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Hitting Ball High on Clubface With Irons? (Try This Fix!)

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Finding the sweet spot with your irons is undoubtedly one of the best feelings in golf.

However, some golfers struggle with hitting the ball high on the clubface with irons. This produces high spin levels, causing high ball flights and loss of distance with irons.

In this article, you’ll learn how to hit pure shots with your irons. This will allow you to hit the ball consistently further, and help you gain confidence on the golf course.

Hitting Ball High on Clubface With Irons

Hitting the ball high on the clubface with irons happens when you swing too steeply into the ball. This results in a shot with high spin, high trajectory, and less distance. To fix this, aim to shallow out your swing path — striking the ball first, and the turf second.

where to hit golf ball on iron face

Where to Hit Golf Ball on Iron Face

When hitting an iron shot, it’s important to aim to strike the golf ball with the sweet spot on the clubface. This will enable you to launch the ball into the air at the correct angle, which ensures the distance remains consistent and dependable for each club.

While the sweet spot on the driver is usually the center of the clubface, it’s considerably lower on an iron. With irons, you’ll want to strike the golf ball in the middle of the clubface, but slightly higher than the bottom of the sole.

For instance, take a look at the image below. It shows the wear mark on Tiger Woods’ 8 iron — which took him to victory in the 2001 Masters. As you can see, the optimal strike position is between 2 and 3 grooves up from the bottom of the face.

tiger woods sweet spot
The wear mark on Tiger Woods’ 2000-2001 major-winning 8 iron. (Image Credit: The US Sun)

Reasons for Hitting the Ball High on the Clubface

The main reason for hitting the ball high on the clubface is due to getting too steep in the downswing — a problem experienced by many golfers.

So, what exactly is a steep golf swing?

A steep swing is one where the clubhead strikes down onto the ball from a vertical angle. Put simply, a steep swing is one that moves up and down.

Instead of the club swinging around the body, it works more up to the sky and then back down to the ground. This causes a negative angle of attack, creating large divots.

However, there is one main issue with a steep swing — it reduces the timeframe in which the clubface is square to the ball at the bottom of the swing arc. This makes it difficult to consistently strike the sweet spot. For instance, if you strike fractionally behind the ball, the club head is likely to dig into the turf and the impact position will be high on the face.

Conversely, a shallower swing works around the body, rather than up and down. This keeps the clubface square to the ball for longer, which makes it easier to consistently strike the ball out of the sweet spot.

steep vs shallow swing path with irons
When your swing path is too steep, the contact with the ball can shift higher up the clubface, reducing distance.

How to Strike Your Irons Better

So, we’ve established that an excessively steep swing path can cause you to hit the ball too high on the clubface with irons.

Instead, you should aim to swing more around your body, shallowing out the swing and increasing your chances of finding the sweet spot.

Here are 3 vital steps that will help you strike your irons better:

  1. Establish your strike position
  2. Locate the middle of the face
  3. Hit the ball first, turf second

Let’s dive into each step, along with actionable drills to get you hitting pure iron shots!

1. Establish Your Strike Position

Firstly, you need to learn where on the clubface you’re currently striking your irons. This will help you understand what you need to improve in order to strike your irons better.

To learn this, apply some Strike Spray to the clubface. Then, when you take a shot you’ll be able to get instant feedback on the strike position.

PRO TIP: In wet conditions, consider applying a dot to the golf ball with a ball marker if the Strike Spray is washing off. After taking a shot, the ink will transfer to the clubface for instant feedback.

2. Locate the Middle of the Face

Secondly, you need to become comfortable with hitting out the middle of the clubface on your irons — rather than out the toe or heel.

Hitting off the toe will hinder distance, and also apply side spin causing hooks. To solve this, consider standing closer to the ball in your setup.

On the other hand, striking out the heel will produce a slice and also impact distance. The solution for heel strikes is to stand slightly further away from the ball.

Striking the ball out the middle of the clubface will enable you to produce straighter ball flights, with more optimal and consistent distances.

PRO TIP: A drill to ensure you’re hitting the middle of the face is to form a gate with two tees, placing the ball evenly between them. Then, take your swing, and try to strike the ball without making any contact with the tees.

3. Hit the Ball First, Turf Second

Finally, you need to locate the vertical sweet spot of the clubface. As discussed earlier in this article, the sweet spot is about 2 to 3 grooves up from the bottom of the clubface.

Hitting the ground first — chunking the shot — will remove significant distance from your iron shots. The impact position will be too high on the clubface, and the club head speed will be reduced by premature contact with the ground.

Instead, you want to hit the ball first, then turf second. This will ensure a clean strike of the ball and give you the best chance of locating the sweet spot.

PRO TIP: A drill to ensure that you’re hitting the ball first is to place a tee peg approximately 2 inches in front of the golf ball. Then, take a swing, and aim to strike the ball first, then hit the tee peg after.

Check out the video below by Rick Shiels, where he demonstrates and explains these useful tips to help you start hitting pure iron shots:

Conclusion

In conclusion, hitting the ball high on the clubface with irons often happens when your swing is too steep. This results in less distance and consistency with your iron shots.

To strike your irons better, follow these 3 steps:

  1. Establish your strike position
  2. Locate the middle of the face
  3. Hit the ball first, turf second

By following these steps — and the drills associated with each — you’ll be able to train yourself to strike your irons with the sweet spot every time.

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Hailing from the South West of England, Jake has been playing golf for over a decade. He founded Pitchmarks with the aim of helping everyday golfers like himself learn more about the game, through instructional content and honest gear reviews. He has a degree in Architecture and a passion for golf course design, along with a lofty goal to play the world's top 100 courses.