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The Flop Shot
The Phil Special

Learn how to hit a flop shotHit a Flop Shot with Confidence

The flop shot or lob shot is probably one of the most requested shots in lessons. Almost every student of mine that comes out for short game improvement at one point or another says "I want you to teach me how to flop it". The craze Phil Mickelson has created with this shot is amazing. Especially because it is not a shot that should be or is used all that often. At least by good players it isn't. One of my friends once called Phil a "short game fool". That's basically because he hits shot that really no one should try...even him. It is obvious that Phil plays golf and hits certain "low percentage" shots for the thrill, not because it is the wisest choice.

Commentators play this up to the hilt on t.v. and highlights shine with shots from Phil around the green. It's no wonder that the average Joe watching the action thinks those shots are the ones he needs to learn to hit to be great. In reality, very few circumstances call for a flop shot. I have played several rounds without even taking the lob wedge out of my bag. Most rounds where I do use it, I use it only once or twice. In helping my students decide how to make up their bag, I don't tell them like most people do, to run out and buy a lob wedge. Especially if they could use the help of a hybrid or fairway wood even more. It's all about making the wisest choice for that particular player. Sure Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam said they use the lob wedge almost everywhere and everyone wants to be like them! These are highly skilled players and everyone has their favorite club, but it might not be the best choice for you. If you are short on room in your bag, the sand wedge is a more versatile club as it is designed to get out of sand, bad lies, hit pitch shots, chips shots and yes, even flop shots. If you have room in your bag, then of course...throw the lob wedge in as it will take a little less manipulation to the set up to flop a ball than a sand wedge will.

When do you need a flop shot?

Here is the simple answer. Only when you have to loft the ball over something and you have very little green to work with. There are two types of flop shots. One that requires a hand release and one that does not. This particular article id focused more on the one that does not. I believe a dead handed flop is much more simple and easy for the average player to use. The other version with the release is great for skilled players as it can create more club head speed and spin.

The Situation:

Your ball has landed in a position where your only option is to lob is high over something and get it to stick quickly, because there is little room for roll.

The Solution:

The first thing you must do is access the lie. If you have a tight lie, you are going to want to make sure that your lob wedge or sand wedge has low bounce. This will make it easier for you to cut under the ball and not bounce the club off the hard ground causing a bladed shot. For a tight lie, you will also want to lean your weight onto your front foot and keep it there. This will keep you from backing up, coming in too shallow and again...blading the shot. Tight lies are tough so the set up is key, but shaggy lies are unpredictable. You just can't tell what's underneath the ball. For these you can use a lob wedge with average bounce built into it. Set your weight middle so you will have a more shallow angle of attack and prevent fluffing under the ball. We've all made that big, pretty lob swing only to see the ball sitting where it started after sliding under it and popping it about 2 inches into the air!

Now that you have your club and your weight set, open the club face so that it faces the sky. You will need to open your stance a bit as well to off set this and help you make a steep swing. Play the ball forward of the center of your stance and swing along your body alignment keeping the face at the sky throughout the swing. Remember this is the no release lob shot. I find it best to make a very smooth, controlled, yet relaxed, lazy swing. Feel like you have a sledge hammer in your hand and like your arms and the sledge hammer simply free fall and drop the the ground. Be careful not to decelerate and complete your follow through, but make sure you are letting the club head drop all the way to the ground under the ball. Stay relaxed, hit down, keep the face open and you will feel like Phil!

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
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