How and When to Hit a Flop Shot

How and When to Hit a Flop Shot

You will inevitably find yourself in situations out on the golf course when you’re greenside (maybe in the rough or a closely mown area), the pin is a few paces from the edge of the green so that you have little green to work with, and/or there is a bunker or some thick rough between you and the pin.
In these situations, it’s probably best to hit some type of flop shot.
The flop shot just might be the hardest shot in all of golf.
Now, it should go without saying that there is plenty of competition for that title, as golf is a difficult game that is full of challenging shots. Some would argue that the long bunker shot is the toughest play of all, while others might say it is a simple three-footer with a match on the line. However, given the combination of skill and nerve that is required to pull the flop shot off properly, it at least merits carefully consideration for the ‘crown’.
Despite the fact that the flop shot is among the toughest shots in the game, you should still work on adding this shot to your own arsenal for use from time to time. You never want to find yourself playing a flop shot on a regular basis, because they are hard to pull off and are inherently inconsistent, but you certainly want to have one available when the situation arises.

What is a flop shot?

A flop shot is a high-trajectory shot (typically no more than 50 yards) that lands softly with minimal roll.
The goal with these shots is usually to fly certain obstacles and stop the ball within a few feet from the pin, or shoot past the pin and have the ball spin back.
In general, a flop shot is achieved when an open clubface (or a clubface with an extreme amount of loft) slides underneath the ball, quickly launching it on a high trajectory.
Many amateur golfers shy away from this shot because they either don’t know how to hit it or think it’s too difficult. The truth is that if you know the proper technique and put in a little bit of practice, you can hit flop shots consistently and reliably.
There’s no doubt that it’s a great shot to have in your repertoire; not only does it look impressive, but it will also help you shoot lower scores, and that’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it?

When to Hit a Flop Shot

Shot selection is an important skill to develop in your golf game. Part of this skill comes along simply through experience, but there are also things that the inexperienced player can learn in order to make better choices. With the flop shot, it comes down to risk avoidance. You don’t want to take on any more risk than is necessary when playing golf, and the flop shot is an inherently risky shot to play. The possibility of hitting the ball thin and sending it over the green is always there, as is the chance of going right under the ball and leaving it at your feet.
So, when deciding whether or not the flop shot is going to be the right pick for a given shot, the best thing you can do look around to consider where your ball might end up if something goes wrong.
Is there a hazard waiting to catch a thin shot? Is there a deep bunker right in front of you lurking and waiting to grab a flop shot that comes up short?
If too much risk is present around the green, the best option may be to play a safer shot onto the big part of the green – even if that means leaving the ball farther away from the hole.

Where to Hit a Flop Shot

The idea behind the flop shot is to stop the ball as quickly as possible. That’s why you are hitting the ball high up into the air in the first place – so you can bring it down soft and have it stop near to where it lands.
When spinning the golf ball isn’t an option to provide the stopping power you need, such as when you are playing a shot from the rough, you may need to turn to loft to do the job.
So, it’s when you don’t have much room to work with that you are going to need to think about using a flop shot. Most likely, that means you are short-sided with only a few feet of putting surface between yourself and the hole. Also, the flop shot is often the go-to choice when playing downhill, as you will need as much stopping power as possible when going down a slope in order to keep the ball close to the cup.
One other point that needs to be highlighted in this section is the importance of the lie. If you are going to attempt a flop shot, you need to have a ‘fluffy’ lie – meaning there is a little bit of grass between the ground and the ball, providing space for the club to slide under the ball cleanly. This kind of lie is usually found in the intermediate cut of rough, but it will depend on the conditions of the course you are playing

Can you hit flop shots from any lie?

Flop shots can be hit on any length of grass, but the shorter the grass, the more difficult the shot is to hit. An exception to this is when the ball is buried in long grass, in which case it’s likely that your only option is to hack it out.
For example, hitting flop shots from the fairway or fringe is quite a bit more difficult than hitting from a fluffy lie in the rough.
This is because, from short grass, it’s more difficult to get the club underneath the ball, and hence you’re more likely to blade or thin it.
If your situation calls for a flop, you first need to assess your lie and determine if you’ll be able to get the club underneath the ball.
If the ball is sitting up, be careful not to slide the club too far underneath or you may end up whiffing it or barely making any contact. Practice, though, and you should get the correct feel for it.

How To Hit A Flop

Take your most-lofted club (a sand wedge or a lob wedge) for the shot.
Depending on the trajectory you envision for the shot, you can open or close your clubface and stance accordingly.
Remember to re-grip your club after opening the face. Also start with playing your ball slightly forward of center.
There is no hard and fast rule regarding ball position, and depending on your individual swing, you might have more success with a different ball position. Of course, the best thing to do is try it out and see what works for you.
The weight distribution for the flop differs based on whether you’re facing a tight lie or a fluffy lie. Let's begin with the fluffy lie:

Fluffy Lie (Rough)

For this lie, it’s important to keep your weight level (or centered) during the swing. This shallows out the bottom of your swing arc and prevents the club from going too far underneath the ball.

Tight Lie (Fringe, Fairway)

For this lie, you should put your weight forward on the downswing. This allows you to drive the club underneath the ball and it prevents the bounce of the club from taking the leading edge off the ground through impact (resulting in a bladed shot).
Some Tips
  • focus on accelerating your club and arm together through impact.
  • to avoid “flipping your wrists” through the shot, keep your hands slightly forward, lead the shot with your hands, and finish high.
  • if you want more spin on your shot, you need to come into the ball at a steeper angle, and to do this you can either put your weight more forward or put the ball farther back in your stance.
If you haven’t seen the video below of Phil Mickelson demonstrating the flop shot, it’s definitely worth checking out.

What equipment is best for the job?

For the purpose of hitting a flop shot, you want to use a wedge with a low enough bounce that you can slip the leading edge underneath the ball, but a high enough bounce that you won’t consistently dig the leading edge into the ground.
What I would recommend doing is choosing a high-lofted club and testing different bounce configurations for that loft to see which one gives you the most success.


Hitting a flop shot can be tricky if you’re a less-skilled golfer, but with enough practice, you should be able to pull it off with decent consistency.
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