Most golfers learn early in their golf lessons that it’s important to rake following a bunker shot, but many do not know the correct way to rake a bunker. (First lesson: it may feel like a trap, but it’s not called a trap…show your knowledge of the Rules of golf by calling the hazard with sand, a bunker).
There’s nothing worse than walking up to your ball in a bunker, only to find it in a divot or footprint from another player who was too sloppy to not rake or not rake properly. Besides practicing good etiquette, it’s something golfers can do to take care of the course.
Use caution when entering a bunker – enter from the lowest side nearest the golf ball and be careful that you don’t displace sand near the face or the edge of the bunker. It’s okay to bring a rake into the bunker with you, as long as you don’t rake prior to hitting your shot. If you encounter someone else’s footprints or a divot, don’t rake that before you hit. Be sure not to use your club or the rake as a cane to help you when walking into the bunker – an opponent could think you are using your club or the rake as a means to test the soil.
After you hit, rake the area you played from as well as footprints and any others within reach. If the divot and/or footprints are deep, use the back (smooth) side of the rake to fill them in, then use the front (with the tines) side of the rake to smooth out the area. Rake your footprints as you back out of the bunker, so when you leave the hazard, the entire area is clean.
Leave the rake in or nearby the bunker (some courses specify leaving a rake in the bunker – some will ask you leave rakes out of the bunker – check course for local preference.) While the Rules of Golf don’t specify leaving a rake in vs. out of the bunker, the USGA recommends leaving the rake outside the hazard, with the handle parallel to the line of play. This will hopefully reduce the chance of a ball hitting a rake. If your ball comes to rest against a rake in the bunker and the ball moves when you remove the rake, the Rules require you to replace the ball bake to its original spot.
If playing from a greenside bunker, it’s good etiquette to tap the bottom of your shoes once you are out of the bunker to get rid of excess sand before you walk on the green. Even if you wear spike-less shoes, it’s important to rake your footprints in a bunker. Many people think if you walk in a bunker with firm sand and don’t make a depression, you don’t need to rake. Show good etiquette to all golfers playing after you on the course and rake every time you play from a bunker.