As if bunker play wasn’t testing enough for most of us, there’s nothing more demoralising than to walk up to a bunker still reasonably hopeful, only to discover that the previous ‘user’ didn’t know how to rake a bunker properly and your ball is lying in a deep footprint, or is perhaps plugged where too much sand has accumulated in a certain area. Despite expert plugged lie advice from top pros like Shane Lowry, the already testing recovery merely becomes harder then, or in the worst cases, virtually impossible.
Good etiquette requires all golfers to leave the bunker they have just visited in a suitable condition for the next golfer who has the misfortune to stray there – to paraphrase that well-known sign found in WCs the world over: “Please leave this bunker as you would expect to find it!”
It may feel like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs, given how long many of us have been raking bunkers, but it seems that a great number of us regularly get a couple of key things wrong, as I discovered when I went for a bunker raking lesson with Matt Foster, deputy course manager at West Hill Golf Club in Surrey…
“Basically you’re trying to get the sand as level as possible so it’s fair for the next golfer who visits that bunker. What you must remember to do is to push the sand forward with the rake. Nine times out of ten when a golfer comes out of a bunker, he or she will rake the sand backwards toward the rear, causing the majority of the sand to build up at the back edge of the bunker, which is what you don’t want.
The other thing golfers tend to do is just use one hand on the rake, perhaps with their club still in their other hand, and just drag the sand out towards the back of the bunker. Far better to use two hands on the rake and again, remember to push the sand forwards, not just backwards.
Finally, as you come out of the bunker, just bang the sand off your shoes with the rake, and then rake your final footprints as you exit. And once again, don’t just drag the sand towards you as your parting shot, which many golfers do – push the sand forwards into the bunker, rather than raking it all up towards the rear lip.
As you will have gathered, remembering to push the sand forwards and not just dragging it all backwards with you is the key to preventing too much sand accumulating in one area.”