IN or OUT?

Tiffany Nelson
Director of Business Development
TPC Scottsdale
Scottsdale, AZ

More Information

Last week, I was playing 9 holes of golf with about 10 people from the club and I was on a par-4 that wasn’t all that tough. I hit a great tee shot (that has always been the strong suit of my game) and had a 6 iron into the green. Well, when I swung at the ball, my “dip” part of my swing came out and I pushed it to the right. Right into the bunker!

It usually wouldn’t have been all that bad, except there was a rake in the bunker and of course, my ball was leaning right up against a rake. Not only against the rake, but it was on the slope of the bunker, so when I moved the rake my ball was sure to move. In this instance, the rules (according to Slugger White, PGA TOUR Vice President of Rules and Competitions) state that you should replace the ball as close to the original spot as possible, but not closer to the hole. If the ball runs down a slope and requires a drop and the ball rolls closer to the hole or more than two club-lengths, drop it again. After two drops the ball can be placed nearest to the original spot but not closer to the hole.

I’m sure most of us have also had times when the rake was outside of the bunker and it stopped the ball from rolling down a hill or even stopped it from going in the bunker, which actually would’ve been a better position in both instances.

So, should the rake be IN or OUT? 

Slugger White says the PGA TOUR puts them parallel to the line of play so they’re not a blocking agent. Jim Mackay, caddie for Phil Mickelson agrees, the rake should be OUT of the bunker along with a handful a very prominent people in the game, including Jim Furyk, Johnny Miller, Jack Nicklaus, Mike Davis, USGA Senior Director of Rules and Competition, Steve Williams, Tiger Woods caddie, and Mark Woodward, CEO GCSAA. These people seem to be very connected to the PGA TOUR and maybe they think this way because that is the way they were always brought up to do. 

But, there are also a handful of prominent people in the game that say the rakes should be IN the bunker, including David Fay, Executive Director, USGA, Hank Haney, Juli Inskter, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player,  and Annika Sorenstam. The interesting person I found to think the rake should be out of the bunker is Phil Mickelson. Yep, he thinks rakes should be OUT, but his caddie thinks they should be IN. 

Here’s another thought: No rakes at all. That’s the thought Ron Whitten, Golf Digest’s Senior Editor for architecture thinks. “I vote for no rakes at all,” Whitten says, opting for the Pine Valley practice. Burying rakes was another fad – do you remember that? I always thought it was hokey and most of the time you either couldn’t find the slot the rake was hidden in or people never put them back in the slot, so it defeated the whole purpose anyway.

Is there a right or wrong way here? 

NO!!  And it will be a debate that will continue in the game of golf until days end. Since there is no official rule, it is up to the committee of the local club to decide on where the rakes will be placed. If you are playing in an official event, make sure you do check with that committee and find out – IN or OUT?

Tiffany Nelson is Director Business Development at TPC Scottsdale/ PGA TOUR located at 17020 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85255. You can reach her at 480.585.4334, ext. 226. Follow TPC Scottsdale on Facebook (The TPC Scottsdale) and on Twitter and keep up with all the action!