Monday, September 14, 2015

Fore The Golfer: How to Repair Ball Marks


        The golf course maintenance staff walks the greens in the pre-dawn hours with a flashlight and a golf tee as their tools. In those hours, they are cleaning up messes left behind by others.They're ugly, hideous depressions in the greens -- ball marks left behind by golfers who didn't care to take the 10 seconds necessary to heal a scar on the putting surface, where a true roll is of the utmost importance. A ball mark that goes un-repaired can be unsightly for more than two weeks, cause putts to roll off line and possibly become a bigger problem if a mower -- one capable of cutting within a tenth of an inch -- goes over it in the pre-dawn hours, leaving a blemish the size of a soft drink can. The importance of repairing ball marks applies to every course and every golfer. Repair is not only a courtesy to those in later groups on a given day, but it should be a common courtesy no matter the importance of the round.
        So, what is the best way and tool to use to fix a ball mark? Ball marks vary in shape and severity so there is no one best tool. In fact, virtually any pointed tool will work as long as the proper method of repair is performed. This has even been the focus of several research projects in recent years where multiple repair tools were evaluated. Each study concluded that no particular repair tool was significantly better than any other when used correctly. 
        It is the understanding that it is the method, not the tool, that is most critical to restoring a smooth surface and allowing turf to heal quickly. Begin by inserting the repair tool into the soil behind the rear of the ball mark at about a 45-degree angle. Gently pull the top of the tool toward the center. Continue working around the ball mark, gently stretching the surrounding turf toward the center until the indentation is filled in. Less is generally more when it comes to ball mark repair, so this should be done just three or four times; anything more generally adds injury to the already damaged turf. Use your putter or foot to tamp down the repaired area to make it smooth and level with the rest of the green. Avoid prying actions that tear live roots and bring soil to the putting surface. Doing so causes significant damage and greatly slows recovery.

         Fixing ball marks is on par with many other course courtesies that golfers should follow. Golfers should follow the signs, be courteous to fellow golfers and know that the superintendents want to keep the course as pristine as possible. So when a sign says, "Cart Path Only," there's a reason. When a sign says, "90 degrees," there's a reason. When a sign says, "Please repair ball marks," there's a reason.

We at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club, want our members and patrons to treat the course as their own: Obey cart rules, rake bunkers and repair ball marks.
As always any questions, comments or concerns is always welcomed.
We'll see you out there!