When you think of hitting a stinger in golf, you think of Tiger Woods.
The 15-time major champion is synonymous with the shot, which has become his trademark due to how often he uses it on the course and how well he executes it.
Tiger recalled being on the range ahead of the 1992 US Amateur Championship when 1956 Masters winner Jackie Burke Jr noticed him spraying the ball around a little bit and said “you might want to tee that ball down, kid”, to which the up-and-coming prodigy replied “why is that, sir?”
“The longer the ball is in the air, the longer time it has to go crooked. And trust me, you need to keep that ball down,” Jackie quipped.
From that day on, Tiger began developing a method to lower the flight with his 3-iron, 2-iron, 3-wood and even driver, and so the ‘stinger’ was born.
So, what is the secret to hitting a stinger like Tiger Woods?
To hit a stinger, you need to place the ball back in your stance. Take a full backswing, and feel as though your trail shoulder covers the ball but remains high in the downswing. To flight the ball lower, try stopping your follow-through as soon as possible after impact.
While there is a lot of hype and even aura surrounding the stinger, it’s actually – in theory – an easy shot to execute.
I’ve watched a number of demonstrations from Tiger explaining how he hits his stinger, and have summarised his methods in this easy-to-follow article so that you can begin practicing the correct steps out on the course or at the driving range.
Let’s go through each of them in more detail.
Table of contents
Step 1: Place the ball back in your stance
Naturally, the farther forward the ball is in your stance, the more loft you will present to it at impact and the higher it will launch through the air.
When hitting a stinger, Tiger likes to move the ball around one ball-width back in his stance (or sometimes farther if he wants to hit it really low).
Be mindful, though: the farther the ball moves back in your stance, the more it will promote a draw shot-shape.
You can read another of our articles on controlling ball flight here.
Step 2: Take a normal backswing
A lot of amateurs think in order to keep the ball low, they have to take a short backswing – but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Tiger advocates making a full backswing – ensuring your hips and shoulders are fully rotated – as doing this will generate the appropriate amount of power to send the ball a good distance down the fairway.
Because the ball will be spending less time in the air, due to the lower flight trajectory, you need to maintain speed and power in your swing, and taking a full backswing helps achieve this.
You can read more on hip rotation and swing speed tips below:
- How To Unlock Lag For More Speed
- Hip Turn: How Much You Need In Your Swing
- How To Lengthen Your Backswing
Step 3: Feel your trail shoulder cover the ball
In terms of the secret sauce to hitting a stinger, I reckon this is it.
Having completed a full backswing, when you start to move into the downswing make sure you feel as though your trail shoulder stays on top of the ball and remains high through impact.
Tiger says doing so will help reduce the loft on the club and lead to better compression of the ball, causing it to leave the clubface on a lower trajectory.
It’s important, however, to keep your hips opening through impact as covering the ball with your trail shoulder can lead to shutting off of the clubface and prompting the occasional hook.
Step 4: Soften your arms, but speed up your hips
If your strategy for hitting a stinger is to keep your hands and arms, and lower body, rigid then you may want to rethink it.
It’s important not to keep too much tension through your grip, hands, arms or body as this will hinder your ability to execute a low-flighted bullet.
As Tiger says:
“I like to soften my arms and speed up my hips. I try to get my hips moving as fast as I possibly can, so that my hands can stop as soon as they can post impact.
“Sometimes I’m good at it, sometimes I’m not – but the trick is to always be consistent with the speed of my body so I can brake my hands.”
You’re probably asking: what does Tiger mean by ‘braking his hands’? Well, keep reading – as I’ll explain that in the next step.
Step 5: Stop your hands as soon as possible after impact
When Tiger talks about ‘braking’ his hands, he’s talking about stopping them – not ‘breaking’ them physically to cause injury.
When it comes to controlling the height of the stinger, this will be determined by how quickly you can stop your hands from continuing around your body in your follow-through after impact.
The quicker you can stop them, the lower the ball’s trajectory will be (but note: the ball will also travel less distance by doing this).
Tiger recommends not letting your hands and arms finish higher than shoulder height in order to hit a well-flighted, low stinger.
Step 6: Create adequate shaft lean
One of the biggest battles amateurs have when it comes to striking the golf ball is compressing it correctly, as they tend to flip their hands at impact in order to scoop the ball into the air (rather than letting the loft of the club do all the work).
You’ll never hit a stinger well without first mastering shaft lean and ensuring your hands stay in front of the ball at impact.
A great way to practice the correct feeling is by using an impact bag and we’ve outlined the best ones to use here.
And there you have it! In only six steps, you can start hitting a stinger like Tiger – so long as you practice the shot regularly.
I would definitely recommend you record your swing while you’re learning, as you want to ensure your club remains on plane and that you don’t get too steep on your downswing (and start coming over the top).
You can read our set-up guide to filming your swing here – it’s important to record both down-the-line for plane, but also from front-on to check your shaft lean.
A simple tripod such as the UBeesize Tripod Stand (which also comes with a mount for your phone) is all you need to get started.
What club do you use to hit a stinger?
A stinger is typically used off the tee to try and get the ball in play, so longer irons – such as a 3-iron, 2-iron or driving iron – or even a 3-wood are the ideal club to use. You can hit a stinger with driver, but it’s more difficult to execute and takes more practice to master.
Tiger most often uses either a 3-iron or 2-iron when playing a stinger, as they’re easier clubs to control and will also generate more run when they land in the fairway.
He employed this strategy with great success during his three Open Championship victories, where his stinger tee shots would sometimes only carry 200 yards, yet roll out to nearly 300 yards due to the firmness of the links-style fairways.
If you don’t already own a driving iron as an amateur, I’d seriously recommend you consider buying one – we’ve reviewed the top picks on the market here.
How do you hit a stinger draw?
The stinger draw is played in exactly the same way as a standard stinger, except with the ball even farther back in your stance. If you’re wanting to hit a huge, roping draw you can also aim yourself farther right of target and close your clubface slightly at address.
Combining these few tweaks to your set-up position is all you need to hit a low, right-to-left stinger (for a right-handed player).
How do you hit a stinger fade?
To hit a stinger fade, apply the same principles you should with a standard stinger. The only changes are you should align yourself slightly left of your target, and open your clubface marginally at impact. Swing down your feet line, and this should generate a fade.
With a fade, you don’t want to play the ball as far back in your stance as you would for a draw.
How do you hit a stinger with driver?
To hit a stinger with driver, the first step is to tee the ball down and move it more towards the middle of your stance. This will reduce the attack angle at impact and create a lower flight. After that, swing the same as you would with an iron in hand when hitting a stinger.
If you want to fade or draw the ball, apply the set-up tweaks detailed in the responses above.
The stinger is one of the greatest sights in golf – especially when Tiger Woods is playing it.
But while it may seem like this iconic, unattainable shot for us mere mortals, the technique behind it is actually rather simple.
If you dedicate enough hours on the range, implementing the right techniques, over time you too will be able to rely on the stinger as your fairway-finding shot to get the ball in play – especially when your driver is misbehaving.