Bunker Etiquette

How many times have you approached a bunker and found the sand not raked or your ball in a footprint? Or, how about a bunker rake found at the end of a long line of tracks up the face of the bunker only to have the tracks continue onto the putting green leaving deposits of sand in the form of footprints on the putting green. 

Many people may have skipped over the first section of the Rule Book. It is the Etiquette section and it is well worth a read. 

One of the sentences in the Introduction states “The overriding principle is that consideration should be shown to others on the course at all times.” I believe that consideration should also be extended to the course itself. Take a look at the section on “Care of the Course” in the Etiquette section as well.

When I see a bunker not raked, I know that it is either someone who has not been taught the etiquette of the game or someone who does not care about others on the course or the course itself. 

Here are a few simple etiquette points to remember about playing from a bunker and what you need to do afterward. 

  • Generally, you should always enter a bunker from the “low side” of the bunker. That is the side furthest from the putting green. This will help the Superintendent to maintain the bunker faces.
  • Locate a bunker rake before you go into a bunker and go ahead and bring it into the bunker with you. There is no penalty if you lay the rake down in the bunker provided you do nothing to test the condition of the bunker.
  • After playing from the bunker, go ahead and use the bunker rake to smooth the sand in the bunker. Try to make it look like no one has disturbed the sand since the maintenance staff groomed the bunkers that morning.
  • Exit the bunker on the “low side” of the bunker; the same way you came into it.
  • After exiting the bunker, go ahead and remove the excess sand from your shoes by lightly tapping the sides of your shoes with a club or gently stomping them on the ground. This will prevent sand from being “tracked” onto the putting green.
  • Place the bunker rake where the course instructs you to; sometime in the bunker and sometime out. Just make sure it is on the low side of the bunker or the side away from the putting green.

Here’s a tip for you the next time you have to drop in a bunker: Watch where you stand or walk. The last thing you want to do is to create a bunch of footprints that your ball may end up in after you drop. 

Remember, knowing and following the Rules of Golf can assist you in avoiding unnecessary penalties and help you to enjoy this great game of golf even more.

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