Most people don't think power when it comes to iron play, but as with any shot on the golf course, more power can help you a lot more than it can hurt you. Hitting longer iron shots means you can hit higher-lofted irons more often, which are no doubt a lot easier to strike solidly than lower-lofted long irons are. Also, in most cases, when you're between clubs, it's generally better to swing harder with the shorter iron than to swing easier with the longer iron.
So what's the secret to a few more yards with your irons? Check out the sequence here. I'm hitting a middle iron, and believe me, I'm swinging hard. Only this time, I'm not doing what many amateurs do when they try to swing harder. Instead of using my upper body to muscle the ball, I'm hinging my hands, firing my hips and straightening my left leg through the shot. The secret to power is that it's not about muscle, it's about speed. Let's look at these three keys for iron power.
Step 1: To really max out your power, you have to develop what power hitters often refer to as lag in the swing. This means, holding the angle formed by the left forearm and the shaft for as long as possible, then releasing directly over the golf ball. The more lag, the more speed you'll generate. The technique may actually deloft your iron, as well, helping you to hit the ball farther still.
Step 2: The hips have got to open through the hitting zone. This frees the upper body to swing more freely, as well as making a full extension of the arms through the shot.
Step 3: As for the straightening of the left leg at impact, think of this more as the final step in shifting your weight down and into your left leg. The key however is to remember the proper sequencing for straightening that leg. You don't want a straight left leg at any other point in the golf swing, outside of the moment of impact with the ball. The longer you retain flex in the knees, the greater energy you'll be able to release when you straighten that leg and whip the upper body through the hit. Think of this as you would a basketball player about to jump for a quick rebound. The knees stay flexed, and when it's time to jump quickly, that basketball player presses into the court and then extends his legs. It's the same in golf. You want to stay flexed until just before impact when you want to straighten, or snap, that left leg. This is a huge power source.
By remembering and practicing these three keys, no doubt you'll be on your way to hitting longer iron shots. And as luck would have it, you'll probably hit straighter shots, too.
Tom Leese, PGA, is one of the top teachers in Las Vegas. Visit mastergolflasvegas.com.