by Frank Peter
The following Golf Lesson is reprinted with permission from the "Golf Beginner Guide", a full 272 page resource for Golf Beginners. For only $29.50 you get an incredible amount of invaluable tips, lessons and advice - great value for money. Click the above link to find out more!
As the old saying goes, there are many ways to get the ball in the hole. While this is certainly true, the majority of good players know that specific types of shots are more effective and consistent than others. Conventional wisdom has it that it's best not to loft the ball any more than is necessary. Yet, many players I see insist on hitting lofted or lob shots when they aren't called for. These lofted shots are so much more difficult to control than the good old "bump and run."
If you've ever watched the British Open, you've certainly seen a bump and run. A bump and run is a shot that lands over the fringe and less than a third of the way to the hole and then rolls or "runs" the rest of the way. It's ideal in windy, firm conditions or when there are no bunkers guarding the front of the green. Often times on shorter distances, it's almost as though you are "bumping" the ball gently onto the putting surface and letting it run the rest of the way. Both club selection and technique are important in pulling off this shot.
Practice This Drill
One of the biggest destroyers of consistency around the green is overuse of the wrists. When they break down through impact, it opens the door to chipping hell. For the bump and run (and nearly all shots around the green), position the hands slightly in front of the ball at address. The hands should also reach impact in this position and through to the finish. To aid in this, play the ball slightly back of the middle of your stance.
A good way to ensure the correct hand position is to have a friend put the grip end of a club slightly in front of the ball as you begin your downswing. As you swing down, let your club hit the grip end of the club on the ground - stopping your forward progress. This drill forces your hands to stay ahead of the ball - just where they should be.
Position the Shaft on Your Wrist
Grip your club all the way down - below the grip and on the shaft - so there's enough of the grip above your hands to rest it on your left forearm as you simulate the address position. In this position, your club will be well above the ground, so you can't hit the ball. Now, take some practice strokes. If the club's grip stays connected to the left forearm on the follow-through of your pretend chip shot, that's good. If it slips off of your forearm, it's an indication there's too much wrist use. Do this until you can keep the grip from disconnecting.
Pick the Right Stick
Many players use the same club for all low-trajectory shots. I've found that this isn't the most effective method. For more predictability, you should change clubs depending on the lie, the slope, green speed, and other factors. That way, you can use the same stroke every time - only changing the loft of the club rather than having to change the technique for each shot. Good club selection also requires imagination, and you should make it a priority to visualize each shot before you attempt it. Picture where you want the ball to land (always in the first third of the green with two thirds being in roll), and then choose the club that will give the desired loft.
Practice the low-trajectory shot on a flat area using the same stroke on every shot while alternating clubs - from 6-iron all the way down to a pitching wedge. Pay close attention to how high the ball goes and how much roll each club produces.
Point Your Watch toward the Target
This is an old drill I've mentioned many times, but it really works. Simply imagine the back of the left wrist (or your watch) facing the target. As you follow through, keep the face of your watch directed at the target. It will be natural for it to turn over to the left or to face upward as you go through the ball, but resist and keep pointing that wrist toward the target - and to better chipping.