Short Irons

Even if you are not having trouble with your short irons, this is something to pay attention to for some improvement.

When I play with all levels of golfers, I log a rough statistical database of successes and failures for my own improvement and improvement of others.

I have found that about 75% of all amateurs hit their short irons too hard. I can’t tell you how many times on a 180 yard par 3 I will be hitting 7 iron and a playing partner will be hitting 4 or 5. Then on a 150 yard par 3 I will be hitting 9-iron and the same playing partner will also be hitting a 9. Then on a 125 yard par three I will be hitting pitching wedge and my cohort will have a gap, or even sand wedge.

The reason for this…most amateurs have gotten locked in on this “getting a full turn” or “completing the back swing” nonsense.

Read #10 in this previous post

Taking a driver to parallel is fine if you are flexible enough. However, as the shafts get shorter, that long back swing will grow increasingly more troublesome for both hitting the ball solid and straight, but also distance control.

What good does it do you if you hit your 9-iron 155 one shot and 135 the next…especially when both shots are equally solid. To shorten the distances on your lower irons and wedges, you don’t want the same long back swing as a 5 iron or driver and then decelerate to hit it shorter. You want a shorter swing and to accelerate more. Just like I have said that ball position for a driver and wedge are significantly different, so should the length of swing on shorter clubs.

I will now post distances for my clubs and realize two things. I can hit all of them significantly farther, but seldom do for distance control purposes. Also, if you notice I hit my long irons and mid irons a lot farther than you and the short irons and wedges about the same…that should tell you are hitting your short irons too far and you need to shorten up your swing with these clubs.

One more thing. From the middle of the fairway with no wind, no down hill, etc, when I am in between clubs, I almost always hit the longer club and tone it down. Under normal conditions I rarely would hit 9 iron from 155 or 160 and so on. These are the max distances I play these clubs from.





  1. Random

    “Also, if you notice I hit my long irons and mid irons a lot farther than you and the short irons and wedges about the same…”

    The typical muni golfer does not hit their short irons and wedges anywhere near as far as you. These distances seem farther than even most of the PGA tour pros. These look like Tiger Woods-type distances. I realize you are a long drive champion and should be hitting it way farther than the typical muni golfer, so I accept that these are how far you hit your clubs. But I have difficulty believing you are seeing your average amateur hit their nine iron 150 yards. Are you talking about competitive amateurs, or just your average muni golfer? If I really stand on my nine iron, I might get 135 yards out of it (I’m an 8 index). Usually I hit it about 125 – 130. When I go out as a single and get paired up with other random golfers at the muni, maybe once in a year do I run across someone who hits their short irons 25 yards longer than I do.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      Let me be a bit more clear. I agree that a typical muni course golfer…and even a country club single digit aren’t going to hit 9 iron 150 yards. I am just saying most golfers hit their short irons too far and I illustrated this by showing the extreme case that I have witnessed a few times before.

      • Random

        OK – Thanks for clarifying. I was just wondering where all these big hitters are hiding! 🙂

  2. TonyK

    “The reason for this…most amateurs have gotten locked in on this “getting a full turn” or “completing the back swing” nonsense.”

    Hey Monte, this is one of the single best tips I’ve ever gotten. For far too long I’ve tried to create a huge arc on my backswing (yeah, For deh DISTanZE!)….and when I think back, it’s amazing how much this concept is pounded into every golfers’ head.

    Great post regarding short irons! This is really something that I would never think about….but now that you point it out to me, it makes perfect sense. I do notice a bit of a logjam when it comes to distances between some of my clubs.

    I don’t always post responses, but this is one of the first places I check whenever I log on. Thanks for all your well thought out and very informative articles!!

  3. meateater

    Monte, I think you made a great point in this post. Most Tour pros do not seem to swing particularly hard on any club, even driver. Maybe you could explain how they are able to get such club head speed to generate the distances they do? How do you or tiger hit a 56* wedge 120?

    I would also note that comparing distances with irons has become a bit meaningless, as OEMs have strengthened lofts considerably to win bogus bragging rights for who has the “longest” irons. Of course a club with “9” stamped on the bottom but with the loft of a traditional 7 iron will be long. So what?

    • Monte Scheinblum

      They swing harder than you think. Fred Couples and Ernie Els swing very hard. The difference between a Tour player and your average am is tempo and everything working together. Amateurs either have a fast back swing and a bad transition to the down swing…or a back swing that is too slow and an even more terrible transition. Also, most ams swing with their arms and hands and the naked eye will tell you that looks like it is swinging harder. when all of the body works together, a hard swing looks much smoother and “easier.” That is why when ams tell each other and themselves to just “just swing easy” it is actually a bad tip because it solves nothing other than hitting the ball shorter and masking bad tempo.

      • meateater

        Good point. They are generating clubhead speed efficiently so it looks easy. But when you are hitting that 120 yard SW, are you easing up or is it just a matter of a shorter backswing?

        Can you address spin as well? What do you do to get your wedge to really spin or to take spin off?

      • Random

        This is so true – when you look really closely at swing video of the pros, you can see that they are really going after it with all of their full shots. It doesn’t always look like it because they are usually so smooth with the swing, but they are swinging hard. Ironically, at least to me, Tiger actually looks like he is swinging really hard, whereas someone like Els or Couples doesn’t. But they are all swinging hard.

  4. Monte Scheinblum

    Reply to meateater. My 120 SW is a shorter swing than say a 195 yard 6 iron, but about the same level of acceleration.

    The harder you swing the more spin you will put on the ball. When I want to take spin off the ball, I slow the acceleration of my turn. Not a decel, just not as much acceleration. I picture myself swinging the club like I am standing at the bottom of a swimming pool. I also really try and swing the club more with my turn and big muscles and really let the hands be passive.


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