It’s time to take a look within and ask yourself; “Do I honestly know how to properly rake a bunker?” If you even have a shred of doubt, read on.
Knowing how to leave a bunker in better shape than you found it is a highly underrated skill, and whether you're new to golf or you're an experienced player, there are some techniques to properly raking a sand bunker that you might not know. Here are some tips for raking your way to better golf karma.
Finding yourself in a bunker is frustrating enough, but finding your golf ball in a footprint in the bunker adds insult to injury. Raking a bunker the correct way takes very little effort on your part and instantly makes you a more ethical golfer than whoever that footprint belongs to.
- Grab a rake and enter the bunker from the lowest point (entering from the highest point can damage the lip of the bunker)
- Place the rake nearby and play your shot, or shots, if you leave it in the bunker
- If you left any deep depressions in the sand, start by using the flat side of the rake to level the surface, otherwise skip to the next step
- Make light, back-and-forth passes through the sand with the teeth side of the rake where your club contacted the sand
- Now, work your way backward to cover your footprints, using the same back-and-forth motion
- Cover your tracks until you’re completely out of the bunker and don’t forget the splash mark and any trail from where your ball landed
- The USGA recommends placing the rake outside of the bunker, but some courses prefer it remains in
It’s always a good idea to take one last (quick) look at the bunker before moving on to your next shot to make sure you didn’t miss any large craters. If all looks good, congrats, you’ve done your part in making the course better for those in the groups behind you.
Here are a few additional tips for navigating bunkers and raking:
- If pace of play permits, feel free to do some additional raking that others neglected
- Take the same approach when raking moderately wet bunkers
- Take the same approach when raking bunkers that are relatively low on sand
- Rage against the bunker if you hit a poor shot
- Throw the rake. The average cost of a good bunker rake is around $40
- Leave it for the next player to worry about
- Use your club or foot instead of a rake
You might not know this, but there are many municipal golf courses that don’t allocate staff members to raking bunkers each morning. It takes a village to make sure your favorite golf course stays in great shape and as the player, you are part of that village. Now that you know how to properly rake a bunker, put your skills to the test. It’s good for everyone.