Golf Basics - Raking a bunker
Raking a bunker is a critical part of golf, as it promotes fair play for other golfers. Doing it properly -- entering, raking and exiting -- also helps maintain the playability and health of the golf course.
Here’s how to do it correctly.
Find the rake before entering
Before you enter, look for the nearest rake. This will save you time later. Also note whether it is inside or outside of the bunker (every course has different rules). This will ensure you can replace it in the same manner.
If you can, grab the rake and bring it into the bunker with you. This will save you more time and effort.
Entering a bunker - find the low point
Where you enter the bunker is critical to protecting the sand, and the turf around it.
You should always enter and exit the bunker from the area nearest your ball. Enter from the low side, or the side level with the playing surface. Some courses even have steps, signs or indicators. If you enter or exit from the wrong area, like the high side, it can result in serious damage to the lip of the bunker. This can also displace more sand from the face than is necessary. It's also more dangerous.
Tidy as you go
Prior to your shot, you are allowed to tidy up your footprints on the way to the ball if necessary. (Note: there are specific rules against "testing the conditions" of sand in a bunker. To ensure you don't violate the rules, be sure to only use the rake to "Tidy Up", and only your own footprints.) You can place the rake in the sand near your ball before your shot.
How to rake (properly)
After you play your shot (or shots!) from the bunker, begin raking over every disrupted spot in the sand. This includes your footprints, impact zone(s), etc. The proper procedure is to push and pull sand evenly (using both the tines of the rake and even the flat top as well). The direction you mow is also important:
- Greenside bunkers are usually raked in the direction of play or toward the centre of the green.
- Fairway bunkers are raked parallel to play from tee to green.
Walking backwards, rake along your path as you exit the bunker. Be careful not to pull too much sand toward you – if this happens, then simply push some sand away from you. The goal is to leave a completely even surface, in better condition than when you entered.
Replace the rake
To finish, simply step out of the bunker, making sure to repair your exit footprints, and then replace the rake where you found it.
Note: Most courses have local rules about placement of rakes – some prefer rakes to remain inside the bunker, while others prefer out. The general rule is to place the rake in an area that is least likely to influence the movement of a ball. When in doubt, check the scorecard or noticeboard.
Properly raking and maintaining a bunker not only ensures that your course stays in good condition, but it also “pays it backwards” and allows the players behind you to have a fair shot at getting out.