If you’re a fan of golf, which we’re guessing you are, you’ve almost definitely seen Tiger Woods hit one of his famous stinger shots.
It may look easy when Tiger does it but don’t be fooled. This can be a pretty tricky shot to pull off.
Fortunately, there are five simple steps you can follow that will help you to master the art of hitting a stinger so that you can start impressing your friends on the course.
So, let’s take a close look at what the stinger shot actually is and how best to execute it.
The Stinger Shot Explained
The stinger shot was introduced to the world by the golfer we all worship, Tiger Woods, in the late 90s and has now become a popular shot for most golfers, including professionals and amateurs.
The stinger has a lower ball flight than usual and is a great shot for finding the short grass when you’re looking to avoid trouble and get the ball in play.
Although the stinger starts off as a low shot, it gradually gains height as the ball picks up speed, and it’s useful if you find yourself on a tight fairway.
Can All Golfers Hit A Stinger?
Although Tiger Woods may make the stinger look easy, this is an advanced shot, and it does take a pretty high level of skill to hit a stinger.
For that reason, it’s best not to try it until you’re consistently breaking 85 and have developed a consistent swing.
If you have a high handicap or are a beginner, you should focus on improving your swing for a while before attempting to hit a stinger.
But, don’t worry, we can’t all be Tiger Woods, and there are many pros that don’t attempt to hit a stinger regularly as it’s difficult to execute.
However, if you’re feeling confident about your swing and you’re breaking 85, there’s nothing to stop you from trying the stinger.
The Difference Between The Stinger Shot And The Punch Shot
A common mistake amongst golfers is confusing the punch shot with the stinger, but the two shots are quite different.
You play punch shots off the back of your stance, and the idea is to keep the golf ball low, very low. In fact, so that it avoids obstructions such as trees.
However, the stinger is a shot that uses a full swing to keep the ball lower than usual but in which the ball still travels its full distance.
The intention of the stinger is not to avoid any obstructions but to find the center of the short grass.
When To Use The Stinger
The stinger shot is best suited for holes that have a lot of sand traps, narrow fairways, and water.
It’s also an ideal shot during windy conditions, particularly when swirling wind.
A golf shot hit with a normal swing will be badly affected by the wind due to its altitude, but a stinger’s lower flight will most likely avoid the worst effects of the turbulence.
Which Clubs Can You Use For A Stinger?
Essentially, you can hit a stinger with any club apart from your putter. Whether that’s a pitching wedge or a long iron.
But, the stinger is usually hit off the tee, so most of the time, it’ll be best for you to use your longer clubs like your driver, your three iron, or your three wood.
Using these clubs when hitting a stinger will give you the most control possible over the shot, and your ball run when it reaches the green and the fairway should also be increased.
Hitting A Stinger
If you’re relatively new to trying to hit a stinger or have never tried it before, we’d recommend that you start off by attempting this shot using a 4 or 5 iron.
You don’t need to use your longest club straight away as they’re hard to swing and will make it more difficult for you to learn this tricky shot.
The type of swing you use for a stinger will also de-loft the club due to your hand positions which means that your five iron will become a four iron.
Once you’ve selected the right club, it’s time to learn how to hit a stinger.
Step 1 – Ball Placement
Firstly, you need to place the ball so that it is back in your stance. Tiger Woods usually places the ball about a ball-width back in his stance when he hits a stinger, so see how that distance works for you.
Making sure you have a proper setup before you hit the ball is crucial as if the ball is too far forward, then you will present it with too much loft at impact, and the ball will be launched too high through the air. (See our article on 12 degree drivers to see how loft affects ball flight)
💡 Tip: Get an impact bag for golf to help refine this skill.
However, if you place the ball too far back in your stance, you will get closer to a draw shape rather than a stinger shape.
Step 2 – Backswing
You may think that to keep the ball low; you’ll need to use a short backswing. But, this is not the case, and Tiger Woods recommends that you take a normal backswing.
When you take a full backswing, make sure that you fully rotate your shoulders and your hips so that you can transfer enough power to the ball to make it travel a good amount of distance along the fairway.
When you hit a stinger, the ball will be in the air for less time than it would be with a standard shot because of its low trajectory, so you need to make sure that your swing has plenty of power and speed.
Using a full backswing instead of a shorter one will help you to achieve the speed and power that you’ll need.
Step 3 – Trail Shoulder
According to Tiger Woods, this step might be the most important one when learning how to hit a stinger, and if you can fully get to grips with it, you should be well on your way to mastering the shot.
Once you complete your full backswing and are starting to move into your downswing, pay close attention to your trail shoulder and right arm in your swing and ensure that it remains on top of the ball and stays high during impact.
This should create better compression of the ball and also reduces the loft on the club, which means that the ball will be at a lower trajectory when it leaves the clubface.
However, making sure that your trail shoulder is covering the ball during impact could mean that you shut off the clubface slightly, which could result in you hooking the ball.
To avoid this, make sure that you keep opening your hopes through impact.
Step 4 – Noodle Arms
We know noodle arms doesn’t sound like a serious step in a golf swing but trust us; this is an important part of hitting a stinger.
As the name suggests, you don’t want your arms and hands to be rigid during this swing.
If you’re too tense, it will be very difficult to hit a low stinger.
You need to make sure that your lower body, hands, and arms are relaxed during the swing and refrain from tensing up, as this will help you to ‘brake’ your hands more efficiently in the follow-through.
The more quickly you can brake or stop your hands after impact, the lower the shot will be. However, braking them more quickly will also lead to the ball traveling less distance.
Ideally, your arms and hands shouldn’t finish any higher than your shoulder height if you want to hit a nice, low stinger.
Step 5 – Shaft Lean
Developing a good shaft lean is important for every type of golf swing and is key in mastering the stinger shot.
Amateurs tend to find it difficult to compress the golf ball and are prone to flipping their hands to try and scoop the ball instead of leaving all of the work to the loft of the club.
This is one of the reasons we don’t recommend trying the stinger until you’ve considerably developed your swing, and a good way you can practice your shaft lean is to use impact bags.
These can help you practice maintaining the correct wrist angles at impact, as well as help you learn how to use the right amount of shaft lean.
They can also help you to learn how to correctly clear your hips out of the way when you’re swinging your club.
Another thing you will definitely find useful when learning how to hit a stinger is to record your swing so that you can watch it back and assess your technique.
This can help you to identify any issues, such as coming over the top on your downswing, which will prevent you from being able to master the stinger.
So, they’re the basic steps you need to follow as you’re learning to hit a stinger, and if you perfect each one, you should be hitting them like Tiger Woods in no time.
There are, however, other types of stinger shots for you to try, so we’ll have a look at them next to get you up to speed.
Hitting Different Types Of Stinger Shots
Hitting a stinger fade is not too different from hitting a standard stinger, but you’ll need to be aligned slightly to the left of your target, and your clubface should be slightly opened at impact.
You should also swing down your feet line to generate a fade.
To hit a stinger draw, you need to place the ball further back in your stance than you would for a standard stinger and then use the same swing.
If you position yourself slightly further to the right of the target and keep your clubface slightly closed at the address, you’ll be able to hit a much bigger draw.
With a Driver
Hitting a stinger with a driver is similar to hitting one with an iron. The only difference is the placement of the ball before you take your swing.
After you tee the ball down, bring it more to the middle of your stance than you would if you were using an iron. This will give you a reduced attack angle and will give the ball a lower flight.
Then, use the same swing as you would when hitting a stinger with an iron.
Why is the stinger a useful shot?
Stinger shots are control shots that cause the ball to fly at a low trajectory. This greatly reduces the spin on the ball, which means it can penetrate through wind and is less affected by turbulence than a standard shot.
Can you hit a two-iron stinger?
You can hit a stinger using a two iron, and you can actually hit one using any club apart from the putter.
The most common clubs used by golfers who have mastered this shot are the 2 and 3 irons, but you can also use clubs such as a fairway wood or a driver.
Does a stinger travel further than a standard shot?
A well-hit stinger will be in the air for less time than a standard shot but will generally travel a similar distance while airborne. However, stingers do tend to roll out for longer than a standard shot.
Can you hit a stinger with a hybrid?
It is harder to hit a good stinger with hybrids than when you’re using long irons, but using a hybrid makes it much easier to hit the ball in general.
You can still hit a stinger with a hybrid, but you won’t be able to hit it as low as you would if you were using a long iron. The swing technique you use to hit a stinger with a hybrid is exactly the same as it is for a long iron.
Hitting stingers isn’t for every golfer, as it does take a certain amount of skill to execute well.
However, for more experienced golfers that are breaking 85, following the above steps and advice should get you well on the way to mastering this tricky shot and hitting beautiful, low stingers straight onto the short stuff.
Remember, although you can hit a stinger with any club except for the putter, it’s best to start off by using a five iron until you’re comfortable with the technique.
Then, you can start executing your perfect stingers with any club you choose. Just not the putter!