What is a Flop Shot?
A flop shot is a shot in golf where the player hits the ball high and it lands soft, rolling only a few feet after hitting the ground. We’re here today to explain how to hit a flop shot and coach you through where (and where not) you should be hitting them.
While the definition of a flop shot might vary from golfer to golfer, we all know when we see one. They are usually hit around the green after a player gets themselves into trouble and must clear an obstacle to get back on track. These are the shots that climb immediately into the air and drop down right by the pin and stay put for a short par putt. A flop shot is also the shot where you tell your buddies standing beyond the hole to watch out shortly before skulling one across the green.
A good flop shot requires precision. For as perfect of a play as it might be, it can also spell disaster. If you cannot execute a flop shot properly, it should be avoided. If you want to add it to your arsenal and beginning practicing on the course, you should keep reading.
Where it comes into play
Flop shots come into play when all else fails. Low handicap golfers have a decent mastery of this type of shot, but can often run into trouble with execution and control. Players that shoot in the 90s and 100s have a lot of trouble with flop shots.
Just because you know how to hit a flop shot does not mean you should. When there are other options available like a bump and run, normal pitch shot, or the under-appreciated putter from 10 yards short, go with those.
A flop shot needs to be practiced for hours and you need to confidently be able to execute it before attempting it on the course. With a flop shot that requires easy, but precise movement, fully buying in is the only way to pull it off. When there are no other options, reach in the bag, pull out your 60-degree and send the ball straight up and straight down.
How to hit a flop shot
Hitting a good flop shot is as much of an art as it is a science. The best players rely upon feel and muscle memory. For players learning this shot in an effort to save shots around the green, there’s a bit more of a scientific and calculated approach. Over time it becomes a rhythm you develop and improve upon with each swing, but for now your flop shot should follow the guide below.
- Take a wide stance, you won’t be rotating much or turning your back foot so a strong stance is a must.
- Play the ball forward in your stance, just inside your front foot
- Take a normal grip, and then open the clubface so that the face is pointing at the sky, nearly parallel with the ground
- Lean forward, shifting your weight towards your front foot
- Swing as you normally would, allowing your arms and wrists to take control (keep that lower body still)
- Keep your swing soft, not gripping the club tightly—the easier the better
- Sweep underneath the ball while attacking at a downward angle to produce spin and elevate the ball
- Follow through the entire swing to keep your rhythm
Slope and flop shots
An overlooked piece of what makes or breaks a flop shot is the slope you’re on. Uphill shots, no problem. Downhill shots, a bit of a problem. When you’re on a downhill slope, you can still hit a flop shot. However, this version of a flop shot is a bit different.
You will not be able to keep the ball as far up in your stance or your weight as much forward, but you can still open the club up pretty good. You take the same type of swing with the ball in the middle of your stance and it will pop upwards. Instead of trying to pitch something that will land in the rough and kick out soft, you can take the flop shot approach. Even when executed properly though it will be difficult to stop the ball from rolling solely due to slope.
What club to use
To hit a flop shot, you want to use your most lofted clubs. This is a 56 or 60-degree wedge for most golfers (also known as sand and lob wedges). These are the clubs that are easiest to open up, and when opened up, lie the flattest. Even when they are not opened entirely, these clubs will launch the ball high and land soft.
You can use any club in your bag to hit a flop shot. Your 56 and 60-degree wedges are just your best option. When you choose a club with less loft it becomes more difficult. These clubs have less true loft, which makes it harder to elevate entirely.
Recognizing when to not hit a flop shop
The purpose of a flop shot is to hit the ball high and land with minimal roll. They’re exciting and they look cool, but can also go very wrong. When not executed correctly, a flop shot is all but guaranteed to add two or more shots to your score on the hole. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, you should avoid a flop shot.
If you have more than 15 feet to roll the ball, with no immediate obstructions between you and the flag, avoid the flop. It is a safer play to choose a less lofted club, or even stay with the sand wedge, just not hit a flop shot. Unless you are greenside with only a few feet of space to land and stop a shot, opt for a play where the ball can roll a bit.
Without bushes, traps, or trees in your way, you can take a smaller swing than required with a flop shot. As a general rule, the shorter your swing, the less room for problems. By playing a shot you can keep the clubface square with, instead of wide open, the club is being used as it was intended to. By manipulating the clubface and opening wide up, it increases the difficulty tenfold.
Sure there are outlying scenarios where this might be necessary, but a flop shot should not be taken from the fairway. In these circumstances, it is more difficult for a lesser skilled player to get underneath the ball in a way to properly execute the shot. In the fairway it becomes far too easy to blade the shot and send it running.
Unless it’s absolutely necessary, avoid the flop shot—even if you’ve learned how to hit her today.