December 2013 Golf Tip

December 2013 Golf Tip


The one thing that annoys me, as well as, many others whom share the same sediment as I, are the individuals who never fix their ball marks. It is one thing if you can’t find it and fix someone else’s but to walk onto a green and not fix one at all is not only, in my opinion rude, but is bad etiquette. One of the things that I love about golf is that I truly believe most golfers do hold themselves to a much higher, honest standard and to do something as simple as fix a ball mark, or two, on each green is one way we can give back to and care for these beautiful courses that we get the pleasure and privilege of playing around the world! Not only does it help with aesthetics on the greens but it helps us maintain the smooth, perfect greens that we all love so much! There are a large number of people who do fix their ball marks but unfortunately some of them never learned how to do it correctly. Repairing a ball mark incorrectly can actually be worse for the green than leaving it alone. When done incorrectly, instead of healing in a couple of days, it can take up to 2-3 weeks for that spot to come back. Below are illustrations courtesy of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, and text, courtesy of Brent Kelley with, explaining the proper way to fix ball marks.


The ball mark repair tool is the right tool for the job of repairing ball marks. The tool should be familiar to every golfer; it's a simple tool, just two prongs on the end of a piece of metal or hard plastic. There are some newfangled ball mark repair tools on the market, but the jury is still out on whether any of them really do a better job at helping greens heal than the standard, old-fashioned tool pictured above. By the way, you'll sometimes see this tool referred to as a "divot repair tool." It's not used for repairing divots, of course, so that name is inappropriate. But if you do see that term, this is almost certainly the tool to which it is referring. The ball mark repair tool is an essential piece of equipment that every golfer should have in his or her golf bag.


The first step in repairing ball marks is to take your ball mark repair tool and insert the prongs into the turf at the edge of the depression. Note: Do NOT insert the prongs into the depression itself, but at the rim of the depression.


The next step is to push the edge of the ball mark toward the center, using your ball mark repair tool in a "gentle twisting motion," in the words of the GCSAA. This is the step where golfers who incorrectly "repair" ball marks usually mess up. Many golfers believe the way to "fix" a ball mark is to insert the tool at an angle, so the prongs are beneath the center of the crater, and then to use the tool as a lever to push the bottom of the ball mark back up even with the surface. Do not do this! Pushing the bottom of the depression upward only tears the roots, and kills the grass.

So remember:
Wrong: Using the prongs as levers to push up the bottom of the depression.
Right: Using the prongs to push grass at the edge of the depression toward the center.

Just use your ball mark repair tool to work around the rim of the crater, so to speak, pushing the grass at the edge toward the center of the depression. One way to envision this is to picture reaching down with your thumb and forefinger on opposite sides of the ball mark and "pinching" those sides together.


Once you've worked around the rim of the ball mark with your repair tool, pushing the grass toward the center, there's only one thing left to do: Gently tamp down the repaired ball mark with your putter or foot to smooth the putting surface.

Then admire your work and pat yourself on the back for helping to take care of the golf course.

Yours in golf,

Cabe Jones
Head Golf Professional