More and more golf courses are being maintained with closely mowed chipping areas surrounding the greens. This setup presents many more options than greens that are ringed with thick rough, so the ability to visualize and play a variety of golf shots can greatly improve your up-and-down percentage.
It’s common to face a situation where your golf ball sits at the bottom of a steep bank, leaving you with two basic options: Carry the ball over the bank onto the green, or run it up the slope. The best choice depends on your comfort level with different shots, described here:
- Bump-and-run: This is the easiest option to execute, but it still requires gauging the distance well – a little luck helps, too. By bouncing the ball up the slope, you eliminate the danger of hitting the ball fat (way short) or thin (over the green).
- Choose a club with moderate loft, like a 7-iron, and play the ball back in your stance (right of center for a right-hander).
- Identify a spot on the slope where you want to hit the ball. Account for the slope’s steepness and firmness, as well as the flag position, to form an educated guess of how far the ball will bounce and roll from there.
- With your hands ahead of the ball and the shaft leaning forward, make a chipping motion with firm wrists, bumping the ball onto your spot with an accelerating stroke.
- Hybrid runner: Essentially the same as the bump-and-run, but played with a hybrid club. The hybrid’s wide, curved sole makes it less prone to snagging. Plus, the ball will come off the face lower than with an iron, so it’s easier to control and less vulnerable to funny hops.
- Play the hybrid runner just like the bump-and-run, but position the ball in the center of your stance and sweep the ball off the turf much like a putt.
- Putt it: If you’ve got just a few feet of slope between you and the green, the putter is often the best choice. It’s a club you’re accustomed to using, so judging how hard to hit it is easier than with an iron or hybrid. The ball will also hug the ground, reducing your chances of getting an odd bounce sideways or straight up.
- The lob: Riskier than the previous options, the lob (also called a high pitch or flop shot) gives you the best control – provided you’re adept at hitting these shots the correct distances with plenty of spin. If you’re confident in your ability to make crisp contact, you’ve got a suitable lie and the hole is cut into a tight space, take the high route.
The last thing you want is to leave the ball short and have it race back down the bank to your feet. If you’re going to err, make it long.
Here’s how to Emulate Phil Mickelson famous flop shot.
All of these specialty shots require practice and on-course experience. But if you become proficient at each one, you’ll enjoy a huge advantage on courses featuring close-cropped chipping areas.