How To Hit A Flop Shot
What is the goal?
You will inevitably find yourself in situations out on the golf course where you’re greenside (maybe in the rough or a closely mown area), the pin is a few paces from the edge of the green so that you have little green to work with, and/or there is a bunker or some thick rough between you and the pin.
In these situations, it’s probably best to hit some type of flop shot. A flop shot is a high-trajectory shot (typically no more than 50 yards) that lands softly with minimal roll. The goal with these shots is usually to fly certain obstacles and stop the ball within a few feet from the pin, or shoot past the pin and have the ball spin back. In general, a flop shot is achieved when an open clubface (or a clubface with an extreme amount of loft) slides underneath the ball, quickly launching it on a high trajectory.
Many amateur golfers shy away from this shot because they either don’t know how to hit it or think it’s too difficult. The truth is that if you know the proper technique and put in a little bit of practice, you can hit flop shots consistently and reliably. There’s no doubt that it’s a great shot to have in your repertoire; not only does it look impressive, but it will also help you shoot lower scores, and that’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it?
Can I hit flop shots from any lie?
Flop shots can be hit on any length of grass, but the shorter the grass, the more difficult the shot is to hit. An exception to this is when the ball is buried in long grass, in which case it’s likely that your only option is to hack it out. For example, hitting flop shots from the fairway or fringe is quite a bit more difficult than hitting from a fluffy lie in the rough. This is because, from short grass, it’s more difficult to get the club underneath the ball and hence you’re more likely to blade or thin it.
If your situation calls for a flop, you first need to assess your lie and determine if you’ll be able to get the club underneath the ball. If the ball is sitting up, be careful not to slide the club too far underneath or you may end up whiffing it or barely making any contact. Practice, though, and you should get the correct feel for it.
How do I hit a flop?
I would recommend taking your most-lofted club (a sand wedge or a lob wedge) for the shot. Depending on the trajectory you envision for the shot, you can open or close your clubface and stance accordingly. Remember to re-grip your club after opening the face. Also start with playing your ball slightly forward of center. There is no hard and fast rule regarding ball position, and depending on your individual swing, you might have more success with a different ball position. Of course, the best thing to do is try it out and see what works for you.
The weight distribution for the flop differs based on whether you’re facing a tight lie or a fluffy lie. I’ll begin with the fluffy lie.
Fluffy lie (rough) – for this lie, it’s important to keep your weight level (or centered) during the swing. This shallows out the bottom of your swing arc and prevents the club from going too far underneath the ball.
Tight lie (fringe, fairway) – for this lie, you should put your weight forward on the downswing. This allows you to drive the club underneath the ball and it prevents the bounce of the club from taking the leading edge off the ground through impact (resulting in a bladed shot). Focus on accelerating your club and arm together through impact.
To avoid “flipping your wrists” through the shot, keep your hands slightly forward, lead the shot with your hands and finish high. If you want more spin on your shot, you need to come into the ball at a steeper angle, and to do this you can either put your weight more forward or put the ball farther back in your stance.
If you haven’t seen the video below of Phil Mickelson demonstrating the flop shot, it’s definitely worth checking out.
What equipment is best for the job?
For the purpose of hitting a flop shot, you want to use a wedge with a low enough bounce that you can slip the leading edge underneath the ball, but a high enough bounce that you won’t consistently dig the leading edge into the ground. What I would recommend doing is choosing a high-lofted club and testing different bounce configurations for that loft to see which one gives you the most success. See the product reviews page for information and recommendations on quality wedges.