What is the bump & run shot?
Is it a secret strategy? Is it a highly specialized shot that requires great knowledge and skill? Is it only for good players to try?
One could argue that the 'bump & run' is the first shot most beginners learn because the ball simply runs along the ground! So in that perspective, it's probably the simplest shot in golf.
However, a well executed bump & run shot is precisely hit with direction and distance control. It is an optional shot or skill that can be applied to suit a given condition or situation a golfer faces in trying to “score” well.
The bump & run shot can be used with any club. The ball is intentionally struck to flight the ball on a low trajectory so it's able to run 40-90% of the distance along the ground. It is struck with less than maximum force and often appears like a quarter or half swing. This is very different from a typical full swing shot, which would see the ball travel 90-99% of its overall distance in the air.
When to use the shot?
This shot is particularly beneficial when it is very windy, as it allows for better predictability of the shot. It also allows the ball to travel further by playing it along the ground, rather than having it overcome the friction and resistance of a strong wind.
This shot requires a lot more thought and care than usual as you have to take into consideration obstacles, slope, varying grass length, and ground conditions. Each of these factors will affect the distance and direction of your shot.
There are many players who lack the strength and club speed to fly the ball through the air, so playing the bump & run is not so much a strategy as a necessity for them.
Why is this shot not played more often?
Golf course designs have changed dramatically. Golfers now often find themselves having to carry the ball long distances over water, sand, or unmaintained grass and foliage. Furthermore, strategically placed bunkers directly in front greens do not allow a bump & run shot to be played. So more often than none, modern golf design has limited the use of the bump & run. There is, however, the “greenside chip”, which is a mini version of the bump & run shot.
If you play an old style course design with no bunkers or water guarding the front approach of the green, find yourself stuck behind high trees, or are caught playing on a windy day, then the bump & run might be the safest and most sensible shot to play.
You will see the worlds best players use this shot during The Open Championship, the oldest championship played on some of the oldest golf courses in the world.
See you on the Greens!