Long Iron Mastery

The Lowest Loft in My Bag

When someone asked me the most important clubs in the bag, I would have rattled off the driver, putter, sand wedge, and three wood – in that order. But these days, my answer is unequivocal: the #3 iron [1].

“Really?” you might be thinking. “Who even carries a 3-iron anymore?” Well, my friend, that’s exactly what I thought too. Until a bout of nagging injuries and the onset of old age (I’m pushing 71 now) forced me to rethink my entire approach to the game.

You see, a few years back, I had a bit of an accident that tore the meniscus in my left knee. Then last year, right before moving back to Florida, I managed to tear the medial collateral tendon in my right knee. These injuries put me on the sidelines for months, and even after I healed up, every time I’d try to play or swing the club, there’d be a sharp ache in my lower back or one of my knees.

At my age, with a diminished range of motion in my backswing, golf just wasn’t fun anymore. I was ready to hang up the clubs for good. But then, a spark of inspiration struck.

A Surprising Revelation

One day, in a moment of sheer frustration, I grabbed the 3-iron from my bag and headed to the practice range. I had no grand plan – I was essentially just punishing myself for getting old. I took a basket of 75 balls (a totally arbitrary number) and started swinging as hard as I could.

That first day was pure agony. Out of those 75 shots, I maybe hit 5 solidly, and every single one hurt in some part of my body. It was like that scene in Liar Liar where Jim Carrey was “kicking his own ass” in the bathroom. But for some weird reason, I was obsessed with doing it again the next day.

The second day, I hit a few more good ones, and with each successive session, the number of quality shots grew. For the first two months, the improvement was really noticeable. And then, even as the rate of progress started to slow, the overall shot quality and distance just kept getting better.

Fast forward to today – I’m on my 303rd consecutive day of this 3-iron ritual, and I’ve had at least one or more “best days ever” every single week without fail [1]. The results have been nothing short of astounding.

A Cascading Improvement

Here’s the really remarkable part: the only full-swing practice I’ve been doing during this period is those 75 daily 3-iron shots. Yet when I play golf, every single club in my bag has improved significantly – from the driver all the way down to the wedges.

Just yesterday, I made the second hole-in-one of my life (the first was way back in 1965), and I had two other shots on par 3s stop within a foot of the cup. My conclusions so far are as follows:

  1. Spending just 20 minutes a day, 365 days a year, hitting 75 hard 3-iron shots has made me feel like my age is reversing and my game is improving faster than ever before.
  2. This approach has led to across-the-board improvements in my ball striking, distance control, and shot-making ability with every club in my bag.
  3. I honestly wish I had been doing this my entire golfing life. If I had, I can only imagine how much higher of a level I would have played at during my competitive years, and how well I’d still be playing today.

A Counterintuitive Approach

Now, I know what you’re thinking – hitting 75 hard 3-irons every day? That sounds like torture! And you know what? You’re absolutely right. It was torture, at least at first. Those initial sessions were pure agony, with my body aching from every shot.

But there was something about the process that kept drawing me back. Maybe it was a stubborn refusal to let Father Time get the better of me. Or maybe I just had a hunch that there was something special about this unorthodox practice routine. Either way, I’m sure glad I stuck with it.

Because the truth is, hitting those 3-irons hard every day is fundamentally different from the way most golfers practice the game. It’s not about mindlessly pounding ball after ball with your driver or zoning out on the putting green. It’s about intentionally challenging yourself, pushing the limits of your physical capabilities, and tuning in to the nuances of your swing in a way that most players never experience.

The Long Iron Advantage

You see, the 3-iron is often neglected these days, as players opt for easier-to-hit hybrid clubs. But I believe there’s a distinct advantage to mastering the long irons. For one, they require a more precise, controlled swing – you can’t just grip it and rip it like you can with a driver.

Additionally, the lower loft of a long iron forces you to really dial in your ball striking and trajectory control. When you can consistently hit a 3-iron pure, you’ll find that your other irons become that much easier to manage. It’s like building a rock-solid foundation for your entire swing.

And let’s not forget the distance factor. While hybrids may be more forgiving, a well-struck long iron can still launch the ball miles down the fairway. In an era where everyone seems to be chasing extra yards, the ability to squeeze out an extra 10-20 yards with your long irons can be a game-changer.

The Road Ahead

So where does this journey go from here? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. I’m still in the midst of this experiment, and the improvements just keep coming. I don’t know if there’s an end point in sight, or how long the benefits will continue to accrue.

What I do know is that I’m having more fun playing golf now than I have in years. My body feels better, my ball striking is sharper, and my confidence is soaring. And I owe it all to a simple decision to start hitting 75 hard 3-iron shots every single day.

If you’re a golfer looking to take your game to the next level, I encourage you to give this approach a try. It may seem counterintuitive, but I promise you, the results will speak for themselves. Just be prepared to put in the work – this is no quick fix. But if you stick with it, I guarantee you’ll be amazed at what those long irons can do for your game.

So grab that 3-iron (or 4-iron, or even 5-iron) and get to work. The journey is just beginning, and I can’t wait to see where it takes you.

[1] Gravity Golf. “Mastering Long Irons is the Best Way to Own Your Golf Swing.” https://gravitygolf.com/mastering-long-irons-is-the-best-way-to-own-your-golf-swing/

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