Escape Short-Sided Approach Shots with Ease with the Flop Shot:
I can remember back to when I was a younger trying to imitate Phil Mickelson’s short game technique, especially his flop shot. I still remember watching Phil hoist the ball in the air with such great ease and it always seemed to finish next to the cup or in the hole. So I spent endless hours on my dad’s chipping green at the Marti Golf Center, trying to perfect the flop shot. I like so many amateurs at the time were trying to imitate lefty’s flop shot. When the flop shot is done right, the ball comes off the clubface at a high launch, hangs in the air and lands on the green delicately with backspin.
As easy as Phil makes it look, the flop shot is one of the most difficult shots in golf. It is considered a specialty shot that is used just a few times per round when the condition warrant. The flop shot is best performed when the lie condition is near to perfect with a fluffy lie on soft grass. The clubface must be able to slide underneath the ball. Tight lies off fairways and hardpan lies are not always favorable for flop shots but can be accomplished as well.
To help you better perform the flop shot, you will need the right equipment. You will need a wedge with 58 degrees or more and with either 8 or 10 degrees of bounce, and at times less than 8.
To hit a flop shot off of a tight lie such as the fairway, you will need a slightly cupped left wrist, need to open your clubface almost flat against the ground so that the toe is almost touching the ground, place the ball off of your forward heel, and position most of your weight forward with an open stance to your target line. This will allow you to drive the clubhead down steeper, keeping the clubface under the ball. Don’t allow the clubhead to pass your arms. If the clubhead does pass the arms through impact, you will be adding bounce to the club which will cause you to come out of the shot and blade the ball. Make sure you accelerate the arms and club together through impact to minimize coming up and blading the ball.
To hit a flop shot off a fluffy lie, you will need to change your set-up slightly. Again, your stance should be open to the target line, keep the clubface open, however, your weight should be leveled out more towards your back foot to change the angle of attack at impact and shallow out the bottom of the arc. This will allow you to hoist the ball in the air just like the tight lie shot. If you were to keep your weight on your lead foot and came down steeper, the clubhead would slide right underneath the ball.
The flop shot is not a high percentage shot but if you practice enough you should be able to take it to the course. Mastering the flop shot can get you out of the dreaded short-sided green side lies. The flop shot can sustain a good round when you get in trouble going after a sucker pin or it can provide the right momentum to get you back on track when you are struggling during a round.
You should practice flop shots from around the greens to at the most 30 yards away. A good drill is to set up three hulla hoops at 15 yards, 20 yards, and 25 yards. Try hitting 10 balls into each hulla hoop. Hopefully, by practicing the proper techniques you will be able to recover with great ease around the greens. You may not be the next Phil Mickelson, but you will surely impress your weekend golfing buddies with the flop shot.