Make it Easy: How to Hit a Stinger

Published on 09/18/2023 · 7 min readLearn the ins and outs of how to effortlessly hit stinger shots with this easy-to-follow guide from Golfing Expert Cayman Durost!
Cayman Durost, Golf Expert
By Golf Expert Cayman Durost

Photo by Tawan 75

A “stinger” is a low-flighted, penetrating shot that certainly gets attention from one’s playing partners, but it’s not just for looks. When executed correctly, a stinger is an effective way to hit the ball straighter with plenty of roll when conditions on the course call for a lower ball flight. Hitting a stinger can be a reliable way to keep the ball in play off the tee, so it is more versatile than a shot only used in adverse weather conditions.

My name is Cayman Durost. I have been a club fitter for over three years with specific training for Trackman launch monitors, Cobra, TaylorMade, Titleist, Mizuno, and Srixon. I am new to Curated, but I have been playing golf for nearly a decade and currently work in the sporting goods e-commerce industry.

I self-taught myself to hit the stinger over many weeks of practice. My understanding of manipulating shots has grown immensely through practice, lessons from a great swing coach, and several online resources available to everyone who can make implementing new skills into golf easy.

In this tutorial, I’ll outline the reasoning behind this shot and provide a quick step-by-step guide to give you all the tools you’ll need to add this valuable skill to your repertoire.

Selecting the Right Club to Hit a Stinger

Photo by Tsyhun

Most tour pros will utilize a 2 or 3-iron if they hit a stinger off the tee to maximize the potential distance. Instinctually, most amateur golfers would grab the lowest lofted iron in the bag to hit a stinger. This is a logical choice, as the static loft of the club will determine (in part) the delivered loft. While the stinger will be the lowest spinning and launching with drivers, woods, and driving irons, it would be ideal to start learning with a mid to long iron, such as the 4 or 5-iron, as this will be the easiest to see the results and practice the technique. Once you are comfortable with the mid-iron stinger, progressing to a lower lofted club will be much easier.

Consider Your Tee Height Based on Your Club

Photo by Sattahip Beach

Tee height is another important component of hitting a stinger, as it typically determines strike location and ability to make solid descending contact with the ball. Making sure the tee is lower than it would be on a standard shot will promote this downward angle of attack and allow you to compress the ball better, which are both crucial to starting the ball in a lower “window.”

When hitting a stinger with an iron, I tend to tee the ball an inch off the ground to make square contact with the ball with a lowered risk of the ball riding up the clubface. However, an inch lower than standard tee height with a driver should yield the desired downward strike needed for this golf shot.

Setting Up a Stinger Shot

Photo by Motortion Films

You might need to make a few adjustments to your setup to hit a stinger. As discussed previously, when practicing and learning this new shot, you’ll want to start with a 4 or 5-iron, which should help you get the hang of the stinger without the inconsistencies that longer shafted clubs like woods and drivers can bring into play.

Basic Guidelines

I like to use these guidelines when setting up for this shot. The following are not step-by-step instructions but rather a good checklist to keep in mind to execute the stinger most effectively. For me, this shot is very feel-based, but using these set-up guidelines should give you the best chance of starting to hit the ball lower with consistent contact.

  • The ball position should be towards the middle to slightly back of the stance.
  • Slight forward press of the shaft to feel your hands forward at impact position (Irons only. I would not recommend this for drivers in any instance.)
  • Utilize a slightly narrower than normal stance closer to the ball.
  • Keep shoulders open to the target, with the back shoulder closer to the ball than the lead shoulder.
  • Weight distribution should be 60% front foot and 40% back. This promotes a downward angle of attack.
  • Unlike the punch shot, you want to be able to take a full swing at the ball and generate the most clubhead speed.

Ideally, the ball position should be as close as possible to the place the ball would normally be with the club you are using while still maintaining the descending angle of attack. For example, if the ball position with a driver is typically on the inside of the front foot, only move the ball 2-3 inches further back for the stinger. This will allow golfers to take a full swing and generate the clubhead speed necessary to compress the ball and launch it in the desired trajectory. With their stance marginally closer to the ball and shoulders aligned left of the target, they can clear their hips faster and hit down on the ball.

The ball will most likely cut when hitting a stinger, so shoulders aiming left of the target should have the ball fall back to the target line after starting left (opposite for left-handed golfers). For a straight shot, the shoulder line would be directly parallel to the target line, so open your front shoulder slightly as if you were setting up to hit a fade.

Descending Strike and Speed Through Impact

Impact position hands forward. Photo by Cayman Durost

Speed is a key factor. More moderate swing speed players will struggle with this shot. Golfers are more likely to be successful with the stinger if they have a high clubhead speed and can fully accelerate through impact. It is also important to note that players should try to feel loose arms during the swing. Unnecessary tension will lead to several issues that can increase launch angle and spin, such as low or high strike on the clubhead, and “holding off” the face, effectively increasing dynamic loft.

Low and Left Swing Direction and Abbreviated Follow-Through

Photo by Cayman Durost

Combining the abbreviated follow-through and “exiting low and left” will ensure you release the clubhead and drive the ball forward and low. Once you combine these components, the shot shape will come more naturally and on command.

This shot is fairly easy once you get the technique dialed in. One of the most common mistakes amateur golfers make is hitting up on irons, but the key is to commit to hitting down and through the ball to deliver the least dynamic loft possible.

I asked my close friend (and swing coach) Jeff Koos, Jr., PGA, about his methodology and teaching principles for the stinger, and he provided some insight that aligns with the guidance provided here. “The key is to finish low to hit it low. It’s best to rehearse the impact position before your swing. You really want to feel your hands press forward to ensure you’re delofting the club through impact in order to compress the ball.” His expertise helped immensely in honing this skill for me, so I always recommend a swing coach or lessons to truly understand why the result of a golf shot is occurring so it becomes easier to replicate.

Learn From the GOAT

Tiger Woods is well known for his stinger, and with anything golf-related, there is no one I’d rather take advice from than the man himself. In this short video by TaylorMade, he walks through the process of how he approaches hitting a stinger, highlighting key components that make this shot successful: hip rotation, speed through impact with fluid motion, and stopping his hands lower in the follow-through, to emphasize the downward strike and prevent delivering too much loft.

We’re Here to Help You Hit Stingers (And Any Golf Shot!)

I hope this article helps you gain a new skill set you can incorporate into your golf game. When executed well, the stinger is useful when weather and course conditions call for a low trajectory. If you are looking to improve your golf game through equipment and expert advice, please contact myself or one of our other Curated Golf Experts, where we can suggest clubs that suit your needs to hit stingers, such as a new driver or driving iron, as well as any equipment that can help improve your scores on the course!

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