Your ability to shoot over and around hazards is essential to becoming an advanced golfer. Problem is, we tend to find sand and water in the trickiest spots around the fairway. One muffed shot can put you in a precarious position if you can’t skillfully navigate these obstacles. If you know how to hit a flop shot correctly, you can gracefully drop the ball near the pin regardless of the hazard that lies before you.
Proper flop shots should pop high up into the air and land gently on the green without rolling far. You want to get your whole club face under the ball, so your best bet is to use the flop shot when you have a soft lie in the rough. On the short grass of the fairway, you’ll have a hard time getting all the way under the ball.
When to Use a Flop Shot
You know flop shots are used for clearing hazards, but not all hazards are created equal. If you’re on your 2nd stroke on a par 5, you’re probably far out enough to take a normal long iron stroke to get closer to the green. Alternatively, if you’re sitting pretty on the fairway, just 10 yards from the green edge, you might be tempted to use a flop shot…. but a pitch or chip shot is typically more appropriate.
If you’re sitting behind a sand trap or some water, and you’re 50-90 yards from the pin, you’re looking at a prime opportunity for a flop shot. Same deal if you send it over the green on the short side. You need to get on in a short distance, but you need the ball to stop immediately. This is a great opportunity for a flop shot.
Setting Up and Executing Your Flop Shot
Take your highest-loft club (often your pitching wedge) and open the face so that it’s aiming upward. Address the ball slightly forward of center to promote digging under it, and set your feet nice and wide to get just a little bit lower to the ground. Use a nice and even weight distribution on each foot.
Some golfers also recommend opening up your feet so that your body aims to the target, but your feet aim slightly to the left. This can help compensate for the angle of the club face if your ball is drifting more off target the more height it has.
It seems counter-intuitive, but despite the flop shot being a short-game skill, it requires a full swing motion. This is the trickiest part of hitting your flop shot. If you don’t commit to your swing fully, you’ll slow down mid swing and kill your momentum. If you don’t use a full back swing, it’s too hard to achieve the high loft you need to clear hazards.
Check Your Hands
You may be tempted to give the ball some wrist action as you make contact. Intuitively, this seems like it would help you “flick” it up into the air for extra loft. And, to be sure, you’ll see golf pros doing exactly this on television. But until you’re a very advanced player, using your wrists actually makes the flop shot much more difficult to execute.
Your arms and upper body should be doing most of the work, with your hands simply guiding the club along the path of your swing. Remember, you set the angle of your club face when you lined up your shot. You don’t need to close it by flipping your wrists as you finish your swing.
Practicing Your Flop Shots
Flop shot practice is challenging because driving ranges aren’t the best place to work on them. Since you’ll typically shoot real flops out of the rough, the turf and high tees at golf ranges don’t help you get a feel for the proper lie. If you have a nice big backyard, you can let your grass grow out a little bit to get the real golf course feel you want.
Remember, though, the flop shot is hard to do. As you practice and over-shoot, you could send balls flying far. Be careful not to shoot through the neighbor’s window. We recommend a larger space like a community park or a lake where you have wide open space to shoot freely.
As with any good golf practice, the idea is to develop your muscle memory and apply the technique consistently. In particular, focus on the consistency of your swing. Because it’s a delicate shot with a full swing, it’s easy to hesitate, slow down, or fall off your target line mid swing. The mental side of the flop shot is just as important as the physical – you aren’t just practicing the mechanics, but you’re practicing the confidence to apply the mechanics each and every time.
Got any hot flop shot tips? Drop us a comment to let us know how to make them even deadlier!