Trust Your Club and be a Big Flop

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WHEN AND HOW DO YOU HIT A FLOP SHOT TO OVER A BUNKER?

A flop shot is called for when you really need to clear an obstacle like a bunker and need the ball to land with minimal roll. The key to executing a great flop shot is knowing and utilizing the proper equipment correctly. A 56-degree sand wedge has plenty of loft and a forgiving bounce. It's important to execute the shot using the club's natural lie angle, which will have the club handle a little forward of vertical and sweep the turf with the club head bounce sliding under the ball.  

Not Your Highest Percentage Shot

Sometimes it's not the lie or distance that dictates the shot, it's the pin placement and hazards that need to be crossed. When you find yourself with a bunker between you and the pin (especially if it's elevated), a flop shot is one of the most difficult shots in golf but is sometimes necessary. While the flop shot can be effective, it's often not your highest percentage shot for getting it close because there are more things that can go wrong. Your first option should be to simply run the ball up to the green if the path is clear and the fairway and fringe are relatively traversable. However, there's situations that will demand a high soft flop shot, especially when the pin placement is forward on the green.

Sandy Jamieson is the Head Teaching Professional at Commonwealth Golf Club. Sandy gives an excellent lesson in executing a high soft flop shot. In this case, Sandy will be using a 56-degree sand wedge with plenty of bounce. He gives a detailed lesson by covering the attributes of the 56-degree wedge and how you must trust your equipment to help get the job done.

Trust Your Equipment

For a lot of golfers, a flop shot over a bunker, is a very daunting shot - and more than a few, stuff it up.

To help you build your confidence in this shot on the course, we will discuss two attributes of your wedge and share a little practice drill that will help you understand how you're going to get the ball over the bunker and softly on the green. Most shots that are unsuccessful at getting over the bunker are due to the golfers not trusting the loft on the club. Instead of trusting, they try and lift the ball up in the air, which causes the club to bottom out way early or hit the top of the golf ball. 

The two attributes of the wedge that we want to address are loft and the bounce. For this shot over a bunker, a 56-degree sand wedge is an excellent choice for the shot.  A lot of golfers don't understand that the loft of this club designed for when the club handle is slightly forward of the club head. If you put the handle level with the club head, this 56-degree sand wedge is now well over 60 degrees in actual loft.  So, the handle is slightly in front which is a real key for how you execute this shot. If you'd like to increase the loft, don't lean the handle back, instead open the club face. The handle still needs to be in front. 

The picture shows you what 56 degrees looks like. Placing another club shaft on the face of the 56-degree sand wedge, with the handle slightly forward, there's 56 degrees of loft. That ball's going way up in the sky. If you open the club face a little bit, you've added ample loft to clear anything between you and the green.

The second attribute of the wedge is the bounce on the club. It is designed to make contact with the ground and be forgiving and slide, rather than dig in. You need the sole of the club (bounce) to brush the ground.  

Slide the Bounce - Flop Shot Practice Drill

A great practice exercise is making swings and feeling that at impact the handle is slightly in front, and the club's bounce is brushing the ground. Take lots of practice swings where the bounce gently brushes the ground. We will start with a fairly wide stance, where we sit into our knees and feet. The ball will be forward in our stance.

The keys to having confidence with the flop shot out on the golf course is trusting the loft of the club with the shaft in its natural position and sliding the bounce of the club on the turf with lots of practice swings. 

As a reminder, to hit a flop shot, you'll want to use a lofted wedge like a 60-degree lob wedge. Don't forget to accelerate through the shot, sliding under the ball following the slope. Let the club do the work and your ball should come out high and land softly.

This is a challenging shot to perfect, but one that is needed when the green is elevated and there's no easy path to run the ball up to the green.


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