If you’re an avid golfer, you’ve likely experienced the dreaded “fat” iron shot. This is when you make contact with the ground before properly striking the ball, resulting in a low, short shot that veers left of your target. Pulling iron shots can be incredibly frustrating, as it really minimizes distance and control. However, with some adjustments to your set up and swing, you can get rid of this pesky miss. In this article, we’ll break down the common causes of fat iron shots and provide tips to help you make solid contact.
Stance and Posture Issues
One of the most common reasons recreational golfers hit fat iron shots is improper stance and posture. Your stance and posture serve as the foundation for the entire golf swing. If they are flawed, it’s difficult to make consistent, solid contact with the ball. Here’s what to check regarding your stance and posture:
Teeing the ball too far forward in your stance promotes hitting the ground before the ball. Be sure to position the ball slightly back of center in your stance, particularly with your mid and short irons. This places the low point of your swing right where you want to make contact.
Width of Stance
A stance that’s too narrow limits balance and causes swaying, making it harder to bottom out the swing arc at the proper spot. Widen your stance to slightly wider than shoulder width to improve stability.
Bending too much from the waist encourages raising up during the downswing and hitting fat shots. Maintain posture by bending from your hips and keeping your back close to straight until rotation occurs.
Having too much weight on your toes or heels also throw off swing bottoms and low point control. Evenly distribute weight between the balls of your feet and heels for optimal stability.
In addition to stance and posture, several swing flaws can contribute to fat iron shots:
Trying to kill the ball by taking an overly long, aggressive swing almost ensures you’ll bottom out too early. Keep swings smooth and controlled.
When you start the downswing by releasing the club and “casting” your hands out too early, it’s tough to compress the ball. Hold your wrist angles stable a moment longer through the transition.
Any lateral body movement during the swing interferes with consistent contact. Maintain spine angle and resist swaying for clean iron shots.
Flicking or rolling the hands over too rapidly just before impact causes you to stub shots. Allow your body to rotate and pull the grip downward into the ball.
It’s challenging to improve swing flaws and poor contact if you can’t identify where the low point currently bottoms out. Here are two simple practice drills to try:
An impact bag gives both visual and sensory feedback on where the bottom of your swing arc occurs. Pay attention to where you strike the bag to get a sense of proper contact.
Take a bucket of balls and dust the crown of each one with chalk. Hit balls off a tight lie, cleanly struck shots will show a ring around the equator of the ball at impact, while fat shots remove chalk from the bottom.
In addition to drills, these swing adjustments can help you stop landing irons fat:
Reducing width descending helps raise low point to make clean contact.
Position the ball further back in stance so you strike it before the ground.
Turn your core and shoulders at a brisker pace to avoid getting “stuck.”
Shallow the shaft
Allow the club to shallow out more approaching impact to reduce digging.
Besides improving swing technique, equipment adjustments can make it easier to get crisper iron shots:
Adding more forward shaft lean through club fitting positions sweet spot lower at address.
Increasing bounce angle lets the club glide rather than dig through impact.
A wider sole reduces the sharpened leading edge that contributes to fat shots.
Upright lie angle
A more upright lie brings the clubface slightly off the turf through impact.
Getting Pro Assistance
While this guide will get you headed in the right direction, taking professional instruction is the fastest way to ingrain sound technique that eliminates fat iron shots for good. Highly skilled PGA professionals have an expert eye for spotting swing deficiencies and making impactful adjustments. Through video analysis, launch monitors, and tailored drills, a teaching pro trains your motion to shallow out properly and bottom out in the correct sequence. Investing in several lessons can shave months or years off figuring things out on your own through trial and error. Take control of your iron play by seeking out coaching tailored to your specific needs.
The frustration of losing distance and precision on fat iron shots can make the game less enjoyable. However, armed with an understanding of what causes them and making some corrections, you can get back to hitting crisp, consistent iron shots. Be patient, focus on proper fundamentals, and get assistance if you need it. You’ll start pureing your irons and shooting lower scores in no time.