WHO: Tiger Woods
WHAT: A 51-foot holed-out pitch for a birdie
WHERE: 201-yard par-3 16th hole at Muirfield Village Golf Club
WHEN: Final round of the Memorial
I've seen Woods play that super-high flop shot a lot. He swings really hard with the clubface totally open, which is the only way to get the ball to quickly go vertical. It was a really great shot, but even Woods admitted that he wasn't trying to make it. He was just trying to get the ball within eight to 10 feet of the hole. That the ball went in for a birdie was a bonus.
THE DRILL: First, you need a high-lofted wedge. Woods used a 60-degree wedge, but if you have a wedge with more loft that would be good, too. You have to swing much harder than with a normal pitch to get the ball to rise vertically. Indeed, you swing about as hard as you do with a wood or iron. At address, lay the handle (i.e. grip) way toward the right (rear) side of your body. The end of the grip should point at your right hip. That's necessary so that during the downswing the clubhead passes the handle, and then the clubhead will reach the ball before the handle. That's the key to the shot.
At impact, the shaft should lean toward your right side, which is the opposite direction from where the shaft leans at impact in almost every other type of shot. Doing that creates maximum loft, enabling you to immediately pop up the ball.
One more thing to do on this flop shot: relax your left hand so that it's is barely gripping the club. That enables the right hand to pass the left hand at the bottom of the swing.
Golf Magazine Top 100 teacher Craig Shankland teaches at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.