The Spring time usually comes with some abnormal playing conditions – among them is turf that is softer than normal. As a result, golfers need to be more precise in their contact with the golf ball, especially with iron shots.
In dry conditions, a golf club can slide more easily along the ground prior to striking the ball, still allowing for good enough contact for acceptable results. In softer ground conditions, it is much easier for the club to dig into the turf, losing momentum and speed that cannot be applied to the golf ball.
To deal with this it is important for golfers to have a more precise strike, controlling where the golf swing arc reaches the low point, ideally after the position of the golf ball. This will help ensure clean and effective ball contact.
Without making technical swing changes we can help this issue by developing the skill through a drill.
To help indicate a good strike where the club is moving downward, ideally we want to see any ground contact divot occur AFTER the golf ball.
To work on this we can start with a drill without the ball.
If you have access to common foot spray, simply draw a line about a foot long perpendicular to your stance. Then try and make three swings in a row with an iron, attempting to make contact with the turf directly on the line.
You want any divot to start after the line by up to a few inches. Once you can hit the line each time, add a golf ball directly on the line and gauge your ability to create good ball contact.
A modification of this drill can be done in a bunker to both help your fairway bunker shots and your general ball striking. Instead of a foot spray, use your club to draw a line in the sand and attempt swings with the goal of striking slightly ahead (on the target side) of the line. Like the previous drill, add a ball and check your results.
In both drills focus on a pressure shift in your backswing that does not move your upper body toward your trail leg (right for right handed players) but allows your pelvis turn and pressure shift to move towards your lead leg in the downswing. This will help control the low point of the swing with a bias toward the direction of the target.
This will help your iron striking at all times, but particularly when the ground is soft.
Scott MacLeod is the Associate Publisher/Editor of Flagstick Golf Magazine and a PGA of Canada Class A Member.