You have to be a legend in the game of golf to have your own shot.
While Tiger Woods certainly wasn’t the first golfer to hit a punch shot with a two iron, he did make it famous.
The ‘stinger’ shot was a staple during Woods’ historic run in the prime of his career. When used from the tee, the stinger shot was capable of launching the ball low down the center of the fairway, time and time again.
Instead of taking the risk of sending the ball high into the air with a driver, Woods was able to hit missiles that achieved plenty of distance while positioning the ball perfectly for the next shot.
With Tiger returning to the professional golf scene, the stinger shot is a popular topic of conversation once again. While there is no doubt that this shot was a great benefit to Woods’ game for many years, there is plenty of doubt as to whether or not it is right for the average golfer.
Can you use this shot effectively, or should you stick to your standard ball flights? Let’s take a look below.
Three Requirements of the Stinger
If you are going to hit successful stinger shots off the tee, you are going to need to fill the following three requirements.
#1 Plenty of club head speed
This is not a shot that is going to work effectively unless you have ample club head speed to use through the hitting area. Hitting down on a long iron without significant club head speed is simply going to lead to an ugly result.
For the ball to hold itself up in the air as it heads down the fairway, you need enough speed to impart meaningful backspin to the ball. You don’t necessarily have to be as powerful as Tiger Woods, but this is not a short for a short hitter.
#2 A clean strike
You can’t hit a great stinger shot without making excellent contact at the moment of impact. This is one of the things that makes Tiger Woods’ use of this shot so impressive. Even under pressure, he was able to strike the ball clean enough to achieve great results.
If you struggle to hit your normal shots cleanly on a consistent basis, you may not have the ball striking skills (at this point) to use a stinger shot.
#3 Great balance
To be fair, this point goes along with the previous point on making clean contact. To achieve that clean hit, you will need to be nicely balanced throughout the swing. There isn’t going to be any time to recover the swing if you get off track along the way.
You’ll need to be nicely balanced over the ball, and you should maintain that balance all the way into the finish.
Already, you can see the kind of challenge that is laid out in front of you. To bring together significant club head speed, a clean strike, and good balance is no easy task.
If you are a beginning golfer, or someone who is currently struggling to break 100, you should probably set this topic to the side. Work on improving your game, and revisit the idea of using a stinger as your game progresses.
Making It Happen
If you feel that you have the power and skill necessary to hit this shot, we are going to lay out the relevant technique in this section.
It should go without saying that you are going to need to practice this shot consistently on the range before you think about using it on the course. You can’t just read this article and make it happen – plenty of practice time is required when developing any new shot in your game.
To play a stinger shot, you are going to use your longest iron while teeing the ball up in the middle of your stance. Playing from the middle of the stance is your best bet, as going too far back is going to make your swing too steep coming down. Also, you will need to choke down on the grip at address. For a difficult shot, the setup is actually quite simple – use a long iron, choke down on the grip, and place the ball in the middle of your stance.
The key to the actual swing is to stay centered over the ball. You don’t want to be sliding laterally during this move – you should do your best to just rotate around your center of gravity. This kind of balanced swing is going to let you hit down aggressively and you should be able to produce a low flight.
As you move through impact, don’t release the club with your right hand. Instead, you want to hold off the finish while keeping your right shoulder down through the shot. In the end, the club should end up out in front of your body, rather than up around the back of your head.
Putting the Stinger to Use
Those who manage to learn this shot well enough on the range to consider using it on the course should be congratulated. This is a tough shot, and hitting it consistently requires some skill – give yourself a pat on the back if you reach that point.
Now, when should you use it on the course? Consider the following opportunities.
- Use it for tee shots on narrow par fours where hitting a driver would be asking for trouble.
- Consider playing it for a second shot on a par five to move the ball up near the green.
- Break it out in windy conditions to send the ball well down the fairway without having to hit the ball high up into the breeze.
Once you know how to hit the stinger, you will be amazed at how many different opportunities you find to use it on the course. Just learning how to hit this one shot is not going to turn you into the next Tiger Woods, but it will allow you to turn to another option when the circumstances are right.
Good luck with this challenge!
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