The flop shot is probably the hardest one in this series [Part 1: The Standard Chip | Part 2: The Bump-and-Run] but can be the most useful when you find yourself in a tight spot with little or no green to work with. In general, the flop shot is a very high arching shot that lands softly and doesn’t roll more than about a foot, depending on the green's slope. The flop is also the best shot to use if you find yourself on the “short side” around the green and have little to no space between the edge of the green and the pin.
Hitting a flop shot can be difficult, but you can make it easier with a few minor tweaks. Here are three keys when hitting a flop shot:
- Use the highest loft possible
- Weight forward
- Widen your stance
There are two primary versions of the flop shot:
1. The "Dead Arm" Flop. For most golfers this is the easiest version of the flop shot. For this shot, you should always be using the club with the highest degree of loft in your bag. For most, this is the 60° wedge (or maybe the sand wedge). Take your wedge and lay it “open” or flat. Widen your stance about an inch more than normal. Take the club straight back without hinging (breaking) your wrists and try to slide the club face underneath the ball. This technique works best when you have space underneath the ball (like in the rough). The goal is to knick the ball with the top of the club face so it shoots the ball almost straight up in the air. This shot will definitely take some practice so do not get discouraged if you aren’t able to hit it right away.
2. The Full Flop. To hit a full flop shot you’ll use the same high loft club, but the swing is much different than the "Dead Arm" technique described above.
The set up of this shot it's important to widen and open your stance. The easiest way to open your stance is to move your front foot back 3-4 inches. You’ll also want to open the club face so it lays somewhat flat. Set up with the ball off your front foot and put your weight on your front foot. With a widened and more open stance, the swing will naturally shallow out which is what you want in a flop shot (the club face will start from further behind the ball and travel closer to the ground before striking the ball). Your wrists should hinge in this swing and you should right under the ball when they get back to full extension. If done correctly you should pluck right under the ball and it should shoot almost straight up and fly further and higher than the “dead arm” technique.
- Set your Haack hitting net in between yourself and the Haack chipping net about 15 feet away.
Focus on hitting the ball over the Haack net and use the chipping net as your target. Having the Haack net in between you and the chipping net will catch any thin shots. Practice until you can land the ball in the chipping net.
Being able to control where your ball is landing is the most important part of your short game. If you can hit each target on-demand you’ll be a much better short game player and save par more consistently when you miss the green.
Jon handles communications at Rukket but grew up playing competitively in the AJGA and Philadelphia Section Junior PGA. He currently plays to a 5 handicap.