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Protect Your Bunker Edges, USGA Central Region Update

Posted on November 6th, 2020

A drainpipe mounted on the front of a mechanical bunker rake holds a rubber mat that is used to protect the bunker edges.

Bunkers are some of the most expensive areas of a golf course to maintain. In the face of increasingly challenging economic and labor headwinds, many golf courses have started to rely more heavily upon mechanical bunker rakes for daily conditioning. 

One employee on a mechanical bunker rake can often complete what four or five employees could accomplish when raking by hand. However, not all bunkers can be easily prepared with a mechanical bunker rake. Deep bunkers with steep faces can be nearly impossible to get in and out of without causing damage to the lip. Similarly, bunkers that have only one way for a mechanical rake to enter and exit will often see accumulating damage at that access point over the course of a season. It is not uncommon to see collapsed bunker edges where mechanical bunker rakes are used exclusively, despite the operator’s best attempts to drive carefully. 

Laying a mat down over the entry point can lessen issues with tire damage if you are dealing with worn bunker edges or would like to prevent this problem as you look to increase mechanical bunker rake use. I suggest purchasing a perforated rubber mat, like what you would find in a commercial kitchen, for added traction and protection. They can be easily cleaned and rolled up for transport. The maintenance team at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas, Texas, utilizes this type of mat to protect their bunker edges. Each mechanical bunker rake has a piece of drainpipe that is mounted on the front which holds the rubber mat for easy transport. This inexpensive upgrade is both creative and effective. 

Don’t let worn edges be the only thing stopping you from using mechanical bunker rakes, invest in some rubber mats to prevent slipping and edge damage.  

Central Region Agronomists:

John Daniels, agronomist – jdaniels@usga.org

Zach Nicoludis, agronomist – znicoludis@usga.org

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