There are no style points in golf. As the old saying goes, “It ain’t how, it’s how many.”

Sure, we’d all like to hit towering iron shots that stop on a dime next to the pin. But whenever we’re beyond the 150-yard marker, few amateurs have that ability. In fact, many of us are lucky to fly the ball onto the green from farther than 120 yards out.

That’s why it’s wise to learn this simple rule: The ground is your friend. Bouncing the ball onto the green may not draw oohs and ahhs from your playing partners, but it will help you beat them where it matters – the scorecard.

Naturally, conditions must be favorable to run the ball onto the green. That means no hazards to clear, obviously, but also reasonably firm turf and a green with a receptive front (e.g. not elevated). It’s tougher to bounce the ball onto the green playing uphill or if the grass is wet from dew or rain, too.

Playing the run-up or bump-and-run shot often means aiming away from the flag, but that’s actually a good way to lower your scores. It’s especially useful when playing from a downhill stance, where it’s difficult to make good contact, or when hitting to a downhill target since the ball will roll farther.

The run-up shot is easy to execute by following these steps:

  • Choose a target on the green away from bunkers, thick rough or other trouble.
  • Identify a spot on your target line short of the green where you want to land the ball, factoring in how the ball is bouncing and rolling that day.
  • Even though you’re playing to a shorter distance, choose at least as much club as you’d need to fly the ball onto the green.
  • Play the ball in the middle of your stance, grip down slightly, and make an easy swing.

The softer swing will create a lower shot with less backspin that hops forward when it lands.
One thing to keep in mind: Playing into the wind, the ball will stop more quickly; it will roll farther when hitting downwind.