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The Great Debate: Should You Ask Your Golfers

To Leave the Bunker Rakes Inside or Outside of the Sand Traps?


It depends


Pro: Both the USGA and the PGA Tour recommend that you have the golfers leave the rakes outside the sand bunkers, because there are fewer rules issues. The problem is that golfers, even some of the pros, are unsure of what to do when their golf ball comes to rest against a bunker rake in the sand trap. Can the golfer move the rake? Yes, but what happens if the ball moves? Do you replace the ball to its original position or do you drop the ball?


Con: Having the rakes outside of the bunker occasionally results in damaging the rakes, because both the golfers and maintenance crew might not notice the rakes and drive their vehicles over them. Sometimes golfers don’t even notice the green handles and black rake heads camouflaged in the grass, so the sand traps don’t get raked. (I am not sure that I buy that lame excuse.)


The Answer: It depends… on what makes the most sense for your golf course and golfers. First, it’s probably a good idea to confer with the Director of Golf, because he is ultimately responsible for the conduct of play at your golf course. He may or may not have a strong opinion, or he may need to check with the Greens Committee or his direct report. He should ask you for your opinion, and here’s a few things you might want to consider:


·Are your golfers and maintenance crew are breaking a lot of rakes? If so, it might make more sense to leave the rakes inside the bunkers, because it’s not just the cost of the replacing rake, your mower blades can get mangled tearing through a plastic rake head or fiberglass handle.


·Do you cut the grass more frequently than you rake the traps? This doesn’t require a time and motion analysis, but you can make that judgment in light of how many bunkers you have, and compare the time it takes for your bunker crew to do their job and the frequency for that task, compared with the time and frequency of mowing the grass around the bunkers. Another consideration is that it is easier and less time consuming for your bunker maintenance crew to get on and off their equipment compared to the crew cutting the grass.


Are you still uncertain? Here’s my two cents. While the USGA and the PGA Tour make a good point regarding the rules, leaving the rakes outside of the bunkers could lead to the rakes being overlooked by the golfers and maintenance crew, which could mean that there will be damage to the rakes and maintenance equipment. There just isn’t any downside to keeping the bunker rakes in the sand traps, except for the rules consideration.


Here’s one last argument for leaving the rakes inside the sand trap, but I should note that it is based upon an unscientific survey. At Sabertooth, we include a free label when you buy a rake that reads either, “Leave Inside the Bunker” or “Leave Outside the Bunker.” So far, the preference among golf superintendents who request the labels is that two-thirds want the “Inside” versus one-third that want the “Outside” sticker.


–David Hueber ([email protected])

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