Tom Watson says the best shot he ever hit was a 2-iron approach that set up his winning par at the 1983 British Open. Hale Irwin cites a pair of 2-iron shots that helped him win the 1974 and 1990 U.S. Opens as among the most memorable strokes of his career. For most golfing mortals, however, the 2-iron is a difficult club to employ. That’s one reason so many players – from high-handicappers to PGA pros – have replaced standard 2-irons with hybrids. The 2-iron is the longest iron, next to the rare 1-iron, and typically measures 39 to 39½ inches long. It’s also the least-lofted club other than the 1-iron, the putter and some drivers. That combination of length and loft makes the club difficult to hit. But if you’re a low-handicap golfer with a fast swing speed – or perhaps you’re just more comfortable doing it the old-fashioned way – the 2-iron can be a valuable club – from tee to green.
Tee the ball lower than you would with a driver. Place the club head next to the ball; no more than one-quarter of the ball should rise above the middle of the club face when the ball is on the tee. Take your stance with the ball between the center of your stance and the inside of your left heel, and then sweep the ball off the tee. Choke down on the club a bit to gain greater control. The 2-iron can be a good choice off the tee if you need to hit the ball low and straight – on windy days, for example.
Play the ball a few inches forward of the center of your stance when using a 2-iron in the fairway. Swing much as you do with a fairway wood. Use a shallow arc on your backswing (in other words, keeping the club low to the ground and sweeping in the backswing). Hit slightly down on the ball, taking a shallow divot after you hit the ball. When you’re hitting an approach shot, remember that a lower shot will roll farther and won’t hold the green as easily. Use the 2-iron to bounce the ball onto the green, if the terrain permits, or to hit the front part of a larger green.
Use a 2-iron to chip the ball if you have a good lie near the green and a clear path to the hole. Keeping your wrists firm (no wrist cock), take the club one-quarter to halfway back – depending how far you are from the hole – then swing straight through the ball, with a follow-through that at least equals the length of your backswing. Chip with a 2-iron when you don’t want to hit the ball high in the air. Land your chip shot well in front of the cup and watch the ball roll.