The word “stinger”can describe a lot of things depending on context. In the golf world, however, the word is associated with one specific golfer Tiger Woods. We have all, at one time or another, had to get a really low-lofted club out of our bag to punch out of some type of hazard situation.
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Tiger, on the other hand, would take a 2-iron out on the tee box and just blast the ball low and deep down the center of the fairway.
There are quite a few uses for this shot, and the following tutorial on How To Hit A Stinger will give you the foundation to hit the ball low and deep and consistently set yourself up for the next shot.
Before We Get Started
What Exactly Is a Stinger?
A stinger is a knockdown shot that has a low penetrating ball flight and is traditionally used when conditions demand a low, controlled shot that hits the fairway and runs.
Knockdown shots like a stinger can be intimidating because they are uncommon and you normally use a club that is difficult to hit for many golfers. It can, however, provide you with a whole new way of getting down the middle of the fairway with little risk (wind, spin, etc.) and a lot of reward (distance, accuracy, etc.).
When Should You Hit a Stinger?
You should hit a stinger when conditions call for a low and controlled shot with a lot of distance. Here are 5 specific instances where a stinger could be used:
- Narrow par 4s where pulling out a driver could lead you into some trouble.
- Long par 5s where your first shot left you far from the green and there are no hazards in front.
- Tiger uses this shot consistently in windy conditions where a gust could take your shot offline.
- When (not “if” when you golf like I do) you find yourself in the woods with branches hanging over you and a long way from the green.
- When you want to show off for your golf buddies and you hit a stinger with your driving iron that goes farther than their drive.
What You Will Need To Hit A Stinger
You want to start learning how to hit a stinger with the lowest lofted iron in your bag. For many golfers these days, it is probably a 4 or 5 iron, and that will work for now.
You will need alignment sticks if you have them. If you do not, you can use other golf clubs in their place, but the truth is that alignment sticks have so many uses that you should get some anyway. They are great for alignment, swing path drills, and even putting help. They also look better and are more versatile than just using other clubs in your bag.
Step-By-Step Instructions On How To Hit A Stinger
Step 1. Setup
The key to hitting a stinger is to keep your hands in front of the club through impact and that begins at setup. You want to set up with your hands starting in front of the club and place the ball approximately 1 ball length back from center.
Step 2. Takeaway/Backswing
Your takeaway should be similar to a normal shot, but as you are starting out, it may make sense to move your hands forward prior to starting your takeaway. This slight move with your hands will help get them in front of the club at the beginning of your movement so that they are more apt to be there at the end too.
Step 3. Swing Length
The swing length, once you start hitting a stinger on a consistent basis, is no different than a regular shot from setup to impact. There are some differences in the arc, hand placement, and movement but the swing length is the same.
If you follow Tiger’s advice for hitting a stinger, the swing length is considerably different after impact. In fact, Tiger is quoted in a golf.com article as saying, “When I’m really trying to drive it, I try to stop my hands as fast as I can post-impact, if Now, if i’m just trying to get it down there, I try to stop my hands right around shoulder height.”
The bottom line is that you do not want to follow through completely when hitting a stinger. The point is to keep the ball low, and stopping your hands quickly helps to keep your club head moving downward and staying closed.
Step 4. Transition/Downswing
The key, again, is to lead with your hands. You want your club to be behind your hands throughout the shot, but the transition and downswing is the key. The tendency here would be to move back into your normal swing position and that would defeat the purpose of the work you have done prior to this movement. Keep your hands in front of the club here and make sure that you are not too rigid as well.
When you start your release, the club should be parallel with the ground and your left hand pointed downward effectively delofting your club. Starting your release in this position will ensure that your hands are in front and that you take as much loft off of the club as possible.
Step 5. Impact
The moment of impact is important with any shot, but when hitting a stinger there are some things to know. The stinger is a different shot than most people are used to and comfortable with so there are a lot of tendencies that have to be overcome at impact. Here are the things that you need to do at impact:
- Lead with your hands.
- Do not let your arms be too rigid. This shot is different, and you will have a tendency to be less relaxed. Think “noodle arms” and do not tense up throughout the swing and especially at impact.
- Make a descending blow where you hit ball first and the divot is pointed slightly left and about 1-inch past the ball.
- Do not begin to stop the forward movement of your hands until after impact.
Step 6. Post Impact/Follow Through
You probably noticed that the post impact aspect of the swing is quite different than a normal follow through. You want your hands to stop right after contact so that the club face does not have a chance to add too much loft to the shot. You also want the descending blow that a stinger creates to be the force behind the shot which means you want the club descending even after impact. You will probably create a slightly deeper divot with a stinger than other shots.
3 Key Swing Thoughts
1.You need a lot of club head speed
This is not a “punch out” type of shot where you have run out of options and are trying to get the ball back on the fairway. This is a shot that you use because you want to, and it is meant to provide both distance and accuracy while keeping the ball low. You need a lot of clubhead speed to make this happen, so do not think that you are just trying to punch the ball a little farther down the line, this is a distance shot.
2. Make clean contact with the ball
If you struggle making “ball first” contact in chipping and iron play, the stinger will be a difficult shot for you. If you hit ball and ground at the same time, you are going to lose the swing speed you need to pull this shot off.
3. Keep excellent balance throughout the swing
Now that we have told you to swing hard, it is important that you maintain your balance as well. If you lose your balance at any point during the swing, you will not get it back and you will not make solid contact with the ball. Swing hard, do not overswing, and keep your balance even when you are stopping your hands immediately after contact.
Start With Half Shots, Work Your Way Up
As with almost every other shot, you do not want to start practicing with a full swing. The stinger is a difficult shot to learn and it will be much more difficult if you are swinging as hard as you can before you get the feel and motion of the shot. We would suggest starting with half swings with the caveat being that your half swing still has enough velocity that you are still hitting a stinger rather than just punching the ball down the fairway.
Here’s a quick video from El Tigre himself on how he approaches the stinger:
Final Thoughts On How To Hit A Stinger
The stinger is a difficult but impressive shot to learn. It is also quite a versatile shot that is useful in a lot of different situations and especially if you play a lot of golf in windy conditions. Learning the process of hitting this shot will help you learn “ball first” contact, will make you better at chipping, and will give you the tools to get out of a lot of messes.
Hopefully you enjoyed this tutorial and learned a lot from the instructions above. The next time you are on the driving range, take out your 3 or 4 iron and try to hit a stinger. Video or photo your attempts and comment below with how your outing went. Share this with your friends as well and see who can learn to hit a stinger the fastest and the best.