Tiger Woods has entertained us his entire life, hitting shots that us mere mortals could only dream about. Whether solo or in a team event like the Ryder Cup, how many times can he make the ball do things that most people can’t even understand?
It’s like he’s defying physics and can do something that most of us wouldn’t even attempt in the first place.
Think about it, when he was just a few years old he was hitting drives on a late night TV show. Then, as an adult he was bombing drivers, shaping irons and making countless putts at the biggest moments of his career. He seems to have a sort of imagination and the ability to pull off shots unlike any other player in the game (even the great ones like Jack and Arnold).
But one shot that he seemingly invented and is notorious with his game is the stinger. His patented 2 iron stinger is one of the coolest looking shots of all time and envied by players worldwide.
In this article, I want to help you learn about this thing called the stinger to help you make magic on the course like Tiger.
The “Stinger” Shot in Golf
What is the stinger?
The stinger is a low flying ball patented by one of the greatest players of all time, Tiger Woods. He introduced this custom shot in the late 90s/early 2000s and has been using it ever since.
Tiger usually uses a 2 iron but it can work with any long iron as well (2-5 iron). Now, all kinds of players are using it from amateurs to PGA Tour players for a bit more consistency.
This shot goes lower than normal (thanks to a low loft club) and used when you want to get the ball in play and avoid trouble. If you’re playing a tight fairway or don’t have much confidence in your woods, this shot will help you find the short grass more often than not.
Plus, it’s also great if you’re playing in windy conditions and the course is firm. As evidenced in the 2000 British Open, this shot hits the ground and rolls out a ton!
Who should use to hit the stinger?
The stinger is not for everyone or for all situations.
While it might be one of the coolest shots of all time, it doesn’t mean that anyone can pull it off. Similar to how Phil Mickelson makes a flop look easy and Tiger with the stinger, it requires some serious skill to pull it off.
Unless you’re breaking 85 consistently, I wouldn’t try this shot (yet). Instead, groove your swing until you’re consistently striking irons and then give it a try.
If you’re a beginner or high handicap golfer, work on your swing a bit more before trying this advanced shot. But if you’re someone who has a consistent swing and wants to learn how to flight the golf ball, we got you covered.
Stinger vs. Punch Shot
As you’ll see in the instructions below, this is not a punch shot.
A punch golf shot is played off the back of your stance and meant to keep the ball very low, often to avoid an obstruction like a tree (or trees). The stinger on the other hand is a full swing shot that simply flies lower and goes it full distance. It’s not one that is mean to avoid trees but instead, find the center of the short stuff.
How to Hit a Stinger in Golf
Now that you know more about this golf shot, you might be wondering… How do you hit a stinger shot anyways?
Before getting into the golf tips, first, I’d recommend trying this shot with a 4 or 5 iron. Don’t instantly go to your longest club in the bag, instead, work up to it. Since the swing will actually de-loft the club with your hands, your 5 iron actually turns into a 4 iron.
Use these four steps this article to get started and check out this cool video from TaylorMade and Tiger Woods himself for even more information.
Step 1: Adjust Your Setup
Let’s get on the same page and start with setup (which is geared toward right handers). If you don’t have the proper setup, the stinger isn’t going to work.
Begin by teeing it up like a normal iron by putting the tee fully into the ground. If it’s too high, it’s almost impossible to pull this shot off.
Next, keep your weight 50/50 which is key to success. Don’t move your weight to your forward foot or you will hit down on it too much.
You need to first start by playing the ball in the center/middle of your stance.
Whether you intend to hit it straight, draw it, or fade it, you want it in the middle, not in the back in your stance. Save the back of your stance for punch shots that you are trying to get back into safety and aren’t trying to hit a full shot with.
Otherwise, everything else remains the same (grip, posture, etc). You want a flat back, knees bent in an athletic position, and a slightly wider than shoulder width stance.
Despite what you may think, you don’t need to forward press the shaft at address either. Instead, keep it slightly forward as you normally would but there is no need to push the handle further. Your hands will do the work on step three!
Step 2: Stay Loose on Your Backswing
Once your setup is good to go, you want to take a normal backswing but stop it before it gets to parallel. This will make it easier to turn your hips and stop the club sooner on your follow through in order to create a lower ball flight.
Throughout your backswing, you want to think about keeping your arms loose and tension free. Too many players can’t hit this shot because they get tight and try to swing too hard. Instead, keep your arms loose so that you can create more speed through impact. This is another big key to pulling it off!
Step 3: Speed Up Your Downswing
On the way down, you want to really get your hips moving so you can de-loft the club at impact. This will make it easier to get your hands ahead of the club when you hit the ball. Plus, the faster you can get the hips moving, the easier it will stop your hands on the follow through.
Also, you want to create a descending blow and keep the clubface as straight as you can through impact. This will help the ball come off the face straight and produce tons of top spin so that it rolls out once it lands in the short grass.
Don’t forget to keep your arms going too.
You need club head speed to pull this off which is why most amateurs aren’t able to do it. Since you’re not taking a full backswing or follow through, you need a bit of speed to ensure it still travels far enough before it rolls out.
Step 4: Finish Low and Around Your Body
Finally, make sure you follow through with a less than full follow through. You want to make a full turn around your body more than up like a normal swing.
The lower you want to hit the shot, the shorter the follow through. If things go well, I’m not opposed to doing a nice club twirl to make Tiger proud too. I’m sure that’s what he’d want, right?
One last thing, in order to pull this off practice it like crazy – ball after ball to prove that you can do it under pressure. Watch videos, record your swing in slow motion, work on your ball position, and master this move on the driving range. Then, when you can do with repetition as easy as you do a pitching wedge, then you can take it to the course.
FAQs About Hitting Stingers
Do you have more questions about hitting the low stinger and adding it to your game? If so, we got you covered with our FAQs and answers below.
What club do you use to hit a stinger?
You can use all types of clubs. While Tiger made it so cool with his 2 iron, most people don’t dare carry this club as it’s extremely tough to hit. Heck, even Tiger opts for a 5 wood at this point in his career instead of a 2 iron so don’t beat yourself up.
That being said, you don’t need a 2 iron to hit this shot.
Instead, you can use clubs like a 3, 4, or 5 iron. Plus, with a few setup tweaks, you can use some longer clubs like a driver or 3 wood too (keep reading to learn how).
When should you hit a stinger?
This trusty swing can help you out when you need a good tee shot and avoid trouble. If a hole has a ton of water, deep fairway bunkers, or out of bounds looming, opt for this shot. Thanks to a square club face, it’s made to go very straight with little movement in either direction so it should lead to easier approaches into the green.
It’s also a great shot to hit when you’re playing into the wind, especially a swirling wind. Since it goes much lower than a normal shot, it shouldn’t be as affected by the wind and find the short stuff.
How do you hit a 5 iron stinger?
Yes, you 100% can hit a stinger with a 5 iron. In fact, it’s a great way to learn how to hit this shot before moving to a longer iron.
Remember, this shot naturally will de-loft the club at impact. So your 5 iron will turn into a 4 iron loft.
By going straight to a 2 or 3 iron, you’re making it much harder on yourself. Instead, start with a 5 iron and work your way up to longer irons.
Can you hit a hybrid stinger?
You might be thinking, “I really want to pull this off, but I have hybrids, not long irons.” Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Hybrids are a great way to replace those hard to hit long irons and make the game easier.
But just because you’ve traded in the long irons for an easy to hit replacement doesn’t mean you can still hit a version of the stinger. For most golfers, this won’t go as low as a short iron because there is more mass behind the ball. Remember, hybrids are meant to make it easy to hit and have a higher MOI than long irons.
That being said, you can still use all the tips from above to hit it with your hybrid. While the ball won’t go as low, it still should help you create a more piercing ball flight and find the fairway more often than not.
Can you hit a stinger with a driver or fairway wood?
Yes, you definitely can hit a stinger with a driver or 3 wood. This is a great shot to have in the bag when you need to hit the fairway, playing into the wind, or the ground is extremely firm.
When you’re hitting into the wind or playing firm conditions, opt for this shot to keep the ball in play with a lower ball flight. Since it’s a different loft than an iron, you’ll want to adjust accordingly. Here’s how…
- Tee the ball lower. It should be just above the crown of your driver.
- Choke up 1-2 inches on the grip. This might feel awkward at first but it’ll help your accuracy a ton by making a 45” driver closer to 43 or 43.5 inches.
- Play the ball off your left heel. This will help keep the ball lower and ensure you don’t hit up on it as much vs. if the ball is off your front foot (or even in front of it).
- Take a ¾ backswing. The goal with this is control more than distance. To help you gain control, take a less than full backswing with a smooth tempo.
- Finally, you want to finish similar to a stinger with your irons. Try to not follow through past your rib cage and hold the finish.
You can do this with a three wood as well. Of course, make sure you practice this on the driving range before taking it straight to the course.
Final Thoughts on the Tiger Woods Stinger
There it is, you now have everything you need to hit an epic shot and something you’ll remember for a long time.
Is it for every type of golfer?
Absolutely not! But you don’t need to be Tiger Woods to hit the stinger either.
If you’re a consistent ball striker, this is a great addition to your game and trouble on side of the hole. When you can pull this off with confidence, it makes it so much easier to find the fairway off any box.
Remember, start by practicing this on the driving range with a 5 iron. As you get more familiar and comfortable with it, then progress to a 4, then a 3, and possibly a 2 iron (if you have it). You can also use a hybrid too!