‘We call it a Phil’: How to hit this flop shot, according to Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson last August.

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Brendan Steele has a name for the shot he was having a few attempts at. A first name, actually. 

He told that to the first name’s owner, who was standing a couple of yards to his right. 

“I picked this shot up in watching you,” Steele said to Phil Mickelson.  

“We call it a ‘Phil.’ And I use it when it’s extreme. …

“Do I need to ‘Phil’ this?”

To his fellow pro and LIV Golf teammate, Phil answered. They were talking on a recently released video, where Mickelson and Steele were 25 or so yards away from a practice green and Steele was seeking counsel. He’d likely hit one of Mickelson’s specialities before, a high-arcing flopper from an into-the-grain lie, toward a putting surface with little room to work with and an upslope in front of it. Steele had named the shot, after all. But he was seemingly curious, and Mickelson seemingly obliged.  

Here, you should watch the video, and it’s below. Below that, we’ll offer a few notes. 

Mickelson’s first steps were a few, and they saw first that the ball was into the grain of the grass. Mickelson said Steele had to commit to the flop. Mickelson also said Steele wouldn’t bounce his wedge into the shot. The club would go underneath the ball, and it would come off “slow.” 

“And drive it down in there,” Steele said. But he didn’t have to. 

“You don’t have to go too hard,” Mickelson said, “because it’s not going to bounce in the ball.”

Here, with a mostly square stance and his club going back about 75 percent, Steele hit, and his ball came up short. 

Mickelson saw an issue. 

“You have to use speed, though,” he said. 

Steele tried again. Mickelson again said he didn’t have to go as far into the ground “because the grain is going to keep it under; it’s not bouncing into the ball.” Because it was downgrain, too, Steele would also have to keep some weight forward “because the club wants to bounce.” 

Steele, Mickelson said, “would also have to commit to the speed.”

“So I want you to try and fly it,’ Mickelson continued. “Like, it’s going to fly 15-20 feet short of where you’re thinking. So try and fly it almost halfway to the hole.”

Steele hit. His ball finished closer to the target.   

“See, watch how it comes out and stops,” Mickelson said. “See how it comes out nice?” 

Steele hit again. Another close finish. Here, he double-checked the weight-forward thought, to which Mickelson said: “You don’t need to have as much weight forward. You still want weight forward.”

Steele thought he needed more. But Mickelson said the club would dig. 

“All you’re going to do is drive it deeper down into the ground,” he said, “and it’s going to come out more dead.”

Mickelson then hit a ball. He put some weight forward. He said he wouldn’t drive it as hard down and would let the ground help. He said he would use speed. 

His ball went up, then dropped on the green.  

Said Mickelson: “You see how dead it came out?”

Said Steele: “Yeah.” 

phil mickelson hits flop
How to hit a flop shot like Phil Mickelson, according to Phil Mickelson
By: Phil Mickelson

Said Mickelson: “So I have to really commit to hitting it.” 

Said Steele: “Yeah, OK.” 

Said Mickelson: “And then it helps us.” 

Said Steele: “So forward, but not crazy.” 

Said Mickelson: “Correct. And then just use speed.”

Editor’s note: GOLF.com also published a Phil Mickelson flop shot how-to last September, with a headline that read: “How to hit a flop shot like Phil Mickelson, according to Phil Mickelson.” Here, you can read that story — which had a Mickelson byline — or you can read it by scrolling below.    


Hitting a flop shot isn’t that different from hitting any other short shot. As with any play around the green, you need the Big 3: Weight forward, hands forward, ball played either forward or back in your stance. Since we’re hitting a flop, play the ball up. Again, keep your stance narrow but with the ball positioned ahead of center. 

The trick here is fighting the urge to “lift” the ball into the air. I know you want to send it sky-high when hitting a flop, but you still have to hit down on the ball while managing the leading edge, keeping your hands ahead of the club through impact and letting the loft of your club do the work. 

To get the right feel, make practice pitch swings using only your lead arm. If you don’t set up correctly, with your hands even with the ball, or even a little ahead of it, the club will feel “clunky.” Work the club back and forth smoothly making sure the club descends into impact each time. 

Note: The faster you swing, the higher the ball will go. Keep your hands ahead and trust your wedge’s loft.

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.