The translation may be questionable, but the message is clear.
The Lille Metropole Golf Club, a 27-hole public course 135 miles north of Paris in Ronchin, France, has warned golfers via Facebook that if they don't clean up after themselves in the bunkers or on the greens, they are in big trouble.
Here's the original post in French ...
... and the English translation written on my Facebook feed: "Bunker raked by the field team at 8 PM. Here's the bunker at 9 a.m. yet the rake is not far. 😢 This is shameful and completely disrespectful of the work of the gardeners and the game conditions left to the following players. For Reminder: anyone who is surprised not to rake his tracks will be out of the course immediately. We are going to intensify the controls. Don't forget the pitches and the divots. It's not even easy golf. There's a lot of things to think about..."
The wording is a bit clunky, sure, but there's no mistaking the intent: Keep the course as pristine as you found it or you'll be asked to leave before finishing your round. In a phone interview Tuesday, Lille Metropole Superintendent Jean-Camille Cezard said no one has been kicked off the course - yet. There was a bit of a language barrier during our conversation, but we both agreed that this hard-line policy makes perfect sense.
“When I drive on the course, and people see me, they rake the bunkers," he said. "When I am back at the shop, there is no one to check on them. They don't rake the bunkers. They say it is the job of the staff."
Cezard, who worked for a year at a course in Naples, Fla., said his boss grew tired of golfers who neglect the course, so the warning was sent out on social media. The same policy also applies to the nearby Inesis Golf Park, where the two also oversee a nine-hole course and six-hole short course.
"They are fired for the day. They can come back," Cezard said of the policy. "If my boss is very strict, he is very tired about that. He doesn’t understand why a golfer pays the green fee and doesn’t respect the course."
Is kicking a golfer off the course for not raking a bunker or fixing a pitch mark over the top or is this the best news you've heard all day? I love that somebody is finally standing up to the golf delinquents who don't understand the mess they're leaving for the players behind them. Such a policy might alienate a few customers, but maybe the course will be better off without them.
Do you wish your club adopted this "clean up or go home" policy? Let us know in the comments below:
The raking problem
We've all been there. Seeing your ball in a deep footprint in a bunker is a sinking feeling. Bunkers are meant to be hazards, but lies like this are a little ridiculous. They happen everywhere - from munis to even high-end resort courses and country clubs. No course is immune. The lack of raking in bunkers might be the top complaint we see in Golf Advisor reviews, outside of slow play and poor conditions. Searching the term "raking bunkers" brought up more than 3,500 recent reviews.
The rants are endless. "I would like to remind all players to PLEASE RAKE THE BUNKERS!" wrote 'scottlilly' after a round at Orange County National. "There is nothing more frustrating than to find your ball in an unraked footprint!!"
There's lots of blame to spread around. You can blame the staff, like ' RetiredGolfnut' did after a recent round in Palm Springs: "Course was in excellent shape except the bunkers, they could have used some attention.....looked like the staff hadn’t raked them in a while."
Or you can blame your fellow golfers like this reviewer did after a round at the The Senator course at Don Shula's Golf Club in Miami, Fla.: "I don’t understand why people can’t repair their ball marks on the greens or rake the traps after hitting out of a bunker. Very frustrating to hit out of a footprint hole in a bunker..."
Imagine bunkers so bad you have to take a drop outside of them just to play a shot. "The greenside bunkers are never raked or replenished so more often than not, I end up dropping out of the bunker." a reviewer complained after a recent round in Houston.
It's such a blessing when we come across comments that actually praise the rake job of the bunkers. It's a rare thing. Kudos to the Blue course at Wigwam Resort and Lansbrook Golf Club among others for receiving reviewer shout-outs for well-raked traps. The Maderas Golf Club, a Troon Golf-managed course in Poway, Calif., has begun stamping its bunkers to remind customers to rake.
If we all became good golf course citizens and raked our bunkers, filled our divots and fixed our pitch marks, the game would be better for all of us.
The raking solution
Golfers aren't 100 percent to blame for the problem. We could use a little more help from course operators, too. They need to make it easy for us to rake.
I'd say one-third of all bunkers I hit into - and that's a lot of them with my low ball flight - lack the proper rake coverage per square foot of sand. Bunkers the size of the Sahara bunker at Preswick in Scotland need at least four rakes properly positioned so they're within reach of golfers. I don't want to hold up play having to walk 20 feet through or around the bunker just to find a rake.
Let's get this out of the way while we're at it: Any courses that keeps their rakes on the back of the cart are misguided. How can you expect golfers to remember to take the rake to the bunker and put the rake back in the cart after finishing the shot? Seven times out of 10 I'm forgetting the rake either in the cart or in the bunker. It's such an awkward thing. A recent review by user breault chastised Pine Barrens at World Woods Golf Club, a Top 100-caliber public course in Brooksville, Fla., for rakes in its carts. He wrote: "Not overly impressed with the condition of the bunkers..know there are lots to be maintained but could be better..and rakes in the carts?? Probably the main reason most have not been raked by players."
It might sound strange, but you can tell a lot about a club by its rakes. Cheap, flimsy and broken? If you can use those three words to describe the rakes, that's probably reflected in the greens fee and overall course experience, too. If the rakes are sturdy wooden rakes or one of a kind like the handmade metal rakes (see below) at Silvies Valley Ranch in Oregon, chances are you're at a classy place.
"Bunkers had plenty of sand in them, but the level of maintenance varied from bunker to bunker," wrote Local Golf Advisor 'CCharles' after a round at The Tradition Club in Charlotte, N.C. "There were also several bunkers where there were no rakes or a rakehead with no handle."
Wherever you're playing, rake like you mean it. The golf gods will repay you tenfold.