high, majestic long irons like the pros do, than you need to commit to a more forward ball position and work on transferring your weight to your left side as fast as you can on the downswing. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Position the ball inside your left heel (at least two balls forward of center in your stance) and assume a shoulder-width stance. Tilt your spine to the right so that your left shoulder is higher than your right and your head is behind the ball.
Step 2: Initiate the downswing by laterally moving your left hip and knee toward the target, so that they’re directly over your left ankle. This lateral bump brings the low point of your swing forward so that you can hit down on the ball with the club’s true loft.
Step 3: As you shift forward, maintain a swing direction that’s slightly to the right, or in to out. You still want to hit down on the ball, but try to brush or bruise the turf; don’t dig.
Travis Fulton is the Director of Instruction at the TOUR Academies
at TPC Sawgrass and the World Golf Village. For more information on the
TOUR Academy, click here.