By: Brian Neufeld, GolfTourney.com Contributor
There’s nothing worse than hitting a great putt, tracking straight to the hole, and watching it jump two inches offline because it hit an old, unrepaired ball mark. Repairing the damage you cause on the golf course should already be a part of your on-course routine but there is a lot of conflicting information on the proper methods to accomplish this successfully. From fixing divots to properly repairing ball marks, we’ll travel around the course and tell you how to leave it in better shape than you found it. We are next on the tee.
If you’re leaving divots on a par four or five with a driver I’d suggest a bit more time on the range. The general rule for divots is if it’s a large, intact piece it can be replaced. Try to put it back close to how it came out and push it down with your foot or club to smooth it with the turf around. Now, most courses provide sand buckets on par threes to fill divots. This should only be used if your divot has blown apart or if it can’t be recovered. Replacing the divot will heal up in a few days compared with several weeks for a sand-filled divot. When filling divots with sand, try to keep it level or just below the turf around it and smooth it with your foot or club.
Finding the fairway can be a rare occurrence for some of us, but winding up in an unfilled divot in the fairway is worse than hacking out of three-foot native grass. Most of the rules for tees apply to fairways as well. Replace with turf as often as you can, and save the sand for destroyed divots. For those that play on cool-season turf and experience extreme heat in the summer, the rules might be a little different. In those instances, it’s best to replace with turf in the spring and fall, and use sand during the summer. The reason being your divot’s roots have been removed and they’ll be unable to regrow before the heat kills the turf.
How to properly repair a ball mark was long a contentious subject but has been settled science for quite some time now. To properly repair a ball mark, place your tool on the outer edge of the mark, and push in towards the center of the mark. Continue doing this all the way around the outside of the mark. When finished, smooth it out with your putter. Never lift up from under a ball mark as this will cause serious damage to the turf and root system. Tees, keys, and pencils will work in a pinch if you don’t have a tool handy.
Tournament play is especially taxing on a golf course. Try using those extra wait times on the tee to fill a few divots that have been missed, or spend some time on the green and repair a few extra ball marks near your own. And hopefully, that next great putt you hit misses the bumps and finds the cup.