How To Hit a Stinger Like Tiger Woods
Few things in life are as rewarding as a well struck golf shot.
It’s the reason we work so hard at the driving range, buy new clubs, read endless golf content, and watch the sport on TV. Always looking for a better swing to hit the ball more consistently.
Even if it only happens a few times per round, there’s nothing like a cleanly struck golf shot. Even on bad days, there’s always one shot that makes you want to come back.
While hitting a pure shot with a driver or 7-iron is one thing, hitting a stinger is next level. If you can execute Tiger’s patented “stinger” shot, you’ll impress any type of golfer.
Keep reading to learn the step-by-step process to hit a stinger in golf.
How to Hit a Stinger in Golf
Tiger Woods made the stinger the shot that it is today. In the early 2000s Tiger would hit the stinger like he was playing a video game. If you want to watch the master in action, check out Tiger’s best 3-minutes of stingers on YouTube to get you excited about the shot.
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He would take out his trusty blade 2-iron and hit a low, piercing shot that found the fairway and rolled out like crazy. Since he wasn’t always the most accurate with a driver, this shot came in handy when he needed to find the short grass. Paired with his incredible iron game and clutch putting, he was unstoppable.
Tiger developed this shot in the late 1990s and coined it the “stinger” since it pierces through the wind. He also noted that when the conditions were firm (like the Open Championship), it can roll up to 80 yards once it hits the ground!
The good news is that you don’t need to swing like Tiger or use a 2-iron to hit the stinger. The key to hitting this shot consistently is learning the fundamentals.
If you’ve asked, “How do you hit a low stinger shot”, then keep reading…
Step 1: Choose the Right Club
First, this shot won’t work unless you have a low lofted club. While the stinger is primarily done with long irons, we’ll also cover some tricks to hit it with woods too.
Start by grabbing a long iron – like a 3, 4, or even 5 iron. If you’ve never attempted this shot before, start with a 5-iron as it’s easier to hit. Plus, you will compress and deloft the club to hit a stinger so your 5-iron becomes a 4-iron.
Then, tee it low so you can barely spot the tee in the ground. Having it teed up at the correct height is crucial to hitting this shot!
Step 2: Adjust Your Ball Position
Once you have the right weapon for the shot, you need to change your ball position. To hit the stinger, you need to move the ball slightly back in your stance.
Normally, long irons have a ball position that is in the front-center of your stance. This position allows you to increase launch angle and hit it higher. But since the stinger is meant to go lower with a piercing ball flight, you need it further back.
The ideal ball position is about a golf ball behind the middle of your stance. Any further back and you will likely get too steep and won’t allow you to execute the shot.
Step 3: Alter Your Setup
The tee and ball positions are key but there’s more to change in your setup. As Tiger said in his book, How I Play Golf, “I tee the ball low and play it back in my stance, with my hands set well ahead. I also flex my knees more than usual.”
By having your hands forward at setup it allows you to compress the ball more. If your hands are back at address, it adds loft which we don’t want when hitting stingers.
A slight forward press is also a subtle reminder that you need to hit down and through the shot vs. hitting up on it. While the extra knee flex adds more stability to swing aggressively through the shot.
To watch Tiger explain the rest of the stinger, watch the below YouTube video as well.
Step 4: Make a Full Backswing
One of the biggest mistakes most golfers make with this shot is taking a ¾ length backswing.
To hit the stinger with power, you need a full backswing so the club nearly reaches parallel at the top of your swing. It’s important to note, this is not a punch shot so make a full backswing.
Tiger elaborated in his book saying, “I turn my shoulders fully going back, maintaining that flex in my knees. I start the downswing deliberately, keeping my hands and arms in front of my chest.”
Step 5: Accelerate on the Downswing
Once you reach the top of your backswing, it’s important to time the downswing correctly. If you unwind too early and rush the downswing, your timing won’t allow you to hit the shot.
Start slow and continue to accelerate through the swing with power. You want to feel like you are swinging through the ball, not stopping at it.
As Tiger said in the YouTube video mentioned above, “I try to get my hips moving as fast as I possibly can so my hands can stop at post impact. Sometimes I’m good at it, sometimes I’m not. But the trick is to always be consistent with the speed of the body so I can break my hands.”
You want to extend the club down the line toward the target and reach a balanced follow through. Tiger suggests a nearly full follow through position but not quite as much as a driver.
Now that you know how to hit this epic shot, make sure to practice it thoroughly on the range before taking it to the course. The shot takes a little getting used too so make sure to dial it in on the range before unveiling with your friends during a round.
Stinger vs. Punch Shot
So, what is the difference between a stinger and a punch shot? It’s a good question as they are similar but have some differences too.
A punch shot doesn’t have the same distance and trajectory of a stinger. A punch is made with a shorter backswing and shorter follow through.
While a stinger requires a full backswing and complete shoulder turn. Plus, the follow through is different too. The lower you need to hit a punch shot, the shorter the downswing which is very different from a stinger follow through.
Top Questions About Tiger’s “Stinger” Shot
Do you have more questions about hitting one of the coolest shots in golf? Keep reading to master the stinger shot.
What clubs can you hit a stinger with?
A stinger is best to use with long irons, 3-wood, or a driver. The shot doesn’t work well with high-lofted fairway woods and hybrids. These clubs are designed to launch the ball high which is the opposite ball flight of a stinger.
Can you hit a stinger with a 4-iron?
Yes, it’s a good idea to start hitting stingers with a 4 or 5-iron then work your way to hitting longer irons. Don’t forget, a stinger is played with your hands forward, meaning you will compress the ball at impact.
This effectively takes the loft of the club and removes 2-3 degrees. Basically making a 5-iron a 4-iron or a 3-iron into a 2-iron.
A stinger 4-iron is a good option for a lot of amateur golfers who don’t carry longer irons. This might not work so well though if you have utility irons (also known as driving irons). These clubs mimic hybrids and increase launch angle.
But if you have a standard 4-iron that matches the rest of your iron set, it’s a good club to learn how to hit a stinger.
Related: Driving Irons vs. Hybrids
How do you hit a cut stinger?
Hitting a cut stinger is not recommended because a cut doesn’t have the type of forward spin that draw or straight shot offers. Remember, a stinger is supposed to hit the ground and run out – in Tiger’s case, sometimes up to 80 yards!
A cut naturally doesn’t have as much spin so it might not make the shot as effective. However, if you do want to hit a cut stinger and the conditions allow it, you don’t need to adjust much.
Keep everything the same with your setup and move your body lines slightly left of the target. The other adjustment is to play it more in the middle of your stance vs. middle-back.
How do you hit a draw stinger?
A draw stinger is one of the best looking shots in golf. It’s low, piercing, and turns right to left which adds even more roll once it hits the ground.
A lot of players hit this shot on the 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass which is bold but rewarded if done correctly. Water runs the entire length of the hole and a draw allows you to start it right of the penalty area and draw it back to the fairway. The fairways are notoriously dry and the ball tumbles 40+ yards down the fairway.
So, how do you hit the awesome shot?
Like a cut stinger, you need to change your alignment and ball position. Since the ball will move right to left, you need to aim further right. When hitting this shot, I like to aim down the right side of the fairway in case it doesn’t turn over, that way you won’t end up in the rough.
Then, close the club slightly at address. Finally, make your normal swing and the ball should come off the face with a right to left ball flight.
How do you hit a stinger with a driver?
Hitting a stinger with a driver isn’t recommended for a few reasons. First, the ball needs to be teed up higher since the center of gravity is so high in today’s drivers.
Second, you don’t want to change the ball position of a driver like you can with an iron. A driver needs to be played off your front foot; moving it to the middle will make you have a steep attack angle and hit down on the shot. Which will lead to a pop-up shot, not a low-flighted stinger driver.
But you can flight your driver down; instead of calling it a stinger, I’d suggest hitting a sort of punch-controlled driver. This will have a lower ball flight to avoid the wind and hit the ground sooner but roll out.
To hit the punch driver, choke up on the club one inch for more control and tee the ball lower so it’s barely above the driver’s head. Then, take your normal driver setup and don’t change the ball position – keep it off your front foot.
On your backswing, take a ¾ swing so the club doesn’t reach parallel. On the downswing, make an abbreviated finish so the club doesn’t go past your rib cage. This should lead to a controlled, flighted ball that hits and runs.
If you want to play a draw, close the face slightly at address; if you play to play a cut, open the face slightly at address position.
Now you know what it takes to hit one of the best looking shots in golf. While it is amazing if you can pull it off, I’d like to offer some caution.
Most golfers don’t have the swing (yet) to hit this type of shot nor do they need it. Most golf courses and wind conditions rarely set up to take advantage of the roll that stinger comes with.
But if the fairways are dry and you’ve hit the shot in practice, have at it. Just make sure to commit to the shot and swing through the golf ball.
When you finally master the stinger make sure you give it a club twirl in honor or Tiger. He used to twirl the club after hitting his patented stinger like no one else in the game. Your friends and playing partners should be wildly impressed!
Have you ever tried to hit a stinger with a long iron?
Let us know in the comments below.