A 'New' Scoring Shot
One of the most treacherous but potentially valuable green-side recovery shots to have in your arsenal is the 'flop' shot. We watch the tour professionals execute these weekly with great success, hitting that high and soft shot with their lob wedge to save par or make a birdie on a par-5 hole.
But then, we see recreational golfers struggle mightily with this shot, way too often dumping the shot well short of their target, or catching the ball right in the forehead which sends it screaming across the green and frequently into complete oblivion. It is the highest risk/reward shot in golf for those who have not spent dozens of hours practicing and perfecting it enough to be reliable.
Very simply, the flop shot is typically executed with your highest lofted wedge. You position the ball further forward in the stance, lay the face of the club open — much like a bunker shot — and swing more steeply. The ball pops almost straight up — either it has lots of spin, or is essentially dead — and hopefully flies the proper distance. That is the hardest part of the equation.
I'm going to offer you a little twist on the traditional flop shot that can simplify it and add to the arsenal of shots to call on around the greens. It begins with a simple understanding that there is no law that says you have to hit a flop shot only with your highest lofted wedge. In fact, you can execute this technique with any of your higher lofted clubs, all the way down to your 9-iron or P-club.
Understand that with any club, laying the face open and swinging more steeply will almost always increase the height of the shot and the spin. So, if you have a longer flop shot, instead of taking a much bigger swing with the lob wedge, try dropping down to your sand or even gap wedge and hitting it just the same. You will get more forward oomph to the shot because of the lower loft without taking such a big swing. You will see improved spin, too.
Of course, I do not advise just trying this on the course until you have experimented with it a little around the practice green or on the practice tee. A useful exercise is to go to the range and hit three or four flop shots with your lob wedge, then three to four more with your sand wedge, trying to exactly duplicate the swing and force, then doing the same with your gap wedge. Heck, work on down with the same swing technique to your P-club and even 9-iron to see if they work and what happens.
What this exercise does for you is give you an idea of new shots you can add to your repertoire and how much additional distance you will get with each of these other clubs for a given swing length and force.
Among the great things about our game is all the fun new things you can do with your clubs and interesting new ways you can approach a given shot or a given hole. I hope you all have some fun with this one.
Please let all of us know what you find out.
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I love the flop shot, and have hit it with some success with each of my 4 wedges. I've never been able to get it right with an iron, though.
Me too. At the 18th green at the end of an otherwise poor round, with the hole about 7 feet away about I pulled out my 60 degree Eidolon (yes, I have one here in the UK thanks to winning it on Oobgolf.com!) and took a few forceful practice swings. "Don't swing that hard!" said my playing partner, clearly with no idea what I was trying to achieve. The ball popped up beautifully. Playing partner was suitably impressed. :)
Never managed it since though. :(
I often play a flop with my 60 or 56 to a short sided pin, from a favorable flop lie. Around the practice green I can usually hit 5 out of 6 sufficiently close. However, on the course, when it matters I am less successful with distance, though do usually pull off a good high flop. Never tried a flop with my 52. I'll have to work on that one for some added yards. One more thing to add to the practice list.
Sounds interesting and definitely going to try. I'm pretty good at hitting a flop up, but struggle with distance control so maybe this will help. I do similar things on bunker shots. I tend to take a shorter swing and as long as there is no high lip to get over I will change clubs to adjust distance.
Felipe Rojas says:
Terry, great suggestion to try the technique with other wedges. I have also tried the shot with two different swing speeds: I typically try the flop shot with my 60°, and normal swing speed. But every now and then, on short shots (10-20yds) to elevated green, I have tried it with lower speed, which helps land the ball "dead".
joe jones says:
Of all of the shots I have tried the flop shot is my least successful. I have practiced it often and my bad results so far out weigh the good that I have come to the conclusion that it is just not for me. That said, I admire anyone who has the shot. Am I jealous, you bet. I must admit that I try my darndest to avoid any situation that demands the shot. My loss obviously.
lob, gap, and sand are wedges, why is it p-club? I call it pitching wedge.
Since I only have (and need) one wedge,* I've done this my entire career. I do get funny looks flopping with my 8i sometimes.
* I have a sand wedge but only use it out of sand
Never tried it with lower lofted clubs. When I was younger I loved the flop so it was all I hit around the greens for about 5 years. So I am pretty confident with it.
Bryan K says:
Phil Mickelson says that if you are hitting a lot of flop shots, odds are you aren't scoring much. And Phil is probably the best wedge player I've ever seen.
I rarely use the flop shot. If I'm using it, it means I'm probably hitting over a height obstruction (like a tree). If I open my club face on a medium length chip/pitch shot, the ball usually doesn't get any roll anyway. Therefore, my biggest concern on those short shots over hazards to short side pins is making sure that I clear the hazard.
Of course, if I'm shooting over a hazard to a short side pin on a downward slope my best recourse is probably to just pray. But I sunk one of those bad boys from about 50 yards out last fall, so I must be doing something at least remotely correct.
SpaceMaNyO, I began calling it a 'P-club' when the lofts migrated/evolved below 48 degrees. You simply cannot "pitch" the ball with that little loft. Also, the industry is stuck on making this 'P'-club look just like a 6-iron, rather than a "wedge". Realize that your P-club is as far from a 6-iron loft as is your driver. Makes no sense whatsoever. That's why our SCOR4161 scoring club technology is able to deliver dispersion patterns 65-90% smaller than "just wedges" and these set match high lofted irons.
Interesting take on shot-making. Always good to have ideas for novel situations - for golf's original commandment to "play it as it lies," forces us to do just that. No level playing field here! While we may all be one golfer, every shot is different. And let's face it, if we don't play private clubs or serious tournaments will we run into that deep greenside rough? I was amazed when a local public course grew their rough out during the hottest driest days of summer to preserve moisture in the soil. Add another 5-8 strokes right there. And the flop may help with the close deep rough.
Personally I develop more of the shots that steer their way between trees and beneath low-lying branches and still go over 100yds - the hooded bounding rocket draw for one!
Tim Horan says:
A word of warning to those of you who are playing oversize or game improvement clubs with wide soles. Opening up the face of P club or 9 iron is going to expose a lot of the sole to the ball. You ain't going to pull this off if you have a tight lie. You are more likely to blade it through the green.
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