Tiger Woods didn’t invent the knockdown shot, or stinger as it is often referred to, but he seems to have made it popular again. The stinger is a shot with a long iron or fairway wood that stays very low with little spin and runs after hitting the ground. Tiger has made great use of this shot over the years. It’s a great shot to hit under pressure and in the wind. Paul Azinger made a pretty good name for himself while hitting the knockdown almost exclusively with his irons. Either way, it’s a crown pleaser and also very effective, especially on fast, dry courses and links.
How do you hit this shot? I’m going to show you. It’s not as hard as you might think, but it does require some grasp of the fundamentals and I wouldn’t recommend this shot (or any specialty shot) to high handicappers. If you can’t make consistent contact yet you should probably work on that first before you try hitting anything but a basic full swing shot.
As with most shots, the secret to hitting the knockdown shot is in your setup. To hit the ball lower, you have to make a few changes that will help you de-loft the club and basically turn a 5 iron into a 3 iron.
Step 1: Take an extra club or two and grip down on the club so that a few inches at the top of grip stick out past your left hand. Choking down on the grip gives you a bit more control and makes the club shorter, which reduces clubhead speed and spin.
Step2: Move the ball back a few inches in your stance. Ideally you want to play the ball just behind the center of your stance. The reason we do this is mostly to force the hands ahead of the ball and deloft the club. Be carefull not to play the ball too far back, as this forces you to make compensating moves to hit the ball solid and produces too much of a decending blow, creating backspin. The goal is to reduce backspin so the shot flies lower.
Step 3: Make a full backswing and shoulder turn. Don’t confuse the knockdown with a punch. This isn’t a punch shot. A punch shot requires a shorter backswing, but a knockdown is a full swing that flies lower, so make a normal, full shoulder turn.
Step 4: Lead with the hands. The key to this shot is delofting the club, and the setup is designed to help that. At impact your hands should be ahead of the ball and the club should be striking the ball with a slightly descending blow. You have to resist the urge to help the ball in the air by flipping it, the goal here is a low flying shot. The Tour Striker training aid is perfect for teaching you to lead with the hands, and I highly recommend it!
Step 5: Follow through low with your hands going towards the target. Tiger likes to play this shot with “soft hands”, which basically means that he’s not releasing the club aggressively. Instead he doesn’t let the right hand overtake the left on the follow through and the result is a low flying stinger, as shown below.
The best drill to learn the knockdown shot is one I was shown by my college coach when he taught me this shot back in 1993. On the range, take a long iron, such as a 2 or 3 iron, and set up to the ball to hit a knockdown as described above. Start by hitting chip shots, then work your way up to 20 and 30 yard shots, while keeping your hands ahead of the ball at impact. Keep gradually increasing your backswing and hit 60 and 70 yard shots, then 100 yards, 150, etc. The idea is to show you the feel of leading with the hands and shortening your follow through to produce the low shot. To hit the ball further, you simply increase your backswing. Give it a try, it really works!
If you don’t master the stinger shot right away, don’t give up. It’s easy to learn but difficult to master. At the very least you’ll have a great option when pitching out of the woods!
A Note about Hybrids:
Hybrids have become very popular with amateurs and professionals alike because they are more forgiving than the long irons they replace, and hit the ball higher and straighter. As far as hitting the stinger shot, they aren’t as friendly. This is the main reason why Tiger said he hasn’t made the switch yet. The low center of gravity of hybrids is there to help the ball get airborne. I’ve struggled hitting low shots with hybrids, and I know many others do too. If you want to hit the stinger frequently, stay with the old 2 iron.
This video is a bit crude, but a great demonstration of Tiger’s stinger. Take a look:
I found a great video by Gary Koch on USA Network’s website that demonstrates the shot I just talked about. Check it out!
I always welcome comments, questions, hate mail – whatever. I want to hear from you out there! Let me know if the 5 minutes you wasted at work to read my blog was worthwhile, and how you are hitting your stinger! Cheers!