Why Golfers Are Thrilled by The Return of Bunker Rakes
The bunker rake, how dearly you have been missed. While I’m sure many of us have enjoyed the free relief - or at least improved lie - that the lack of rakes have provided, isn’t it great to have the golf course back to full commission?
The responses from our recent Golfshake Survey have indicated that the golf community is also thankful that rakes have returned. There will be no more need to adjust your ball under preferred lie rulings, which, if we’re being honest, slightly reduces the spirit of golf. Play it as it lies has never been so welcoming.
However, the state of bunkers during restrictions was something that does warrant discussion. If you were to play football but had no access to an integral part of the playing area - like the goalposts - it would slightly reduce the enjoyment - the same can be said about golf.
While bunker play may be the nemesis of some golfers, it is a vital part of the sport and something that potentially should have been protected. There were suggestions golfers could bring their own rakes and some pro shops even sold them, albeit at extortionate cost.
One comment noted that the state of bunkers was clearly sub-standard. “Most clubs have evidently neglected bunkers and they are generally in poor condition.” While we can all resonate with this sentiment, it became an unwinnable situation. Considering we were sanctioned to return to the course, this was a small price that we had to pay.
Of course, there’s always the opposite argument. Let’s be honest, without the correct technique, escaping bunkers unscathed is a near impossible task. One respondent was grateful for the free relief awarded by many clubs. “I really enjoyed not having to play out of bunkers!” I’m sure he wasn’t the only one.
Nevertheless, the general consensus was that rakes needed to return and urgently too. As I’m sure everyone is aware, the state of bunkers during the previous few months was inadequate. Clear footprints over the sand may have been unattractive but considering relief was awarded by many courses, it wasn’t detrimental in regard to performance.
The time away from the course allowed many golf clubs to invest in their playing surfaces and further enhance the product that they are effectively offering. While we saw improvements to greens, fairways and the general upkeep of the surrounding area, bunkers seldom received the same love. “Although greens and fairways are well looked after, bunkers are in a poor state.” Indeed they were, however, as previously discussed, it wasn’t detrimental to performance and therefore not a priority.
The problem arises when that attitude is maintained. Golfers have experienced a lengthy period without rakes and with that, comes routine. Will golfers view raking bunkers as a ‘nuisance’? Will they continue to ignore the upkeep? I have played several times since the restrictions have been eased, and on almost every trip to the bunker - far too many - I have found myself raking other footprints.
Without dedicated upkeep from staff, which is impossible, the community rely on the etiquette of other golfers to do the job that is expected. If bunkers are back in operation and they have not been maintained correctly, then cards can be ruined. If cards are being ruined, then fun will be limited. If fun is limited, it could result in less involvement and therefore, a dip to the recently established boom.
While this may be dramatic, it needs to be addressed. If you do find your tee or approach shot veers slightly off-line and you are required to enter the bunker, please remember to rake the sand and leave it in the condition that you would expect it in.
I’m sure I speak for the entire community when I say the return of bunker rakes are greatly welcomed. However, we have been used to them not being part of the golf course. It is vital we look after our facilities and we leave the bunkers in as good as condition as possible.
Here’s to hoping they are never made redundant again.
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