Those clubs in your bag marked “S,” “P,” “9” and “8” are called “scoring” clubs for a reason: If you don’t know how to use them from inside 125 yards or so, you won’t be doing much scoring. Needless to say, these clubs require a lot of practice and persistence to master, but if you can provide those qualities, the swing itself is fairly straightforward. Here are three quick keys that can help you impress your partners — and the handicap computer in your pro shop.
STEP 1: STOP PRESSING
The loft on your 8- and 9-irons is already enough to produce towering approach shots. But many players still feel the need to press their hands too far forward at address, which delofts the clubface. Instead, try this: Play the ball in the middle of a narrow stance and set your hands about an inch ahead of the ball. Then flare your front foot slightly to preset your turn through the shot.
STEP 2: SHIFT AND TURN
The best players rotate their hips and shoulders as much with their short irons as they do with their driver. Start your downswing by shifting your lower body toward the target, then turn your hips through (above). You may feel the clubhead lagging, but that’s the feeling you want. By shifting first and then rotating, you’ll create room for your hands and arms to sling the club through at the very last moment.
STEP 3: SWIVEL TO THE FINISH
Don’t try to steer the club into the ball. Instead, concentrate on swinging the clubhead toward the target. You should also allow your head to swivel forward to encourage momentum down the target line. Your torso and hips should point just left of the target at the finish, and your weight should be over your front foot.