One thing I noticed right away was how the bunkers were maintained. As you can see in the picture above, the bunker faces at Royal Melbourne are packed and smooth raked while the bunker floor is raked as normal. This technique is very similar to what we have been doing here at Claremont for the last two years.
We maintain the bunkers in this fashion for a few reasons. The main reason we smooth rake the faces is to keep golf balls from plugging in a steep bunker face. I, and most golfers would say that a plugged lie in a bunker face is unfair and by smoothing and compacting the faces of the bunker, most of the time, the ball will roll to the bottom of the bunker. Of course, from time to time, a ball will plug in the bunker and all I can say to that is... Don't hit it in there! It IS a hazard. This method of raking bunkers, on most days, allows us to spend less time than usual working in the bunker and gives the staff more time to focus on other detail oriented work. During the golfing season, we rake the entire bunker only twice a week. The other five days, we rake out the bunker floor and do not touch the faces. The time it takes to prepare the bunkers is cut in half on those days when we are only raking the floor all while the look and playability continues to be great throughout the week.
During the winter months, weather dictates how and what we do in the bunkers. Following a large rain event, the priority will be to remove any standing water, repair wash outs and remove any bunker sand that has become contaminated with silt, soil or debris as result of the storm. Once all bunkers are repaired and if the forecast is for clear weather, we will rake the bunker floors and prepare them for play. Many times, if there is another storm on the way, we may forgo re-raking them as they will soon be damaged again. After a large storm, it can take days to repair and re-rake all of the bunkers so please bear with us as we will do all we can to get them back in shape. Thanks and we'll see you on the course!
Golf Course Superintendent