Where Should Bunker Rakes Be Placed?

Where should bunker rakes be placed? We assess the options and offer our opinion on the issue

Where should bunker rakes be placed?
(Image credit: Future)

If your ball comes to rest against a rake left in a bad position, you'll be left with an impossible shot. This is why this subject sparks anger and debate among golfers. In this video and article, we answer the question, where should bunker rakes be placed?

Where Should Bunker Rakes Be Placed?

Rakes in or out, or maybe even half in, half out? Everyone seems to have a view on this one, yet there can never be a definitive answer because wherever you leave the rake, balls can strike it and either bounce clear or end up in trouble. Fact.

Mistakes To Avoid

Whilst opinions differ on whether rakes should be left in or out of bunkers, there are some basic mistakes every golfer should try to avoid. The main one would be leaving it at right angles to the line of play. This greatly increases the chances of it affecting another player's ball. Instead, you should always try to leave it parallel to the line of play.

Another mistake to avoid is leaving it half in, half out of the bunker. No matter what the angle of the rake, if a ball comes it rest against it, the resulting lie is likely to be be very difficult. Take a moment to think about whether you'd like your ball to be lodged under the lip before you leave the rake half in, half out.

Ball against rake

(Image credit: Howard Boylan)

GM Opinion

For me, the answer to this question for years was to leave the rake on a flat area in the middle of the bunker. My feeling was that this would be where it would least negatively impact play. However, after some careful thought, it became clear there are some issues with this. 

Firstly, by virtue of it being in the area of the trap where the ball is most likely to gather, you are increasing the chances of it impacting play. Secondly, to leave the rake in the middle of the bunker, you'll almost certainly need to throw it back in after you've raked your footprints. If the rake bounces, you'll create indentations in the sand that another ball could come to rest in. Finally, if a player has to retrieve the rake from the middle of a big bunker before then going to another area to play his or her shot (and rake their footprints), it could delay play. 

Throw rake

(Image credit: Howard Boylan)

Whilst there is no rule relating to where bunker rakes should be left, on The R&A website, there is a recommendation to leave it outside at the point of least interference. 

We think this means, if possible, leaving it parallel to the line of play and far enough away from the bunker so that if it comes into contact with a ball, it doesn't leave the player in a really difficult position (ie. playing from a steep, hanging lie). 

As we have already said, there is clearly no perfect position to leave a bunker rake. Above all, our advice would be simply to consider those playing the course after you. Make a judgement call on where to leave it so that if a ball does comes to rest against it, the resulting shot isn't unfairly difficult.

Neil Tappin
Neil Tappin

In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."

Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X