Sergio Garcia's secrets for hitting pure iron shots
November 04, 2011
1 of 15Patrik Giordino
How to Hit Pure Iron Shots
Use my six swing keys to knock down the flag with every iron in your bag
By Sergio Garcia
PGA Tour Player
Whenever I'm scoring well, it's usually because I'm hitting approach shots close enough for a one-putt or, at worst, a two-putt. I love hitting irons — it's something I've always done well, and to be a great iron player, you need consistency and distance control. I've built these two critical needs into my swing by focusing on six key but simple areas. Copy them and you'll hit approach shots consistently close like I do.
2 of 15Patrik Giordino
My Setup Key
I focus on two fundamentals when I address the ball:
1. My arms hang loose and perpendicular to the ground. You should never feel like your arms are jammed or that they have to reach for the ball. If you bend from your hips and keep your back fairly straight, you'll nail this and swing more freely.
2. I flex my knees so that my shoulders are in line with my hips and my knees are in line with the balls of my feet. (Practice this in front of a full-length mirror — I used to). When I get this right, I feel perfectly balanced.
One more thing to know: Take a narrower stance with your irons than you do with your woods. If your stance is too wide, you'll tend to tilt too much away from the target. That's okay with your driver, but not with your irons.
3 of 15Patrik Giordino
About my waggle
I've received a lot of grief about the way I grip and re-grip the club at address. I think it's better to be moving before you swing rather than standing there like a board. A bit of movement beforehand will help your swing be smoother.
4 of 15Courtesy of Motion Golf
Sergio's Spine Secret
Sergio leans his upper body away from the target at address (about 10 degrees) with his left shoulder higher than his right. If you try this (and you should), be careful not to open your bodylines in relation to the target. See how Sergio keeps everything (shoulders, hips, knees and feet) pointing parallel left of where his clubface is aimed? These are rock-solid setup positions (seen easily with the help of Motion Golf's advance swing-analysis software) that you should copy.
— Top 100 Teacher Mitchell Spearman
5 of 15Patrik Giordino
My Backswing Key
I like to think of my left arm swinging up and through my right shoulder. It's an easy way for me to stay on plane during my backswing, so I have the confidence to swing as hard as I want on my way back down. When I'm on the practice tee, I'll spend some time making sure my clubface remains square as I bring the club to the top. I'll check that my left wrist is flat or just slightly bent (to offset my worst shot, a hook). When you're square at the top, there's no need to get handsy at impact.
6 of 15Patrik Giordino
My Downswing Key
People tell me that my clubhead lag is the move I'm known for, but I never really think about it. It just happens. What I do focus on is keeping my left arm close to my chest as I swing the club down from the top. When your left arm gets too far away from your body, the clubface tends to open and you'll lose the shot to the right.
7 of 15Courtesy of Motion Golf
Sergio's Lag Creation
Everyone talks about the clubhead lag that Sergio creates in his downswing, but it starts in his takeaway when he stretches both arms as far as he can while making very little wrist hinge. This creates the widest arc possible. When he drops his hands to start his downswing, his arc goes from very wide [yellow shade] to very narrow [red shade]. It's this switch that gives him his trademark lag and sends his swing speed off the charts. — M.S.
8 of 15Courtesy of Motion Golf
"Feel like your left arm is attached to your chest. It's a simple move that keeps your clubface square and stops you from coming over the top."
9 of 15Patrik Giordino
My Impact Key
I swing hard, but I feel that I do a fairly good job of staying in control, and one thing that helps me do this is keeping my feet on the ground. Actually, keeping them "quiet" is a better way to think of it (you don't want to swing with cement shoes on). My legs are flexed and moving, but they're never flying out of control. I strive for a smooth transfer of weight from the heel of my right foot to the heel of my left foot through the hitting zone. Some people will tell you to push off your right foot; I like to think of it as a "rolling" of weight from my right foot to my left.
10 of 15Courtesy of Motion Golf
Sergio's Super Switch
From the top, Sergio's hands drop straight
down and slot the club behind him (where
there's zero chance of him coming over the
top). You can almost feel the energy stored in
his wrists energy he'll save for impact. The
secret to retaining energy and not releasing
the club too early is to keep your back
facing the target as you start down.
Sergio's hands are almost at impact but his
shoulders are still rotated 45 degrees. M.S.
Take a closer look at Sergio's swing on motiongolf.com
11 of 15Patrik Giordino
My Release Key
As I strike the ball, my club is moving at a great rate of speed. I like to keep this speed going into my follow-through with a feeling that I'm letting the club go. The last thing you should do here is hold on or keep your hands ahead of the club. During practice sessions, I'll check that my right wrist is flat and that there's just a slight bend in my left. That tells me I'm releasing the club down the line, chasing the ball as it makes its way toward the target.
12 of 15Courtesy of Motion Golf
Sergio's Power Coil
From the top, Sergio's hands drop straight down and slot the club behind him (where there's zero chance of him coming over the top). You can almost feel the energy stored in his wrists — energy he'll save for impact. The secret to retaining energy and not releasing the club too early is to keep your back facing the target as you start down. Sergio's hands are almost at impact but his shoulders are still rotated 45 degrees. — M.S.
13 of 15Patrik Giordino
My Finish Key
From day one I've told myself to "swing hard and finish in balance." I think that's good advice for you, too. When I play in pro-ams, I often lend it to the golfers in my group, and it almost immediately pays dividends. Weekend players tend to get caught up in face positions and swing plane. But if you focus more on staying in balance, you'll hit more good shots than bad. Try to hold your finish after every shot. Hold it until the ball lands on the ground. If you can't, then you're swinging too hard. Dial it back until you can copy my finish position and use that speed on every swing — even with your driver off the tee.
14 of 15Courtesy of Motion Golf
Sergio's Speed Secret
At impact, Sergio's clubhead is traveling at roughly 120 mph. How does he generate this kind of speed? As he transitions from backswing to downswing, Sergio moves his arms fast. This forces his left wrist to hinge and establishes a sharp angle between his forearm and the shaft, which creates an extra speed lever in his swing that you can't get when you move your arms slowly. This wrist hinge also helps Sergio to get the shaft leaning forward at impact, a delofting move that helps add yards to every club. — M.S.
15 of 15Courtesy of Motion Golf
See Sergio's Swing Like Never Before
Download Motion Golf's 3-D viewer (free!) to see Sergio's swing from every angle.
Special Section: The Tune Up:
• Special Section Home Page: The Tune Up
• Anthony Kim: Hit straighter drives
• Sergio Garcia: Make pure contact on irons
• Adam Scott: Build your dream swing
• Dr. Dick Coop: Out think opponents
• Aaron Baddeley: An exercise that adds power off the tee
You May Like
More Special Features
Sign Up for Newsletters
Receive insider analysis, swing tips, equipment news, special offers and much more.