Monday, January 16, 2012

Things to Know About Sand Trap Rakes

Golf is a game of precision, and all golfers want to perform at their best, regardless of ability. The official Rules of Golf, according to the United States Golf Association, are specific regarding the play in and around sand bunkers, which are properly defined as hazards. There are also unwritten rules employed by each golf club about the placement of rakes and their use in the sand.
Cardinal Sin
According to the USGA Rules of Golf, players can be assessed a two-stroke penalty for grounding their clubs in a sand bunker before playing a stroke out of that bunker. This is termed "testing the sand," and the penalty holds if a player rakes a bunker before playing a stroke out of it. Therefore, players must use extreme caution to not employ rakes at any time before they have hit out of a bunker. Raking a trap in competition before playing a stroke -- even if a player's ball does not lie in the bunker -- is grounds for a penalty.
Proper Etiquette
The Rules of Golf also suggest that a player carefully rakes the bunker and replaces the sand after making a stroke. This is important, especially in a tournament competition, because many players come through that same bunker over the course of play. The rules of competition state that each player should be subject to the same fair conditions of the first player. Make sure that you smooth the sand with the flat edge of the rake before using the teeth of the rake to even out the dispersion.
Rake Placement
After use, the rake should be placed either completely inside or completely outside the bunker, according to club preference. Most clubs will have the preference marked either on the rake itself, or on the scorecard in a section titled "Local Rules." Regardless of club preference, the rakes always should be placed in a low-traffic area where they are least likely to be struck by an incoming shot. Rakes should be placed lengthwise to the hole, so a rolling golf ball has the least chance of being deflected and stopping under the rake.
Rake Removal
If a golf ball does happen to lie on a rake, according to the Rules of Golf, the rake should be played as a movable obstruction. This means the ball should be replaced exactly as it lies if it moves during displacement of the rake. The rake is allowed to be removed without penalty, and the golfer proceeds with his stroke like the rake is not there. If the ball does move, a golfer must place the ball back on its original spot. A drop -- where the golfer puts the ball in play by releasing it from shoulder height -- is not necessary in this situation.

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