It’s something that all the professional golfers do just before they play a bunker shot, shuffle their feet down into the sand.
A question many amateurs ask is why; what possible benefit can be found? There are a number of reasons this little shuffle down into a bunker can help produce a successful shot, here are three.
When playing a standard splash shot from the bunker, the swing can be quite long and powerful, and because of this the golfer needs a stable stance. From the fairway, golf shoes will grip on to the turf and provide a solid set up. However, bunkers are composed of millions of sand grains, each one independent and free to move around. Standing atop of this swarming sea of grains can be an unstable business with the feet much more likely to move during the swing. Burying the feet down into the sand not only builds a small ‘wall’ around the feet but also compresses the sand underneath each foot making them more stable.
Lower swing arc
The standard bunker splash needs the club to enter the sand first and slide underneath the ball. It’s the only shot in golf where players don’t want to hit the ball first. Shuffling the feet down into the sand will also help this become more achievable.
Every golf swing has an arc, a circular motion the club head takes around the body. On a normal, solid sand wedge shot from the fairway, the swing arc bottoms out just after the ball. This is effectively a downward strike on to the ball first then ground second. However, in sand, players need the club arc to bottom out before the ball. By shuffling their feet into the sand, golfers lower the swing arc, meaning it will hit the ground sooner, which is precisely what’s needed when playing a splash shot.
Feeling the sand
There are many factors that affect bunker shots. One such factor is the make-up, condition and depth of the sand. On a wet day when the sand is more compact, players will find it more difficult to get their club down into the sand behind the ball when compared to a dry day when the sand is light and loose. If a bunker is too shallow with the sand only an inch deep, the club is likely to bounce up into the ball causing thinned shots. There are also different types of sand used on different courses; all these things need to be taken into consideration. To help ‘feel’ these differences, players should bury their feet into the bunker. By moving the feet down into the sand, golfers can sense all these things and better predict how the club will react at impact with the sand.
There are many reasons a professional player buries his or her feet into a bunker which can be of benefit to every golfer.