by Derek MacDonald, PGA of Canada, Brockville CC
Most golfers are impressed when they see another golfer step up and launch a nice high tee shot down the middle. Who wouldn’t be? They’re fun to watch. However, I’m more impressed when I see a golfer hit a low bullet stinger to either ensure the ball stays out of the wind or maybe to help hit the fairway on a narrow hole. The reason this shot impresses me more is the fact that you really do have to make some adjustments in the setup and control the swing in order to hit the stinger successfully. This is a shot I continue to keep in check on TrackMan with one of my students who just recently signed with a university in Texas and who will need this shot often in the winds of Texas.
The main adjustment for flighting the ball lower, no matter which club you use, is that we want to make changes which allow us to hit the ball earlier in the downswing. By striking the ball earlier in the downswing, or earlier before the lowpoint of the swing, we will ensure that the ball will be struck with an increased angle of attack, remember that hitting down doesn’t make the ball go up, and less loft of the club will be delivered at impact; a perfect recipe for the stinger. As a point of reference, TrackMan shows the average stock hybrid shot on the PGA Tour is hit with a -3.5 degree angle of attack. For a stinger, we would be looking for approximately -7 to -8 degree angle of attack, assuming a slightly higher clubhead speed type of player.
Begin by positioning the ball further back in your stance compared to a stock shot, approximately 2-3 inches, which will set your hands ahead of the ball slightly and the shaft leaning slightly forward as well. Stand slightly closer to the ball, this helps you steepen the vertical movement of the club and in turn assists with increasing the angle of attack. Important fact to take note of is that just because you are increasing the angle of attack, does not mean you are increasing the size of the divot, you’re just hitting the ball earlier in the arc of the circle of the golf swing, not deeper into the ground. To help allow you to make contact with the ball earlier in the swing before lowpoint, you will also want to set up with slightly more weight on the forward leg at address and make sure that you maintain a bit more pressure on that forward foot on the backswing and downswing to help shift the low point of the swing further in front of the ball. Maintaining the forward shaft lean, similar to the address position, and with a bowed (flexed) lead wrist will assist in the delofting of the club and ensure the ball launches lower. You may find the finish is a bit cut off at the end as trying to maintain a more delofted clubface at impact will create less rotation in the arms and tend to make for a short follow through.
Work on these points as described, and the next down you need to hit a narrow fairway or you’re hitting into a strong headwind, hit the stinger and see how effective it is.