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Hitting A Flop Shot Like Tiger Woods - Australian Golf Digest Hitting A Flop Shot Like Tiger Woods - Australian Golf Digest

It was a shot that ignited a famous Tiger comeback. Here’s how you play it.

Todd Anderson is the director of instruction at the PGA Tour Performance Centre at TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship. The 2010 PGA of America Teacher of the Year has seen his students amass more than 50 victories across the PGA and Korn Ferry tours, including two FedEx Cup titles. He is currently rated by Golf Digest as one of the top 20 golf instructors in the United States. In this tutorial, Anderson breaks down Tiger Woods’ famous flop shot on the 16th hole at the Memorial Tournament, where the 82-time PGA Tour winner holed out for a stunning birdie en route to a two-stroke victory in 2012.


Tiger Woods hit one of his most iconic shots on the 16th hole at the Memorial Tournament in 2012. He missed the green, landed in thick rough and was out of position. The high-risk option was to hit a high lob shot to get the ball close to the hole, yet as we all know, the lob shot, or flop shot, is a very difficult one to execute because it is unpredictable due to various reasons. 

Any flop shot around the green is high-risk especially with water lurking beyond the hole. As he was in the rough, he couldn’t quite control the spin of the ball. The only way you can stop the ball near the hole is to use elevation and height. To do this, you’ll need your most lofted wedge.


It is important to open the clubface first, then grip the club and play the ball forward in your stance and aim to the left [photo 1]. Subsequently, you’re going to take the club back and get the shaft up above your hands. That means you’re going to hinge the club up to try to get the shaft more vertical on the backswing [photo 2]. You would have also noticed Tiger made a very upright backswing where he created a lot of angle between the club’s shaft and his left arm.


While keeping the clubface open, slide the club underneath the ball by straightening your right arm and releasing the angles set on the backswing, and letting this action pop the ball out of the rough. You should hold the clubface open and accelerate it through impact. This will prevent the rough from closing the clubface, allowing the loft to get the ball up, out and on to the green [photo 3]. Sometimes it’s a guessing game due to the lie, but all you’re trying to do is elevate the ball in the air and getting it to land on the green. The goal will be to hit it high and soft enough [photo 4] where you can judge the distance the ball will roll after it lands.

Ultimately, the lob shot is a very difficult one to execute, but if you practise it regularly, maybe you can hole one out like Tiger did at the Memorial Tournament. 

Getty images: Chris Condon