Phil Mickelson is renowned for his exceptional short game skills, and one shot that has become synonymous with his name is the flop shot. The flop shot is a high, soft shot played around the greens when there is limited green to work with and the ball needs to carry over an obstacle, such as a bunker or rough. Mickelson has mastered this shot and has utilized it to great effect throughout his career, often leaving spectators and fellow professionals in awe. So, what is the key to Mickelson's signature flop shot? Let's explore.

The most important key to Phil Mickelson's flop shot is his exceptional touch and feel around the greens. Mickelson has a unique ability to assess the lie, the green conditions, and the required trajectory of the shot.

Another key to Mickelson's signature flop shot is the use of the bounce on his wedge. The bounce is the curved sole of the wedge that allows it to glide smoothly over the turf or sand. When executing a flop shot, Mickelson utilizes the bounce effectively to slide the clubhead under the ball and generate the necessary height and spin.

Here's how Mickelson uses the bounce to execute his flop shot:

  1. Open clubface: Mickelson starts by opening the clubface, which means he rotates the face of the wedge away from the target. This creates a higher effective loft and allows for more loft and spin on the shot.
  2. Wider stance and ball position: Mickelson sets up with a wider stance and positions the ball slightly forward in his stance. This helps him create a steeper swing path, which is crucial for the high trajectory of the flop shot.
  3. Soft grip pressure: Mickelson maintains a soft grip pressure throughout the swing to maintain feel and control. A tight grip can restrict the clubhead's ability to slide smoothly under the ball.
  4. Relaxed wrists and hands: Mickelson keeps his wrists and hands relaxed throughout the swing, allowing the clubhead to naturally release through impact. This promotes a smooth and clean strike on the ball.
  5. Maintaining the bounce contact: As Mickelson swings through the ball, he ensures that the bounce of the wedge contacts the turf or sand first. This prevents the leading edge of the club from digging into the ground, leading to a thin or heavy shot. The bounce helps the club glide through the turf, allowing for a clean strike on the ball.
  6. Acceleration and follow-through: Mickelson accelerates through the shot and maintains a full and high follow-through. This promotes a clean strike and helps generate the necessary height and spin on the flop shot.

It's important to note that executing a successful flop shot requires practice and feel. Understanding the bounce of your wedge and how to utilize it effectively takes time and experimentation. Here are some tips to help you improve your flop shots:

  1. Experiment with different wedge bounce options: Wedges come in various bounce options, ranging from low to high bounce. Try different bounce configurations to find the one that suits your swing and playing conditions.
  2. Practice varying degrees of clubface openness: Experiment with different amounts of clubface opening to control the trajectory and spin of your flop shots. Find the right balance that allows you to get the ball up in the air while maintaining control.
  3. Focus on maintaining a consistent swing tempo: A smooth and consistent swing tempo is crucial for executing the flop shot successfully. Avoid rushing the swing or decelerating through impact. Maintain a fluid and controlled swing throughout.
  4. Practice from different lies and conditions: Work on your flop shots from different lies, including tight lies, fluffy rough, and various bunker conditions. This will help you develop a feel for how the club interacts with different types of turf or sand.
  5. Develop a pre-shot routine: Like any other shot in golf, having a consistent pre-shot routine for your flop shots can help you prepare mentally and physically. This routine can help you focus on the key elements of the shot and build confidence.

It's important to note that the flop shot is not a shot that should be attempted by every golfer. It requires a high level of skill, touch, and confidence to execute effectively. For amateur golfers, it's essential to focus on building a solid foundation in the short game, mastering basic chip and pitch shots, before attempting more advanced shots like the flop shot.

In conclusion, the key to Phil Mickelson's signature flop shot lies in his unique technique, club selection, ball position, soft hands, and touch, as well as his years of practice and experience. It's a shot that showcases his creativity, imagination, and mastery of the short game. While it may seem like a magical shot, it is the result of meticulous preparation and execution. As golfers, we can admire Mickelson's skill and artistry while recognizing that the flop shot is a specialized shot that requires extensive practice and expertise to master.