Hitting the Flop Shot
It's been a while since I tackled a topic that was about hitting one particular kind of shot but here we go. I received a question from a reader, Herbie G., who is puzzled by the flop shot. Specifically, he asked:
"I read your recent answer regarding most amateurs' problem using a lob wedge, such as a 60 degree wedge to make short pitches around the green. I have had the exact problem you mentioned. That is, I have been having a terrible time trying to use it when the ball is 4-10 feet off the green and the pin is close to the to the near edge of the green. It seems that to make a good shot under such a circumstance, a perfect execution of a “flop shot” is necessary. Would you please share with us amateurs your advice as to how we should hit such a shot?"Well, Herbie, the “flop” shot is one of the hardest to learn, but can be a stroke saver when the situation arises where you have no other option. Understand that this is not your “go to” shot around the greens, as it is much more difficult to execute than a basic pitch shot, and much harder to accurately judge the distance the ball will carry. But, if you will practice it on the range and around the practice green, you will have it in your arsenal when those situations arise where it is necessary.
First of all, this shot requires a wedge of at least 57-58 degrees of loft, even up to 60-61. The sole design should allow you to lay the face open without raising the leading edge too much off the turf.
Secondly, the lie must allow this shot to be played with some assurance and confidence. Very tight lies on firm turf are the toughest; should you face that, the lob shot is probably not your best option. But if you have the right wedge and the shot is required to get close to the hole, here’s my guide as to how you want to execute it.
Be precise in your set-up and align your hips and shoulders slightly left of your target line. The front foot should be pulled back even a bit more. Your arms should be hanging naturally from your shoulders and a little more flex in your knees puts you slightly lower to the ball. To execute the flop shot, you also need a very light, stress-free grip on the club, and I suggest gripping down about half way down the grip of the high-loft wedge.
The take-away is rather steep, and you set your hands earlier than you would for a typical pitch shot. I also like to see the club go more around the body to keep the swing plane flatter. Rotate the shoulders back to get a full upper body turn, even on a short shot.
The downswing is V-E-R-Y - S-L-O-W and deliberate . . . almost lazy. The upper body core rotates through the ball, with the arms and hands following. You should allow a full release of the hands, so that the clubhead is just catching up as they reach the ball. Focus your eyes on the backside of the ball and try to get the club to make contact with the ball and turf at the same time. That maximizes the loft on the club, and produces the pop-up flight with increased spin.
The follow through should be complete and your sternum facing the target as your club comes to a stop. The hands and club should be well left of the target, and left of your body.
I hope this gets you started Herbie, and that the flop shot becomes a valued shot in your short game arsenal. I’m sure the readers will have other tips to help you break through the mystery and perfect this shot for your own game.
Thanks for reading and writing in, and that new EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge should give you a good head start on your flop shot adventure.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
[ comments ]
I agree this is the way most people are taught to hit the "Flopper". I read in Golf magazine an illustration by Sean Foley about the flop shot. He stated instead of opening up the club face and having an open stance, put your feet aligned to the target and club face square. Use the highest lofted club you feel confident in (56-60) and lean the shaft away from the ball so that your leading hand in cupped. He advising to keep that cupped angle through the shot. He stated this gives more accurancy and better distance control than the other way. Also, the other way takes away from the bounce when you open the clubface. I haven't tried it but thought I would pass that along as well. I say don't ever use the flop unless you have no other shot.
Terry, while it helps to have a wedge with 57+ degrees of left, I can hit flop shots with lower lofted clubs. Also, a great visual I just learned was to make the right elbow your lever. Keep that right elbow tucked and close to the body and rotate everything around that. Works GREAT!
Because the flop is a more upper body action I like to take a wider stance to help keep the weight more centered. You don't really want to shift your weight forward as with most other full swings. Also as you say Wedgeguy "assurance and confidence" are so crucial. You have to put your bollocks on the line.
Since I miss so many greens, I'm pretty comfortable attempting it. I like to think that as long as there is any space, any air underneath your lie, anything is possible. With a 60+ degree wedge and right lie you can practically shoot the ball up your nose.
This is actually an easy shot to learn. My swing thought is making sure the club face is at bottom of swing arc when it gets to the ball, so you don't skull it. Remember a couple of angle lines on club face (i.e., how much you open the clubface) so you're consistent, and practice a couple of swing arcs - 75*, 90*, 120* for each. Also, in deep rough, if the ball sits high, the club will go so far under the ball it may only move a few feet unless you adjust grip to shorten club length so you get clubface on the ball, not completely under it. Like legitimate, I'm comfortable with it, although I have yet to master the ball in nose shot.
I setup and play my flop shot just like I would a bunker shot. The only difference is that I play the flop a little closer to middle stance than my bunker shot. In both cases, I make sure to keep my weight on my front foot and not shift it around during the swing.
I can hit the flop with all 4 of the wedges in my bag. The difference is, as I see it, there is more shot and less flop and you get to the lower wedges. It still lands softly, even with my 48*, but there is a bit of roll after it lands, where as with my 60*, there is virtually no movement after it lands.
I actually learned to do it by accident on the range. I was experimenting with different clubface positions, and I guess I got a little too open. I swung fairly hard, and the ball went about 1 1/2 stories up, and about 15 yards out. I chuckled, and then thought.. hmm, that could be useful.
I really can't offer up advice on the setup because I just kinda make it work when I need it. In response to Herbie's specific situation I would rather bump-and-run past the hole rather than mess with a flop. Reason being, that it is a difficult shot to perform and perform consistently, and it's much more important to make the shot onto the green. I like to reserve my flops for when I have a tree standing between me and the hole. Just so happened that I came across that very situation at least twice in my round today, and came out fairly successful.
Only risk of using the flop shot is the risk that the ball may hit the edge of the club, and go off to the right really low, so it is very important to have a "lazy" downswing.
[ post comment ]