It’s one of the most common questions asked by golfers – how do I compress my iron shots more?
A well-struck shot is one thing, but a well-struck AND compressed shot feels like a whole other ball game. The shot sounds different, feels different, and flies a lot longer. So if you suffer with weak, spinny golf shots with no “pop”, listen up.
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What Compression Is Not?
There’s a myth about compression.
Many amateurs (and pros) still believe that, in a good iron shot, the ball is squeezed against the turf by the clubface. Some even believe that the ball then bounces up off the turf after this “ball sandwich”.
This is not true.
In every golf shot, the ball launches close to the loft presented at impact.
“But doesn’t hitting down more squeeze it against the turf?”
Surprisingly to many, the angle of attack (up/down motion of the club through impact) doesn’t directly change the launch of the ball much (it accounts for around just 25% of the ball launch).
So in a case of presenting 20 degrees of dynamic loft at impact, even if we were to hit 20 degrees down on a ball (which is an unrealistically extreme amount), the ball would still launch 10 degrees up.
So if we truly wanted to squeeze the ball between the clubface and turf, we would have to present almost negative loft at impact – and this simply isn’t what happens in a good golf swing.
So, What Is Compression?
If compression isn’t “squeezing the ball against the turf”, what is it?
Vertical spin-loft is a huge component, and the area that this article will focus on.
Vertical spin loft is the difference between the angle of attack and the loft we present at impact.
So, in example A, we have a -7 angle of attack (hitting 7 degrees down on the ball) and present +33 degrees of dynamic loft. We are effectively presenting 40 degrees of spin-loft (the difference between the two – the purple-shaded area).
In example B, we have a slightly shallower -4 angle of attack (hitting 4 degrees down on the ball), and we present +25 degrees of dynamic loft. In this example, we have 29 degrees of spin loft (purple area).
Here’s the rule – all else being equal, the lower the spin loft, the higher the compression.
So B would produce more compression in our above examples.
How Do We Do It?
Have you ever noticed how almost every pro has a significant squatting motion into their left side close to the top of their swing?
Tiger Woods (left) and Rory Mcilroy (right). The yellow lines represent their head height and body positions at the top of the swing. See how they move down and forwards in transition.
This does two things
- The “squatting” part of the motion effectively puts the low point of the swing deeper into the ground
- The “into the left side” part of the movement shifts the low point farther ahead of the ball
Setting up these kind of conditions
The golf swing low point is now deep and forwards, created by the squat into the left side during transition.
This effectively puts the ball in a part of the arc where there is less dynamic loft presented (more forward shaft lean). However, it also puts the ball in a part of the arc where the angle of attack is much steeper.
“But wont they fat it from here?”
Astute observation, my friend.
What the pros then do is a series of movements, just prior to and through impact (spring up, getting the lead shoulder to move up and back, rotating etc), that allow the hands to be pulled up and away from the ball through impact.
This then raises the arc depth (so its no longer a fat shot) and shallows the angle of attack.
The result? More shaft lean (lower loft) with a shallower angle of attack. This creates lower spin loft and (you’ve guessed it) very compressed iron shots.
Vertical spin loft is just one component – but a pretty big one – relating to compression with irons.
Strike quality, horizontal spin loft, speed etc. all make a difference too. The article above discusses a very important element to maximizing distance with irons in a way that is beneficial to strike quality and consistency too.
If you want to learn more about this, as well as how to learn to do it, The Strike Plan has a whole module dedicated to the concept. Click the image link below to find out more.
If compression isn’t something you need more of, but you’re still looking to improve your game, check out my game-improvement area, where you’ll find all my improvement programs.
Click the image link below to head there now.