Travis' Takeaway: Revisiting the stinger
- Woods hits his stinger at Hoylake in 2006. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
South Korea’s Seung-Yul Noh brought an old shot back into vogue this past weekend with the low 2-iron “stinger” he hit all around TPC Louisiana to win the Zurich Classic. The stinger was a shot that Tiger Woods made famous early on in his career, employing it often during the 2006 Open Championship at Hoylake to win his third British Open. He’s shied away from it in recent years, but some argue that he needs to use it more frequently in his repertoire, like Noh.
The average golfer would think that the logical place to hit a stinger would be into the wind, which is true, but the reality is that learning how to hit a stinger can be very advantageous in the development of a good golf swing. It teaches players how to control forward lean to the shaft and face angle and breeds good alignment positions with the arms and hands at impact. Once you learn how to hit the stinger on a consistent basis, you have a chance to become a really good ball-striker with your irons.
How does a player such as Noh launch the ball so low and keep it flying around knee-height for so long? For one, you need to be able to control the clubface angle at impact, which is responsible for roughly 85 percent of the ball’s initial launch. Noh is able to deloft the face by bowing and turning his left wrist down through impact and by maintaining the bend in his trail wrist, which is what creates the forward leaning shaft. The dynamic loft on the face (i.e., the real loft being presented to the ball) is less than the club’s true loft, which is how a player like Noh is able to make a 6-iron behave more like a 4-iron.
The other element required to hit the stinger is a relatively shallow attack angle. The more you hit down on the ball, the greater the variance is going to be between the dynamic loft and the attack angle and the more the ball is going to spin up in the air. You still have to hit down on the ball, but the more you can neutralize the attack angle, the less the ball will spin and the lower and more piercing its trajectory will be. The key to controlling the clubhead’s angle of attack is maintaining your side bend to the right through impact. The more your spine tilts left and your upper body gets ahead of the ball, the steeper you’re going to hit down on the ball.
To train yourself to hit the stinger, I recommend starting with a higher-lofted iron, such as an 8-iron, and working on down through the bag from there. Hit some waist high to waist high shots, driving the clubhead down but finishing real low with both arms straight and the shaft pointing down at the ground, below your waist. Maintain your spine angle (to the right) and finish low and you should be able to produce some real low bullets.
Travis Fulton is Director of Instruction for all TOURAcademy locations nationwide. You can catch Travis' insight during LIVE@ coverage from the Wells Fargo Championship, and on DirecTV’s Launch Pad Channel (704) from 3-6 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday.