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What is a Bump and Run Shot and When Should You Use it?

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Learning all the different shots in the great game of golf can prove to be tricky. However, with knowledge and practice you’ll be able to improve your game in no time. But, what is a bump and run shot and when should you use it?

In this article we’ll talk about the different situations where you could use this type of shot, what selection of club you should consider, and finally how to execute the shot beautifully. Let’s dig in!

When to Use the Bump-and-roll Shot?

A simple bump-and-roll shot is an effective and necessary shot to master around the greens. This is especially true in the following circumstances:

  • ​A dry spell has made the fairways, especially around the greens, tight and firm, making pitch shots difficult.
  • ​You have a steep, tightly-mown bank between your ball and the hole, with little green to work with.
  • You have several yards of green to work with, and a pitch shot requires too much precision and not much margin for error.

The great thing about the bump-and-roll is it’s an easy and versatile shot, one that can serve you well when you need to rely on a high-percentage play.

Which Club to Use?

The first aspect to consider is your club selection, which can fall into two basic categories:

  1. ​Using one club for all bump-and-roll shots, using the length and speed of your stroke to judge the distance.
  2. Using an array of different clubs, and utilizing the length of shot to determine which club you use.

Each of these options have their advantages and disadvantages. The first category’s advantage is by using one club, you can gain a sense of comfort and familiarity, which can help build your confidence with bump-and-roll shots of various lengths.

The one distinct disadvantage is depending on which one club you use, it can make certain distances tougher than others. For example, say you like to use a sand wedge for bump-and-roll shots. This tactic may work well with shots inside of 20 yards, but anything longer may require such a long swing that you’re playing more of a pitch shot than one that stays low to the ground and rolls.

Conversely, if you like using a straighter-faced iron, like a 7-iron, having to make the ball stop quickly if you’re on the short side (i.e. not much green to work with) can be a tedious task.

Pros and Cons of Multiple Clubs

The benefit of having multiple clubs in your arsenal is that you can make the same stroke with different clubs and allow the loft and length in the club to send the ball within a certain distance which you determine with practice. This eliminates a great deal of guesswork and simplifies the shot selection process, to an extent. For an in-depth explanation of these ratios, watch this video from Paul Wilson Golf:

The downside to this method is twofold: first, it requires practice to understand your club ratios (carry vs. roll) for each club you decide to use for bump-and-rolls. Secondly, certain factors (i.e. green slope, the moisture in the green, etc.) can make this a difficult method to depend on.

The Winning Combination

Your best bet is to use a strategy that combines the best of these two methods. One way to accomplish this is to use one club with more loft for short bump-and-rolls, which can be anything from 7-20 yards, and a longer, straighter-faced iron for anything longer than 20. This gives you maximum playability and the simplicity of only two clubs.

Once you have your two clubs, you’ll want to practice your technique, which is a simple stroke that combines basics from putting with a bit of hip rotation that will create an easily repeatable swing.

Correct Gripping

When it comes to your grip, you can either use your normal grip or your putting grip. The great thing about using a putting grip is that it allows your hands to stay more unified throughout the stroke, decreasing your chances of letting the leading edge pass the hands.

To promote keeping your hands forward and avoid scooping, the ball should be placed towards your back foot, with your feet relatively close together and lean the shaft so that the butt of the grip should point at your front hip pocket, and you should feel a decent amount of weight on your front foot.

Some Hip and Shoulder Action

After you have your grip and setup in the correct position, the most important fundamental of the bump and run is to use the hips and shoulders in unison to create the swinging action, which should allow the club to brush the grass on the through-swing.

The best way to be consistent with your bump-and-roll distances is to utilize rhythm and length of swing to judge your distance, while minimizing the use of your hands. As you take a practice swing or two, you want to feel like your shoulders are rocking smoothly, and your hips are coming along for the ride. If done correctly, the ball should pop off the clubface quickly and low, take one or two hops, and start rolling like a putt.

For the demonstration of the perfect bump-and-roll shot, Stuart Appleby for Callaway Golf shows you how it’s done:

The Final Word

Although easy in principle, the bump-and-roll shot is one you should practice often, gradually gaining a feel for all distances around the greens. Not only will a solid bump-and roll technique help your short game, it can also improve your overall golf swing. Master the bump-and-roll and play better golf immediately!

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