We’ve all seen it done on TV by the pros. One of the best shots in all of golf to watch or perform, but often leaving golfers looking like idiots with their next shot nowhere near the green.
The flop shot is an invaluable shot that every modern golfer needs to add to their arson, but is probably one of the most difficult shots to actually pull off.
Mastering it will take your game to the next level, so here are some tips for the correct technique in playing it.
Pay close attention to each tip, because missing any of them could mean the difference between a soft landing next to the hole and blading your ball over the green and into a hazard.
If you’re still struggling with the flop after reading these tips, have a look at this short demonstration from the master of the flop himself, Phil “the thrill” Mickelson.
Firstly, what exactly is a flop shot?
Well, the broader definition would be a pitch shot with an open club face to achieve a high, hanging ball flight that lands softly without much roll. Generally, the flop is best used when trying to hit over an obstacle without much green to work with, such as over a greenside bunker where the flag lies just a few feet from the edge of the bunker.
You’re not going to be hitting high and soft lobs with your pitching wedge, so take your 60-degree wedge out (or 64-degree if you have one) and leave those other clubs in the bag.
It’s probably best to keep a 60-degree in your bag even though it’ll be easier to hit the flop with a 64. I say this just because the average golfer won’t find much other use for a 64-degree outside of hitting flops, so the more versatile 60-degree is the safer bet (but really it’s down to your preference).
Setting up for the flop:
- Setup with the ball just forward of the middle of your stance (maybe a couple of inches).
- Start with an open stance (i.e. with your legs pointing left of the target if you’re right-handed).
- Turn your clubface open from the target so that the loft is increased.
- If you are on a tight lie, shift your weight to your front leg. If you’re in the rough, keep your weight even over your legs. We’ll explain why to do this just now.
Once set up, there are a couple of key points to remember in actually playing the flop shot.
The most important of these tips that I can give is to try have the feeling that the club face is facing the sky as much as possible through the entire swing, even after you have hit the ball. This will allow you to maintain the club angle right up until impact so you achieve that desired high and hanging ball flight. If you struggle with this feeling, it might help to imagine the heel of your club leading the face, as this will also lead to the face staying open through impact.
When it comes to your swing line, you should swing down the line of your body instead of at your target. The open club face will send the ball in the right direction, so don’t try and force it there.
Secondly, because you’re adding so much loft with the open clubface, take a much fuller swing than you normally would in playing a short pitch. This can be scary, because any mistake could lead to your ball sailing way over the green.
It’s extremely important to just have confidence in your stroke and DO NOT slow down through impact. Slowing down will lead to chunking it or blading it; both undesired outcomes.
Lastly, don’t let your wrists “flip” upwards through impact; keep your wrists firm to ensure that your contact is as pure as possible.
Making clean contact with the ball is the most important thing if you want to apply spin and get that desired “bite” on the ball once it has landed.
As previously mentioned in the setup tips, depending on whether your ball lies in the rough or on the fairway, your weight should be shifted toward the target or evenly spread over your stance. This will help you to make the desired contact that you need.
If you’re on the fairway, with your weight shifted onto your front leg, your angle of attack will be steeper and therefore a purer contact will be achieved and more spin applied. If you are in the rough, however, having your weight in the middle of your stance will promote a shallower swing path. This will prevent sliding right under the ball without making contact; but remember that you will not get as much spin as you would off a tight lie, as you’re not making clean contact.
The last and best bit of advice that I, or probably anyone, could give you in attempting to master the flop shot is this: don’t overthink it.
The flop shot, as with most other parts of your short game, should be performed with feel and not thought.
Having said this, it’s important to go out and practice this shot on the range, thinking about the tips that have been mentioned. Once you feel you have the technique down, you can start trying it on the course with as little thought as possible.