Symptom:  Poor iron tee shots on par three holes.

You can’t seem to figure out why you can hit your seven iron so sweetly from the fairway, but when you tee it up you sky it high, or jerk it left, or have some other unpleasant experience.

Description:  Iron tee shots should be teed low, almost flush with the ground for short irons.

Why it works:  You only get 18 chances per round to give yourself a perfect lie.  So you should certainly use a tee and take advantage of the rules of golf.

Tee Iron Tee Shots Low

Zach Johnson tee shot with iron tee the ball low

Zach Johnson teeing off with a short iron, just before contact. Note the ball is teed very low.

A golf ball sitting on a tee, nearly flush with the ground, is a better lie than you can get off the grass.  But don’t tee up your irons as if you’re hitting a driver.  For most iron shots you will tee the ball very low.  Wedges should be teed flush with the ground, mid-irons slightly higher (perhaps 1/4”) off the ground.  If you tee the ball up higher than this for an iron shot then only bad things can happen:

  • You might hit a good shot by making an unnatural swing without a descending blow, but this will screw up your swing the next time around when the ball is on the ground.
  • You hit a bad shot (probably a sky-ball) by making a normal swing with a descending blow.

If you tee the ball high, you can’t hit a good shot by making a good swing because the ball is in an unnatural position.  So use the tee, but tee it low! And use a broken tee — you need your unbroken tees for when you hit your driver.  And you should be frugal in these tough times…

For a demonstration of this, let’s watch Zach Johnson hit a mid-iron tee shot.  Move the video ahead to 0:55 to see that the ball is teed pretty low, and also to see Zach’s excellent descending blow:

But what if you can only hit a good shot when the ball is teed up high?  Then you have a swing fault that needs to change.  Try the hit the sunken tee drill to learn how to hit the ball with a descending blow, or see if you are obsessing about your left elbow, or some other swing fault.  Then it will feel natural and right for you to tee it low.

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