The flop shot is one of the most useful and versatile shots in golf. It allows you to hit a high, soft shot that will land and stop quickly on the green. Mastering the flop shot takes practice, but learning how to add backspin will help you control the ball better and stop it faster after it lands. Here’s a guide to hitting a flop shot with backspin.
What is a Flop Shot?
A flop shot, also called a lob shot, is a high-flying short shot that professional golfers use around the green. The clubface is wide open at impact, which lifts the ball straight up into the air. The lofted club, usually a 60 degree wedge or more, gets underneath the ball and imparts a lot of backspin. This backspin combined with the steep angle of descent causes the ball to stop quickly when it hits the green. Flop shots are useful when you need to clear an obstacle, such as a bunker or fringe, and have the ball land softly on the putting surface.
How Backspin Works on a Flop Shot
Backspin is essential for control and precision on flop shots. As the clubface strikes the ball, friction imparts rapid backspin on the ball. The dimples on the ball enhance this effect. As the ball flies upwards, the backspin counters the downward pull of gravity. This allows the ball to “float” in the air longer. When the ball hits the green, the backspin causes it to bite into the putting surface and stop on impact. More backspin leads to a quicker stop. Without sufficient backspin, the ball will release forward or roll out after landing.
Setup for a Flop Shot
The setup is critical for generating the loft and backspin needed for flop shots:
- Stance: Set up with your feet close together, knees slightly flexed. Your weight should be balanced evenly.
- Ball Position: Position the ball slightly forward of center in your stance. This helps get the club underneath the ball.
- Choose a Lofted Club: Use a high-loft wedge, ideally 60 degrees or more of loft. The extra loft helps get under the ball.
- Open Clubface: Turn the clubface open significantly at address. This will add loft and allow the grooves to impart backspin.
- Narrow Grip: Grip down an inch or two on the club. This gives you more control of the face angle.
Backswing for a Flop Shot
The backswing sets up the angle of attack needed to get under the ball:
- Wrist Hinge: Hinge your wrists quickly on the backswing to get the clubface pointing skyward.
- Short Swing: Take the club back only waist-high. You don’t need a long swing to generate power.
- Uphill Angle: Swing the club on an uphill angle to increase loft. Let your trail elbow fold naturally.
- Accelerate Through: Swing smoothly but accelerate aggressively through impact to add backspin.
Contact and Release
Making crisp contact with the proper release is key for backspin:
- Strike Ball Then Ground: Make contact with the ball first before hitting the turf. This adds backspin.
- Release Clubface: Allow your wrists to release fully through impact. This closes the clubface and has a scooping effect on the ball to generate spin.
- Follow Through: Extend your arms, chest and body fully towards the target with your weight forward. This ensures solid contact.
- Add Wrist Action: Flick your wrists through impact to impart extra backspin on the ball.
Try these techniques to enhance backspin on flop shots:
- Play the Ball Back: Position the ball back slightly in your stance to create a more descending blow with maximum clubhead speed.
- Close the Face: Start with a slightly closed clubface at address and release fully to close the face at impact.
- Pinch the Shot: Pinch the ball by trapping it against the turf just behind the ball. This adds overspin.
- Use New Wedge: Fresh grooves on a new wedge grip the ball better to create more friction and spin on full shots.
Here are some practice drills to help improve your flop shot technique:
- Toss Drill: Underhand toss balls in the air and hit flop shots to ingrain the proper impact position.
- Impact Bag Drill: Hit flop shots off an impact bag to rehearse the strike and release through impact.
- Backspin Check: Mark balls with a line or spot. Check for backspin by observing the mark after shots land on the green.
- Vary Distances: Hit flop shots from different distances to control trajectory and backspin. Master these from 10 to 60 yards out.
- Hit Downhill: Practicing on downhill lies forces you to focus on tighter technique to generate backspin.
Watch out for these common errors when hitting flop shots:
- Thin Shots: Occurs when you make contact with the turf before the ball, reducing backspin. Maintain your spine angle and strike the ball first.
- Chunked Shots: Happens when you swing too steeply and take a divot before the ball. Shallow out your swing to make clean contact.
- Low Shot: Result of not hinging your wrists enough on the backswing. Steepen the backswing and allow your wrists to hinge fully.
- Excessive Curve: An overly closed clubface at impact will curve the ball left or right. Square your clubface earlier by releasing your hands faster.
Mastering the flop shot is very useful around the greens. Focus on creating loft and backspin at impact. With the right setup and swing adjustments, you can control the height and spin on flop shots. Consistent practice will help dial in your distance and improve accuracy. A well-executed high, soft flop shot with backspin is a great weapon to have in your short game arsenal.