How to Hit a Flop Shot

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How to Hit a Flop Shot in Golf

Learning how to hit a flop shot in golf can be without a doubt extremely advantageous, particularly when you find yourself short-sided to a tight flag stick or you have to hit to soft-landing and a golf shot that stops quickly when having to hit over a sand trap or hazard.  If you follow these simple guidelines below you can easily utilize the golf flop shot in circumstances where you have to get the golf ball up in the air right away and have it land soft with hardly any roll.

Phil Mickelson has become world-renowned for the flop shot and many golfers have always tried to emulate his technique.  Phil takes more risks with the flop shot than a large majority of golfers and it’s only because he has mastered it so well he is able to take more risks than most.  Without a lot of practice and real on-course experience you can risk very bad results.  Given that Phil is consistent with a few essential moves virtually every time he hits a flop shot, he usually makes the flop shot appear effortless.  Take a look at this video of Phil hitting a dangerous flop shot over the camera man and you’ll easily see why he is one the best ever to take a full swing at a flop shot and hit directly up in the air and sometimes only 5-10 feet.

Phil Mickelson Flop Shot Video

To hit a flop shot you should use your lob wedge, sand wedge, or your wedge that has the most loft.  Starting with your setup, your stance should be slightly open.  This will help make your swing path slightly outside-in which will help to get the most loft possible and get the ball up in the air quickly.  It will also help you from hitting the dreaded shank.  When you open the face of your wedge, which we talk about as the next step, it becomes much easier to hit to the golf ball off the hosel causing a shank.

Let’s face it no one likes shanks.  The saying goes, “Shanks for the memories.”  You don’t want your foursome talking about that attempted flop shot that turned into a shank for your next 10 golf league rounds.  So when you open the face you need to manage the amount that you open the face while at the same time, you need to make sure you manage your stance setup and your swing angle to make sure you’re hitting the golf ball in the center of your wedge’s clubface.  It make take some trial and error, but you will find out that this is very important to hitting a flop shot that keeps the golfers of your foursome talking about it for weeks.

As mentioned above, after slightly opening your stance, the next important part of your setup is determining how much to open face of your golf club.  In fact, this is one of two factors that determine how far and how high you’ll hit your flop shot. So to hit a flop shot shorter you will open the face more to increase loft but you will also have to swing harder to achieve the correct amount of distance.  If you don’t open the face as much, you can swing with a less aggressive swing.  You just won’t hit the ball as high and with as much spin to stop quickly so this decision will depend upon how much green you have to work with.  When we say how much green to work with, that is simply the distance between the green and fringe or rough to the actual pin.  The shorter that distance the higher and with more spin you’ll want to master hitting your flop shot.  If you have more distance between where the green begins and the pin you can open the face of your wedge less since you have more room for the golf ball to roll out.

However despite all of the above advice, it is important to know that when you open up the face of your wedge you are increasing the bounce as well.  Why does this matter? While the effects of bounce on a wedge can be a very long topic, the main concept is that more bounce works best off wet fairway lies, or hitting shots out of sand traps.  Less bounce is best for hitting wedge shots off hardpan or dry, firm fairway lies.

So in the easiest possible terms to explain a wedges degree of bounce; if you set your wedge down at set up, the bounce is how high the leading edge of the wedge is off the ground or turf.  Typically, lob wedges have less bounce and sand wedges have more bounce exactly for this reason.  So long story short, you need to take a look at your lie, if it’s a tight lie off hardpan you want to make sure you use the wedge with the least bounce in your bag.  On the other token, if you’re hitting a flop shot from a lie that is sitting up in the rough, a wet fairway lie, or just a public golf course that has higher length fairways you can use a wedge with a higher bounce and open the face more.  The main risk is that if you use a sand wedge with a 14 degree bounce and open the face to hit a flop shot off of hardpan it’s more than likely that you’ll blade the golf ball right over the green or directly into the hazard in front of you.

Another couple important aspects of your setup include moving the ball up in your stance, closer to your left foot for right-handed golfers.  When doing this it’s also important to have more of your weight towards your left foot, again for right-handed golfers (reverse for left-handed golfers).  These two things will also help you hit your flop shot higher quicker as well.  Some golfers also widen their stance, this helps them get lower to ground and be more stable.   Watch the video below of LPGA phenom Paige Spiranac hit a flop shot right next to hole in one of her Instagram posts.  Notice her wide stance and her weight towards the front of her stance.  One more thing of note, as mentioned above, you will again be adding bounce to your wedge when you play the ball up in your stance more.  You should take that into consideration, once again to prevent blading the ball over the green.

Paige Spiranac Flop Shot Video

This is not a golf shot that comes easy to beginners or most amateurs.  It takes a lot of practice and experimentation to perfect.  As you’re reading this, and you read “open the face” of your wedge to add more loft, you may be wondering…”Are you kidding? That helps a lot how much do I open the face or what in the world does opening the face even mean?”

So if that is you, it will take practice to determine how much to open the face to judge your flop shot distances.  The more you open the face of your wedge to hit a flop shot the shorter it will go.  That is why we’ve seen Phil Mickelson hit flop shots where it literally looks like he takes a full swing and hard cut at the ball even though it only flies a total of 15 yards but gets up in the air so quickly and stops on a dime.  Phil knows that he can open his lob wedge to the extent where he may have 70+ degrees of loft and with that much loft he can swing as hard as he possibly can and he’s only going to his flop shot 15-20 yards.

Getting back to the question at hand about how much to open the face of your wedge…we answered the first part of the question.  If the second part of the question, where you don’t know what opening the face of the wedge means, it’s safe that you just leave the flop shot alone for the time being until you gain more experience.  The flop shot in golf is one of the most difficult and dangerous shots to master.  There are many times where you try to hit a flop shot and you end up hitting it masterfully and everyone in your group is applauding you for such an unbelievable shot.  And if you’ve played enough golf in your day there are also plenty of flop shots you’ve hit where you’ve bladed it over the green or slid your lob wedge right underneath the ball and it only traveled a few feet and end up in the very hazard or bunker you were trying to avoid.

Learning how to hit a flop shot will be a great addition to your short game, just know that if you aren’t willing to put in the time to practice and master it to some degree it’s a very difficult shot that you should try to avoid.  The flop shot is the type of shot that makes you look like a PGA Tour professional when you hit it as expected and when you don’t it makes you look like the typical weekend warrior at the public muni golf course.  Hopefully this advice helps but we encourage you to also take a look at some videos of Phil Mickelson, as well as many other PGA Tour Professionals so you can get an idea of the specific techniques, particularly at setup, to help you perfect the golf flop shot.  With anything in golf, even more than most sports, you can only master a certain shot with a ton of practice and real life experience on the golf course.  There is a reason golf is one of the few sports that you can play from age 2 throughout the rest of your life…and it’s because this darn game is so hard it takes a lifetime to truly master it.  Take that as a positive though and think about it.  If you want to learn how to hit the perfect flop shot in golf you literally have the rest of your life to practice and perfect it and we hope that these simple tips help you achieve your goals and ultimately lower your scores.

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