The main difference in a driver swing vs an iron swing is the way you attack the golf ball. Iron swings must drive down into the ball so that the loft of the club does the work to get the ball off the ground. Driver swings should approach the ball with a slightly upward attack angle, launching the ball up off the tee for maximum carry and distance. Most aspects of the swings are the same, but a few slight adjustments will help you improve both your driver and iron shots.
Angle of attack is the biggest differentiator between the driver swing and the iron swing. You won’t necessarily feel any different during the swing, but the impact position will be slightly different.
Let’s start with the iron swing. If you look at any iron in your bag, you’ll notice they have significantly more loft than a driver. Pitching wedges are typically 44-48 degrees, a 7-iron is about 32-36 degrees, and so on. Because of the loft, the club naturally gets the ball airborne easily if you hit down and let the loft do the work. This means that all you have to do is make a clean strike on the back of the ball and it will launch up off the ground. To do this, the proper iron swing drives down through the ball, striking it with a descending or negative attack angle. The club will strike the ball first and continue down and through the turf, taking a modest divot, then start its upward movement into the follow-through. Don’t swing down too steeply or you will hit the dreaded fat shot.
The driver swing needs to be different because the ball is sitting up on a tee positioned farther forward in your stance. While the club obviously swings down towards the ball from the top of your swing it should bottom out just before reaching the ball striking it with a level to slightly ascending (or positive) attack angle. The positive attack angle will give you more time to generate speed and allow you to launch the lower lofted driver into the air so that it carries a long way down the fairway. If you strike down too steeply with your driver the ball will spin too much, losing you distance, or making it harder to control the direction. The best driver shots are hit with high launch and low spin which come from proper attack angle and loft at impact.
A simple mistake made by many golfers is that they don’t know where to position the ball in their stance or they don’t check where it is positioned. Even if you’re an experienced player, ball position can sometimes slip and create bad habits.
When making a driver swing, the ball should be positioned on the inside of your lead foot. This will feel forward in your stance, but it allows you to hit up on the ball adding launch angle and distance.
For iron swings, your ball position moves slightly back depending on the length of the club. For long irons the ball should be positioned between your lead foot and the middle of your stance. For mid irons the ball should be positioned just forward of center. When hitting short irons — pitching wedge through 8-iron — the ball will be in the middle of your stance. By positioning the ball farther back versus your driver you can make a descending blow striking the ball first then the turf allowing the loft to launch the ball in the air so that you can stop it by the pin.
It is helpful when you practice to use an alignment device that can mark your ball position relative to your feet, like the Swing Align Swing Junction.
Driver vs Iron Swing
To make a good driver swing it all starts with your set-up. As mentioned the ball should be positioned farther forward off the inside of your front foot. This position creates slightly more tilt in your spine angle and positions your body slightly more behind the ball helping you to hit up at impact.
Keep in mind the driver is the longest club in the bag and therefore requires a longer swing, so don’t rush it. Rotate your lead shoulder down and your chest and arms away from the ball keeping your arms and body connected and in sync. With a driver it also helps to rotate your hips away from the target, providing more room to make a full turn for power. Turn your body into the brace of your rear leg and remember when you turn not sway back and forth.
As you swing down remember to rotate through the ball keeping your upper body slightly back, just like you were at set-up. Be sure to rotate all the way through to your finish turning so that your weight is mostly on your lead leg at the finish.
Irons vs Driver
To make a good iron swing your weight should be evenly balanced at set-up. Because your irons are shorter than your driver, and because the ball is positioned farther back in your stance, there will be less tilt in your spine. The center of your body will even with the ball, not slightly behind it like with the driver.
You must rotate fully with your iron swing but should remember that not as much rotation is needed to hit a short iron versus a long iron. In general you’ll benefit from a shorter, more controlled backswing with your irons leading to more solidly struck shots and better distance control. Your goal with irons is to hit the ball a specific distance. This sort of control will help you land it near the pin more consistently.
Drive down and through the ball with your right side (for right hand golfers) for good crisp iron shots and feel like your chest is even with the ball, not falling back.
Controlling your weight throughout your golf swing is incredibly important regardless of what club you are hitting. It looks complicated, but a lot of the movement will come naturally once you have a good grasp of the fundamentals.
Improve Your Driver & Iron Swing with Swing Align
Whether you are hitting an iron or a driver, Swing Align is the perfect tool to provide you visual feedback at set-up, to help you understand the proper swing motion and connection for any club, and to become a pro at differentiating a driver swing vs iron swing.
You can use Swing Align to rehearse your set-up position or to hit golf shots on the range with your driver or irons. When making practice swings with Swing Align, stop at the top to check to see that your shoulders are fully rotated at the top and that you aren’t relying too much on your arms. Swing Align teaches you to rotate your chest back and through, you will notice the instant you do not turn as well as you should at the top of your swing. Use the Swing Junction rod to align square to your target and position the ball properly in your stance for drivers as well as short iron shots and everything in between.
Use Swing Align to Practice Your Driver and Iron Swings!
Swing Align is the best way to practice both your driver and iron swings. You’ll be able to practice the fundamentals of both and feel the differences in set-up, rotation and swing connection between them. Shop the full collection of Swing Align products and get your golf game dialed in!