So you are out on the golf course and it is a windy day. You face an iron shot that is into the wind to a green that you need to hit. Hitting your normal height shot just would not be suitable as it would go too high and would become affected by the wind that is gusting into your face. This would result in a shot that would most likely finish short of the target and would require you to play a good chip shot or bunker shot to rescue a good score. This shot can affect you even more when there is trouble in front of the green i.e. a water hazard or bunker. The shot you need to be able to execute is a low flying golf shot that the head wind has very little impact on as it is travelling so low. You need a low stinger shot or punch shot (a golf shot that reduces the height the golf ball flies so that it does not get easily affected by the wind).
Another really good reason to have this shot in the bag is when you need to keep the golf ball low because of trouble above that could affect the golf ball such as overhanging branches or trees. Again, the low golf shot would be a perfect way to eliminate the ball hitting the branches and affecting the flight of the golf ball.
Fault - When a player is facing a shot into wind and does not have the shot in the bag that can keep the golf ball low enough so that it does not become affected. A common mistake is that the golfer may be tempted to hit the golf ball much harder as it is into the wind, and therefore actually making the golf ball go higher by adding more spin to the golf ball because the club has increased the power.
Fix - Most of the advice about hitting a low iron shot actually starts at the set up position and club choice. Start by choosing one more club and in some cases depending on the strength of the wind two or three more golf clubs. The less loft that is used, the better for a shot like this, as already the golf ball will launch much lower. When you address the golf ball, move the ball position back about two inches from it's normal ball position. This again is a great way of decreasing the loft of the golf club being used.
Top tip - Avoid placing the ball too far back in the stance as this will result in a much steeper angle of attack and can cause the ball to spin more when in the air.
The next most important aspect is to hold slightly down on the golf club, about one inch, as this will reduce the club head speed as not as much power can be produced which will therefore help to reduce the backspin on the golf ball. The next important piece of information is not to hit the golf ball at maximum power. This can lead to an increase in the backspin which in turn would produce more height.
Key point - Execute the golf shot with a three quarters backswing and a three quarters follow though which will help in reducing the power applied.
How to Hit the Low Iron Stinger Punch
Golf would be somewhat boring if you could simply hit the same shot over and over again in order to make your way around the course. Sure, the game would be easier, but would it be any fun? Probably not. It is the variety of golf that makes it so much fun to play, even if that variety does add significantly to the overall difficulty of the game. If you would like to continue moving your scores in the right direction over the months and years to come, you should work hard to add as many different shots to your arsenal as possible. In this article, we are going to look at one specific shot which can be useful in a number of situations – the low iron stinger punch shot.
One of the first things a good golfer needs to learn how to do is to keep the ball down. We will get into all of the benefits of hitting low iron shots later in this article, but rest assured you are going to be able to find plenty of places to use this type of shots once it is added to your repertoire. Will you need to hit a low iron stinger punch on every hole that you play? No – of course not. In fact, you may go through some entire rounds without having to pull this shot out of the bag. However, when you do need to opt for this shot, you will be glad you have it available to you.
Some golfers mistakenly believe that you have to be a high-level player in order to work on creating other shots aside from your standard ball flight. That simply isn't true. In fact, the act of working on learning how to hit new shots is one of the best ways to improve your swing as a whole. When you spend time on the driving range learning how to alter your ball flight on command, you will develop a better feel for how to apply the club head to the ball at impact – and that is a skill that will help you no matter what kind of shot you are trying to create. Professional golfers spend much of their practice time working on shots that fall outside of their 'standard' flight, and you should do the same during your practice sessions.
When thinking about hitting shots that fall outside of your typical pattern, it is important to always remember one key point – you should never try a shot on the course that you haven't first worked on during a practice session. The middle of a round is no time to experiment with a swing you have never before used to hit the ball. Make sure to prepare yourself fully by hitting various shots on the driving range so that you can then pull those shots out of your bag with an added degree of confidence.
All of the content below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
Putting It to Use
There is no point in developing a new shot if you aren't going to have anywhere to use it out on the course, so you should always start this process by thinking about when and where you will use your new ball flight. In this case, the ball flight in question is a low iron shot that has been 'punched' with the goal of creating a penetrating, flat ball flight with little spin. As you are about to learn, there are actually many situations during the average round of golf which call for the use of this versatile shot.
Each of the points below highlights an opportunity to may find during an upcoming round to play the low iron stinger punch.
- Dealing with the wind. This is the point that most people think of when they think about using a low iron shot. If you play somewhere that is frequently confronted with strong winds, having a low iron shot in your arsenal is a no-brainer. The ability to hit the ball low is imperative in the wind, as hitting high shots is a recipe for disaster on a blustery day. While low shots will never be able to do everything that high shots can do, they are much safer and more predictable during a windy round. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you only want to hit the ball low when playing into the wind, either – playing a low shot is a great idea no matter which direction the breeze happens to be blowing. By improving on your ability to hit the ball low on command, you can make yourself a far better player in windy conditions – and you will be a better overall player, as well.
- Hitting a narrow fairway. When you don't have much of a fairway to aim at off the tee of a par four (or even a par five), your best bet to get the ball in play may be the low stinger iron punch shot. Since the ball is going to be flying lower to the ground, it won't have as much time to veer off course and get into trouble. Also, the mechanics involved in this kind of shot encourage a strike that does not impart much side spin on the ball – another bonus in terms of hitting your target. You are of course going to lose some distance when playing this shot from the tee as opposed to swinging away with your driver or a fairway wood, but that sacrifice will be worth it when you find your ball in the short grass over and over again. Distance is great, but it doesn't do you any good without accuracy – place a premium on hitting fairways and your scores will come down, even if you are giving up yards in the process.
- Working around some pressure. You are bound to encounter shots on the golf course that make you a bit nervous. It is only natural to get nervous on the course, as you want to play your best each and every time out. When you do face a shot that has you feeling the pressure, one of the best things you can do is to reach for your low iron punch shot to give yourself a great chance at keeping the ball in play. You might not be able to get the spectacular results that would be possible by launching the ball high up in the air, but you will be taking some of the risk away – which is exactly the right idea as you try to work through the nerves. Your swing will never quite work as well under pressure as it does when you are feeling relaxed, so don't hesitate to go for the stinger shot if you need to get through a hole without getting into too much trouble.
- Taking advantage of dry conditions. When you want to hit the ball a long distance, sending your shot high up into the air is just one option. In fact, when the course you are playing is dry and firm, it might not even be the best option. On a dry course, there is a lot of distance to be found along the ground, if you know how to take advantage of the opportunity. Hitting a low iron stinger punch shot from the tee on a dry golf course could allow you to hit the ball incredible distances down the fairway without having to risk hitting the ball high with your driver. Running the ball down a dry fairway makes it easy to keep the ball in play while no having to give up any distance at all. Pay attention to course conditions early in the round and be ready to take advantage of fairway roll if the turf is firm and fast.
The list above is only a starting point for the many different ways in which you can use a punched iron shot to your advantage. Depending on the type of course you play, and the prevailing conditions in your area, you may find plenty of other opportunities to put this shot into action. Of course, it is only going to pay off for you if you can execute the swing correctly time and time again. So, before getting ahead of yourself by putting this shot to use on the course, the next step is to head out to the driving range to learn how to produce this shot properly time after time.
Setting Up Properly
Now that you understand just how important it is to be able to punch the ball on command, it is time to figure out how to actually hit the shot. Fortunately, it isn't all that difficult to hit a low iron punch stinger, as long as you are able to make the right adjustments to your setup and swing technique. You will still be using the same general swinging action that you use on a 'normal' shot, but you will have to alter that swing slightly in order to achieve the desired outcome.
First, let's take a look at the pre-shot adjustments that need to be made when a stinger punch is the ball flight that you need for the shot at hand.
- Move the ball back. Even if you aren't familiar with hitting the low punch shot just yet, you could have probably guessed that this was the first adjustment you would need to make. When you want to bring your ball flight down, you move the ball back in your stance – it's just that simple. However, you don't want to go too far back in your stance, or it will become difficult to strike the shot cleanly. Try playing the ball from directly in the middle of your stance, or just slightly behind that point, and see what kind of results you can achieve. After you spend a bit of time practicing your punch shots, you should be able to dial in a ball position that works nicely for you.
- Choke down on the grip. This is an adjustment that comes along naturally with the previous point on moving the ball back in your stance. When you move the ball back, you need to choke down slightly or the club will be too long for the shot you are trying to hit. It would be easy to hit the ball fat if you continued to use the whole club, so come down a couple of inches from the top of the grip before making your swing. In addition to helping you avoid fat contact, this adjustment will also make the club easier to control, and you should be able to hit the sweet spot more frequently.
- Aim slightly to the left. All other things being equal, you are likely to push the ball a bit out to the right when you hit this kind of punch shot, simply because the ball has been moved back in your stance. So, to adjust for that fact, you should slightly tweak your aim by rotating to the left at address. Many players fail to make this simple adjustment, and they continue to miss right with this shot time after time. Don't fall into that category – turn your aim just a little bit to the left at address and you will have a great chance to send the ball toward the target time after time.
There is nothing particularly complicated about the adjustments you need to make to your stance when hitting a stinger punch shot. However, you shouldn't take these adjustments for granted just because they are relatively simple. Take time to work on them during your next practice session to make sure you can dial up the perfect setup each time you want to hit a punch shot. Practicing the basics is important in golf, so pay attention to the little details related to this shot and you can look forward to getting it right more often than not.
The Swinging Action
The adjustments that you have made to your setup in the previous section are going to go a long way toward producing the ball flight that you are looking for when trying to hit a punch. However, those adjustments alone aren't going to do the whole job. You will also need to tweak the way in which you swing the club if you are going to hit a solid punch shot with any one of your irons.
To make sure you are swinging the club correctly while trying to hit a punch, review the following tips.
- Stay perfectly centered. If there is one key that you need to pay attention to above all the rest on this topic, it is this one. Balance is always important in the golf swing, but it is even more important when you are trying to hit down through a punch shot. During this swing, pay close attention to your balance and make sure you are staying as centered as possible from the start of the swing on through to the finish. Do not allow your body to sway right or left as you swing – if you do, it will become nearly impossible to make solid contact through impact. To succeed with this shot, you need to start with great balance and hold that balance until the ball has left the club.
- Tighten up your backswing. You don't necessarily want to make a short backswing when hitting this kind of shot, but you do want to tighten it up a bit as compared to the swings you make on most of your 'regular' shots. Think about it this way – you don't want to allow any hand action to cause your backswing to be longer than usual. Rotate your shoulders away from the target to take the club back, and start turning down toward the ball as soon as that backswing rotation is finished. By keeping your hands quiet and out of the equation, you can promote the downward hit that you need.
- Maintain knee flex. Standing up out of this kind of swing is a common mistake, but it is one that you need to avoid. As you swing the club back, you want to make sure you are maintaining your knee flex nicely in order to keep your entire body on the same level. Moving up and down is just as damaging as moving side to side in that it will make it difficult for you to strike the ball cleanly. Stay down in your stance as you swing and use your lower body to rotate through the shot powerfully during the downswing.
The swing that you need to use in order to hit a low iron stinger punch shot is actually relatively simple, as is the setup position that is required. Of course, if you get just one of two of these basic points wrong, you will wind up causing trouble that may cause the shot to be a failure. During your practice sessions, be sure to pay attention to detail as much as possible in order to launch low-flying iron shots right toward the target time and time again.
Course Management and the Punch Shot
It is one thing to know how to hit a particular shot – such as the low iron punch shot – but it is another thing altogether to know how to pick just the right time to pull the shot out of the bag. Shot selection is an underrated part of the game of golf, as playing the right shot at the right time is a big part of posting a good score. The best players aren't just the players with the best swings – they are those who can pick out the right shot at just the right time to place the ball in perfect position.
So, how do you know when to pull this type of iron shot out of the bag? Well, to start with, you should be looking for course conditions and situations which are present on the list that we offered up early in this article. Are you playing a short par four with a narrow fairway? If so, you may wish to play a low punch for your tee shot. Are you playing on a windy day, or playing on a course with dry fairways? Again, you might have the perfect situation to punch the ball up toward the target.
One overlooked opportunity to use this kind of shot is when approaching a green with the pin located close to the back edge. If the hole is cut in the back, you can use your punch shot to bounce the ball back toward the target without having to take the risk that comes along with hitting a high approach. If you go in high, you may fly over the target – leaving yourself with a brutally difficult chip shot back toward the cup. Using your punch shot may allow you to take away that kind of risk, as you will be able to bounce the ball in the middle of the green safely. If you don't quite get all the way back to the hole, you will still be fine – you can just two putt for your par and move on.
No matter when you decide to use this kind of shot, the biggest key is having confidence in your ability to execute it properly. That confidence is only going to come from practice, so make sure you work on your punch shot skills on the driving range as frequently as possible. Add in at least a few of these shots to each practice session and you will gradually get better and better at pulling off this important shot. By adding this ball flight to your game, you will have yet another option to turn to in order to get the ball in position to make pars and birdies. Play well!