Driver Swing vs Iron Swing: What’s The Difference?

Written by John VanDerLaan 

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Driver Swing vs Iron Swing

Many golfers quickly become obsessed with working on their driver swing. While it’s true that the driver is one of the most important and often used clubs in the bag, it isn’t the best club for building fundamentals and getting meaningful feedback from your practice sessions.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the ways in which a good iron swing can lead to a good driver swing, and what modifications are needed to make the transition as seamless as possible.

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Are The Driver Swing And The Iron Swing The Same?

Yes, and no. The driver swing ideally is a modified version of a good 7-iron swing. In a perfect world, those modifications are pretty much completely limited to the setup, and the actual motion of the swing remains consistent throughout the bag.

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Differences Between The Driver Swing And The Iron Swing

While the driver swing and iron swing might look quite different to the eye, and even the TrackMan numbers will tell a very different story with each club, the basic motion of a mid-iron swing should completely translate to the driver swing.The main difference is in the setup, and then some things that naturally occur as a result of that setup.

Goal Of The Driver Swing vs Iron Swing

Player generating high club head speed with driver

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The overall goal of an iron swing is consistency - hitting the same distance every time, which emphasizes contact and rhythm. A good iron shot should be low enough to be penetrating through any wind, but have the appropriate amount of spin to still stop on the green. With the driver, contact and rhythm are still paramount, but for sure, especially in today’s golf game, there is the added emphasis on maximizing ball speed and carry distance.

This means our goal is to create not only as fast of a swing as we can muster without losing balance, but also an impact position that promotes a low-spinning, high-launching bomb that will sail forever.

The proper way to accomplish these differences is not by having two separate swings, but by understanding how setup adjustments can produce these results while maintaining consistency in your mechanics from swing to swing.

Stance Width

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Driver vs Iron Stance Width

In order to have a longer, harder swing without losing balance, the first thing we need to adjust with a driver swing is our stance width. It should be at least a few inches wider than our mid-iron stance, whatever that is.

If our mid-iron stance is shoulder-width, we should setup with the insteps of our feet on the outside of our shoulders with the driver.

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Weight Distribution

This stance width also helps us manage our weight distribution through the driver swing. In an iron swing, there are different ways to do it, either by stacking weight on the front foot early and staying there, or shifting the weight from the trail foot to the front foot throughout the swing, but we absolutely want to strike our irons with most of the weight on our front foot, to create a descending blow.With the driver, we want to stay more balanced and centered through the strike, in order to create a level or ascending angle of attack.

This is a bigger topic, as there are again many ways to dynamically shift the weight in the driver swing, but one rule of thumb is to keep yourself around 50/50 to 60/40 in either direction in a driver swing, until the follow-through, whereas in an iron swing we want to go as far as 70/30 or 80/20 onto the front foot by impact.

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Shoulder Tilt

Driver vs Iron Swing Shoulder Tilt

Perhaps the most important fundamental setup change when hitting a driver is our shoulder tilt at address. This is so important because it naturally helps accomplish everything we want with angle of attack and keeping our weight back (actually more centered) through the swing.

Each player is different, but we want to experiment in the range of about 10 degrees of shoulder tilt for our driver swing setup. The important thing here is to tilt only from the upper spine - we don’t want to dip our trail hip at setup. One way to accomplish this is by standing straight up and down, facing a mirror, and hold your club across your collarbones. From here, crunch the trail shoulder closer to the trail hip, while keeping your hips level, and then take your golf stance.This pre-sets the shoulder tilt we want in a driver swing. One rule of thumb to not over-do it: ten degrees is roughly two minutes on a clock face.

Ball Position

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Difference In Ball Position

We absolutely want our ball position to be more forward in our driver swing than in our iron swing. Again there is some flexibility here based on individual matchups and tendencies, but if we play a stock wedge shot off of our sternum, a stock iron shot off of our lead ear, we can play a stock drive off just inside our lead foot. 

Keep in mind that we keep our ball position relative to the golf shots we want to play. Forward for higher and back in our stance for lower shots. I have found that by moving the ball back of center I can hit good crisp iron shots that have a penetrating ball flight and a lot of spin.

The farther forward you put your golf ball, the more height you can get on your shot, but the tendency will be for the ball to cut more, so you can also close your stance an inch or two accordingly to match this up.

Angle Of Attack

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As mentioned, the proper attack angle for our driver is going to be level to slightly up. PGA Tour players will be anywhere from 1 or 2 degrees down to 5-6 degrees up, but the longest hitters are hitting up on the golf ball 3 degrees or more.

We shouldn’t really have to try to uppercut more, as this angle of attack should be a natural result of:

  • widening our stance
  • placing the golf ball more forward
  • keeping our weight centered
  • tilting our shoulders at address

If we do these things at setup, we can still really feel like we have the same release as our irons and, in the same way as we would try to punch down and through on our iron shots, we can really drive the ball up in the air due to these setup adjustments, with no other changes. This video of Jon Rahm talking to Tiger Woods illustrates this concept perfectly.


The driver is going to be our biggest backswing. The main mechanical aspect in play here is the wider stance, which allows a more dynamic lower body turn and supports a full, completely unrestricted shoulder turn.

Impact Position

Impact Position Driver And Iron

The impact position for a driver can vary from player to player, but generally it will have less forward shaft lean than an iron. This is mostly due to the ball position, and definitely not by trying to add height or scoop the drive up into the air. The motion through the bottom of the golf swing can be the same, but the body and arms naturally have more time to extend and release due to the ball being teed up, and forward in the stance, so automatically the ball is being caught in a more extended-arms, extended-hips, extended-legs position, a split-second after where you would catch it in an iron swing.

With irons, you will see all styles, but it is more common and more manageable option to keep the knees, hips, and trail elbow slightly more bent through impact, especially when playing a lower ball flight. 

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Finish With Driver And Iron

Once again, full extension is a signature of many good driver swings. As we pointed out before, it is an option to stay bent for longer, either with the knees, hips, or both with iron swings, but this isn’t really conducive to a stock driver shot.

Because of this, in a driver swing we typically will see a full extension and release of the arms and wrists, wrapping into a high finish position with the club shaft finishing through the ears or higher, and the body posted up in an extended position, the belt buckle being the closest thing to the target.

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Final Thoughts

While the driver swing and iron swing might look quite different, and produce very different results and ball flights, most high level players are not changing much, if anything, in their golf swing.

Almost all of the differences come from setup changes, and natural reactions to those setup changes, but the release and fundamental movement of the swing needs to stay the same throughout the bag for all shots that are not specialty shots.

Having two different swings for driver and irons isn’t a recipe for consistency. Instead, we should be working very diligently on perfecting our setups to match the desired result. For irons, this is a downward blow that creates a flighted shot that has enough friction and backspin to stop on the green. For the driver, this is a slightly upward blow that naturally produces a low-spinning, high-launching, deep-penetrating ball flight.

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By far the best way to achieve a great driver swing is to have a great 7-iron swing. Then just tee it high, put the ball forward in your stance, tilt your shoulders back slightly, and use your same swing plane to drive the ball up in the air rather than the down and through iron strike.

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John VanDerLaan

John is the Lead Editor and founder at Golf Gear Advisor. He is a golf coach and mentor to his 2 sons that are current playing professionals. His son John is currently playing on the Korn Ferry Tour and his son Michael is currently playing on mini tours and preparing for Q School. John Sr. has been their coach and mentor since they were 2 years old. He helped them to succeed in golf with the right equipment, instruction and mindset. John knows a thing or two about playing good golf and he has a passion for sharing his knowledge with others.

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