Unlike golf in the British Isles, American golf is a largely aerial affair. Here, softer conditions and greens surrounded by hazards make flying the ball to the target an advantage, and often a necessity.
That said, there are plenty of opportunities to play low, running shots onU.S.golf courses. For one thing, most greens are at least partially open in the front. For another, there’s a new emphasis on using less water and fertilizer in course maintenance. Finally, many modern designers are keen to encourage links-style strategies and shotmaking skills.
In other words, the ground game is taking root in America. Knowing how to play it can be a big advantage.
The basic, must-have shot is the bump-and-run. Success requires skill and a little luck, since a rolling ball is subject to the turf’s whims. The only part you can control is, of course, the skill.
To play the bump-and-run onto a green:
- Make your best estimate of how far the ball will roll after landing; choose the spot where you want to land it and calculate the distance.
- Choose a less-lofted club than needed to reach this target. For instance, if the yardage calls for a full 9-iron, use a 7-iron instead.
- With the ball slightly back (right of center) in your stance, make an abbreviated backswing and follow-through to produce a low shot that hits the target, the runs the rest of the way to the green.
- Carefully watch how the ball reacts on the ground; this will help you gauge bump-and-run shots later in the round.