Golf Talk With Greg Holman – #5

Click play to listen to Greg’s Podcast, or read below.

If you watch golf on television or follow the PGA Tour you’ve probably heard the term “Stinger.” The first time I heard the word was when Tiger Woods was describing a shot he would implement when he had to keep the ball in play. My generation called it a “Knock Down” shot. Even in my prime I was never very good at that type of shot; I was tall and skinny, had a wide arc, caught the ball in the up-swing, and hit the ball high. Well… the ball was at the mercy of the wind on windy days.

The Masters is this weekend and Tiger will probably not have much use for the stinger unless the winds really kick up. For the most part, the people that have had the most success at Augusta National hit the ball high to get maximum carry off the tee and to hold the firm greens, a trademark of Augusta, and it’s first line of defense. So people like Jack Nicklaus, who like to hit a high fade, Fred Couples before the bad back, and Raymond Floyd who put a 5 wood in his bag, so that he could approach the par 5’s with a higher trajectory than a 2 or a 3 iron would allow, have had the most success.

Floyd won in 1976 with that strategy, Couples won in 1992 and finished 2nd in 98. Nicklaus has won the tournament more times than anyone, he has 6 green jackets in his closet. Another player that has had success and liked to hit the ball high is Tom Weiskopf. He never won a green jacket but finished 2nd four times. Of course, there is more than one way to skin a cat, both Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, who generally flighted the ball down managed to win a combined 6 times.

I’ve noticed as I get older I become a better wind player. I’m not as flexible, and my swing has become flatter which is more conducive to a lower ball flight. I won’t tell you what I shot but it was four or five shots better than my average this year when I played this past Sunday at Lake of the Woods Golf Course in Columbia. If you’ll recall, Sunday, November 8th, was a warm but very windy day, and I actually had some success on the holes where the wind was howling in our face. The first hole for example, was played into a 20mph wind and I split the middle with a low draw that rolled out to about 213 yards. My second shot, with a 5 wood, bore through the wind and rolled over the back of the green. The eighth hole which was 355 yards down hill, but into a strong wind, was a hole I was able to get inside the 150 yardage marker, and the ninth hole, which we played into a strong right to left cross wind, played short for me because I hit a stinger with my first and second shots, giving my a wedge for my third shot to the 500 yard par 5, and an easy par.

So, if you’re a senior or handi-capped, excersize as directed, but if your swing speed isn’t what it used to be use that to your advantage. Hit the ball straight, have fun in the wind, and beat your playing partners.