How to Hit a Flop Shot Like Phil Mickelson

how to hit a flop shot

Knowing how to hit a flop shot can be very beneficial, especially when you find yourself short-sided to a tight pin.

You can use the flop shot in situations in which you need to get the ball up in the air quickly and have it land soft - with very little roll.

Phil Mickelson makes the flop shot look easy because he follows a few basic steps every time he hits this type of shot.

Bradley wrote to us and asked how to hit a flop shot:

Hi Sean, I’ve been having some issues with my flop shots, especially when I have to go to a tight pin over a bunker.  I find I often catch shots thin or heavy.  Do you have any techniques or suggestions to help my consistency?

Playing this shot is going to incorporate some of the same techniques and  philosophies that we use with hitting a high bunker shot.

Flop Shot Setup

First, we are going to take our set up and evenly distribute our weight fifty percent (50%) on the left leg and fifty percent (50%) on the right leg.

Second, we want to make sure that we aim the body slightly left of the target, maybe two to three yards.

Third, we are going to open the the club head, which will add loft and help us get the ball more elevated. The back of our lob wedge should be resting on the ground. This is going to allow the bounce to enter the turf and slide underneath the ball.

The only time I want you to be careful when using this shot is when you find the ball resting on a ‘hardpan’ lie.

The more you open the face, the more you increase the bounce. With ‘hardpan', it can be difficult to side the club underneath the ball. 

Common Mistake When Hitting a Flop Shot

One major issue I find is when I ask students to open up their club head, they feel it is aiming fifteen yards to the  right of their target.

When I was on the Irish National Panel 20 years ago, I was introduced to a teaching aid -  a face magnet that indicates where the loft of the face is aiming.

This tool really helped me understand the difference between where the loft of the face is aiming and where the club head is aiming.

As you can see, the magnet is placed on the club face like so (see attached picture), and you can see it’s aiming pretty much at the flag, and this is with a square face.

flop shot square face

When I open up the club head you can see the loft of the face is not aiming much further right, or if so, only slightly.

Additionally, with this shot we will take a little wider stance, which will result in our body and hands lowering and getting closer to the ground.

As the handle lowers the loft of the face aims more left.

lower hands flop shot

I want this illustration to give you the confidence to open up the club head while understanding that the loft of the face will still be aiming at the target. 

Backswing and Impact

For this particular shot, I want you to roll the face open during the backswing.

hitting a flop shot

This is going to add even more loft to the club face At impact, I want you to feel that the club head and the handle are returning to where you had them at address.

high flop shot

To improve your consistency, avoid helping the golf ball up in the air (scooping).

Trust me, you are going to have more than enough loft to get the ball in the air very quickly.

Remember, try to return the club head and handle to the same position as they were at address.

Watch that you are not scooping or leading too much with the wrists. Try to feel like the head and handle are lining up at impact.

Watch this video on How to Hit a Flop Shot: