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Do We Really Need Bunker Rakes?

14 OCT 2020

Do we really need bunker rakes?

I wanted to pose this question before the year end and you can ask yourself this while you are out on the course during your final rounds of 2020.

When golf returned to us this year we had to accept many changes. Pin caddies were installed to assist golfers in retrieving their golf balls from the holes, ball washers were removed, and even many non-permanent benches were taken away.  But one of the biggest changes of all is the lack of bunker rakes…the lack of bunker rakes lying upside down, the lack of bunker rakes lying outside/inside of the bunker, the lack of bunker rakes lying beside a huge mound of poorly‑raked sand after the first group has passed through.

So this begs the question: do we really need them? Well, here is my take…

One of my biggest frustrations is seeing a well maintained bunker where a player has not repaired their foot printing at all or more popular, not well enough. It is frustrating seeing the work put into something and it not cared for. This caring is for the course itself, the maintenance crew and the players behind you! With the implementation of smoothing out your prints with your shoes and being able to give your self a perfect lie by moving your ball just makes so much sense.

Bunker rakes cost money…and a lot when you have 550 of them! They average at around $24 per and that does not include refurbishing and replacing.

Bunker rakes cost time…repositioning them every day so that they are in accessible spots. They also have to be moved to mow around.  It only takes a couple of minutes to get off your mower but that adds up after going around 200 bunkers in a day.

All little unpredictability is not necessarily a bad thing. Bunkers are meant to be a challenge and in fact they are a hazard!

We should try and remember that golf was played for centuries without bunker rakes. Now I am not saying we are going back to goats and sheep maintaining our sand but maybe there is a compromise.

Now I ask you this about ball washers….how dirty was your ball when you putted out on the last green?

On the golf courses we will be raising some heights on our greens in the next few days. With minimal growth due to daylight and cool temperatures its take a good few weeks to get the heights where we want so our greens can ‘weather the storm’. With many apologies we will be running the greens a tad slower to close out the year. I trust everyone enjoyed our surfaces in 2020!    

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Bill McAllister, Golf Course Superintendent