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Friday, July 29, 2011

Sting That Tee Shot!

Ok, maybe the Women's British Open is the last links tournament we'll see for a while -- at least until the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in late September -- but that doesn't mean we won't need to hit a low tee shot into the wind sometime soon. Tiger used to do this a lot -- it was called a "stinger" and he usually used a 2-iron for the shot.

We mere mortals use a 3-wood.

Appropriately enough, I've got a video from Irish pro John Kelly teaching how to hit a 3-wood stinger.

Kelly teaches this a bit differently from some teachers, but I chose it because it's a simpler way to get the same results. Let me give you a little extra guidance here.

Tee the ball back in your stance. He says halfway, but it doesn't really look like it, does it? The camera angle is a bit misleading here -- the ball isn't really halfway back, but it's well inside his forward heel. Let's call it "under his left ear." If you're a lefty, that'll be your right ear.

Note that the ball is still teed fairly high. We don't want to hit down on the ball; we still want to sweep the ball from the tee. This will eliminate a lot of the backspin.

Put your weight a bit more on your forward side. Again, we aren't going to hit down on the ball. We put a bit more weight on the forward foot to keep us from moving behind the ball. If we did that, we'd either hit it thin or pop it up when we went under it. Neither results in a good stinger!

Your hands are over the ball at address, not ahead of it. Let me say it again: We aren't going to hit down on the ball. We're delofting the club, which will will help us hit the ball lower.

Picture showing what an uncocked wrist looks likeNow I'm going to depart from what Kelly is saying because I don't think it accurately describes what he's doing. (I'm sure he's describing the way it feels, but we need to know what we're doing.)

Go ahead and make your regular one-piece takeaway and a full swing. We want all the clubhead speed we can get. Kelly says he makes his swing less "wide" but then he tells you keep it wide on the downswing. Let's keep this simple, ok? Your backswing will probably feel a bit shorter because of the next key.

Don't cock your wrists... EVER. Some teachers tell you to shorten your swing, but they cock their wrists. If you don't cock your wrists, you don't have to shorten your swing because you won't create as much clubhead speed. You don't have to lock your wrists tight either. Bear in mind that if your hand is straight in line with your wrist -- as if you were throwing a punch -- a club sticking out of your hand will look like it's cocked about 45 to 60 degrees. That's an uncocked position.

The combination of those last two tips -- full backswing with uncocked wrists -- will probably get your hands above your shoulders with the club pointing over your shoulder at an angle BUT NOT parallel to the ground.

Finally, make your downswing. You'll sweep the ball off the tee, then finish somewhere between waist and shoulder height. Your wrists should stay uncocked the whole time. This is the familiar "shorten your followthrough" advice everybody gives you when you hit into the wind.

Relax -- it's much simpler to make the stinger shot than describe it. It's basically just a slight setup change and a "wristless" swing -- a punch shot hit from a tee. The combination of these moves.will launch the ball at a low angle and it will roll a lot when it hits the ground.

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