The old-fashioned bump and run is possibly one of my favorite golf shots as it has given me numerous hole outs in 28 years on the golf course.
In this guide, I introduce you to this glorious chip shot and provide a step-by-step guide on how to execute it effectively.
Despite its effectiveness, I barely see amateurs busting it out when they could be saving strokes and improving the up and down record. After I explain how this shot works and why you should be playing it, I will provide some drills that I employ in training to boost my performance.
What is a Bump and Run in Golf?
A bump and run is a shot that sends the golf ball rolling further than it flies. Unlike a standard chip shot, you produce a lower launch and limited bounce for nice topspin and a greater chance of getting it close to the cup.
Your ball is less likely to veer significantly off path when keeping it on the ground, increasing your chances of getting up and down.
To execute this shot, you must place the ball in the back of the stance, align the ball with the toe of your club, and stand the shaft upright. Plus, you need to strike the ball with the toe of your club to take speed off the ball. You need optimal control of the golf club here because if the clubface opens at contact, you will produce too much toe spin and send the ball wide of the target.
As you can see, this is different from your typical greenside shot, where you deal with a shorter shaft and aim to deliver a shot-stopping spin.
I use different clubs for this shot, depending on my lie and the layout ahead of me. However, I never use anything weaker than a sand wedge or gap wedge, but a pitching wedge is my most popular choice for its reduced loft. I feel that a lob wedge generates excessive launch resembling a chip rather than a proper bump.
If I have significant green to cover and the putting surface is quick, I may opt for a 7-wood or a 2-utility iron. These stronger lofted clubs help me induce ample speed and topspin to make it to the cup.
Conversely, you’ll find a gentle pitching wedge nudge with a pendulum stroke is sufficient when you have limited green to play with. On mid-range bump and run shots, I trust my 7 or 8-iron for the job.
When This Shot is Most Useful
Long Chip Shots
I find that a good bump and run works a treat when you have ample green to work with, but the putting surface is lightning, and I am not feeling my putter. The other option is to use a sand or lob wedge and carry the distance in the hope that it generates solid spin and stops rapidly.
However, the higher launch prompted by weaker lofted wedges brings bounce into the equation, which can cause your ball to deflect away from the cup. If the green is pacey, your ball may pick up speed and roll off the dancefloor.
The rolling nature of a bump and run eliminates this stress and allows you to use the contours of the green to your advantage.
Limited Green To Work With
Contrary to the previous point, I also use the bump and run when I have minimal green to work with. I find that a pitching wedge offers a balance of loft, ball speed, and spin for greater control on these shots.
All you need is a light touch, and the weight of the pitching wedge head gently propels your ball towards the cup.
Up Against The First Cut Of Rough
I’m not sure if any readers suffer this fate, but the Golfing Gods love to punish me by placing my ball up against the fringe, or first cut of rough, around the green.
This lie makes it difficult for me to get under the ball for a high launch and soft landing. And if I try to putt it, I may catch the top of the ball and lose speed.
This is the perfect chance to use a fairway wood because it contains weight in the head, minimizes spin, and produces clean turf interaction. Therefore, the clubhead glides through the turf and helps me impart sufficient pace on the ball to make it to the hole.
3 Drills to Practice Getting Better at a Bump and Run Shot
1. One Hand Swing
I mentioned earlier that the setup for a bump and run differs from a standard short game shot, which is why it can take some getting used to. The one-hand swing is a drill that has helped me with feel, ball striking, and distance control on these shots.
The mission is simple. Place a ball on the ground, line it up towards your back foot, grab a pitching wedge in your strong hand and place your left hand behind your back.
Ensure the wedge shaft is upright, then take a quarter-practice swing and follow through. Repeat this five times and get a feel for the shot. Once comfortable, take a quarter swing one-handed and stroke the ball to its target.
Besides familiarizing yourself with the setup, this drill secretly helps you improve your ball striking. This is because you have limited power and rely on a clean strike to produce an element of speed for forward roll. You will definitely induce a few air shots at the start, but it is all part of the journey.
2. Land The Ball on a Coin
The coin drill was probably my favorite as a junior because it boosted my distance control skills. I would sit on the chipping green for hours, trying to land as many golf balls as possible on a coin. This worked for flop shots, standard chips, and the bump and run.
The approach was different with the bump and run since it required limited airtime. I placed the coin closer to my ball than the others and positioned 10 balls.
If the ball landed before the coin, I counted it as a bogey since it didn’t possess sufficient speed to make it to the cup. Conversely, when it landed over the coin, it was also a bogey because it rolled too far past the cup.
Finally, I counted direct hits on the penny as pars, and I refused to move to the next drill until I was a maximum of 4 over par.
3. Varied Lies
As I explained earlier, the bump and run work in various scenarios, including up against the first cut of rough on the fairway or the fringe.
Place five golf balls in each different lie, and position a swing stick 2-feet behind the cup. Your objective is to get the ball to roll past the cup, but not further than the alignment stick.
When your ball lands in the target zone, it counts as a birdie. But if it is short of the hole or passes the stick, it is a bogey.
Your mission is to finish at least -5, and if you can’t, you repeat the drill.