Hitting iron shots higher can be a useful skill in golf for a variety of situations. Whether you need to fly a shot over a tree, carry a water hazard, or hold a green that’s elevated, getting your iron shots airborne is crucial. While technique and mechanics play a big part, there are several adjustments you can make to get your iron shots to launch higher more consistently. In this article, we’ll look at the keys to hitting iron shots higher along with the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.
What Does It Mean to Hit Iron Shots Higher?
When we talk about hitting iron shots higher, we simply mean launching the ball into the air with a steeper ascent angle. This results in a higher overall peak height and more carry distance before the ball starts descending. The opposite would be hitting a low iron shot that has a shallower launch angle and less height.
Hitting an iron shot higher requires optimizing several variables in your swing technique and set up. Most importantly, you’ll need to strike the ball first with an ascending club path. This “sweeping” impact moves the bottom of the swing arc ahead of the ball, resulting in a higher launch. Other factors like ball position, angle of attack, and dynamic loft of the clubface also impact shot height.
Mastering high iron shots gives you more versatility and ability to control trajectories. However, there are also some limitations and instances where a flatter trajectory may be preferable. Let’s look closer at the advantages and disadvantages.
The Advantages of Hitting Iron Shots Higher
Increased Carry Distance
The primary benefit of hitting iron shots on a higher trajectory is they will fly farther through the air. Thanks to the steeper launch angle, less energy is lost laterally and more is directed upwards. This allows the ball to remain aloft longer and maximize carry distance.
Improved Stopping Power
Along with increased carry, high iron shots also have a steeper descent angle. This means the ball will land at a sharper angle and have more backspin, resulting in increased stopping power on the green. Rather than rolling out, a high shot will land soft and come to rest close to the pitch mark.
Ability to Clear Obstacles
Probably the most common reason recreational players want to increase iron shot height is to clear objects like trees, water hazards, and bunkers. A higher ball flight gives you a wider margin for error and allows the ball to easily fly over trouble spots. This adds flexibility and potentially avoids penalties.
Hitting Downhill Shots
High iron shots also excel when playing downhill lies. Since gravity will naturally reduce trajectory, a steeper launch angle helps counteract this effect. It prevents downhill shots from ending up much shorter than normal.
Holding Elevated Greens
Approach shots to elevated greens often require a higher ball flight to hold the putting surface. Landing a shot with a steep angle of descent is key to stopping it quickly on top of uphill greens. A flat or low trajectory is more likely to bound over the back.
The Disadvantages of Hitting Iron Shots Higher
Reduced Overall Distance
While high iron shots maximize carry distance through the air, they ultimately give up some overall yardage to flatter trajectories. Less energy is maintained in the shot, so the total rolled-out distance will be slightly shorter.
More Impacted by Wind
The steeper ascent of high iron shots exposes the ball to wind for a longer period during flight. This makes high shots more susceptible to being pushed or knocked down by a strong wind. A lower ball flight is less impacted by wind.
Less Consistent from Uneven Lies
It can be tougher to control trajectory when hitting off uneven lies if you’re trying to hit it high. From sidehill or bare lies, the club may twist and deliver an unintended launch angle. Lower shots are generally easier to execute consistently.
Requires Precise Distance Control
To successfully pull off a high shot into a green, you need very precise distance judgment. Due to the steep angle of descent, an error of just a few yards can mean landing short or flying the green. It’s a smaller margin of error than lower shots.
Not Ideal for Low Ceilings
Trying to hit iron shots too high can cause issues if you’re playing under tree branches or other low ceilings. Making overly steep contact risks hitting obstructing objects. Sometimes keeping trajectory lower is necessary.
Keys to Hitting Iron Shots Higher
Now that we’ve covered the basics of high iron shots, let’s get into the technique required to hit them consistently. While there are several swing adjustments that contribute, these are the most important elements:
Forward Ball Position
Playing the ball forward in your stance has the effect of delivering a more ascending blow to the ball at impact. With the hands ahead at address, it’s easier to sweep upwards through impact and launch the ball on a higher initial path. Be careful not to get too far forward though, as it can lead to blading the shot.
Hands Ahead at Impact
Having the hands forward (toward the target) at the moment of impact helps lift the ball into the air with an open clubface. Letting the hands get behind or flipping at the ball will reduce loft and launch angle. Maintain your wrist angles during the downswing.
Upward Angle of Attack
Your swing path should approach the ball from the inside, with the clubhead moving upward relative to the ball at impact. This ascending angle of attack adds loft and imparts backspin to increase height and stopping power. Shallow the downswing to enhance this upward approach.
Increase Swing Speed
The faster the clubhead speed through impact, the higher the ball will fly all else being equal. Since launch height is dependent on spin, faster swing speed creates more spin and height. Longer shafted clubs can also help increase swing speed. But don’t overswing at the cost of control.
Lower Body Leads Downswing
Let your lower body lead the downswing as you start shifting into your front foot. This retains lag in the hands and club allowing them to sweep upward through impact for ideal launch angles. Avoid sliding or swaying laterally on the downswing.
Solid Ball Striking
Consistently making crisp, pure contact with the ball is necessary for reliably controlling trajectory. Fat, thin, and mishit shots will launch unpredictably. Work on keeping your head still and use positive attack angles for clean impact.
Optimize Club Loft
Using a stronger lofted iron makes it easier to achieve a high ball flight. More loft itself helps launch the ball higher. Consider using clubs with less loft if you struggle to elevate trajectory. But don’t sacrifice proper gapping and yardages.
Putting it All Together
In summary, here is a step-by-step process for executing high iron shots:
- Set up to the ball with hands forward and weight favoring your front foot.
- Maintain spine angle and lag wrist cock approaching impact.
- Make solid contact with the ball just after the low point of your swing arc.
- Allow your body to fully rotate through impact as hands stay ahead.
- Finish the swing extended towards the target allowing full follow through.
- Hold your finish position and watch for the high draw flight.
It will take some practice to consistently dial in these changes to your normal iron swing. Start gradually and build up to a full high shot. Be patient making adjustments.
Learning to hit iron shots on a high trajectory is an excellent skill to add versatility and new shot shapes to your game. It can help carry hazards, hold firm greens, and fly over trouble spots. By optimizing elements like ball position, club path, angle of attack, and swing speed, you can launch irons to new heights.
However, it’s not ideal for every situation. In windy conditions or under low ceilings, sometimes keeping shots lower may be better. It’s also tougher to control distance precisely with steep landing angles. Use good judgment to determine when high shots will actually benefit your score compared to keeping it under the wind.
Work methodically making swing adjustments and build speed gradually. With the right techniques and practice, hitting irons high becomes very attainable for most players. Mastering trajectory control will give you a whole new arsenal of shot-making skills. Just remember the keys we covered and you’ll be flying irons high in no time!