It's something that all the professional golfers do just before they play a bunker shot, shuffle their feet down into the sand.

Why Do Golf Pros Bury Their Feet In The Bunker

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.

Stable stance

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.

If you have ever watched a golf tournament on TV – or in person – you have likely spotted an interesting habit that pro golfers share when they walk down into a bunker.

Why Do Golf Pros Bury Their Feet in the Bunker?

With very few exceptions, the golfer will take his or her club into the bunker, find a comfortable position next to the ball, and wiggle both feet into the sand. Why do they do this? Is there a specific purpose behind burying your feet in the sand before hitting a greenside bunker shot? We are going to examine this topic in the article below.

First, it should be pointed out that this is a technique which is typically used only on greenside bunker shots. In fairway bunkers, most players will simply leave their feet on top of the sand, or wiggle them in just slightly. For the most part, the benefits of this technique are only going to be seen on explosion shots from around the green. With that said, there may be a rare occasion when you will want to bury your feet down in a fairway bunker, as well. We will talk more about this topic toward the end of the article.

Also, one other point to be made before we dive into this discussion is that you don't necessarily need to copy everything you see professional golfers do on TV. Yes, they are the best players in the world, but that doesn't mean all of their habits and techniques are going to work well for you. You need to pick and choose what you integrate into your own game, and what you leave alone. In this case, however, the choice is easy. Burying your feet partway down into the sand on a greenside bunker shot is considered standard practice, and it is something every golfer should consider. Most likely, you will find that this simple move helps to improve your play in greenside bunkers, at least to a small degree.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Two Main Benefits

Two Main Benefits

When a golfer decides to wiggle his or her feet down into the sand before a greenside bunker shot, that player stands to benefit in two specific ways. Those are as follows –

  • The player should enjoy more stability throughout the swing
  • The player will lower the level of their body, making it easier to get under the ball

Let's tackle the first one before moving on to the second. By burying your feet down in the sand, you are going to give yourself solid footing that will help you remain in control throughout the swinging action. It is easy to slip when standing on top of sand, as it is obviously not a stable surface. However, when you dig your way into the sand by an inch or two, your footing will become far more secure. It will be easier to make an aggressive swing without slipping, and you should have more confidence as a result.

Remember, you are going to be swinging harder on your greenside bunker shots than you will be on other shots played from grass around the green. Playing an explosion shot requires a big, aggressive swing, making it more likely that you could slip. In fact, if you have been playing this game long enough, you have probably already slipped once or twice while playing from the sand. Burying your feet isn't a guarantee that you won't slip, but it will go a long way toward preventing that outcome.

Beyond the stability that you will gain, the other important benefit of digging down into the sand is lowering the level of your body as a whole. When hitting an explosion shot from a greenside bunker, you don't actually want to make clean contact with the ball. Instead, you want to make contact with the sand, sending the club down into the sand behind and below the ball. By digging in, you will lower the level of your body relative to the ball, making it easier to get down low enough at the bottom of the swing. If you were to stand on top of the sand, without much flex in your knees, you may find it tough to put the clubhead in the sand at the right point.

Hitting the ball thin is one of the worst possible outcomes on a greenside bunker shot. If you hit the ball thin, it is going to come off the club at a high rate of speed – which is not a good thing, since you are so close to the target. The ball may shoot right into the side of the bunker, or if it gets out of the trap, it may rocket over the other side of the green and into trouble. Whatever happens, it's unlikely to be a pretty picture. By wiggling your feet into the sand before making your swing, you can bring yourself down an inch or two closer to the ball – and closer to the surface of the sand. From there, you should find it easier to dig the ball out without much risk of hitting a thin shot.

At this point, it should be easy to understand why this is such a common move in the game of golf. And it's not just limited to professionals – if you watch the other players at your local course, chances are that most of them will bury their feet into the sand when playing a bunker shot, as well. This is a popular move because it works, and you would be wise to try it out for yourself.

How It's Done

How It's Done

Often, it is the little things in golf that can be the most confusing to a beginning player. Sure, building your golf swing is challenging, but that largely comes down to repetition and experience. But what about things like learning how to bury your feet in the sand before playing a bunker shot? You might not have anyone to teach you this simple skill, making it much harder to learn than it should be.

If you would like to try this technique for yourself on a greenside bunker shot during your next practice session, please follow the steps below.

  • Before you think about settling your feet into the sand, you need to first think about everything else that has to happen before you can hit this shot. Specifically, you need to decide on which club to use, where you are going to aim, how the lie of the ball is going to affect your shot, and more. Work through a mental checklist and be sure that you've carefully planned out the shot before you get ready to build your stance and actually make a swing.
  • At this point, you should have all of your decisions made and you should have the chosen club in your hands. Now, you are going to walk up to the ball and begin to find the right spot to stand. Most greenside bunker shots are played from an open stance, but that doesn't have to always be the case. In the end, your stance for each individual bunker shot should be determined by the type of shot you've decided to play. For instance, a high shot will almost certainly require an open stance, while playing a lower shot is typically achieved from a relatively square position.
  • With your feet in the right place, it is finally time to work your way down into the sand. The proper action here is to turn your feet from side to side, with your toes and heels moving back and forth as the sand is pushed out of the way. The best word to describe this action is 'wiggle', and it should only take a few seconds for you to work far enough down into the sand. We've been saying that you are going to 'bury' your feet, but that isn't entirely accurate. You certainly don't want to have the level of the sand coming up above the top of your shoes, or anything like that. Realistically, you are probably only going to move down into the sand by an inch or two, depending on the lie of the ball and the condition of the sand.
  • Once you have finished wiggling your feet down into the bunker, it will be time to hit the shot. Take a last look up at the target, relax yourself, and make a confident swing. With any luck, you will be able to look up and see the ball heading directly for your chosen target.

With just a little bit of practice, it's not very hard to learn how to work your feet down into the sand correctly. Make it a habit to hit a few bunker shots as a part of each practice session, and you'll soon feel like an expert on this point.

At this time, we want to address another common adjustment that many golfers make when playing greenside bunker shots – choking down on the grip of the club. When you chip from the grass, you probably choke down an inch or two for control. There is nothing wrong with that adjustment, and it is probably a good idea for most players. However, when in the bunker, we recommend that you resist the temptation to do the same thing. Keep your hands up at the top of the grip and use the whole club to play the shot.

The reason for this is simple. If you were to choke down by an inch or two, you would be negating any advantage you gained by working your way into the sand. You would be making the club shorter, meaning the act of getting lower down to the ball would have done you no good at all. The idea is to keep your hands at the end of the club so you can use the full length of the wedge to get under the ball properly. Also, using the whole club is going to help you generate speed, and you need plenty of speed in order to blast the ball out of the sand and onto the green.

There is one notable exception to this rule of thumb. When the ball is resting above your feet in a bunker, you will want to choke down somewhat to make the shot more comfortable. It is relatively common to draw this kind of lie in a greenside bunker, so be prepared to choke down from time to time when you get into this situation. The farther above your feet the ball is positioned, the farther down the grip your hands should be placed.