Anatomy Of The “Stinger”

They launch low, they look cool and the Top Tracer graphics only add to the glamor of the “stinger”. With The Open Championship being this week, we will be sure to see a heavy dose of “stinger” eye candy.  So this week, let’s look at the “how” of a stinger from the ground up.  To understand the “how” of the low, penetrating ball flight we first need to understand the “what”. What is happening to generate this shot?  We know the stinger launches low and stays low. Since we know the clubface controls the majority of the initial launch of the golf ball, we can assume that the loft delivered at impact is very low which (sometimes referred to as shaft lean) plays a major role in the low launch.  We also know that it never climbs high into the sky, therefore the backspin (which gives the ball lift) must also be very low.  To keep the backspin low, there are two key factors that need to be managed: the loft at impact and club head speed. Since we already know the loft at impact is low, we can now assume that the club head speed is also lower as well.   So we know they are leaning the shaft more, which lowers the loft at impact and swinging at a more controlled speed, which keeps backspin low.  Now that we have the “what” let’s look at the “how”,  how are they doing those things? The first thing we see from the ground up is at set up, we see more pressure stacked under the lead foot or left foot for a right handed golfer (55%-70%), this begins to lean the shaft more at set up and helps ensure ball first contact.  Next from the ground up we see an abbreviated pressure shift in the backswing. In a normal iron shot, we see anywhere from 75%-85% of a pressure shift to the trail, or right foot for a right handed golfer, in the backswing. Whereas with a “stinger” we only see anywhere from 55%-70% pressure shift to the trail foot in the backswing.  That keeps the pelvis more centered over the ball and is an insurance policy for making sure the pelvis is forward of where it started by impact, which helps to lower the loft at impact.  The last trademark move of the stinger is the abbreviated finish, which helps to control clubhead speed and keep the backspin down.  Those three things are the common characteristics of the “stinger” and just like every shot we hit, the function of your body and your ability to use and stabilize through the ground will dictate your ability to effectively control your ball and hit the “stinger”.