Club warns golfers to rake the bunker or be gone!

One French club will kick golfers off the course if they're caught not raking bunkers.

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.

The famous Sahara bunker at Prestwick Golf Club in Scotland has numerous rakes spaced out evenly.

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.

Creative sayings decorate the rakes at The Retreat & Links at Silvies Valley Ranch.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 1,000 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfadvisor and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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I say...lets not rake bunkers. They are hazards and the best way to not worry about it is to avoid them. If you don't, you should accept the lie. Not sure when this idea of raking bunkers came from but I know that it is a "new" concept (20th century). I think it's cheating and should be illegal by improving the lie of fellow competitors...similar to using your ball as a backstop for a fellow competitor on the putting surface. Replacing divots on the fairway could be argued to violate the same rule, I wouldn't agree since that isn't improving a lie in a hazard. How to speed up play and return golf to it's classical roots? STOP raking bunkers and change the culture of golf (both amateur and pro) in expecting a manicured service when hitting into a "hazard"!

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Much of this goes back to the question, "How were you introduced to the game"? If someone taught you properly, that would have included the etiquette (fixing ball marks, raking bunkers, replacing / repairing divots, pace of play, respect for other golfers, and reducing the foul language / keeping it at a low volume. Also, how to properly use a motorized cart to NOT slow down the pace of play) My parents taught me and my siblings ALL of these things before they ever took us out to a regulation 18 hole course. ALL professional golf instruction, and golf instructors, should make these mandatory lessons a part of their curriculum - teach respect for the course and the game - along with swing lessons. The opposite is this: Let's go out to the course with some alcohol and spend 5-6 hours drinking and driving in a cart while abusing an expensively maintained playing field, and ruining the day for everyone behind us while cursing loudly, playing horrible music (also loudly), and then tell everyone we went golfing.

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I agree, rake the bunkers! But I have played at many courses (actually most of them I've played at) that don't really have sand in them, in fact raking them makes them worse (hard pan, rocks etc). It says a lot about the quality of courses I've played, I guess, especially municipal courses, but still...

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We just rake and replace the ball if we land in a trap with issues. Playing is the fun. Screw idiots.

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I managed a semi-private golf course where a local rule was put in place that made it fair for everyone, and lowered the expense of daily raking. The solution was simple. Within the bunker, all players are permitted to lift their ball, rake the bunker, and replace their ball, without penalty. Lift, rake and place. After some time, even the golf purists agreed that it was a fair and reasonable solution.

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While we're on the subject of raking bunkers, people also need to understand the proper way to rake a bunker. Always rake the sand up towards the sides so that any excess sand falls downwards towards the middle. Never pull the sand in a downward direction away from the sides. That's how a bunker gets washed out.

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Most of the inconsiderate golfers that do not rake the bunkers, are the same ones that move the ball in the bunker if their ball is in a bad mark or depression. Also annoying is the courses in a residential area that have kids building sand castles or jumping, or the local dogs foot prints. One course I play allows raking the bunker prior to hitting due to animal tracks, deer, goose and the like. Like on the green, fix your ball mark and at least one other, if your in a bunker, rake your tracks and any other left by rude golfers.

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I congratulate this course on their decision. Anyone who leaves a course worse than the way the found it doesn't deserve the right to play. They are just lazy and disrespectful!

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It would be a good policy but then the course would have no players. Since most people do not rake the traps my suggestion is to have a Recreational Golf Rule that provides for no rakes and no raking but if a player finds himself or herself in an unraked portion of a trap, he or she can move the ball to a raked area and play the shot. This recognizes reality and would speed up play.

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Yes, if they don't know golf educate they don't belong on the course

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Club warns golfers to rake the bunker or be gone!