TOC Hole 16

Bunker Rake Mythology

Every worthwhile legend has an air of mystery, doesn’t it? Sometimes all that’s needed to get one started is a lack of visual proof. Look no further than the bunkers on the three layouts at Scottsdale National Golf Club, one of the most exclusive private golf courses in Scottsdale and the country. It’s no surprise that the condition of the more than 200 hazards that dot The Mine Shaft Course, The Other Course and The Bad Little Nine is always pristine. Yet there are no bunker rakes in sight. Not a one.

The lack of their presence was disconcerting at first. After all, it’s one of the game’s traditions that you leave no evidence behind after playing a shot (or shots) from a bunker. That cleanup job is usually handled either by the individual golfer or a caddie. But many things are different at Scottsdale National Golf Club, and foregoing that standard procedure is just one example. Founder Bob Parsons did away with rakes to ensure members and guests could instead focus on what they were there for: enjoying superb golf in the beautiful Sonoran Desert setting.

Yet that’s the very reason for this particular legend. Without rakes, why are there rarely, if any, footprints or unkempt sand in the bunkers left behind from golfers who already played through on any given day? The club’s caddies fix ball marks and help read putts, but they can’t rake bunkers without the tool to do so. Even out of the 74 bunkers on The Other Course, the two that get the most traffic – the narrow fairway bunker short of the green on the opening hole, or the sprawling bunker front right of the green on the par 3 16th hole – somehow remain smoother than the finest tequila.

Credit for the impeccable sand conditions goes to the club’s esteemed agronomy crew. But therein lies the mystery – you never actually see them in a bunker working out the inevitable imperfections left during the day. Instead, they stay out of sight, hidden behind a nearby tree, cactus, or an enormous boulder, just waiting to perform their work quickly and efficiently after golfers depart a hole. It’s such a seamless process that golfers often don’t realize it has occurred until after they have finished the round. Then it hits them. And that’s when one of the many legends associated with Scottsdale National Golf Club continues to grow.

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