The golf world is eagerly anticipating a heavyweight match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. While the good-natured verbal sparring has been entertaining, we may have seen another shot across the bow from Phil: his recently-debuted stinger. Phil blistered his tee shot 309 yards on the 10th hole at Gullane Golf Club during the second round of the Scottish Open without hitting the ball more than ten feet off the ground.
Tiger, during the most dominant stretches of his career, would split fairways with low, penetrating missiles played with a 2-iron or 3 wood. This was a comfort shot, a go-to when hitting a fairway was a must. Phil has seemingly upped the ante with his version of the stinger going absurdly lower and farther. Some of Phil’s ability to play this shot is thanks to the advancement in shaft and utility iron technology coupled with firm and fast fairways at Gullane, but we can’t help but anticipate a little “anything you can do, I can do better” barb coming.
So how did Phil hit his iron 300+ yards and how can you work on a similar shot? Work on these key steps to put this shot in the bag as the Club Championship approaches and you will be sure to wear your opponents out with your accuracy off the tee
- Ball position is front of center, but back of where a normal fairway wood or long iron is played
- Body weight is favoring the front the side; this helps put the low point of the swing ahead of the ball, resulting in a steeper angle of attack
- Stand closer to the ball; this will help lower the flight naturally and keep your path/plane steeper
- Take a slightly wider stance with added knee flex to provide stability as the body motion of this swing will pull us towards the target slightly
- Rehearse a shoulder-to-shoulder, wide-arcing swing; the shorter the backswing, the lower we can keep the shot. One reason is that we are able to have better control of the shaft angle and clubface at impact
- Lead the club into impact with your arms and hands
- Bow you lead wrist through impact. We do this by continuing to keep your lead hand ahead of the shaft as you finish the swing as long as you can. The bowed lead wrist delofts the club as well, helping produce the low trajectory and minimal spin
- A compact and even recoiling finish is perfect for this shot; a full finish will result in a normal-to-higher ball flight, which is not ideal. Instead, keep the finish low and short with our upper body staying lower and commanding the ball flight we desire for the shot. A good feeling is one of chasing the ball down the line with the bowed lead wrist
- Finally, this swing is powerful, but not violent or wild. A hard swing does not translate to a low shot. Make sure all the pieces are in place and a 75% swing can produce that low stinger just as efficiently as a full lash
NOTE: Butch Harmon used to tell Tiger to feel like he was “sitting” through impact. This feeling was one key and feel to help Tiger make the bowed and holding motion into and through the hitting zone with a square clubface. Sitting also helps to steady and quiet the lower body in a swing that is dominated by the upper body.