What is a Flop Shot?
A flop shot is a high shot that lands and stops quickly once it hits the green. It’s often considered a specialty shot and is used to get the ball over an obstacle of some kind. PGA players show off their awesome flop shots when obstacles and lie create sticky situations.
Though some amateur golfers play the flop shot, many shy away because of its sheer difficulty. Make no mistake, the flop shot isn’t a trick shot, it’s just a tough shot to execute correctly. With practice and solid fundamentals, you can utilize the flop shot to score lower each time you play.
Another characteristic of the flop shot is that it’s typically played with a lob wedge.This club usually has 60- to 64-degrees of loft and specifically manufactured for this purpose. Playing a lob wedge gives you some leeway with your stance; you won’t have to open up as much since the club does most of the work for you.
Are You Doing Your Flop Right?
The Flop Shot is a tricky one to master. It’s technically difficult to grasp and what’s more it’s one that you need to tailor to your playing style. A motion capture session with Gears Golf might be able to help! We help golfers dramatically elevate their game. Gears touts the most powerful, precise, golf swing motion capture system in the world and our users are frequently awestruck by the clarity and practicality of our analytics. With our system you can not only compare your motions with a pro’s, but you can enjoy a glorious 3D rendering of every angle and speed of your body movement so you know exactly where you should be improving.
How a Flop Shot Differs From a Pitch or Chip
It’s easy to confuse the flop shot with the similar pitch or chip. The main difference here is distance from the hole. Based on a few key factors like how far you are from the hole, the obstacles you need to clear, and the lie, you’ll want to play any one of these.
That being said, if you’re within 10-15 yards of the hole, play the flop shot. Unless the lie requires an exceptional amount of takeaway, you can confidently hit a flop shot from here.
A pitch is optimal when you’re 20-50 yards from the green. A pitch is classified as a medium tractory spot. You’ll get a little bit of roll when the ball hits the green, but not too much.
A chip on the other hand is reserved for when you’re extremely close to the hole, ideally within 10 yards. A chip is a low trajectory shot. You’ll want to play a straighter faced club here and can expect the ball to interact with the green like a putt.
When Should I Play a Flop Shot?
In simple terms, you want to play the flop shot when you’re trying to get the ball over a hazard of some sort. If you often feel short sided, and need the ball to get up and down quickly and then stick on the green, the flop shot is for you.
Learning to hit the flop shot can really change the tone of your golf game; consistently reducing strokes a few yards out from the green can help you break into the 90s, 80s, and 70s quicker than you’d think.
How to Hit a Flop Shot
1. Open Up
Open the clubface and point it towards the sky. Stagger your feet so they’re in a wide stance. This will lower the shaft closer to the ground which increases the loft in your shot.
As you’re setting up the majority of your weight should be on your left leg. Phil Mickleson explained that you should weight it enough that you could balance on one foot if you needed to. This kind of weight distribution helps create a downward motion in your swing, and have a steeper attack angle. This is especially true for tougher lies, you’ll want to really load that front foot to maximize your power transfer.
2. Commit to the Shot
Flop shots aren’t for the weak. If you’re going to commit it you have to 100% commit. A half hearted flop shot can actually be worse than not hitting one at all. No one wants to blade the ball over the green. Give it all you’ve got.
As you enter the backswing, cup your left wrist. The toe of the club should point downward at the top. Make sure you swing all the way back. The longer the swing path the more room you have to accelerate and create the loft and spin you need. You’ve got to trust that this big swing you’re making is not going to send the ball 50 yards over the green.
3. Keep Your Swing Speed Constant
Don’t try to loft the ball up. The club will do its work. It’s counterintuitive, but lofting the ball with your arms actually causes you to decelerate.
With the flop shot if you decelerate it’s game over. Swing with a light grip, and little to no pressure in your forearms. You don’t want your arms to lag behind your body. This is because a flopshot needs to create upward energy not forward energy.
Bonus Tip: Visualize Your Shot
Research has shown that visualizing success on the golf course can actually improve the quality of your shots. Try this exercise out:
Pick a target to land the ball. This will help you know what swing length you’ll need. Pick a target that’s as small as possible.
Picture the shot from start to finish. Imagine setting up, initiating the backswing, pausing, and then cleaning driving through the ball. Picture what your follow through will look like. Visualize the ball landing right on the green. You just executed a perfect flop shot.
How Lie Changes Your Flop Shot
Fluffy Lie (Rough)
For a fluffy lie, stay centered throughout the swing. This helps shallow your club at the bottom of the swing and prevents you from swinging too low.
Tight Lie (Fringe, Fairway)
Put your weight forward on the downswing. This will help prevent a bladed shot and enable cleaner contact.
Spend Time On The Practice Green
Your short game arguably has a bigger impact on your score than the rest of your game. Something that always leaves us scratching our heads is that the practice greens dedicated to chipping at most local clubs are virtually empty. Driving ranges are bustling, putting greens become mosh pits, but for chipping greens are ironically unpopular.
Spend time at the chipping greens alternating between chip, pitch, and flop shots paying attention to how the address, swing, and follow through feels for each. Play each shot between 10-25 yards out from the flag.
In time, you’ll build confidence in your flop and can introduce it to the course!