How to Rake Sand Bunkers

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Find the Best Entry and Exit Point

Panoramic view of a golf course
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Locate the lowest spot around the edge of the bunker that is convenient to your golf ball. This will be your entry and exit point. Identifying this spot keeps you from walking down a steep facing (possibly damaging the turf), stepping off a higher rim (leaving deeper footprints), or having to walk a longer distance which would require raking a greater area of sand.

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Enter the Bunker With Rake

Woman raking
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Once you've identified the most convenient low spot from which to enter and exit ... enter! Notice that the golfer is carrying the rake into the bunker with him. Contrary to what some golfers believe, it is not only within the rules to take a rake into a bunker with you, it is advisable to do so because it speeds up the process.

(Note: Be sure you do not allow the rake to touch the sand, except when you drop it before playing the shot. If you do anything with the rake - or your club - that can be construed as "testing the condition of the hazard," then you are in violation of the rules. For more on this, see our Rules FAQ, "Is it illegal to take a rake into a bunker?")

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Play Your Shot

PGA TOUR - 2005 FedEx St. Jude Classic - Third Round
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Play the shot. Notice that the golfer has dropped the rake directly behind the area where he has taken his stance. You should drop the rake at a convenient spot, within reaching distance. Otherwise, in retrieving the rake, you'll just add more area of sand that needs to be tended.

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Smooth Over the Sand as You Back Out of the Bunker

PGA TOUR - 2005 Honda Classic - Final Round
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Begin raking over the signs of play from the sand - the area where your club made contact with the sand, and your footprints. Pull the tines of the rake toward you as you begin moving back to the rim of the bunker. But be careful not to pull too much sand toward you. The idea is to restore an even surface to the sand without displacing too much sand. If you are pulling too much sand toward you, try pushing the tines outward a few times, too. All the while, you should be progressing back to the edge of the bunker.

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Exit the Bunker and Complete Raking

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To complete the raking, step out of the bunker and make your final few passes over the sand with the rake. Unless otherwise instructed at the golf course (check the scorecard and any bulletin boards inside the clubhouse), replace the rake outside the bunker parallel to the line of play (for more on this, see our FAQ, "Should rakes be left inside or outside bunkers?").

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Admire Your Work

Sand trap on golf course, elevated view
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When you are finished, the sand's surface should be evened out, with no signs of divots or footprints, and no excess sand having been pulled toward the bunker's edge. There will be little furrows left from the tines of the rake.

The important thing is that the sand is in as good or better condition than that which you found it in. Make sure golfers following behind you have a good quality bunker from which to play any necessary sand shots.