Shot Shaping 101: How to Hit a Flop Shot

Shot Shaping 101: How to Hit a Flop Shot

By: Nick Bockenfeld, PGA
⌚6 Minute Read


There are few shots that I use less than a flop shot. There are also few shots that people hit more incorrectly than a flop shot. Flop shots are very very high risk, with somewhat medium to low reward. Can they be useful? Yes, they can, but there is usually a better, safer way to hit that shot instead of throwing it as high as you can into the air.

There are a lot of downsides to a flop shot. You actually lose a lot of spin. It will not nip like other shots because there is no compression and the launch angle is too high to be optimal for spin, same with the dynamic loft being incorrect for launch angles.

All of this being said, a flop shot is a whole lot of fun to hit when you are messing around. Most of all, it's a great party trick to be able to hit a flop shot. There is always an on-course alternative; in reality, there is a semi-flop shot that you are better off hitting with a much higher rate of success and much less risk. 


What is a Flop Shot?

Simply put, a flop shot goes really high and lands really soft so that you can hit to a short-sided pin. Phil Mickelson is the best to ever hit these shots. His use of flop shots is legendary and has served him well. A flop shot will be easy for people with really soft hands and very difficult to impossible if you have a tight grip on the club. You need good hand-eye coordination and an excellent feel to even consider hitting the flop shot.


Open the Club Face

The biggest issue I see with people trying to hit a flop shot is they tend to open the club face the wrong way. Yes, there is a right and wrong way to open the club face. When you open the club face you have to regrip the club! Do not just open your hands; that will do nothing for you. Anytime you open the face, you need to regrip. Lay the club open as much as you want, with the leading edge perpendicular to your target line, then grip the club as you usually do. This will mean you need to also open your stance to your target line. If you do not regrip the club, your arms will relax, and at impact, you will have a square club face and hit the ball a mile.


Slow and Soft

When hitting a flop shot, you want to ensure you come into the ball nicely, slowly, and softly. This is not a swing as hard as you can kind of shot. You want a nice slow tempo with slight acceleration. You can't decelerate at the ball. Do not try to swing hard at these unless you are pretty advanced in hitting flops. Now the faster you swing through, the higher and more spin it will have, but you also add a lot of additional risks.


The Flip

The trick to a flop is not just to open your face wide and swing. There is a flip at the bottom. You must let your club face get in front of your hands at impact. You flip the club head way out in front of your hands in order to get a high soft flop. Otherwise, you'll hit a high shot, but not quite as high as a flop. This flip is essential to getting the ball high quickly, and if you do it wrong and forehead that shot, the ball is gone forever.


Groove It

As with every new shot type or shape you are trying to learn, the best way to learn it is to practice it and then groove it. Get to where you are comfortable, and then put on your CTRL Swing Master, and for this particular shot, focus very heavily on tempo. It's hard enough to time the flip at the end, don't add another variable. Have the same tempo every time you take that swing so that you can easily time the flip at the bottom. Use the CTRL Swing Master training aid to help you groove every kind of swing you want to take, and the flop shot is no exception. If you are going to use it on the course, be confident in it by training with your Swing Master training aid.



The flop shot is a great trick shot and fun to pull off when messing around, but I highly recommend you find a different shot out on the course if you can. There is almost always another way to skin the cat, so a flop shot is usually the riskiest shot to hit. It is fun to pull off and practice because it is nice to have in the back pocket, but it is impractical.

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