How to rake a bunker properly

We rake bunkers most rounds we play, but do we really know how to rake a bunker properly? Matt Foster, West Hill GC's deputy course manager, explains all...

How to rake a bunker properly with West Hill's deputy course manager, Matt Foster

We rake bunkers most rounds we play, but do we really know how to rake a bunker properly? Matt Foster, West Hill GC's deputy course manager, explains all...

As if bunker play wasn’t testing enough for most of us, there’s nothing more demoralising than to walk up to a bunker still reasonably hopeful, only to discover that the previous 'user' didn't know how to rake a bunker properly and your ball is lying in a deep footprint, or is perhaps plugged where too much sand has accumulated in a certain area. Despite expert plugged lie advice from top pros like Shane Lowry, the already testing recovery merely becomes harder then, or in the worst cases, virtually impossible.

The kind of lie we all dread on reaching a bunker...

Good etiquette requires all golfers to leave the bunker they have just visited in a suitable condition for the next golfer who has the misfortune to stray there – to paraphrase that well-known sign found in WCs the world over: “Please leave this bunker as you would expect to find it!”

Essential video advice on how to escape the sand

It may feel like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs, given how long many of us have been raking bunkers, but it seems that a great number of us regularly get a couple of key things wrong, as I discovered when I went for a bunker raking lesson with Matt Foster, deputy course manager at West Hill Golf Club in Surrey

“Basically you’re trying to get the sand as level as possible so it’s fair for the next golfer who visits that bunker. What you must remember to do is to push the sand forward with the rake. Nine times out of ten when a golfer comes out of a bunker, he or she will rake the sand backwards toward the rear, causing the majority of the sand to build up at the back edge of the bunker, which is what you don’t want.

The real key is to work the sand forwards rather than dragging it all back towards you

The other thing golfers tend to do is just use one hand on the rake, perhaps with their club still in their other hand, and just drag the sand out towards the back of the bunker. Far better to use two hands on the rake and again, remember to push the sand forwards, not just backwards.

Two hands on the rake will ensure a much more effective job

Finally, as you come out of the bunker, just bang the sand off your shoes with the rake, and then rake your final footprints as you exit. And once again, don’t just drag the sand towards you as your parting shot, which many golfers do - push the sand forwards into the bunker, rather than raking it all up towards the rear lip.

As you will have gathered, remembering to push the sand forwards and not just dragging it all backwards with you is the key to preventing too much sand accumulating in one area.”


Jeremy Ellwood
Contributing Editor

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly. He is an expert on the Rules of Golf having qualified through an R&A course to become a golf referee. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 91 of the Next 100, making him well-qualified when it comes to assessing and comparing our premier golf courses. He has now played 1,000 golf courses worldwide in 35 countries, from the humblest of nine-holers in the Scottish Highlands to the very grandest of international golf resorts. He reached the 1,000 mark on his 60th birthday in October 2023 on Vale do Lobo's Ocean course. Put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content.

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf

Jeremy is currently playing...

Driver: Ping G425 LST 10.5˚ (draw setting), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 55 S shaft

3 wood: Ping G425 Max 15˚ (set to flat +1), Mitsubishi Tensei AV Orange 65 S shaft

Hybrid: Ping G425 17˚, Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Orange 80 S shaft

Irons 3-PW: Ping i525, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 50˚ and 54˚, 12˚ bounce, True Temper Dynamic Gold 105 R300 shafts

Putter: Ping Fetch 2021 model, 33in shaft (set flat 2)

Ball: Varies but mostly now TaylorMade Tour Response