Do you want to finally learn how to hit a flop shot? The shot that looks impressive and will wow your friends and fellow golfing buddies?
It’s one of the hardest shots to hit in golf but when mastered, also one of the most fun ones to execute during your round.
Phil and Tiger are two of the best when it comes to having the soft hands required to get the ball to stop instantly around the green. They make the flop shot seem so easy that it feels like anyone can do it.
But it’s one of the riskier shots in the game and requires you to do things differently at setup and throughout the swing. Once you learn the skills, it’s all about practicing it and committing to the shot during the round.
In this post, I’ll show you where the flop shot fits in your game and the exact step-by-step process to hit a flop shot.
A flop shot, also known as a lob shot, is a high, soft shot that lands and stops quickly once it hits the green. If you watch the PGA Tour, you see players hitting flop shots around the green when they have little green to work with.
Many amateur golfers don’t try this shot because of its difficulty and if they do attempt it, don’t have the fundamentals to pull it off. Learning how to hit a good flop shot takes practice and the right fundamentals in place. But once you learn how to hit a flop shot, you have a much better chance to save par regardless of how bad your misses end up.
It’s important to differentiate a flop shot from a pitch or chip so you’re 100% clear on the shot I’m covering in this post. Usually, a flop shot is hit from 10-30 yards. Often times it is when you are short sided and don’t have much green between you and the pin.
A pitch is normally 20-50 yards from the green. Typically, from this distance, you can use a lob or sand wedge to hit a medium trajectory shot. This shot will have a little spin but still roll out once it hits the green.
A chip is something that’s within 10 yards of the green and has a much lower trajectory. This is more the bump and run style shot that a lot of European players use. A chip is typically done with a straighter face club a wedge, 9, or 8 iron. These shots will have almost no spin and tend to roll out and react on the greens like a putt.
One of the biggest differences between shooting in the 70s vs. the 80s or 90s is the ability to get the ball up and down in tricky situations. Single digit handicap players have a variety of short game shots (chip, pitch, flop, bump & run and low spinner)and they know how to hit each of the shots needed.
Even if they don’t pull it off all the time, they know how to execute it. This gives them the best chance to save par and get up and down more often.
Keep reading to learn exactly how to hit a flop shot so you can get it close to the pin and get the ball up and down more often.
The flop shot must have the right lie to even be attempted. Without the right lie, don’t even try to pull off this shot.
The ideal lie for the flop shot is a ball resting in the fairway or very light rough where the ball is sitting up but not fluffy. If you get a hard pan lie, it’s easy to have the club bounce or drop kick off the ground and skull the shot. If the lie is too fluffy and sitting up, it’s easy to hit the ball too high on the face and end up chunking it.
Ideally, the flop shot is more of a last resort rather than your go-to shot. The reason is that it’s so much more difficult to pull off than a pitch or chip shot.
Remember, golf is all about percentages and dictating what the lie will allow you to do. If the lie is good and you don’t have much green, then it’s time to pull off the flop shot.
Once you’ve checked your lie, walk up to the green to survey the shot. You want to pick a specific target to land the ball. This will also help you determine the length of swing you will need for the specific shot.
Don’t forget, the start of any great shot happens before you ever swing the club. It starts by visualizing the shot on your pre-shot routine and understanding what you’re trying to do. With a flop shot or any shot, you need to pick a target as small as possible.
You want to see the target in your pre-shot routine. Imagine the ball hitting that spot, rolling out a few feet and ending up within kick in distance to the hole.
The flop shot requires a different setup position than a pitch or chip. Here’s what you need to adjust to set yourself up for success.
To hit the flop shot:
- Grab your highest lofted wedge, hopefully between a 58-62 degree lob wedge.
- Next, open the face of the lob wedge and aim to the left of the target. The more you open the face, the more you should aim left of the intended target.
Your clubface should be pointed at your target but feet well left of it. The goal is to maintain the cup of your wrist throughout the swing. You want to feel like you are throwing the clubhead past the hands.
Another important part of your setup for the flop shot is to not have any forward press. If anything, you almost want the butt end of the club facing your belt buckle or just to the right.
Set your wrists at address and have 70% of weight on your left leg. This is huge. You need more weight on your left side than your right side to ensure you hit down on the shot. This creates a steep attack angle and prevents you from blading the ball over the green.
Phil Mickelson says that you should have so much weight on your left side that you can stand comfortably on that leg. Lastly, the tighter the lie, the more you want extra weight on your front foot.
This shot only works if the ball is in the right position in your stance which it should be forward of center. If it’s middle or back of your stance, it’s nearly impossible to hit it correctly.
The higher you want the shot, the more you should play the ball forward in your stance.
Now that you have mastered the setup, begin by swinging the club back slightly to the outside and hinge your wrists quickly. Keep the club face open as you swing back. The further you swing back, the longer and higher the shot will go.
Remember, your weight is forward and the clubface is wide open which means you need to swing with power. You can’t decelerate on this shot or you’re dead.
Swing the club along the path of your feet which will be an outside to inside path. Keep the club face open as you swing down to impact. Try to let the club slide under the ball as you swing through impact.
Lastly, turn your body toward the target as you follow through. Your hands should finish high and the club face should still be open in your finish position.
Remember, always accelerate through the shot as if it’s a greenside bunker shot.
Like any new shot, you need to train it so you can trust it. The flop shot requires more finesse and calculation than most shots so it will be harder in the beginning. But now that you know how to do it, it’s all about honing your craft on the practice green.
Try the flop shot from all angles and distances. The most common short sided shots tend to be in the 10-25 yards so make sure to spend a majority of your practice in that yardage.
Lastly, don’t forget to play to your strengths. If you’re just learning about the shot and don’t feel it’s ready for the course, don’t do it yet.
Instead, play a pitch, give yourself a putt and make a par or bogey. Don’t try the flop shot unless you’re confident you can pull if off on the course.
As you can tell, there is a lot of components when it comes to hitting a flop shot. I want to give you every tip to give yourself the best chance to get up and down when you need it most.
A great lob shot followed by a par-saving putt can build momentum and keep your round alive.
Here’s a simple breakdown of how to play the shot:
- Assess the lie and make sure it’s primed for a lob shot. Walk up to the green and pick out your target.
- Open your flop wedge and aim your body left. The more the face is open, the more left you should aim.
- Put 70% of your weight on your forward leg with the ball in the front of your stance.
- Keep the clubface open and swing on the line of your feet.
- Accelerate through the shot with a solid 1-2 tempo.
Remember, this is a much higher risk shot than a chip or pitch. Use it as a last resort because even the best players in the world still struggle with it at times. Once you’ve committed to the shot, trust your swing and believe it can happen.
One final thought, make sure your wedge is capable of hitting a flop shot. Our article on wedge bounce will help clear this up.