Few shots on the golf course are more satisfying than a well-executed flop shot. Unfortunately, unless you're Phil Mickelson, the risk is probably not worth the reward. There's very little margin for error. With the wrong lie, you can swing the club under the ball without advancing it. And, with such a big swing, you're liable to hit an 80-yard screamer if you catch it thin.
Here's an alternative technique to try the next time you need a wedge shot to fly high and land softly. Weaken your left-hand grip (for right-handers), turning your hand under the club so that your left palm faces more toward the sky. With your left hand in this weakened position, the clubface will remain open through the hitting zone and your shot will be shorter and fly higher than normal and land like a butterfly with sore feet.
Experiment with this shot on the range. You'll quickly learn that the more you turn your left hand under the club, the higher and softer (and shorter) the resulting shot will be. This is a versatile technique that you can use on greenside chips as well as full wedges from the fairway or light rough. It's especially effective for softening slippery downhill chips or on touchy pitch shots where you have little green to work with.
Matt Swanson is the director of instruction at Matt Swanson's School of Golf in Houston.