Proper Care of the Golf Course

by Jeff Carter, Head Golf Professional

There are a few things that every golfer can do on the Golf Course to help maintain the conditions not only for you but the group that is playing behind your group.
If every member could do just these three things on the golf course while playing, the enjoyment and conditions could exceed everyone’s expectations during their round.

Repairing ball marks on the Green
As golfers, a small amount of our time and attention can go a long way in helping to maintain high-quality playing conditions on our course. Repairing ball marks on the putting greens is an easy way to make a positive impact, but the importance of ball mark repair and the proper tools and technique are often misunderstood. Here are five things every golfer should know about repairing ball marks:

  1. The proper technique for ball mark repair is easy and fast.
    Insert the ball mark repair tool behind the ball mark and gently pull the top of the tool toward the center. Continue working around the ball mark, pulling the surrounding turf in toward the center of the indentation. Avoid using a lifting or twisting motion because this can damage turf roots. Once you have finished pulling turf in toward the center, gently tamp the area down with your putter to create a smooth, firm surface.
  2. Unrepaired ball marks cause lasting problems
    Failing to repair a ball mark may seem like a minor oversight, but there are lasting consequences. Unrepaired ball marks can take weeks to heal, during which time they can cause balls to bounce off line. The damage to the putting surface is also an entry point for weeds that can cause serious problems.
  3. Certain putting greens are more vulnerable to ball marks than others.
    Any putting green that typically receives high, lofted approach shots will be more susceptible to ball marks. The putting greens on par-3 holes are a perfect example. If you recognize that a putting green is prone to damage from ball marks, it is important to be mindful of repairing your own ball mark and a few unrepaired ones nearby.
  4. Soft conditions mean more ball marks.
    When putting greens are wet or soft, ball marks will be more of an issue. This is just one of the reasons why our Golf Maintenance staff works hard to promote firm playing conditions with aeration, topdressing and other maintenance practices. If excessive thatch accumulates beneath the putting surface, ball marks and other turf issues will be more problematic.
  5. Almost any pointed tool can be used to successfully repair a ball mark.
    Many different tools have been created to repair ball marks, including single-pronged and fork-shaped tools. Almost any pointed tool, including a golf tee, can be used to effectively repair a ball mark. Using the proper technique is the key to success. Repairing ball marks is one of the easiest ways that golfers can help Golf Maintenance staff deliver high-quality playing conditions. After hitting a great shot onto the putting green, fixing your ball mark and a couple nearby is an excellent way to keep the green looking great!

If you need a Repair tool, please see the starter before your round. If you need further assistance on how to repair a ball mark, please see any member of our Golf Staff.
Below is a diagram on how to properly repair a ball mark on the green, and Kelsey properly repairing a ball mark on the green.

Finished Ball Repair on Green

Raking a Bunker

Our Golf Maintenance staff works hard to provide good bunker playability and presentation, but the maintenance team can only do so much. Once they have completed daily bunker maintenance it’s in our hands as golfers to keep bunkers looking and playing great. Doing a good job raking bunkers is an easy way to maintain good playing conditions for everyone and it’s a great way to demonstrate care for the course.

The ultimate goal of raking a bunker is simple – use whatever rake is provided to produce as smooth of a surface as possible. This includes raking your footprints and whatever disruption was caused by the golf shot. In addition to this basic goal, there are a few other things to keep in mind while raking that can help maintain the bunker and surrounding grass areas:

• Always enter and exit on the low side of a bunker – do not jump down or climb up steep faces, even if it might be a faster. Climbing steep grass faces can cause serious turf damage in an area where it is already hard to grow grass. Walking up and down sand faces can cause the sand to shift and collapse, which creates playability issues and a time-consuming repair job for the maintenance team.

• When raking near the edge of a bunker, do not pull sand out of the bunker into the grass. Sand can accumulate in the grass around bunkers over time, causing the grass to dry out. Raking sand over the bunker edge also makes it difficult to define the edge, which can be problematic from a rule’s perspective.

• As you are exiting the bunker, use your club to knock any sand off the bottom of your shoes. This is especially important following greenside bunker shots. Walking across the green after hitting a bunker shot can leave sandy footprints that cause playability issues for other golfers and may even damage expensive maintenance equipment.

• The final step is replacing your rake in the location preferred by the course. Courses opt to set things up differently, so you should make yourself aware of the desired location before playing. If you’re not sure what to do, place your rake outside the bunker in a location where it is easily accessible by others and not likely to have a negative impact on play. Lastly, knock the sand off your shoes and then go make that par putt!

Below are photos of Kelsey raking the bunker properly.

Filling Divots on the Course

Just as ball marks require a certain technique to correctly fix, divots also require attention to detail for proper repair. So, the next time you hit a take a divot please keep the following in mind:

When using sand provided on the cart or on buckets that are placed on all par 3’s, it is important to avoid over or under filling divots. Under filling a divot will result in a depression that affects golf ball lie. On the other hand, overfilled divots will damage mowing equipment and create poor playing conditions. To properly fill a divot, bend over and directly place sand in each divot, making sure the sand does not spill onto undamaged turf. Add sand until it is even with the base of the adjacent turf. Finally, just as with replacing divots, use your foot to compact and level the sand. This will provide better soil-to-ground contact to enhance the growth of the turf.

Below are pictures of a divot replaced with sand and a divot that has been left untreated. You will be able to see the growth on the sanded divot versus the divot that has not been properly maintain. Also, pictures of Kelsey properly maintaining a divot on the course.

First day divot left untreated and the other filled with sand.
After one week
After 10 days
Fully healed sanded divot

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