How to Use a 7 Iron

By Jeff Gordon

Golfers select which of their iron clubs to use based on the distance to the hole and the terrain of their hitting area. The 7-iron golf club is one of middle irons, best suited for shots in the 140- to 170-yard range -- although strong golfers can hit much longer shots with this club and beginners may struggle to reach this range. The 7-iron features a shorter shaft and more clubhead loft than the longer irons, typically 34 to 36 degrees depending on the manufacturer. This creates a greater striking surface on the clubhead, making 7-iron shots easier to control than the longer irons.

Selecting the 7-Iron

This club is appropriate for "laying up" near the green, putting the ball in good fairway position with the second shot on a par-4 hole or the third shot on a long par-5 hole. The 7-iron also can be used instead of the 8- or 9-iron for longer "bump-and-run" shots on hard, dry courses with few hazards.

Addressing the Ball

When you set up for the 7-iron shot, your hands should be ahead of the ball with the shaft leaning forward upon address. Play the ball further back in your stance than you would with a driver, since you are striking the ball right before your swing reaches its lowest point -- and not just beyond the lowest point, as you would with the driver.

Accuracy Over Distance

The 7-iron has 3 to 4 degrees more loft than the 6-iron and 6 to 8 degrees more loft than the 5-iron. This the added loft creates a greater hitting surface but subtracts distance. For many golfers, the 7-iron delivers 10 to 20 fewer distance yards than the 6-iron and 20 to 40 fewer distance yards than the 5-iron.

The 7-Iron Swing

Since this club is often used for placement instead of great distance, many 7-iron shots call for a shorter backswing, three-quarters swing velocity and an abbreviated follow-through. Less experienced golfers trying to measure these shots tend to scoop their 7-iron shots by hitting under the ball, as they would with a wedge lob shot. Instead, you should strike the ball as you would with the other mid-irons -- with a slight descending blow near the bottom of your swing. This striking angle adds backspin and natural lift to your shot.

Rhythm Over Power

In a story for Golf Digest, Faldo recalled a valuable 7-iron practice routine he received from an early teacher. "He had me hit six 7-iron shots as hard as I could. He then had me hit six 7-iron shots so easily they flew only 100 yards," Faldo said. "He then asked me to increase the distance in 10-yard increments, six swings for each. Before I knew it, I was hitting the 7-iron the original maximum-swing distance, but with hardly any effort. It proved that good rhythm, not sheer power, is what makes the ball go long -- and straight."

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