Sharpen your ball striking with Michael Bannon

I always like to give my pupils feels and visual aids to help ingrain any work I’ve done with them. Flooding their head with technical jargon is not going to reap the best results. 

To be honest, Rory and I will often do the same – sometimes we’ll come up with a little feeling we want him to work on to cure a little niggle in his swing, or to help him to hit a certain type of shot. 

Here’s a great little thought you can use to hit sweeter irons shots; it’s not something I ever need to talk to Rory about obviously, but I can tell you that lots of the club golfers I’ve worked with down the years have loved it.

 1. Setting it up

Michael Bannon Instruction Tips

All you need to do is dig into your golf bag and find a pencil among all the broken tees, ball markers and pitch mark repairers you’ve got in there. Simply lay it on the grass – or the mat if you are at the range – just before your ball. Make sure the lead point is half a centimetre away from the back of the ball and you’re ready to start hitting.


 2. Remember this image

Michael Bannon Instruction Tips

To hit your irons solidly, you will all have heard that you need to ‘hit down on the ball’. That can lead to a very steep swing, and a selection of heavy, fat shots and extremely deep divots. So what I want you to do is imagine you are sharpening the pencil with the leading edge of your iron as you come into impact. It’s not any more complicated than that.


 3. How it looks after impact

Michael Bannon Instruction Tips

Visualising and feeling the simple task of ‘sharpening the pencil’ will automatically give you the ideal path into the ball that compresses it between the turf and the clubface with a slightly descending blow – this is the desired action with irons. There is no scooping with the hands, because that wouldn’t sharpen the pencil, would it? 


 4. The automatic divot

Michael Bannon Instruction Tips

It is possible to hit good iron shots without taking a divot, but that kind of precision is best left to guys like Rory. So, with the nice, descending angle of attack you will now produce as a result of the feeling of sharpening the pencil, the club will strike the ball first and will then take a shallow scraping of turf – starting where the red line on the image above is. 

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