What Is a Flop Shot?

And the basics of hitting this specialty type of pitch shot

Jim Furyk hits a flop shot during the 2012 Ryder Cup
Jim Furyk follows the steep trajectory of his flop shot played during a Ryder Cup match. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A flop shot, also known as a lob shot, is a short pitch shot played with a very high-lofted wedge in order to create maximum height on the ball's trajectory. The intention is to send the golf ball on a high-arcing trajectory, steeply up and steeply down, so that when it lands on the green it stops quickly, with very little roll.

The flop shot is a specialty shot in golf, typically played in order to get the ball over a hazard (such as a bunker) between the golfer and the flagstick; or from just off the green when the golfer is short-sided and needs the ball to stop very quickly once on the green. Any time the golf ball is in a position where the golfer needs to get the ball into the air quickly on a steep trajectory, then land the ball soft on the green, the flop shot is an option to be played.

A flop shot is typically played with a high-lofted wedge called a lob wedge. A lob wedge has around 60- to 64-degrees of loft and was originally created specifically to play lobs, aka flops. A flop shot can be played with other wedges if the golfer lays the ​clubface wide open in order to add loft, but the lob wedge is the ideal club.

Technique for Playing the Flop Shot/Lob Shot

For a full explanation of this shot's technique, see How to Play a Flop Shot by Charlotta Sorenstam. But, summarizing Sorenstam's tutorial, the basics are these:

  • Open the face of your lob wedge to increase the loft even more.
  • Set up with the golf ball a bit more forward in your stance than normal.
  • Aim your upper body at the target but open your stance (so your feet are aligned left of the target for a right-hander).
  • Set up on the balls of your feet with a little more weight on your front foot.
  • Bend your knees a little more than normal.
  • Make a full swing, keeping the lower body quiet and letting your arms and hands to most of the work.
  • Swing through to a full finish.

It's that full swing, accelerating into impact, that can make flop shots challenging for many recreational golfers. Since it's a very short shot - 50 yards, 30 yards, even from just off the green - it can be easy to decelerate or fail to fully commit to the swing. And if you catch it thin, the ball might fly the target by a long way.

You can find many video tutorials for playing a flop shot on YouTube, including these:

The aforementioned Mickelson, in particular, is famous for his flop shot prowess.