The flop is a shot that can pay off with a great up and down or potentially lead to a big number. Some pros like Phil Mickelson have mastered the shot and routinely use it to get up and down from impossible spots around the greens, and leave the fans in awe. But this shot does come with risks and the pros know how to manage that as well.
First, let’s discuss the basic characteristics of the flop shot and the most common flaws. The whole idea is to launch the ball very high and land it softly which means that loft must be added so that the club can slide under the ball. There are three ways to add loft to the club. One is to open the clubface and open your stance to compensate. The second is to lower the handle of the club or make the shaft angle flatter. And the third is to flip the hands as you go through the shot. With all three ways you are adding bounce as you add loft. Bounce helps in the bunker, but too much can be a detriment especially out of the fairway. To help counter the bounce it is helpful to remember to keep the weight slightly forward if anything. The most common flaw with this shot is hanging on the back foot in an attempt to get the ball in the air.
If you can become fairly proficient at executing the shot then it can be put into your arsenal. Then it becomes a matter of when to use it. A great way to approach it is that the flop is a last resort. If there is simply not enough green to work with and the slope is running away from you, there is no backstop behind the pin to slow the ball down, then you have one option. The other factor is what are you flopping over. You must consider what is the penalty for coming up short. If there is a deep bunker between you and the pin then you may want to modify the flop shot and accept hitting it 10 or even 20 feet past the pin and take your chances on a longer putt. Even the best in the word know when to take their medicine (maybe not Phil).
Ultimately, the flop shot is a very creative shot and one that requires practice with understanding of the proper concepts. Then it can be put into play with discernment.