Golf Tips - The Flop Shot

By Joe Sullivan

The high lob (flop shot) is a short game shot that every golfer needs to be able to execute. No matter if you are a tour pro or a 30 handicapper, you will be faced with this shot quite often.

What this shot requires more than anything is imagination. There are not a whole lot of mechanics you can, or should, think of. It's not like hitting a full 7-iron from 150 yards from the fairway. In that case, you would be able to key on 1 or 2 mechanics, then pull the trigger.

On a short flop, the lie of the ball, the distance you have to hit it, and the amount of "flop" that you need, will all vary from shot to shot. So in terms of thinking mechanics on this type of swing, I would advise against it.

Instead, you need to visualize the shot, and then get a good image in your mind how to get that high lob. Checking the lie is the most important thing. It will determine how hard you need to swing, and how much spin the ball will have when it lands. If you have a clean lie in the fairway, just short of the green, then you can produce optimum spin and take your normal swing. If you are in the rough, there are two problems that can arise. Obviously, you can get an awful lie, with the ball sitting way down. In that case, just getting it on the green would be good. Or you could get too good of a lie, in which case the ball may explode off of your clubface, because grass was between the club and the ball.

In most situations that you may encounter, I think I have the perfect way to approach this shot. That leads us to the essence of this tip. When you are ready to hit the shot, the best image that I know of in terms of hitting the soft flop, is to feel that your clubface "faces the sky" for the entire shot. All the way from the address position to the finish, feel that face pointing at the sky. I don't mean that it kinda faces the sky, and kinda releases. DON'T RELEASE THE TOE!

In other words, don't rotate the toe through impact like you would on a normal shot. The heel of the club should lead the way, and your clubface should face the sky when you are done.

Here's how a flop shot should be played:

  1. Set up to the ball open (your body is basically aiming way left) - this is the same set-up for a flop from a bunker, the fairway, or deep rough.
  2. Play the ball in the middle, to slightly ahead of the middle, of your stance.
  3. Aim your wide-open clubface at the target.
  4. Swing along your body angle with your clubface facing the sky. If you were to think of a mechanic, swinging along your body line would be okay. This just produces more cut/backspin, in addition to that which is produced from having a wide-open face.

I guess when I say to not think mechanics, I don't mean everything. If you want to experiment with ball position or more of an open stance, then that's fine. But in terms of the actual shot, don't think of things like turning your shoulders, rotating the clubface open, or bracing your knees. If you do, can you say chili-dip?

So remember, point the clubface at the sky in order to hit it high.

Columns ©1999 Joseph K. Sullivan and GolfLink Inc. All rights reserved.

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