Hitting the ball off of a tee with a driver can be one of the most fun parts of the game of golf. Being able to crush the ball with nothing but open space in front of you (hopefully not shanked into the woods). But what if the whole is only 150 yards away?
Hitting irons off of a tee can be very fun as well because it will be the best lie you will ever hit off of (lie being the location of the golf ball at rest either on the fairway, rough, sand, etc.). When you tee off with an iron, you get to place it on a tee at whatever height you would like. There are no divots to worry about, no sand to hit out of, no long grass to hit through (you get the point).
So below I will break down how high your tee should be, give tips on your stance and backswing, and explain how you should be making contact with the ball.
Getting “Tee’d Off”
Tee height is extremely important when it comes to teeing off with irons. With a driver you can tee the ball up pretty high to get the ball up in the air a little more to help improve your distance. But with irons, you won’t be looking for farther distance. Instead you will be looking to get the ball high in the air at a specific distance and have it stay where it lands.
To do this you must tee the ball up about 1/4″ (inches) from the ground, which is much lower than if you were teeing the ball up for a driver. To achieve this 1/4″, push the tee into the ground until it squeezes your fingers between the tee and the ground. Practice this at the range to find your perfect height every time.
Irons are specifically designed to give the ball loft, so setting the ball at this height will allow you to hit down on the ball easier without feeling like you have to sweep under the ball. If you try to help the club along and you do sweep under the ball, it will just pop straight up in the air with no distance.
Lord Of The Stance
A good stance should start with balance. Your feet should be shoulder-length apart, knees slightly bent and you should feel like if someone were to push you, you would not fall over. The ball should form an imaginary straight line more toward the middle of your feet, rather than toward the front foot that you would set up when using a driver.
Throughout the whole process, right up until contact with the ball, your head should be stationary with your eyes on the ball. You can’t hit what you can’t see.
Back-Swingers Baby, Yeah
During your backswing, with your head perfectly stationary and your eyes on the ball, keep it short and compact. This will make it easier not to rock back with your backswing, but to keep centered and balanced over the ball.
You also want to make sure, just like every other swing, that your front arm (left arm for righties and right arm for lefties) stays straight through the backswing. If you bend your lead arm during your backswing it will through the whole swing off and you will be lucky to hit the ball at all.
The picture to the left shows a perfect backswing. Look how centered and balanced she still is with her head down and left arm straight.
We Have Contact
As mentioned earlier, irons are specifically designed to give the ball loft. Because of this, the correct way to swing your iron is to swing down at the ball, not sweep under it. You can tell if you are swinging down at the ball because of your divot (the piece of turf that is missing because you removed it with your club during the swing).
If your divot is behind the ball then you are NOT swinging down at the ball and are doing it wrong. You should strike the ball first, then leave a divot after the ball. This will allow the design of the club to create the loft for you and give you the desired distance as well. Don’t be shocked by the size of the divot either, it should end up being about the size of a dollar bill.
Conclusion – Instant Replay
Hitting irons off of a tee shouldn’t be intimidating, at least no more intimidating that hitting irons any other time. The keys are to tee the ball up at the right height, get in the proper stance, maintain proper form through the backswing, and making the correct contact. If you can hit consistently with your iron off the tee on par 3s and on narrow fairways then you will shave points off of your score and be much happier with your golf game!