Raking a bunker is one of the easiest things to do, yet many people have never taken the three minutes to learn the proper technique. Here it is, in easy-to-follow format.
- Find the lowest spot around the edge of the bunker that's near your ball. You will enter and exit here. Stepping in and out near a steep face causes erosion and pushes the sand off the face and into the bottom of the bunker. Plus, it's easier to rake flat areas of sand.
- Step into the bunker… and take the rake with you. Though some believe it's against the rules to take a rake into the bunker, it we assure you it is not only perfectly legal, but recommended as it speeds play (see rule 13-4 for more). Just don't "test" the conditions or "improve" your lie with the rake, ok?
- Play the shot. Put the rake somewhere behind you or otherwise out of the way. Be careful where you drop the rake: not only do you not want it to interfere with your swing, but you do not want it to help you align your shot or otherwise touch you during your stroke. Both of those could be construed as using the rake to assist in making the shot.
- Begin your raking by raking the divot from which you hit your ball, then your footprints. Pull the tines of the rake toward you to smooth over the sand without pulling too much sand. Attempt to restore the average surface of the sand to the proper contours of the bunker. Walk backwards towards your entry point, cleaning up your footprints as you go.
- Step out of the bunker (some players also opt to knock the sand off of their cleats with their sand wedge, back into the bunker, at this point). Rake your last footsteps and place the rake in the proper position.
- The raked bunker should have an even surface with no signs of footprints or divots and minimal signs of digging or plowing. Furrows from the rake tines are fine - you can't do anything about those, and bunkers are hazards.
Raking bunkers properly is a nice way of "paying it backwards" to flip a phrase, and the next time your ball lands in a properly raked bunker, you'll be grateful that someone took the time to learn to clean up after themselves properly.