When executed properly, one of the coolest shots in golf has got to be the stinger. This shot has gained great popularity over the last few years. From Tiger Woods to golf social influencers.
In this article, we will look at what a stinger is and how to hit it properly.
What is a Stinger?
A stinger golf shot is a piercing, controlled, low-flighted shot. This shot is flighted down much further than a normal trajectory golf shot. The stinger also has less spin and will roll out considerable distances. It is a useful shot in some situations.
When should you use a stinger?
- When you want to find the fairway on a tight driving hole.
- When you need to keep a shot low but still get some distance out of it.
There is no doubt that Tiger Woods has made the stinger a very popular shot in golf. Tiger first used the shot when he was a young golfer. He is said to have discovered the stinger with a 1 iron he took from his dad.
But this type of low-flighted, punch-type shot has always been part of the game. The stinger is referenced and used almost daily, multiple times, in professional golf.
Read more: The Different Types of Golf Shots
Why Do Golfers Hit the Stinger?
Knowing how to hit a low stinger in golf can help you in some critical situations.
It is used in numerous situations by professional golfers and more skilled amateurs. Middle and higher-handicap golfers seem to hit it less. That is likely because of a lack of understanding on how to hit the stinger.
Here are some more situations that you often see the stinger used.
- On par 4s and 5s with a tight opening off the tee
- On par 4s and 5s with narrow fairway landing areas off the tee
- On par 4s and 5s with narrow approach shots to the green
- In windy weather, especially if it’s blowing into your face
- In situations when you are in trouble and need to keep a shot low to escape
- A long second shot on a par 5 where you need control and could benefit from extra roll
Who Should Hit a Stinger?
Any golfer can try to hit the stinger. But it is challenging to hit, so professionals and low-handicap amateurs usually use it more. This doesn’t mean, however, that other golfers can’t learn the shot and try to use it.
Better players use the stinger more because they tend to control the clubface better. The ability to have control of the clubface is a key component of the stinger shot.
Many golfers with a middle to high handicap tend to have issues with face control. The dreaded slice also plagues them.
The slice is a result of a swing path on the downswing that is out to in. To be able to hit a stinger, a golfer with this swing path on the downswing will need to learn how to swing from the inside.
With an understanding of how to do it, and with enough practice, anyone can learn how to hit the stinger.
Read more: How To Hit A Low Golf Shot
How to Hit a Stinger
The stinger is a highly useful shot to have in your arsenal. But it is a shot that requires a great deal of practice to execute properly. Here’s how to hit a stinger with irons or another appropriate club to help you master it:
Setting Up To Hit a Stinger
In general, you should be using a lower lofted club for this shot. There may be cases where you may need to hit a stinger with a more lofted club. Those will likely be few and far between.
You will need to set up with the ball in the middle, to the middle-back of your stance.
Set up with your hands ahead of the ball more than normal.
Your weight should be favoring your lead side. About 60% of your weight should be forward.
This will help keep the shot’s trajectory low, and the setup will help you reduce the spin you put on the ball.
Having very little spin is key in accomplishing the goal of a low, piercing, controlled ball flight.
Execution of the Stinger
Now that you are set up to hit the stinger, you can begin the execution of the shot.
Take the hands and arms back to about shoulder height on your backswing. As you transition down from the top, think “lead with the hands” as you get into impact.
The most important thing to remember with a stinger is to keep the hands, and butt end of the club, forward through impact. The shaft needs to be leaning at the moment of impact.
You must also remember to keep the hands moving, and going left (for a right-handed golfer), as the body rotates to the finish. You should finish with your hands and club low. No higher than shoulder height.
The Key to Hitting a Stinger: Clubface Control
One of the most important aspects of hitting a stinger is being able to control your clubface. Not only is a stinger about keeping the ball low, but it is even more about keeping it straight.
One thing that separates better players is their ability to control the face of the club at impact. This is a critical piece to hitting a stinger.
Middle to higher-handicap golfers often deal with swing path and face-to-path issues. That is, where their clubface is in relation to the path they are swinging on the downswing.
If a golfer has a swing path that moves from outside the target line to inside on the downswing, they will struggle with hitting a stinger. Additionally, a stinger may also prove difficult to execute if they have issues with squaring up the face at impact.
A good way to work on face control, and squaring up the clubface, is to pay attention to your lead wrist at impact. If you have a proper grip on the club, your lead wrist position will generally match up with the clubface. Or at least it should.
A good wrist position at impact should be flat or ever so slightly bowed and facing the target.
Stinger Variations: Draw and Fade
I highly recommend that the middle to higher handicap golfer work on hitting a standard stinger first and foremost. With that in mind, I understand that some may want to learn how to hit a stinger draw and fade.
It is always useful to try and have a variety of shots you can hit. This usually boils down to having the ability to pull those shots off when needed.
As I mentioned, many middle to high handicap golfers struggle with face control at impact. This is an essential part of being able to hit a stinger. If you feel you are having success in doing that, you may be able to move on to some variations.
How To Hit A Draw Stinger
With all the steps in mind for a traditional stinger, you will basically make two adjustments to hit a draw stinger.
- Set up a little more right of your target. This will allow for the draw to work back towards your target.
- Try to close the face ever so slightly as you come into the ball at impact.
How To Hit A Fade Stinger
With all the steps in mind for a traditional stinger, you will basically make two adjustments to hit a fade stinger.
- Set up a little more left of your target. This will allow for the fade to work back toward your target.
- Try to hold the face open ever so slightly as you come into the ball at impact.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Hitting a Stinger
The following are some common mistakes when golfers, particularly middle to higher-handicap golfers, try to hit a stinger.
- Swing path and clubface control issues are common for many golfers. As mentioned previously, these need to be addressed to hit stingers. You must be able to swing from the inside on the downswing.
- One very common mistake golfers make when trying to hit a stinger is not rotating their body throughout the swing. For a stinger to be executed correctly, proper body movement must happen.
- It is very important for the golfer to rotate the hips and torso as quickly as possible. A key feeling to have to help do this, is to keep the trail shoulder moving through the forward swing.
- Another good feeling is to sense that the chest is facing the target just before impact. Proper body rotation will allow a player to keep the butt end of the club moving well after impact.
A Stinger vs. a Punch Shot
There are two major differences between a stinger and a punch shot. Above, you learned all about how to hit a stinger.
One major difference between a stinger and a punch is the purpose of the shot. The second is a slight change in the execution as described above.
The punch is a much lower shot that gets on the ground very quickly after being hit. The punch is used when you are in a great deal of trouble and only looking to get the ball back into play. This shot is not meant to travel long distances. It is only meant to get you out of trouble.
One of the biggest differences between the execution of the punch and the stinger is the setup. You will play the ball in the very back of your stance for a punch. In terms of swing execution with a punch, you will use much less body rotation.
Practice Drill for Hitting Stingers
I am a big imagery guy. I use props to help create situations as I practice on the range. This helps me paint a picture of what I am trying to accomplish while I practice during a range session.
Limbo Drill To Hit A Stinger
What you will need:
- Two alignment sticks
- A pool noodle
Stick the top of each alignment stick through the ends of the pool noodle.
Stick the bottom end of each alignment stick in the ground, with the pool noodle side on top.
Set the limbo contraption you made about 15 yards in front of you.
Practice hitting stingers under the pool noodle and inside the alignment sticks.
What Clubs Do You Use To Hit A Stinger?
The clubs most often used to hit the stinger are long irons, including the five, four, and three. The more traditional two and one irons are really a thing of the past for the most part. You can still find them offered by some manufacturers, however.
What does exist today are what are called driving irons. Driving irons are similar to more traditional long irons in terms of lofts. What makes them different is in the design.
There is more weight behind and under the sweet spot. This helps golfers get the ball airborne a little easier with a driving iron.
Driving irons are very similar to hybrids and a good club choice for hitting stingers.
A hybrid may also be used to hit a stinger shot as well. Hybrids are similar to driving irons but are a step closer to a fairway wood in design.
A few examples of clubs I suggest purchasing are below.
Our Favorite Clubs To Hit A Stinger
You can improve your chances of hitting a stinger with the right clubs. These are our favorite.
Srixon ZX5 Irons – The Best Long Irons
Srixon Z U85 Utility Club – The Best Driving Iron
Srixon ZX Hybrid – The Best Hybrid
Read more: 7 Wood vs 4 Hybrid
The stinger is a low flighted, penetrating golf shot that tends to roll out considerably after landing on the ground. Knowing how to hit a stinger can be a handy shot. It can help a golfer hit the fairway on a tight par four or five. It is also a great shot to help escape from trouble.
The stinger is used more by professionals and better amateur players because of their higher skill levels. With proper training, however, all golfers can learn how to hit the stinger.
How Do You Hit a Low Stinger Shot?
With your weight and hands forward at address, take the hands back to about shoulder height on your backswing. As you transition down from the top, think “lead with the hands” as you get into impact.
The most important thing to remember with a stinger is to keep the hands, or butt end of the club, forward through impact. The shaft needs to be leaning at the moment of impact.
You must also remember to keep the hands moving and going left (for a right-handed golfer) as the body rotates to the finish. You should finish with your hands and club low. No higher than shoulder height.
Clubface control and being able to square the face at impact are critical in being able to execute a stinger.
When Should You Hit a Stinger?
The stinger is a useful shot to help you hit a fairway on a tight driving hole off the tee. It is an excellent shot to use in windy weather, especially if the wind is coming at you.
These are just a couple of examples of when a golfer should consider using a stinger.
PGA Professional Brendon Elliott is the founder of Little Linksters, LLC, and its nonprofit arm, the Little Linksters Association for Junior Golf Development. He is the winner of 25+ prestigious industry honors, including the 2017 PGA National Youth Player Development award. Brendon is a respected coach, businessman, writer, and golf industry expert.