With a reputation for precise iron play, World Cup player Marc Leishman keeps his approach simple and straightforward.
In general, I don’t like to think about my swing but when I do I try to concentrate on the basics. I like to make sure the basics are good and ensure that not a whole lot can go wrong from there, such as alignment or grip issues.
If I had to pinpoint three focal points for my iron play, it would be balance, ball position and tempo.
Make sure at set-up your weight is not all on your right foot or all on your toes or heels, as you want your weight to be neutral. That’s very important, as a good base is the No.1 key for a good swing and a good result.
For the long irons, I position the ball about two-thirds of the way towards my left foot – that is, a little bit forward of centre – and as I go back down through the irons the ball moves slightly further back. A pitching wedge, for example, is just a fraction forward of centre and if I want to get a little extra out of the wedge and hit it further, I’ll move the ball to the centre of my stance. But as you work up the bag, the ball moves a little bit further towards your left foot, for right-handers.
It’s very easy to get quick, especially when you’re under pressure. I feel like if I can just make sure that I swing smoothly, and not try to hit the ball too hard, then that’s my best chance to strike good iron shots.
MY BEST IRON SHOT
The day I had a chance to shoot 63 around the Old Course at St Andrews – in the third round of the 2015 Open Championship – I was eight-under for the round and standing over a 9-iron into the 17th, the famous Road Hole. There are times when you’ve just got to take a bit of a risk and, even though there’s trouble up there, you’ve got to commit to it. This was one of those situations.
The pin was really close to the Road Hole Bunker, there’s the road just over the back and I was in contention. It was only a 9-iron but all that trouble was in play and I had to ‘man up’ and hit a good shot. And I was able to do it, hitting the ball about ten feet from the flag.
In situations like that you have to shrug off the pressure and surroundings and simply commit to a target. I hit a good shot – I wasn’t able to make the putt – but that’s an iron shot struck in a big situation that stands out to me. Any time you’ve got a birdie putt that’s somewhat makeable on that hole, you’re pretty happy.
I’ve holed irons shots and definitely struck the ball closer to the cup plenty of times, however sometimes the shots where there’s a lot of trouble around and a lot of people watching, they’re the ones that stand out more so than the ones that come at a less pivotal moment in a round or tournament.