Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)

Short Game

This Flop Shot Tests the Boundaries of Trust

March 17, 2017

First, a warning: Never attempt to hit a ball over someone unless they’re protected and you know you can pull off the shot. Here my son Jon, who plays golf professionally, is hitting a flop shot over my other son, Matt, the Director of Instruction at Oakmont, to see how quickly he can get the ball up. Hey, what are brothers for, right?

To hit a flop shot like this, you need a soft, high-spinning ball and a wedge that has a rolled leading edge, not straight, so the club can slide along the grass—no digging. You need at least a 58- or 60-degree (Jon’s using a 58). Set up in a wide stance, with the ball off your front foot, and your weight and knees pushed forward. Open the clubface and lean the shaft back by dropping your hands really low. This will help your swing be very shallow at impact so you can slip the clubface under the ball.

For the swing itself, hinge your wrists right away but don’t cheat the turn—you need to make some backswing here. Coming down, your instinct might be to rush because you’re anxious, but keep it smooth. And don’t try to help the ball up because you’ll catch it thin. You need the club to skim the turf and stay low after impact, with the face pointing to the sky. To maximize loft, unhinge your wrists aggressively at the bottom of the swing.

One last note: You need a flat lie, or an uphill lie, to hit this shot. If you’re on a downslope, don’t even think about it. Plus, nobody in his right mind would stand in front of you, not even your brother. —with Roger Schiffman