A flop shot is an extreme version of the pitch shot, where we throw the ball very high into the air, allowing the ball to come down softly without rolling out. This shot should only be used in extreme circumstances when we are hitting over a bunker or other obstacle, and do not have much green between the obstacle and our target, which is usually the hole.
The set up position is essentially the same as it would be in a pitch shot, feet relatively close together, body lines parallel, and with the ball positioned basically in the center of our stance. The one major difference is how we set up the club face itself. When we set the club down behind the ball, we lay the club face open, or set up to the right, with an extension of the grooves pointed toward our left toe. What this does is add a tremendous amount of loft to the club face allowing us to pop the ball straight up in the air.
One consideration in doing this is that in opening the club face, we are also adding lots of bounce to the sole of the club. This means that the leading edge of the club face tends to sit higher off the ground, making it more difficult for us to get underneath the ball cleanly in tight lie situations. This isn’t such a big deal if the ball is sitting up in taller grass, or if there is some sort of cushion under the ball. We may have problems, however, if the ball is sitting on hard turf, tightly mown grass, in a divot or some other challenging circumstance.
With the club face laid open, it is correct to assume that the ball may tend to come out just a little bit to the right. I suggest practicing a few with these shots and taking note just how far to the right the ball tends to launch. You will of course need to aim an appropriate amount to the left in order to have your ball fly accurately targetward.
The motion of the swing is exactly the same as our pitching motion, except that with so much effective loft presented to the ball, we will need to make a longer swing and give the shot more club head speed than a standard pitch of the same distance. When all is said and done, this is a highly risky shot, but a good one to have in our arsenal just in case we need it. Dedicate a little bit of practice time to hitting flop shots before you take it to the course.
In summary, a flop shot is a risky version of the pitch shot where we are throwing the ball very high in the air allowing it to stop quickly. At set up, we lay the club face open so that the grooves of the club are pointed toward our left toe. This adds tremendous loft to the club face allowing the ball to launch very high. Beware that adding loft in this way will also add bounce to the sole of the club. This will make hitting these shots off of tight lies much more difficult. We use the standard pitch shot motion with these shots, but will need to add some club head speed due to the extra amount of loft we have established.