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rake a bunker

It’s such a simple task – so why can’t any of you do it properly?

The Angry Club Golfer would rather play it out of your big shoe prints than deal with the travesty you produce with a rake. Is it really so hard?
 

I’m lobbying my club to bring in a mandatory pre-round checklist. I’d have an airport-style security gate that would block you from getting anywhere near the tee without physical evidence you’re carrying a pitch mark repairer and a copy of the Rules of Golf.

I’d also have you filling out the kind of form that would make completing a census look like a minor inconvenience.

Don’t doubt this would be a proper interrogation, with bright lights in the eyes and everything, until we’ve established you can be trusted in the big adult world of the course.

Let’s be honest, quite a few of you would be getting ‘F’ stamped across your papers.

Every now and then – all right, every round – I take my seat in Moaning Corner. We hark back to the good old days when there was nary a divot to be found, greens always ran at about 10, and the post-match beers were endless.

Even I can admit that most of this sentimental nostalgia gazing is mirrored through the most rose-tinted of spectacles but there’s one complaint that still stands tall among those wispy memories and gets truer with every passing shot.

Standards, or, specifically, the general lack of them.

What the hell has happened to us? We’re no better than animals. No one owns a belt anymore, it’s impossible to play through, and our greens are pitch mark-encrusted messes – and that’s not counting when some twonk takes a lump out of one because their shaky jab hasn’t found the bottom of the cup.

There’s a special place in hell waiting, though, for what some of you are getting up to in bunkers. I feel a rising sense of dread every time my ball approaches one. Who knows what horrors await?

I understand at this point I’m going to have to tell a few of you what a rake is. It’s the long stick with the pointy things on the end that you’re meant to employ to clean up the mess you leave when you take three to get out of the sand.

Now you think you know where this is going. It’s another ‘footprints in the trap’ whine. Well, you’re wrong. I think I’d prefer your big fat size 10s enveloping my ball compared to that pitiful effort you call raking.

I mean, how hard is it? You pick it up and carefully tidy the sand. What does it take, 20 seconds tops?

It’s simple but so, it appears, are many of you. Oh look, here’s my ball lying beneath a huge ridge where you’ve stacked the sand like it’s some sort of mini dune.

And, hark, here we are right in the middle of a rake mark as your half-arsed effort consisted of a single scrape and a quick exit.

It must have been the visitors, you plead. During a Saturday comp? Do me a favour.

You’re rightly furious when you have to play from someone else’s mess, so I’m begging you to keep at least one part of our game’s glorious traditions of etiquette alive and sweep up properly when you leave the sand.

Have standards irretrievably gone down the pan or is the Angry Club Golfer getting his sand wedge in a twist about nothing? You can tweet him if you like.

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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