Who: Zach Johnson
What: 35-yard flop shot to 5’7″
Where: 565-yard par 5 first hole at Colonial Country Club
When: Final round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial
Zach’s flop on the first hole set up his whole day. His ball hit the flagtsick, stopped near the hole and allowed him to make a birdie. That gave him the momentum he needed to get off to a good start.
Before Zach went to Colonial, I drove up to Sea Island, Ga., where Zach lives, to work with him. We spent a lot of time on Zach’s short game, and he hit a lot of flop shots. We really focused on being precise with where the ball lands by doing this drill:
The Drill: Stand on the edge of a practice green. Then walk two paces onto the green and lay down two clubs end to end so they make a line parallel to the edge of the green. Now walk back to a spot about 10 yards from the green and hit flop shots. The goal is to land the ball in the six-foot space between the edge of the green and the clubs laying on the green. After landing two balls in a row in the space, walk two paces further away from the green and then land two balls in a row in the space. See how far back you can get, each time landing two shots in a row in the space and then taking two steps back from the green. If you can’t use a practice green, do this drill in a practice space by creating a six-foot deep landing area.
With a flop, you have to swing two or three times as fast as you do with a swing for a regular pitch because the fast swing speed, combined with an open clubface, makes the ball go high and land soft.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Mike Bender, who is Zach Johnson’s instructor, teaches at Timacuan Golf Club in Lake Mary, Fla.