Whittaker's Weekend Takeaway: How you can hit the stinger

Golf Tips

Elite coach Dan Whittaker explains what we can learn from three incredible shots from Valderrama and how we can play them

I’ve got three offerings from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters on the European Tour this week and three shots that the club golfer often struggles with. Let me take you through how the pros tackle them…

Lee Westwood driver off the deck

This is an elite player shot but it can be done. You’ve got to be hitting down on it a little bit. Most people will see the lack of loft on the face and try and help it in the air and end up topping it. Westwood is very good in staying in his spine angle in his swing and, because he does this so well, it is easier for him to stay on top of it and squeeze it out there and not get up on it. The driver is a bit like the super low-lofted 3-wood, but with a bigger head obviously, and it’s the same thing of knowing you will have to squeeze it rather than hitting up on it.

If you hit your driver left to right then don’t even try this off the deck as you’re just going to get so steep on it and take a massive divot.

What to practise: Feel like you are really staying over and on top of the ball so imagine turning round a pole and turning your spine into the floor and then don’t be afraid to hit down on it slightly. Do not try and hit up on it.

Ashley Chesters’ stinger

What we need to do here is think about the angles we create with our right hand. Halfway back in your takeaway imagine your right palm is starting to look at the ball so, with the ball back in your stance a bit, this will work with the fact that your weight is over your left leg. As you pivot your left shoulder will go down more and your right arm will more on top of the club and that takes the loft off the face.

Then on the way through you are simply rotating and maintaining that pressure with the right hand, with no loft on the face, then turn and hold that position.

You’ve got to have your chest on top the ball – you can’t be backing out underneath it. If you are someone who has some early extension you will struggle with this as that player works underneath the ball and adds loft whereas you have to be working on getting your spine angle over your left side and covering the ball with your chest.

What to practise: We hear a lot about covering it and staying over the ball, a good way to think of this is to get your buttons or zip of your shirt on top of the ball and staying over there with a bit more pressure on the left side. Then set the right hand and maintain that with rotation all the way through to a much shorter finish. The angle will be maintained in that right hand and that creates the lack of loft.

Gonzalo Fernandez Castano’s miracle up and down

It would be great to see this shot from behind to see what the gap was exactly. If this was from a bare lie then this shot probably wouldn’t be possible. He looks to have some sort of cushion with the rough but to even see this shot is incredible. Pros are brilliant at visualisation and they will practise them so they are then confident enough to execute them quite easily.

What to practise: Get out on the course and try shots that you might come up against. Put yourself in some awkward positions and play the shot and see what your thought process is and train for it.

We all tend to practise our favourite club off a flat lie off a driving range mat and that doesn’t tend to come up very often on the course. Work on your weaknesses as this is how we get better.

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Dan Whittaker is an elite golf swing and performance coach based at High Legh. For more information, visit his website.

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