Repairing a pitch mark on a green is one of the most effective ways to preserve the overall playing quality of a course. Here is how to do it properly. Your course super (and the golf gods) will love you for it!
I recently played at a “top-tier” course that had some of the best fairways, teeboxes and surrounds that I’ve seen in a while. Unfortunately, the course also had some of the worst putting surfaces. To be fair, it wasn’t the fault of the course or the super. Rather, it was the golfers who had done the damage.
The greens were rife with unrepaired pitch marks — one of my top pet peeves on a golf course. It takes only a few seconds to fix a pitch mark, yet I see so many players fail to do it (and they are usually the ones who complain the most about bumpy greens).
Here is the correct way to fix a pitch mark on a green
Step1: Look around
When you hit your approach shot, note where the ball lands on the green. This is often different from where the ball comes to rest. As you approach the green, begin searching for that spot.
Step 2: Use the proper tool
A ball mark repair tool is the preferred item for the task, though you could also use a tee. Please don’t use things like pencils, spikes, knives or other items, as they can do more damage than good.
Step 3: Push forward (Don’t lift)
Insert the ball repair tool into the outer edge of the mark, at a 45-degree angle. Gently work the turf back into place by pushing forward towards the crater, with a slight twisting motion. Note: Do NOT attempt to lift the bottom of the crater back up – this will tear the roots of the grass.
Repeat the repair for the entire circumference of the pitch mark.
Step 4: Pat gently
Pat down the repaired area with your putter until the mark is as smooth and even as the surrounding surface.
Step 5: Fix one more
Repair more marks! Always aim to repair at least one or two more ball marks on the green. Again, it only takes a few seconds, but can make all the difference to the course.
Unrepaired ball marks can take weeks to heal (if at all)
Incorrectly “repaired” ball marks can take up to twice as long to heal as those that are properly repaired.
It isn’t just about etiquette. It’s our obligation to take care of the golf courses we play.
Photos courtesy Golf Course Superintendents Association of America