Tiger Woods 2 Iron Stinger

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Published: February 18, 2014

Unfortunately, the two iron is quickly going the way of the Do-Do bird and fast becoming extinct. It's a shame because it's probably one of the most effective clubs in my bag and one that I use every single round of golf I play.

Employing Tiger Woods infamous "Stinger" shot, I can hit my 2 iron 260+ yards, very low, very under control and very straight. Tiger used this shot countless times during his incredible streak of 2000-2002 to put the ball in play off the tee with superb distance.

It is a shot that I believe every mid to low handicap golfer should learn to master and I'm going to teach you how in this video.

There are three main keys to this intimidating golf shot.

First, you need to play the ball back slightly in your stance, roughly 1-2" back of standard. Second, make a more compact swing at the top. And third, keep the club delofted through impact and hold off the release as long as possible.

It helps to visualize the ball coming out very, very low to the ground off the tee.

Note the launch angle difference in the two pictures below.

In the top picture, I am hitting the stinger shot and the ball is coming off the face at only 4 degrees.

In the second photo, the ball is coming out more than twice as high. The second shot is a normal 2 iron shot that I would hit into a long par three where it would need to land soft.

But there's nothing soft about the stinger shot. I want it to come out screaming fast and hard and land just as hard. A big key to this shot is the run it gets once it lands, so it helps to play a slight draw as well to squeeze a few more yards out of it.

tiger woods 2 iron stinger how to hit it

Note the difference in the two follow throughs below. In the top picture (the stinger) I'm holding off the release of the club as long as possible. In the bottom picture, I'm allowing the club to come around to a fully released position which will hit the ball higher and allow it to land softer.

tiger woods stinger shot

You don't have to hit this shot with just a two iron, it can be played with a mid iron or even your driver.

Take the time to master this shot and see if it doesn't save you a few strokes on those holes where you absolutely must get the ball in play and need good distance, especially in windy conditions as this ball will rip through the wind with no trouble.

Learn how to hit the Tiger Woods 2 iron stinger shot and put the ball in play more often on tight par 4's!

If you would like to learn more about Tiger Woods swing, click here for a full breakdown of Tiger Woods swing changes under Hank Haney.


Checkpoints for Practice

  • A 2 iron Stinger shot gives a super low, penetrating ball flight great on par 4s of 400 yards or less
  • Play the ball 1-2" back in your stance to deloft the club a little more
  • Take a shorter, more compact swing for greater control and muscle power
  • Keep the hands leading the club so it's delofted through impact
  • You know the ball will fly far - your visual during the shot should be of keeping it as low as possible
  • Hold off the finish at the top for absolute minimum loft

Video Transcription: Tiger Woods 2 Iron Stinger

The 2 iron stinger was made famous during Tiger Woods' phenomenal run in the early 2000-02 season when he used it ruthlessly to demoralize the field on tee shots where they were very tight, demanding shots and other Tour players were having to take 3 woods or very carefully carve drivers into very tight landing areas.

Tiger took out a 2 iron. He played the ball back in his stance a little bit, make a couple other adjustments, the ball no more than 10 feet off the ground with a 5 yard draw and hit the ball about 270 yards. It was just a shot that was simply one of the most magnificent shots in the game that he called on at really, really critical times in important tournaments.

2 ironAre you afraid of the 2 iron?

With today's modern era of the equipment manufacturers wanting you to launch the ball as high as you possibly can and tee the ball as high as you possibly can and hit it high on the face and launch the ball straight up in the air for more distance, unfortunately this shot has lost some of its stature.

But I'm determined to bring it back. It's a shot that I use constantly, and I personally think it's one of the best shots that any golfer should learn.

Of course if you don't carry a 2 iron that doesn't necessarily mean you can't play this shot. Obviously for the better golfers if they carry 2 irons or 5 woods or some sort of hybrid club, the lower lofted clubs make this shot a lot easier, but let me talk to you to bring up a couple of reasons why this shot is so great.

Stinger shotLearn the stinger shot

First of all, it's a control shot. Any time that I'm on a par 4 that's 400 yards or less, the first club that I think of is my 2 iron off the tee. Without question, it's the first thing that I consider.

If I can't play that shot, if I have to hit driver for some reason or if it's wide open up near the green and I can take the driver without any risk of a penalty for being out of the fairway then it's a different story, but the first club that comes to my mind any time I'm around 400 yards or less on any par 4 is to pull out my 2 iron because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the majority of the time I'm always going to put this ball in play and I'm going to hit it a good distance.

A normal 2 iron for me, hit off the tee to, say a long par 3, is 230 yards. You can gauge your distances based on that. A 3 iron for me is 215, a 4 iron is 203, etc.

You can play your distances off that. If you heave a 2 iron and you hit it 200 yards or the longest club in your bag is a 3 or a 4 iron, you're probably playing the white tees, so instead of thinking of the 400 yard holes you might be thinking of the 350 yard holes to use this as a gauge for your course management.

But at 400 yards I know that, off the tee, I can hit my normal shot with a 2 iron about 200 yards. But obviously that's still going to leave me 170 yards or so in to the green, which is longer than I want on such a short par 4.

But if I play a stinger, if I hit that screaming little knock-down shot that barely gets off the ground and rolls a great distance, I can actually get about 260-plus yards off the tee with my 2 iron playing the shot. I'll play a slight draw to get a little extra run out of it, so a 5-10 yard draw, depending on the fairway and the shot.

ComparisonLook how much lower the stinger shot is than a regular swing

In doing that, I put myself within having no more than a 9 iron into any par 4 that's 400 yards or less. For me it's a very, very good strategy. I know I'm going to put the ball on the fairway and, very importantly, I know that the wind is not going to affect this shot.

Compared to taking the driver and hitting it higher in the air and getting a chance of blowing into a water hazard or OB or anything like that, this ball is barely going to get off the ground. Maybe 10 yards off the ground, and it's going to hit the ground screaming fast and run another 20, 30, 40 yards, depending on how hard the fairway.

What I want to show you is some of the tricks to playing this shot. Again, if you're not a single-digit handicap or you don't carry a 3 or a 4 iron or something like that, you can still play this shot. Tiger actually plays it with his 3 wood, which is really phenomenal.

I stop with a 2 iron. I'll actually hit it with my driver sometimes as well, depending on the course conditions, but because I can get enough distance out of my 2 iron and I've practiced with it enough, that's my go-to club when I know I've got to get the ball in play and I need a decent distance.

Stinger setupSetting up for a stinger shot with the 2 iron

If you play this shot with a 3 iron you can still get great distance. You can do it with even a 4 iron or a 5 iron, just depending on the tees that you play, the distance that you hit the ball, club head speed, etc. But if you're one of those golfers who carries a 5 wood, that hits the ball very, very high in place of your 2 iron, this is a very challenging shot.

Depending on the way the club head is designed and the flex of the shaft, the way that it unloads, or the kick point on the shaft, you may end up hitting the ball actually a lot higher than you want, so it's not going to be the easiest shot in the world for those clubs.

To make a long story short, let's dive into this.

I have two frames here. I have a swing at the top with the 2 iron, and I have a different swing down here at the bottom. The one on top is my stinger shot, and the one on the bottom is my normal, just hitting into a long par 3 or playing for placement, layup, 2 iron.

The one on the bottom is going to go about 230 yards or so, and the one on top actually went, in this instance, about 255 yards. Both of them are full swings. Both of them were hit at full speed and played from the same spot.

Normal setupSetting up for a normal shot with the 2 iron

The first thing you'll notice is that, granted, this camera angle is a little off because I actually set myself off the edge of the frame here so you could see the launch angle using this area out here to the right. The ball is not nearly back as far in my stance as it appears from this angle.

Basically, I play the ball about 1.5" back of standard, and standard for me is just inside my left shoulder with a 2 iron. This is my normal ball position. Again, the camera angle is skewed, and this position is moved back 1.5-2", depending on how low and hard I want to hit it.

That's the first key, is you're going to move the ball back in your stance just a little bit and have a little bit more forward press at address. This is going to help deloft the club even more, so you're going to turn that 2 iron into a 1 iron or even the loft of a 3 wood.

You'll see from my launch angles I get it even much, much lower than that, depending on how low I want to hit it.

Top of the swingTop of the swing: Stinger (left) and normal (right)

That's the first key. No other setup changes are made. I might place a tiny bit more weight on my left foot, but usually my weight is pretty balanced and the ball is back just a tiny bit more.

As I scroll to the top of this swing you can see at the top that the stinger swing is a little bit shorter than my normal 2 iron swing. You can see the shaft has gone back a little bit farther, and you can see a little bit of space, a little bit of blue sky, between my hands and my head on the top frame, and here you can't see that. I've just made a little bit longer swing.

This swing, the stinger swing, takes a lot more muscular effort because you're making a shorter swing, first of all, so that you control the club. The key to the swing is you've got to keep the club head delofted through impact, and not release or rehinge on the way through or you're going to launch the ball straight up in the air, and you need to hit this ball very, very low to get a lot of run out of it and keep it under the wind, etc.

I'm making a little bit more controlled swing, but because my swing is shorter I'm going to have to put a lot more effort, muscularly, to get a lot of club head speed to hit this ball a great distance. Shorter swing, more compact for more control, and controlling the club head face angle at impact, whereas this swing here is going to be a little bit less effort; just a normal, smooth, soft swing.

Coming downComing down: Stinger (left) and normal (right)

The first thing is we're going to play the ball back in the stance just a little bit. The second thing is we're going to shorten the swing just a little bit at the top. It's more compact.

As we come back down, coming down into impact you can see that the swings are pretty much the same right until impact where you can see I let the club head start to go past my hands here and rehinge just a little bit.

This position here is allowing for a slap hinge release and it's going to hit the ball on a normal trajectory, whereas this one here you can see that my hands are still leading the club head through impact and the ball is coming out very, very low.

ImpactImpact: Stinger (left) and normal (right)

Nothing is different here other than that my visual for this shot, more than anything else, is that I'm trying to get this ball - my visual - is that I want it to roll off the tee box. That's how low I want this ball to come out.

It's not that I'm thinking, "I'm going to hit this ball a long ways." I already know the ball is going to go the distance I need it to. The key is for me to hit it on the proper trajectory and not waste any distance by hitting it high in the air. I want to hit it as low and flat and hard as I possibly can, and you'll see that as we advance through to the next frame.

I'll show the launch angles for both of these shots. The one on the bottom, you can see I've drawn a flat line against the ground here to the ball, and you can see the launch angle is about 10° for this normal 2 iron shot. My normal 2 iron is 18° of loft, and I've delofted the club through impact here so it's come out a little bit lower.

Then the stinger shot is coming out at only 4°. It's much, much lower; less than half as high as this shot.

You can see that these two balls are coming out on completely different trajectories, and this one on the bottom in this last frame you can still see the ball over here on the right hand side, but up here this one has already left the frame. This ball is coming out very, very, very fast, on a very hard trajectory so it's going to get out there a lot quicker.

Launch angleLaunch angle: Stinger (above) and normal (below)

It's going to bore through the wind, especially the first 100-150 yards off the tee. It's going to bore through the wind like nobody's business. It's going to put you in play. It's a great control shot to learn. There's very few adjustments that you need to make.

You need to move the ball back just a touch in your stance, you need to make a little bit shorter, more compact swing at the top, and then you need to visualize that you're trying to hit that ball so low on the ground that it's going to roll off the tee.

If somebody's golf bag was in the way you would put a hole right through it. That's how low you want this thing to come off the tee box. You've really got to make sure that you hit down on the ball and keep the hands leading through impact as you can see here - my hands are well ahead of the club - in order to keep that ball coming out very, very low and get through the wind.

That's how you play that stinger.

Now, if you want the ball to turn over and get a little bit more distance by playing a draw, you can let the toe of the club release just a little bit earlier. I hit this one straight so it's not going to draw too much. I didn't release it a lot.

FinishFinish: Stinger (left) and normal (right)

But you can also hit a very, very powerful draw or even a hook if you need to, to get around trees and hit low shots under trees, by letting the toe of the club head release just a little bit more through the shot.

As you come through into a full finish you can see that I've held off the finish at the top, whereas the bottom one I've let the club come on around and come to a full release. This one I've held off the release because I'm doing everything I can to keep that club head delofted through impact and to keep it from releasing through impact to add any loft.

I want the absolute minimum amount of loft through impact that I can possibly put on the shot.

Practice this shot. Take the time to go out and learn it. You'll be amazed at how many times, when there's a hole that's shorter than really what the driver calls for, how many times you can avoid trouble, whether it's a water hazard, out of bounds, a sand trap that's strategically placed...this is a very, very important shot that everybody should put in their bag, whether you play it with a 3 iron or a 2 iron or what have you, based on the tees and distance that you play.

Learn this shot. Take the time to master it. Learn how to hit little low draws with it, and see yourself save several strokes on your golf scores.

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