Friday, July 28, 2017

Where Should the Bunker Rakes Be Placed?

By Golf Superintendent Ben Larsen

"Where should the bunker rakes be placed?"….is a common question among golfers. Although there is no Rule that specifies whether bunker rakes should be placed in or out of the bunkers, the USGA recommends that the rakes be left outside of the bunkers.

From a golfer’s perspective, the reason is there is less probability of an advantage or disadvantage to the player if the rakes are placed outside of the bunkers. It may be argued that there is more likelihood of a ball being deflected into or kept out of a bunker if the rake is placed outside the bunker.

 It could also be argued that if the rake is in the bunker it is most unlikely that the ball will be deflected out of the bunker. However, players who leave rakes in bunkers frequently leave them at the side which tends to stop a ball rolling into the flat part of the bunker, resulting in a much more difficult shot or rule violation (Rule 24-1 and Rule 20-3d). 

 For example, Rule 24-1 states if a ball comes to rest against a bunker rake (see below), the rake may be treated as a movable obstruction.

However, if the ball were to move after the removal of the rake, you must place the ball back in its original spot. If the ball is unable rest on its original spot you must then refer to Rule 20-3d.

Rule 20-3d comes into effect if the slope is too steep or the sand is too firm; resulting in the ball being unable to be put in its original spot (see below). In a hazard, the ball must be placed in the hazard at the nearest spot where it can be placed at rest that is not nearer the hole.

Nothing in the Rules of Golf allows a player to press the ball into the sand to make it stay in position; moreover, the final placement could result in an unplayable shot.

Since the player could not place the ball in conformity with the Rules, he would proceed under the stroke-and-distance option of the unplayable ball Rule-28a, drop the ball outside of the bunker, keeping the point where the ball lay between himself and the hole, under penalty of one stroke.

In the end, this scenario could be avoided by keeping the rakes out of the bunkers.

From a maintenance and aesthetics standpoint, the rakes out of the bunkers:

  • Give a highly maintained and up-scale look with a sense of prestige to the bunkers 
  • No additional labor on bunker and bunker-bank maintenance; since we rake bunkers more than mow the banks 
  • Easier for players to retrieve the rakes 
  • Less tracks in bunker to retrieve the rakes 
  • Less damage in bunker from rakes being thrown back inside after use


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