Something different landed on our desk, a Pocket Bunker. Yes, a golf ball, of sorts! A couple of us play golf in the office and although I probably play it the most, I am no expert. The Pocket Bunker caught my eye because I’ve used training aids before and haven’t seen anything like this yet. The Pocket Bunker does actually what it says on the tin…or box. It’s a golf ball/tee, that simulates the feel of taking a shot, from a sand bunker and it fits in your pocket. Let’s go outside and check it out!
The idea of the product makes absolute sense; some way of practicing bunkers in the safety of your own home, or local practice green. Up until now, there has been very little in the way of training aids that help people understand the importance of strike in regards to bunker play. There are plenty of drills and advice on YouTube channels, magazines and online blogs but this is only relevant to the people who have the time and facilities to do so.
The Pocket Bunker solves this issue by creating a small rubber platform with legs. The idea is that the faux-golf ball is suspended off the floor by roughly 5-10mm which allows the club to enter underneath so that the ball pops up in the air, creating the feeling of hitting ground first before the ball.
In theory it’s excellent. In practice it’s a whole other ball game. What Pocket Bunker fails to do is accurately represent trajectory and reaction upon the ball landing. In testing, the product reacted like a skilled bunker shot, coming out very low and very hot. Rather than flying high and soft, the product reacted very differently mainly due to its structure and materials. The issue here is the feedback the product should produce must simulate a golf ball out of a bunker. However it just doesn’t, which is a real shame.
Many different ideas to the same problem came to mind – what about replacing the rubber ball with an actual golf ball? What about doing away with the spike design and instead offer a tough, resistant foam cushion underneath? It’s difficult because I wanted to be impressed by it but instead ended up feeling disappointed that this wasn’t the solution that’s needed. It seems there is no real substitute for bunker practice… yet.
BUT WAIT! What if it was just me who couldn’t make it work? A pro by the name of James Brooker, currently based at Gravesend Golf Centre in Kent had a try and the results were night and day. He made the product dance on request, hitting soft and short, hitting it high and long and all the time with a beaming smile that told me he was loving this product. What shortly followed was a brief lesson of keeping loft on the club through the swing and just like that, it went into the hole! We didn’t think it was possible given its shape and size but apparently it can.
I have left it with him for a little while longer, given the short game area lacks a bunker and it would be great to hear that this is being used to teach more people the importance of strike. I think this was proof that it works! So the pros: makes use of practice greens where bunkers aren’t available or practice in your own garden space. It’s low cost and customisable. However a con is that you potentially require instruction to understand what the causes of your terrible swings are. Some kind of accurate in app feedback would be ideal.
Overall, it didn’t quite work for me but who am I to say it wont for you. It defiantly did for the pro. It’s priced at $15 for one, plus shipping from the US. For that price it’s worth a shot… pun intended. The Pocket Bunker is on Indiegogo and has reached 104% funding as of the 13th August 2016. For further info and to purchase, visit the Pocket Bunker Amazon page.