The golf lob shot explained
When asked what's the most difficult shot in golf to hit most players, professionals included, will tell you it's the long greenside bunker shot.
When I really probe my students though, on where they struggle and what types of shots scare them, the golf flop shot or golf lob shot always comes up.
It's not that most people can't get the ball to jump up high in the air with a lofted wedge, it's that they can't control the distance or the spin.
This of course leads to extra strokes when they dump the ball into a bunker, end up in the lake or roll back off the green.
What makes the golf lob shot even more frustrating for the average player is that they watch tour players pull off flop shots with great dramatics on television.
The highlights don't often show run of the mill bump and runs or low pitches, but rather they love to show the risky shots – the pretty ones.
What we need to know is that these shots aren't all that risky for a tour player who's practicing them day in and day out, but for the everyday golfer, they might not be the best choice.
Should You Flop It?
When I'm teaching group clinics on pitching I make it a point to stress that a lob wedge is not necessarily a mandatory club, because you call pull off most shots with a sand wedge.
If you are already at the 14 club limit you need to assess your game and figure out if you really need a lob wedge and if so which club should come out of your bag.
In fact, the number of times I feel I need a lob wedge on the course can range from very few to none.
This of course depends on the type of layout you play and your own personal game, but it's not often that I end up in a situation whey I HAVE TO hit a flop shot.
Really, the only time you have to hit a golf flop shot is when you need to carry over something be it a tree, a creek or a bunker and have just a few feet to land the ball in front of the pin.
If you've got green to use, use it.
Remember, the green is your assistant. It helps you funnel the ball towards the hole.
If the situation does mandate a flopper, all you need is a system.
If you take the following 7 steps, this shot is not difficult, but it does take a lot of practice to be precise.
1. Access The Situation
Decide first if the best play is a flop shot. Make sure to walk up to the green and look at exactly how much landing room you have.
Check out the lie. If you have a tight lie you will want to make sure you have a wedge (either sand or lob) with low bounce.
Too much bounce (when the back edge of the club sits up higher than the leading edge) will cause you to bounce off the tight lie and skull the shot.
2. Pick Your Landing Spot
After you have walked up to the green and assessed the situation, pick a spot where you want the ball to land.
Calculating how many yards you want the ball to be in the air versus how much you want it to roll will help you determine the length of swing you need.
3. Choose Your Weapon
Do you need your lob wedge?
Do you have one?
Can you pull this off better with your sand wedge?
Many players aren't all that comfortable with a lob wedge and with all the added loft, poor technique can backfire on you and cause the ball to just roll up the face.
You need to be especially careful of this in the rough.
4. Set Your Weight
The tighter the lie, the more you'll want to lean on your front foot.
This helps create a steep angle of attack. If you come in too shallow on a tight lie you just might blade the ball.
For average lies and shaggy lies set up with your weight middle.
5. Set Your Ball Position
Play the ball forward of the centre of your stance to help with loft.
6. Set Your Clubface
To execute a high flop open the face so that it faces the sky. This is by far the hardest part for most players.
Just like in a greenside bunker, you need to get used to looking down at an open face.
Since the face is now aimed to the right of your target (if you are right handed), you will now need to aim your body to the left.
The degree to which you open your clubface and your stance depends on how high and how far you want the ball to go.
This is where hours of practice come in so you can trust it on the course.
7. Swing Along Your Body Alignment
Don't let the open face fool you. You need to swing along your body alignment and ignore where the clubface is aimed.
Keep your swing lazy and relaxed.
Let the club drop down under the ball and make a thump sound on the ground.
The more lazy you are and the more you let the weight of the club free fall, the easier it is to hit down and pop the ball back up.
Now you have a system.
Seven (7) easy steps to executing a successful golf lob shot.
In general, I feel most amateurs are simply uncertain of what they are trying to do and tinker a bit too much.
Keep it simple. Follow this guide and you should be well on your way to pulling off those t.v. worthy heroic flops.
Maria Palozola is a Top 50 Instructor with the LPGA and is also ranked by Golf Digest as a Top 5 instructor in the state of Missouri.
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