Good Manners in the Bunker

When you see your ball bound into a bunker you know your round just got a little tougher.  And what’s a player to do, but shake off dejection and bound into the bunker too.  Just don’t shake off the etiquette.  Be thoughtful and fair to other players and maintain pace of play.  Here are 10 tips just for the sand.
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  • Before you go into bunker, pick appropriate club, visualize your shot and take your practice swing in the grass.
  • Enter at low point near your ball. Protect those fragile, high-maintenance bunker faces.
  • Don’t touch sand with club or rake, or kick it around with your shoe. This isn’t etiquette – it’s the rules.  You can scootch your feet a bit as you set up for your shot.
  • Take same path out of the bunker to minimize raking and time.
  • Leave no footprints behind.  Rake it back and forth, nice and smooth, and use the back of the rake too.  No ridges, please.
  • Put the rake in its place.  In Misc./2 Decision the USGA admits there’s no perfect answer for position of rakes, but recommends placing them outside the bunker.  In addition, The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America recommends that rakes outside the bunker be placed flat on the ground (tines up) and parallel to the hole’s direction of play. These guidelines seek to minimize rakes’ influence on play.  Extra etiquette points for placing rake at some distance from other rakes, saving steps for the next sand-bound soul who comes this way.
  • Some courses ask that you leave the rake inside the bunker, so pay attention.
  • Lend a hand.  Sometimes a player gets out of the bunker but is still the next to play.  She’s got to rake, dust herself off, move to her ball, size up her shot, pick her club,  all those things.  If you’re nearby, offer to rake while she prepares for her next shot. This ranks somewhere between, “May I wash your kitchen floor”, and “Could I watch your kids for the afternoon”  – one cool and friendly move indeed.
  • Speaking of smooth moves, have you noticed the way the pro’s bang their shoes with their club after they exit a bunker?  It’s an emphatic, “I’m-out-of- there!” flourish.  Probably worth a try.
  • A matter of terminology.   You won’t find “Sand trap” in the Rules of Golf. “Bunker” is the word for it.
  • And check out the USGA video on bunker etiquette!