How To Hit an 8 Iron Like a Pro

Are you struggling with how to hit an 8 iron?

If so, you are not alone.

But before we get into how to properly hit an 8 iron, let’s set accurate expectations for ourselves as golfers.

Most golfers falsely believe that you should hit the green at least 75% of the time while using an 8 iron. However, not even the professionals come close to that figure.

In fact, according to PGA Tour Statistics, professionals only hit the green 64% of the time while using the 8 iron. And PGA Tour pros are the best in the world!

Now that we’ve handled the unrealistic, confidence shattering expectations, let’s get into how to properly hit the 8 iron.

Hitting an 8 Iron Better Step By Step

Illustration of Tiger Woods showing the 4 steps of hitting the 8 iron.
Credit to Golf Digest.

The Set Up

First, take your normal address position – feet together, weight equally distributed, posture tall and relaxed.

Then, pick a spot two inches inside and below your left armpit and place the clubhead there. It should feel very natural when you do this – if it feels forced, you are doing something wrong.

Now waggle a few times to get used to the feel. Make sure not to take any practice swings as this will move your position.

When you are ready, take a deep breath and trust your setup – this is crucial for hitting an 8 iron well.

The Swing

Swinging an 8 iron is all about rhythm and tempo – a lot of golfers try to “kill” it because it’s not a driver, but that’s completely wrong.

Think about it this way – when you see someone playing tennis or baseball or any other racquet sport, their strokes all have a similar fluidity and rhythm to them. It looks effortless because their muscles are working in unison. The same goes for swinging an 8 iron. You want a smooth transition from takeaway to follow-through in one continuous motion.

So take your backswing and turn your shoulders until your left arm is parallel to the ground. Then shift your weight onto your left side as you start down into impact. As you come down, make sure to keep your head still – don’t lift it up to see where the ball is going!

At impact, transfer your weight fully onto your left side and turn your hips through so that you finish facing your target.

Smooth & fluid = good. Jerky & stop-start = bad!

The Follow Through

A lot of amateur golfers tend to decelerate through impact out of fear of hitting it too far (or worse, topping it!). This is counterproductive and will only lead to thinned or skull shots that don’t go nearly as far as they should.

Instead, maintain your speed through impact by using your body weight. As you come down into impact, rotate your hips and continue turning until you are facing your target again.

This will ensure that you have hit down on the ball correctly with a descending blow, which is essential for getting maximum distance with an 8 iron.

And once you’ve made contact with the ball, let momentum carry you forward into a full finish rather than having to brake yourself short – trust me, it feels much better!

4 Easy Fixes While Hitting the 8 Iron

Now that you’ve got the basics of hitting your 8 iron down, let’s move on to a few pointers on perfecting your golf swing.

Practice your divots

A side by side comparison of a shallow divot and a deep divot.
Credit to

When it comes to improving your iron game, the key is all about mastering the divot. As any experienced golfer knows, taking a divot helps create solid contact with the ball and improve your consistency in terms of distance and direction.

However, many high handicap golfers are hesitant to take a divot out of fear of hitting fat shots or messing up the fairway.

It’s important to remember that even professional golfers will occasionally hit fat shots – what sets them apart is their ability to control where the iron contacts the ground and take a divot consistently.

The best way to overcome this fear is simply to practice taking divots on the driving range. As you become more comfortable with the feeling of taking a divot, you’ll start to see an improvement in your iron game overall.

How to hit a divot with your 8 iron

  1. Fit a plot of grass that you don’t mind destroying with your golf club.
  2. Hit the ground without a ball and take divots.
  3. Use a wiffle ball and hit shots with the wiffle ball, focusing on the front of the ball – the part of the golf ball closest to the target. Try start your divot on the target side of the ball. 
  4. On the golf course: Take practice swings in the rough when no one is hitting. Before your shot, practice swings should take a shallow divot before your real shot. 

Aim your body and your 8 iron club face

Your target line is where you want the ball to go and is determined by taking into account your shot shape.

If you fade the ball, aim left of your target. If you draw the ball, aim right of your target. Adjust accordingly for the distance that your shot typically deviates from its intended path.

But most importantly, you need to aim the club face to account for your body position. To do that:

  1. Find something in front of your ball on the ground. It could be a leaf, or a divot or a piece of grass. 
  2. Check that it is on your target line taking into account your shape so the ball curves to the target.
  3. The thing you align to must be 1-3 feet in front of the ball.
  4. Pick a target beyond the pin or the green. You can select a tree branch or something high up behind your target. This will clear your mind of the trouble in front of you. 
  5. If you align your 8 iron club face to the spot in front of the ball and then just before hitting, you glance at your spot in the distance, you will hit better 8 iron shots

Practice using the gate alignment drill

This is my all-time favorite drill to practice aiming my body and club face. Follow the steps below.

  1. Set up an alignment stick down your target line about 12-15 feet in front of you.
  2. Put a second alignment stick 2-4 feet right of the first alignment stick.
  3. Using your plastic or foam ball, try hit the ball through the gate.
  4. If you have a driving range that lets you do this, use real golf balls.
  5. If you have access to a golf studio with a hitting bay, try hit the bullseye they may paint on the white screen.

Place your faith in your 8 iron’s loft

A diagram of the distances between irons.
Credit to

Have you ever hit a shot with your 8 iron, 9 iron, or PW and felt like you needed to help it into the air? Many high handicappers and beginners fall into this trap, but the truth is that adding loft at impact can actually harm your shot.

Instead, what you want to do is deloft the club by keeping your weight on your front foot and hitting down on the ball. This compression at impact creates both speed and spin, leading to a beautiful shot with just the right amount of lift.

Remember, your impact position is key for achieving this compression.

So next time you go to hit one of those short irons, focus on hitting down on the ball instead of trying to add extra loft and watch as your shots improve.

Know your carry distance

Here’s a little-known fact: all of the distances listed in forums and Reddit are bogus. The average PGA Tour player hits a ball 295 yards. The average PGA Tour pro hits his 8 iron between 160 and 180 yards. With a straight face, no amateur with a handicap of 10 or more can claim those distances.

I tell you this so that you understand it does not matter how far others hit the ball. The only thing that matters is the distance YOU hit YOUR 8 iron. And knowing your exact distance with the 8 iron is good, regardless of where it falls in comparison to others.

Do not say that your 8 iron average is 178 yards just because you hit that distance once. It’s okay to be humble and resist the urge to show off. You will improve as a golfer more quickly if you know exactly how far you can hit each club, and then play accordingly. In reality, this strategy will help you beat golfers who think their maximum distance is their average.

Recap of How To Hit an 8 Iron

A golf bag with a 7, 8, and 9 iron.

So there you have it: how to hit an 8 iron like a pro! Remember proper setup + fluid swing + full follow-through = lower scores and plenty of greens in regulation! Practice makes perfect, so go out there and start nailing those approach shots!

Frequently Asked Questions About The 8 Iron

What is the average 8 iron distance?

How far you hit your 8 iron boils down to experience. But on average golfers hit the 8 iron 136 yards. Below is a chart of the average distance by age group.

Age RangeAverage 8 Iron Distance
20-30150 yards
30-40145 yards
40-50137 yards
50-60130 yards
60+120 yards
All Golfers136 yards

What loft is an 8 iron?

The 8 iron is known as a “mid” iron and typically has a loft that falls between 35 and 39 degrees.

What is the length of an 8 iron?

The average length of an 8 iron is 36 to 37 inches long. The length will be determined by your height and swing. If you’re getting clubs custom-fitted, the club fitter will change the length, lie, and loft to suit your game. You may get some irons with the proper specifications to assist you to reduce your handicap.