In golf, some shots are more popular than the others. There might be certain elements of a shot that not all players can pull off. But there is one shot in the history of golf that has raised more eyebrows than we can ever count.
Yes, we’re talking about the infamous stinger shot by Tiger Woods.
If you go to YouTube right now and search for it, you’ll come across many videos compiling the shot played by Mr. Woods. It’s one of those shots that leave you perplexed and compels you to think, “Wait, what did I just watch?”.
In fact, the stinger shot is patented by Tiger Woods as his own creation. It’s considered as one of the greatest inventions of golf in the 20th century.
However, Tiger is not the inventor of this shot. He just happens to be the best player to play it right now.
The stinger shot was developed back in the last 1800s to manage the ball better under heavy winds or to go past obstacles.
It has been passed on for generations until it came down to Tiger Wood’s coach in the 90s, Mr. Butch.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at what a stinger shot is and how you can play one.
What is the Stinger Shot?
A stinger is basically a low-altitude shot with immense control.
Tiger uses his 2-iron to play this iconic shot. From individual PGA tours to team-oriented Ryder Cup, Tiger has amazed the audience over and over again with this shot.
The shot starts very low to the ground. It’s achieved by the use of a less lofted club. Initially, the ball gives the impression that it won’t make it.
To everyone’s surprise, the ball just keeps flying and flying until it lands exactly where Tiger Woods wants it.
That’s the perplexing part. From Tiger’s body language to the ball’s initial flight, nothing gives the notion of it being a successful hit. Yet, the ball flies over 260 yards! Thanks to the lower trajectory, the ball rolls farther than the other shots.
Although Tiger plays the stinger with his trusted 2-iron every time, you can use any other long iron. Basically, anything between 1-5 iron works well for the stinger.
When Stingers Comes into Play
As you’re here with the intent of learning how to hit a stinger, it’s our moral duty to let you know that it’s not for every occasion.
The stinger is a very particular type of shot and you should only bring it out every once in a while.
To the naked eye, a stinger might look like every other iron shot to you. It’s the same as Phil Mickelson’s flop shot.
Only if you’re able to break 85s or at least 90s consistently, you may attempt to learn this shot. It requires some serious skill from your end.
So, if your basic fundamentals are weak, you can’t achieve mastery over this shot yet.
By basic, we mean the address, understanding of ball position, swing accuracy, launch angle, etc.
If you’re looking for handy guides in all of these areas, you’ll find them easily on our website. Just go through the guides and put in the hours at your local driving range.
What’s the Difference between the Stinger and the Punch?
Many players get confused between the stinger shot and the punch shot. If you’re one of them, we have a handy guide explaining what the punch shot is and how to play it.
Basically, a punch shot is played with the sole purpose of avoiding obstacles such as a tall tree.
The swing is often laid back and the shot is played off the back of the stance.
A stinger, on the other hand, has a full swing. The trajectory of the ball might be identical to a punch, but the rollout distance is far greater on a stinger.
How to Hit a Stinger?
We’ve finally reached the crème de la crème of our guide. In this section, we’re going to look at exactly what you need to do if you want to hit a stinger.
Adjusting the Setup
Just like it is with every other golf shot, you need to fix your setup first. We’re creating this guide based on right-handed players. If you’re a left-handed player, please adjust it accordingly.
You may not need a tee for iron shots in general but you will need one for the stinger.
Make sure you push the tee all the way into the ground before you place the ball on it. If it’s at your usual tee height, the shot will become impossible to hit. You need the tee squared with the grass.
Now, you need to keep your weight distributed evenly on both sides of your body. If you’ve been following our guide, you would know that there is a lead side and a trail side of a player in golf.
For traditional golf shots, it’s advised to keep more weight on the lead foot. But in the case of a stinger, you need to 50/50 distribution.
Another key element for succeeding in this shot is using the center of your stance. This is, however, debated among players.
Some players have reported success by playing the shot from the back of their stance like a punch shot while the others strongly believe the ball should be in the middle of your stance.
We believe in the latter. But you’re free to test out both and see which one works for you better.
Other elements of your setup such as the address, the stance, feet width, etc. all remain the same as your regular iron shots.
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Have a Loose Backswing
When we initialize our swing, some of us tense up instantly. While it’s not a major problem for most golfers, it is one for those who want to learn the stinger.
One of the main resources of Tiger’s explosive club head speeds is a loose backswing.
If you notice Tiger Woods playing his patented shot, you’ll notice that he doesn’t go to the top of his backswing.
You need to do the same. Take a loose backswing and come down with everything you’ve got.
When you go to the top of your backswing, you generate more power. But you’re traveling a longer distance at the same time.
The loft on the club head and the dimples on the ball help you get maximum carry with a full backswing.
But when the stinger is concerned, you can’t follow the traditional rules.
You don’t want the loft of the club or the dimples on the ball to come into play entirely. Because you want to keep the ball low and cover as much distance as possible.
Accelerate Through the Downswing
While this is a generalized phrase for golf shots in general, you need to take the ‘accelerating’ factor seriously for a stinger.
Your success largely depends on how fast you can come down and how accurately you can hit the sweet spot.
The best way to generate as much club head speed as possible during downswing is to use your hips.
You need to push your hips toward the target a little and rotate it at the same time to accelerate the club.
Another unique aspect of a stinger is the use of your arms.
For the majority of the golf shots, we instruct our readers to keep the arms in place and use the upper body rotation for the swing.
But for a stinger, you need to use your arms to enhance the acceleration properly for the downswing.
The reason is, you need to achieve a certain club head speed if you want to hit the ball low. If the swing is not fast enough, the loft of the club will send the ball higher than intended. If you’re not used to using your arms for acceleration, you should practice at the driving range beforehand.
Keep the Follow Through Low
For the shots that you go to the top of the backswing, you go to the top of the follow through as well. You need to keep the theme consistent for the stinger as well.
As we’ve said earlier, you don’t need to go to the top of your backswing for this shot. So, you don’t need to go to the top of the follow through as well.
Instead of finishing over your shoulders, finish around your body. Follow through is intertwined with the flight of the ball.
So, keeping the follow through short will help you to keep the ball low.
Final Words: Should You Hit a Stinger?
If the situation asks for it, you definitely should. If you see long trees with minimal branches near your target, a stinger can help you avoid the trees and cut right below them.
Another scenario would be when a hole has many bunkers and roughs. One of the properties of the stinger shot is that it flies very straight.
So, as long as you can keep the club face square, the ball won’t divert from its direction, even under high winds.
The catch here is that you need immense practice to master the shot.
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Thanks for reading today’s article!
Nick Foy – Golf Instructor