Add the Bump and Run to Your Arsenal of Golf Shots

By Todd Mrowice

Golfer hitting bump and run shot

The bump and run is a golf shot that's useful to players of all skill levels. Knowing how to execute a bump and run properly will save you strokes by getting you closer to the hole and reducing your risk of disaster around the green, but there are plenty of obervations to be made before committing to the shot. Here are some popular bump and run scenarios along with expert advice on how to execute the shot the right way.

What is a Bump and Run?

No matter what your distance is, the idea behind a bump and run is that you use a higher lofted iron such as a 7 or 8 iron, and you carry it one-third of the distance to the hole (this is the bump) and let the ball roll the remaining two-thirds (this is the run).

A bump and run golf shot is typically played close to the green, but there are scenarios where you can play this shot as far as 60 or 70 yards from the green.

When to Play a Bump and Run

A bump and run is useful is several situations on the golf course. The main characteristic that dictates if the bump and run is the appropriate shot is the terrain. To play a bump and run, you need to have flat land between you and the pin. If you have mounds, bunkers, water, or any other obstacle in your way, you'll be forced to hit a higher shot over the obstacles instead of the bump and run.

Greenside Bump and Run

If you find yourself just off of the green or up to about 20 yards from the hole with flat ground between you and the pin, you can play a bump and run by following these steps.

  1. Narrow your stance and line the golf ball up just in front of your back heel. This de-lofts the shot so it stays low to the ground.
  2. Your swing is going to feel closer to a putting stroke instead of a wedge shot. Concentrate on keeping the clubhead lower on your backswing.
  3. Pick out a spot that's 1/3 of the way to the pin and use that as your aiming point. If you execute the shot correctly, it will run the remaining 2/3 of the distance.
  4. Following through and finishing the stroke is key. You want to make sure that you don't jab at the ball, which will cause you to either chunk it or skull it past your target.

60 Yard Bump and Run

If you find yourself further from the green, perhaps 50 or even 60 yards out, you can still implement the bump and run shot. The mechanics of the longer bump and run are basically the same, but you'll want to make sure you're taking a 7-iron as opposed to an 8 or 9-iron or pitching wedge. This will ensure you make the same type of stroke but get the additional yardage that comes along with the lower loft. 

As Hank Haney describes in the video, this longer bump and run can also be very useful from the rough. A 7-iron will allow the ball to continue to run once it clears the tall stuff and hits the fairway.

Low Flying Wedge Shot

If you're having trouble executing the bump and run with a 7, 8 or 9-iron, there is another option for you. A low-flying wedge shot will give you similar results but with a club that you're probably more comfortable using from 50 to 60 yards out. For this shot, consider using a pitching wedge or a gap wedge.

  1. Narrow your stance and play the ball off of your back heel. The same as previously described bump and runs.
  2. Concentrate on making a descending blow on the golf ball. Even though it's a shorter shot, you should still come into contact with the golf ball in the same manner as a typical wedge shot.
  3. Take the club back just past hip-height and finish around the same height.

This shot requires some practice because in all likelihood you have to pick out a different landing spot than a regular bump and run. The more you practice, the better feel you'll have for how far the ball will travel in the air. Using a wedge will create a higher loft and more backspin than an iron, so the ball will stop quicker once it hits the green.

Drawbacks to the Bump and Run

As with all golf shots that require some additional skill, the bump and run has its drawbacks. First of all, you must have great distance control. You'll have to be confident that you can hit that one-third target and trust that the ball run the additional two-thirds and finish close to the hole.

Golfers who struggle with the bump and run shot often find themselves either hitting the ball past the pin or chunking it short of the green. Since it's a bit of an awkward shot, mis-hits are to be expected, but once your practice the shot and have distance-control you'll find it's simpler than many alternatives when the terrain allows.

Lastly, check the course conditions before you try to hit a bump and run. If you live in the western U.S. where conditions are hot and dry, your bump and run will probably run a lot more than it would if you were playing in the midwest or southeastern U.S. where conditions are usually more damp.

Conclusion

If you can perfect the bump and run golf shot you will find it to be very useful throughout your round. Instead of feeling the need to hit a lofted club and fly your golf ball all the way to the pin, this shot gives you the freedom to use the land in front of you to guide to ball to the hole.

About the Author

Todd Mrowice is a Staff Writer for GolfLink. He has been writing about golf for over 10 years including a long tenure at GOLFChicago Magazine. Todd has covered all aspects of the game including travel, products, business, and professional tours.