By Paul Myers

Some golfers would consider the eight iron to be the start of the ‘short’ irons, a group which also includes the nine irons and all of the wedges – while others would lump the eight iron in with the ‘mid’ irons. In the end, it really doesn’t matter what you consider an eight iron to be, as long as you can hit yours solidly time after time. A well struck eight iron should climb high into the air with plenty of spin, and it should land softly on the green.

Depending on your swing speed, you may hit your eight iron anywhere in a range from 120 yards all the way up to 170 yards. No matter how far you hit it, the same basic swing fundamentals apply. You want to maintain your balance throughout the swing, keep your arm swing short to gain control, and strike down aggressively through the ball. If you can hit on those three points, quality eight iron shots won’t be far behind.

Beyond those three points, there are three others keys below that you can use to get the best possible performance from your eight iron.

Key #1 – Manage Your Trajectory

Not every eight iron that you hit needs to be struck with maximum speed. In fact, if you can control the speed of your swing with the eight iron, you can also control how high the ball flies through the air. Lower shots are easier to control than higher ones, so opt for a softer swing and lower ball flight when you are primarily concerned with accuracy. This is an especially effective tactic when the greens are soft, as it will be easy to stop the ball quickly even with a lower ball flight.

Key #2 – Below the Hole

In order to set up the easiest possible putt, take the slope of the green into account when picking a target for your eight iron shots. Determine the overall tilt of the green and attempt to position your ball such that you will have an uphill putt toward the hole. This isn’t going to be possible on every approach shot, but getting the ball below the hole as frequently as possible is a great way to give yourself the best look at birdies throughout a round.

Key #3 – Chip and Run Master

The eight iron is a great club to choose when you need to chip the ball onto the green from close range and let it run out toward the hole. This club has just the right amount of loft to easily get the ball up out of the grass, while still providing you with plenty of forward role. Don’t forget to practice some chip shots with your eight iron as part of your regular practice routine – you never know when this basic shot could save you a stroke on the course.

Good golfers take advantage of their shorter clubs, and that includes the eight iron. Whether you are using it to stick an approach shot next to the flag or to execute a tricky up and down from around the green, the eight iron is a club that you should take the time to get to know better.