Bump and Run
“I practice my short game too much!” said no golfer, ever.
It’s a personal mission of mine to tell everyone who asks for my golf advice to go to the driving range less. “Wait, so you’re telling me to practice less?” No, I’m not suggesting less practice. I am telling you that practicing your short game will have a greater impact on lowering your stroke average compared to hitting a large bucket of balls.
This week’s blog is going to focus on chipping. Specifically, the bump and run.
Too often I see men and women who play golf add 2 or 3 strokes to their score simply because of a bad chip or two. It’s usually a combination of poor set up and technique, club selection, and tempo.
Professional golfers and elite amateurs will often use one club, usually a 58 or 60 degree wedge, from everywhere around the green. However, it’s important to understand that they are manipulating the club, ball position, and angle of attack on the ball to meet the demands of the shot. So in a way, they are really using many different “clubs.” I would recommend that most amateur and recreational golfers use at least 3 different clubs around the green.
Let’s take a look at the general set up for a bump and run. This set up will help you generate over spin on the golf ball, much like a putt. You will use this set up when you have more green to cover than fringe.
- Ball is in the back of your stance (towards your right foot if you’re right handed)
- Hands are in front of the ball
- Stance is slightly open (left foot is behind right foot if you’re right handed)
- Weight favors your front foot
From this setup, you swing your arms much like a putt. There should be no wrist movement during the swing and accelerate through impact. The ball should come off the club low and get to the ground quickly. A general rule for a bump and run is one third carry, two thirds roll. The club you use will have an effect on how the ball reacts on the first bounce. If you use a higher lofted wedge, you can expect the ball to “check” and then release some, but if you use an 8 iron, the first bounce will be forward. I like to have players practice the same bump and run with 3 different clubs: sand wedge, gap wedge, and pitching wedge (or a lower iron, i.e. 8 or 9). This helps you learn how the ball will react with each club and helps develop soft touch for around the greens.
Hitting bump and run chips with a pitching wedge or 8/9 iron is simpler. The set-up, combined with the design of the club, provides the best scenario for a good outcome for the average golfer. A high lofted sand wedge is designed to get the ball airborne. In the bump and run we don’t want this. When we de-loft a sand wedge to get the trajectory we desire, we expose the leading edge of the club. Without the proper amount of time practicing, this will likely lead to chunked and skulled chips. However, a pitching wedge and/or an 8/9 iron has a thicker sole and less prominent leading edge, lending to a more forgiving outcome in the event of a poorly hit chip.
Many golfers using a sand wedge around the green become frustrated because one time the ball will check up and then the next it will release. There are numerous factors effecting this, and for the average golfer, it’s simpler to eliminate the uncertainty by using a pitching wedge and/or 8/9 iron. Now you can predict the behavior of the golf ball once it hits the green, knowing it will release forward every time. Keep in mind this is for a flat bump and run. If the chip is up or down hill you will need to adjust your landing spot.
This leads to the next key aspect of hitting good chips: picking your landing spot. I’ll bet most of the time when you stand over your ball and glance back towards your target, your eyes end on the hole. This will likely result in hitting the chip too far. Let’s look at throwing a ball as an analogy. When you are playing catch, you look at the person intending to catch the ball, and then based on your visual judgement of the distance you apply a certain amount of force to throw the ball that distance. Typically, you make the correct distance judgement and the catch is made. Now, if we apply this to our chip, can you see why you may hit the chip too far if you look at the hole? Remember, for our bump and run we want one third carry and two thirds roll. Instead of looking at where you want the ball to end up, look at where you want the ball to land.
These simple adjustments will help you get your chips consistently closer to the hole, leading to more up and downs, and ultimately lower scores!
Check out this short video, and let Jim Furyk explain the bump and run to you!
Fairways and Greens,