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)

Where should bunker rakes be placed?

A ball coming to rest against a rake can cause a variety of reactions, depending upon whether you feel you have got a good or bad break from it. If your ball was rolling towards a tricky bunker, but gets stopped on the fairway by a rake left in its path, you may feel you have had a decidedly lucky break there. 

But a rake left just inside the bunker, which has trapped the ball by the bunker edge, leaves the golfer an awkward stance to play the ball. You will reflect that but for that  rake left there which stopped your ball you would have a much simpler shot as the ball would have probably rolled down towards the centre of the bunker. You may even hark back to those Covid-era days when bunker rakes were not allowed and wonder if bunker rakes cause more problems than they solve.

So how, and where should we leave bunkers rakes so as to make the game as fair as possible for those that are following us round the course? In this video and article, we answer the question, where should bunker rakes be placed?

Mistakes To Avoid

Rakes in or out or bunkers? 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. 

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

My policy for years was that I would leave the rake on a flat area in the middle of the bunker. My feeling was that this would be where it would least impact play negatively. However, after some mature reflection, 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

In July 2023, Neil became just the 9th editor in Golf Monthly's 112-year history. Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he has also presented many Golf Monthly videos looking at all areas of the game from Tour player interviews to the rules of golf. 

Throughout his time with the brand he has also 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 2 Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSR2 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