How to Use a 7 Iron

Golf clubs in the bag,balls and tee on grass

Golfers select which of their iron clubs to use based on the distance to the hole and the terrain of their hitting area. The 7-iron golf club is one of middle irons, best suited for shots in the 140- to 170-yard range -- although strong golfers can hit much longer shots with this club and beginners may struggle to reach this range. The 7-iron features a shorter shaft and more clubhead loft than the longer irons, typically 34 to 36 degrees depending on the manufacturer. This creates a greater striking surface on the clubhead, making 7-iron shots easier to control than the longer irons.

Selecting the 7-Iron

This club is appropriate for "laying up" near the green, putting the ball in good fairway position with the second shot on a par-4 hole or the third shot on a long par-5 hole. The 7-iron also can be used instead of the 8- or 9-iron for longer "bump-and-run" shots on hard, dry courses with few hazards.

Addressing the Ball

When you set up for the 7-iron shot, your hands should be ahead of the ball with the shaft leaning forward upon address. Play the ball further back in your stance than you would with a driver, since you are striking the ball right before your swing reaches its lowest point -- and not just beyond the lowest point, as you would with the driver.

Accuracy Over Distance

The 7-iron has 3 to 4 degrees more loft than the 6-iron and 6 to 8 degrees more loft than the 5-iron. This the added loft creates a greater hitting surface but subtracts distance. For many golfers, the 7-iron delivers 10 to 20 fewer distance yards than the 6-iron and 20 to 40 fewer distance yards than the 5-iron.

The 7-Iron Swing

Since this club is often used for placement instead of great distance, many 7-iron shots call for a shorter backswing, three-quarters swing velocity and an abbreviated follow-through. Less experienced golfers trying to measure these shots tend to scoop their 7-iron shots by hitting under the ball, as they would with a wedge lob shot. Instead, you should strike the ball as you would with the other mid-irons -- with a slight descending blow near the bottom of your swing. This striking angle adds backspin and natural lift to your shot.

Rhythm Over Power

In a story for Golf Digest, Faldo recalled a valuable 7-iron practice routine he received from an early teacher. "He had me hit six 7-iron shots as hard as I could. He then had me hit six 7-iron shots so easily they flew only 100 yards," Faldo said. "He then asked me to increase the distance in 10-yard increments, six swings for each. Before I knew it, I was hitting the 7-iron the original maximum-swing distance, but with hardly any effort. It proved that good rhythm, not sheer power, is what makes the ball go long -- and straight."