Improve your sand trap skills wherever you go with Bunker Mate

Author: WhyGolf WhysGuy

We want to preface this guide with the acknowledgment that neither WhysGuy nor anyone from the WhyGolf team claims to know everything about the golf swing. We don’t want anyone to treat what we say here as gospel. While much of what we’ll say is a reflection of decades of dialogue with PGA instructors and players, we’re always learning and we understand that knowledge about the sport of golf will continue to evolve over time. 

In this post, WhysGuy will cover:

  • Features and benefits of the WhyGolf Bunker Mate and how it can foster proper sand trap technique.
  • Ways you can quickly adjust your bunker setup in order to prevent your wedge from digging into the sand.
  • How to practice effectively with Bunker Mate using both foam golf balls and regular golf balls.

Why Did We Create a Bunker Simulator?

We see tour players hit effortless bunker shots that seem to scare the hole time and time again. Professional golfers find bunker shots so easy that they often say they prefer to be in greenside bunkers as opposed to the greenside rough. But somehow for us amateurs, greenside sand traps are often perceived as dangerous places from which devastating mistakes can emanate. What do we make of this? How is this possible?

We at WhyGolf believe this asymmetry in bunker play between pros and amateurs stems from a general lack of knowledge about proper bunker technique. We view bunker play as a low-hanging fruit for amateurs provided they receive the requisite knowledge and proper training tools.

Why do we think amateurs can improve their bunker technique overnight? It's because a proper bunker swing flows naturally from a proper setup. If we can somehow get you to that proper setup consistently, with a little practice you'll find yourself hitting those high, spinny bunker shots that'll make your friends jealous.

In the following sections, we'll explore the fundamentals that constitute proper bunker technique. We'll also show you how you can leverage Bunker Mate to fast-track your way to a formidable bunker game. Spend a few minutes a day at home on the Bunker Mate and you'll soon be brimming with confidence over every greenside bunker shot you come across. If you do purchase the Bunker Mate, your only issue will be that you'll have no more excuses for a terrible bunker game.

The Design of the Bunker Mate

While Bunker Mate may appear to be a simple device, the design process was not simple at all. The design challenge was to create something that simulated the feel and ball flight of a typical bunker shot without actually using sand to propel the ball. We experimented over many months with numerous combinations of different materials and ultimately had to develop our own fabric with a specific yarn, pile height, texture, and weight per square meter.

The fabric is laminated with an internal polymer “bounce” layer with just the right amount of resistance to digging, and a bottom rubber layer for weight, traction, and durability. This combination proved to not only feel like a sand shot, but also provided enough feedback for the user to know if they hit the shot properly or fat or thin with both a real golf ball and a foam golf ball. After dozens of iterations, we are very pleased with our patent pending, final design and we think you will be as well.

If the preceding two paragraphs sounded like an effort to preempt all skepticism about the Bunker Mate's utility and effectiveness, you are spot on. Let's now explore its benefits.

How Can Bunker Mate Help Me?

In addition to the fact that hitting shots off the Bunker Mate is an incredibly fun time, it's designed to give you the feedback you need to improve out of real sand traps.

Bunker Mate benefits:

  • Get the feedback you need to immediately improve your bunker game
  • Practice anywhere (indoors or outdoors)
  • For all skill levels
  • Great for full golf-swing simulators
  • And it's f'ing fun

 

How to Hit a Bunker Shot

The bunker swing is unlike any other in the game of golf. It's not an intuitive motion, which could explain why we see so few amateurs arriving at the optimal technique naturally. Without a proper setup, it's exceedingly difficult to become proficient at hitting out of sand traps. We're here to help.

It's now time to take you through the fundamentals of a typical greenside bunker shot. In the section that follows, we'll discuss how you can apply these learnings when you practice on your Bunker Mate.

Setup (face on):

  • As mentioned, proper setup is the most essential component to consistent bunker play. In golf, the way we set up our body at address will naturally dictate the way the club swings (e.g., attack angle, club path, etc.).
  • Relative to a normal golf shot, we want our weight (center of mass) mostly on our lead side and a significantly wider stance. This will help us keep our lower body quiet throughout our swing and will help prevent your club from digging with the leading edge.
  • Notice in the illustrations that the golfer has squatted down by bending at the knees more.
  • We also want the clubface open so that the grooves point to our lead foot, thus allowing the bounce work for you.

 

Setup (down the line): 

  • In addition to the above suggestions (weight left of center, wide stance, open clubface, squat down) we want our feet at least 6 inches farther away from the ball than a normal golf shot.
  • This will help us shallow our angle of attack which will enable us to get the ball up in the air quickly.
  • Check out this insane video of Jon Rahm hitting a bunker shot with a 4-iron - notice how much he squats at address.

Ball Position and Alignment:

  • For most bunker shots, we suggest that the ball is located just inside your front heel. Your ball position can move toward the center of your stance if you're looking to hit a chunk and run, but it generally shouldn't change much.
  • We recommend a square stance.
  • Neutral shaft angle at address...butt of club points to your belly button. This is to ensure we're using the bounce of the club as opposed to the leading edge.

Length of Swing:

  • Amateurs often don't take a long enough backswing - this inhibits their ability to generate the power required to get the ball out of a bunker.
  • Take a long backswing and accelerate through the hitting area. Clubhead speed is your friend. So many amateurs don't swing hard enough and quit on the shot at impact. Don't be that person!

Releasing the Club:

  • We want to make sure we don't flip our hands over through impact - this will expose the leading edge of the wedge and cause the club to dig. See illustrations.
  • Instead, feel like the clubface is pointed to the sky through impact and into your follow-through. This will keep the upper body from stalling through impact.

How Much to Open Club Face:

  • The easiest way to alter your trajectory out of the sand is to change the angle of your wedge at address.
  • For plugged lies, we generally want a square club face (i.e., perpendicular to our target line).
  • For lower trajectories, we want to slightly open the club face.
  • For high trajectories, we want to open the club face so it points to the sky.
  • It's important to understand that as we open the club face, we're effectively adding bounce to our wedge. Thus, the more open the club face, the easier it will be for the club to slide through the sand. Put simply, the less likely you're going to chunk the s*** out of it.

How to Use Bunker Mate

Now that you've been exposed to the proper bunker technique, it's time to apply what you've learned to actual shots on the Bunker Mate. We've designed Bunker Mate to work with regular golf balls and foam balls (2 included with purchase). The two types of balls will not travel the same distance.

After every shot you hit off the Bunker Mate, there are two key pieces of feedback to be cognizant of:

1. The Distance the Bunker Mate Moves (regardless of ball type)

  • If the Bunker Mate travels more than 6 inches toward your target after a shot, you've come in too steep and/or you've hit too far behind the ball. See above for technique advice.
  • If the Bunker Mate stays in place or moves less than 6 inches after a shot, you know you haven't come in too steep.

2. The Distance Your Golf Ball Travels

    • When using a regular golf ball, it should travel the same distance as what you'd expect when hitting from a bunker.
    • When using a foam ball, it will travel less than half as far as a regular golf ball. More on this below.

 

With Regular Golf Ball

  • Objective: Without blading it, hit a regular golf ball off Bunker Mate without having the device move more than 6 inches.
  • If Bunker Mate moves more than 6 inches, you've either hit behind the ball too far or come in too steep - see technique section above.
  • Note: With a wide open clubface, as used for high, soft bunker shots, it is possible to pass the clubhead under the ball without the ball going anywhere. This is perfectly acceptable and an indicator that you are keeping the face open appropriately.

With Foam Golf Ball

  • Objective: Without blading it, hit a foam golf ball off Bunker Mate without having the device move more than 6 inches.
  • If Bunker Mate moves more than 6 inches, you've either hit behind the ball too far or come in too steep - see technique section above.
  • Foam ball will go less than half as far as a regular golf ball.
  • Note: Since the foam ball is light and stays on top of the sand (fabric), the foam ball may stay in place after a proper swing with a wide-open club face. This is normal. Try closing your club face a touch and you'll find the ball will travel.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Bunker Mate is specifically designed to mimic a regular bunker shot.
  • Setup is the most important element to consistent bunker play - wide stance, squat down, weight forward, handle low, clubface open.
  • The Bunker Mate can be used with foam golf balls or regular golf balls.
  • You'll get immediate feedback on the quality of your contact with the Bunker Mate. See the above section for more detail.
  • With the Bunker Mate, you're now permitted and encouraged to work on your bunker game from your living room.

Ready to dial in your greenside bunker game? Purchase your Bunker Mate here.

Sign up for our newsletter here and receive 15% off your first purchase with WhyGolf.

Explore other WhyGolf training aids here.

How does Bunker Mate replicate a bunker?

Our engineers at WhyGolf created fabric to mimic the feel of sand, while the "bounce" layer underneath responds similarly to how a club would in a real bunker. If you come in too steep, the Bunker Mate will launch forward. When used properly, the Bunker will stay in place or slide a few inches. See above sections for more detail.

Does Bunker Mate come with foam balls?

Yes, 2 foam balls are included.

What are Bunker Mate's dimensions?

It is 24" x 15".

The ball didn't go anywhere when I used Bunker Mate. What's up with that?

With a wide open clubface, as used for high, soft bunker shots, it is possible to pass the clubhead under the ball without the ball going anywhere. This is perfectly acceptable (particularly with a foam ball) and an indicator that you are keeping the face open appropriately. This will not happen when you use the Bunker Mate with your clubface a little less open and not pointing to the sky.

Are there instructional videos available?

Yes. See below and reference our other instructional vidoes under the "Instruction" tab on our website. Also, check out our YouTube channel at "" for other instructional videos.

What loft should I use with Bunker Mate?

Use the same club or clubs you normally would use on the golf course.

Check Out Our YouTube Channel For Drills and Tips

Written by WhyGolf WhysGuy

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