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Golf is a complex game with so many shot variations. The best players have mastered draws, fades, chips, punches, and even flops. But what about stingers?
A low trajectory shot that is perfect for navigating hazardous situations out on the course, a stinger is difficult to master but exceptionally effective for those who manage it.
Playing a stinger allows you to hit under obstacles and avoid high winds, which can be critical to keeping your score down when the conditions out on the course are less than favorable.
This article looks at what a stinger is in detail and explores how to hit this tricky shot, and explains some of the different ways in which a stinger can be utilized.
But let’s begin with a definition, so you understand what we mean when referring to a stinger shot in golf.
What Exactly is a Stinger Shot?
A stinger in golf is a shot that is hit with a very low trajectory. Players typically hit a stinger with a fairway wood, hybrid, or low iron, and the design of the shot increases a golfer’s chance of keeping the ball in play when there are obstacles to play under or if there are strong winds.
That being said, stingers can be effective in many different instances out on the course, and knowing how to play them is undoubtedly an asset.
How Do You Hit a Stinger Shot in Golf? (5 Step Success Guide)
Hitting the perfect stinger is all about consistency, and you need to ensure your setup is on point. While we’d all love to hit a stinger like Tiger Woods, it’s not the most straightforward shot in the world to perfect.
Here are some top tips to help you hit a Tiger-like stinger:
- Get your set up right: You need to move the ball one ball-width back of center in your stance when hitting a stinger. You should also narrow your stance slightly, as you need to drive your hips through the ball at impact. This helps you get the ball started on a lower trajectory.
- Make a full backswing: A common mistake players make when hitting a stinger is cutting their backswing short. And while a short follow-through is necessary for the perfect stinger, a full, powerful backswing is equally important.
- Shift your weight: As you execute a stinger, you need to shift your weight excessively to the left side. If you don’t shift your weight, you will lose power on the downswing and are likely to add loft to your shot.
- Consider the lag of your downswing: Lag (the angle between your lead arm and the club shaft) is so significant to the stinger, and you need as much of it as possible during your downswing. The longer you can maintain lag, the less loft you will have on the ball at the point of impact.
- Execute a short follow-through: Finally, you need to cut your follow-through short to nail a stinger. Tiger ends his stingers at hip level, so if it’s good enough for Tiger, it’s probably good enough for the rest of us!
What Club Do You Hit a Stinger With?
You will find stingers easier to execute with low irons, fairway woods, and hybrids. Some players even use a driver to hit a stinger off the tee if they’re looking for more control. It’s best to avoid mid to high irons when hitting a stinger.
These clubs encourage extra loft on the ball, which is something you’re hoping to avoid. When nailing his stinger, Tiger tends to opt for a 2 iron.
To be fair, most amateur and recreational golfers don’t carry a 2 iron, as it’s notoriously difficult to hit, and it certainly doesn’t get any easier when you’re attempting a stinger.
When you’re practicing your stinger out on the range, start with a 4 or 5 iron as you develop your technique, and perhaps shift things down to a fairway wood as you increase your confidence.
Like all golf shots, hitting the perfect stinger is about the consistency of your setup, so regardless of club, the more you practice, the better your execution will become.
Do Stinger Golf Shots Go Farther?
A stinger shot in certain conditions will go farther than a high trajectory shot. If you’re positioned behind a tree or have your line blocked by overhanging branches, executing a stinger and going under will likely give you more distance than trying to go through or over.
Equally, strong head or crosswinds can wreak havoc in many situations out on the course, particularly if you flip a high trajectory shot right into the wind’s path.
Controlling a stinger and keeping the ball low might ensure it carries further than a regular stroke.
You might also find that stingers carry farther when the course is bone dry.
If you can make use of the extra firmness and bounce of the fairway, you can potentially secure an additional few yards than you would normally.
Is a Stinger a Punch Shot?
There are similarities between a stinger and a punch shot, they’re not the same. A stinger is a full shot with a low trajectory, reserved for use when you’re a considerable distance from the green. A stinger is hit them off the tee, from the fairway, or out of the rough with a full backswing.
Conversely, a punch shot is helpful when you’re closer to the green and are looking to maximize control of the shot.
Typically, you will see players punch the ball when they’re playing out of the greenside trees or are looking to bring the contours of the course into play.
Punching the ball requires a shorter backswing and is equally as challenging to master as a stinger!
If you’re someone who finds yourself in the trees on occasion (who doesn’t!), then adding both a stinger and a punch shot to your repertoire is likely to help your score significantly.
When Should You Hit a Stinger?
You should hit a stinger shot when you need the ball to travel at a low trajectory. Situations out on the course that necessitates a shot with a low arch, and a stinger is the ideal solution.
You might consider hitting a stinger in the following situations:
- There’s a lot of wind out on the course, and you’re worried that a shot with a high trajectory will be carried out of bounds or away from its intended target.
- You’re struggling to hit the ball high and long off the tee and are looking for more control without compromising the extra yards afforded by your driver.
- Your line is impeded by trees, overhanging branches, or any other obstacle that you can’t go over. Hitting a stinger allows you to play under the obstruction.
- If the fairways are hard, you might want to use the conditions to your advantage and get some extra roll or bounce out of the grass on your approach.
Generally, as a low trajectory shot, a stinger is seen as an excellent choice for golfers when the wind conditions are unfavorable or if there’s a need to play under (or around) obstructions.
Can You Hit a Stinger with a Hybrid?
While most people hit stingers with low irons or fairway woods, it’s possible to hit a stinger with a hybrid. The most important thing to remember when hitting a stinger with a hybrid is that they tend to be slightly loftier than irons, somewhere in the region of four degrees.
Shifting down a club is an effective way of dealing with this additional loft and will help you perfect the low trajectory of the shot.
So, for instance, if you would ordinarily play a stinger with a 4-iron but want to try out a hybrid, you’d be better served to opt for a 3-hybrid to account for the additional loft.
Don’t forget that the increasing popularity of hybrids is that most people find them slightly easier to hit than low irons.
This isn’t any different when it comes to hitting a stinger, so providing you choose the right club and get your setup right, you should be able to execute a stinger with a hybrid.
Why You Should Learn the Stinger Shot
Being able to hit a stinger will give you a significant advantage in specific instances out on the golf course. If the wind is up or if you’re a little wayward from the tee, a low trajectory stinger might be the perfect shot to keep you on course.
Golfers commonly use low irons, fairway woods, or hybrids to hit stingers, but a driver can also be used off the tee.
Ultimately, the stinger is an excellent shot to add to your game, and although it’s difficult to master, the more you practice it out on the range, the easier it will become when you’re on the course.