Beginner Golf Swing Instruction – Don’t Make Swinging Your Long Irons a Long Shot!

Through experience, beginner golf swing instruction programs have found the long irons to be the student golfer’s most challenging clubs to master. Beginner golf swing instruction programs watch their students struggle with these clubs in their practice sessions and clinics – knowing all to well that this struggle will unfortunately be compounded during competitive play.

So why do student golfers have such difficulty learning to successfully swing the long irons?

Many beginner golf swing instruction programs believe this problem to be a result of golfers using an incorrect swing tempo and/or possessing poor “nerve control”.

In the book, “How to Master the Irons, an Illustrated Guide to Better Golf”, authors Gene Littler and Don Collett offer greater insight into these two factors – explaining their powerful influence on the golfers ability to effectively swing the long irons. Littler and Collett recognize the problem as being two fold – the golfers failure to both;

1. “Smoothly” swing the long irons with a consistent tempo


2. Properly “mesh the gears of the mind and the muscles together so that they harmonize” during competitive play.

They write;

Swing Smoothly

One of the most important things to remember when hitting a long iron is to swing smoothly. The reason why the average golfer is a poor long-iron player is that they speed up their tempo and rush the swing too fast. Try to swing the long irons to the same tempo as the medium and short irons and you will find the results far more rewarding.

Maintaining a constant and consistent swing tempo is a difficult thing to achieve. I devote a great deal of my practice time working on this because tournament play demands consistency if you are to be a winner. Under these conditions, a golfer’s swing cannot change too much during a round, but their timing and tempo can leave them with one swing of a club. Why is this?

Mesh Mind and Muscle!

The biggest reason is that muscle tension and timing become prime influencing factors on a golf swing once the tournament flag is run up. Have you often wondered how you can swing so freely and score so wonderfully well in a friendly round, then have your game suddenly go sour during a club tournament? Both the mind and the muscles influence the swing, and it takes good nerve control to keep your swing and game under control.

Jackie Burke, the stylish Texan who has won the Masters and many other tournaments, perhaps best summed up tournament golf when he said, “There are a lot of players who have the physical ability to win tournaments, but few of them do.” Burke, of course, was implying that the mind is a strong factor in winning tournaments—about 70 per cent, as a matter of fact. If golf is 70 per cent mental, then we must learn to mesh the gears of the mind and the muscles together so that they harmonize in competition. This takes experience, years of playing, and, most of all, a positive and confident determination that what you are about to undertake (the shot before you) can be performed exactly as you have planned it. This positive attitude starts with the mind and ends with a positive swing that has a good tempo to it.

A golfer in competition must learn to discipline their mind, and not panic or get excited, particularly when the going gets rough or when they face a demanding shot. Long-iron play requires quiet concentration and attention to where the ball should be placed—not where you do not want it to go; that is negative thinking. My long-iron play in the Open championship at Oakland Hills is an example. Throughout the final day, I hit some truly fine shots because I was swinging freely and confidently. I was thinking positively and did not let the excitement of being in contention and winning the tournament influence my play until the eighteenth hole. Then, when I realized I could actually win the tournament, I suddenly let a negative thought creep into my positive attitude. Play it safe, I thought. As a result, I hit a poor second shot to the eighteenth hole with a four-wood and had to scramble mightily for a bogey five.

Thus, you can see what the mind can do to the muscles during the swing. Do your thinking behind the ball—and make it as positive as possible—then step up and hit it without too much mental exertion.

Suggestions for Beginners

If you are a beginner, I suggest that you first learn to swing and control the short and medium irons before tackling the long irons. The latter are the most difficult to hit because they are straighter faced and have less loft. It takes a well-grooved and well-timed swing to hit a perfect long iron, and behind such a swing lie countless hours of practice sessions on the tee, not to mention the sessions spent under the watchful eye of the club teaching professional.

As you progress in ability and experience, you will find the longer irons easier to hit. Try to develop a certain rhythm to your swing, and use it with every swing from the driver on down to the wedge. Some golfers have a quicker tempo than others. Some are swingers, some are hitters. It remains for you to find the proper timing and tempo for your swing, consistent with your physical makeup and temperament. After you develop your swing tempo, stick with it and groove it until it becomes automatic. You will then be on your way to a better swing and better golf“.

Beginner golf swing instruction programs know – to have a winning golf game, student golfers must be able to effectively use their long irons.

Try incorporating Littler and Collett’s advice into your practice routines!

Check back soon for more beginner golf swing instruction articles and posts to help quickly improve your golf game!

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