By Richard Todd
For golfers, there’s nothing more reverent and appreciated than a well-manicured golf course. Yet when the grounds are in disrepair tempers flare and disappointment grows.
One thing to remember is that areas of play aren’t usually damaged by the wind, rain, or animals but rather by us, the golfers. So, what can players do to help maintain the pristine playing conditions we desire?
On the Practice Area or Range
- Only chip if allowed.
Some practice putting areas are designated for non-chipping. Whether this be for safety or playability follow the posted rules.
- Hit your balls in a row.
Placing your next ball directly on the edge of the last divot creates one long divot to be repaired easier and faster than dozens of bare spots in various areas.
In the Tee Box
- In the teeing ground pick up broken tees.
Put broken tees in the nearest collection bin or near the front marker for ease in clearing.
In Penalty Areas/Hazards
- Enter and exit from the low side and don’t tread on the lip.
Staying on the lowest side of the hazard provides an easier access and staying away from the edges keeps them intact and void of damage.
In the Fairway
- Replace or repair divots.
This is the easiest and most meaningful action you can do! If your slice of earth is in a solid piece simply replace it, grass side up and facing the same direction it originally was, and tamp it down with your foot. If your divot is in pieces, then fill the barren area with whatever sand and seed mixture is provided by the course and tamp down the granules.
A properly replaced divot will heal in a fraction of the time it takes to grow new grass to fill in that bare earth. And how many times have you landed in someone’s divot and unable to make crisp contact to move the ball to the green?
- Keep carts on the paths/roads when possible.
If driving on the fairway, avoid using the same paths as others as repeated tire marks can increase wear on the turf. Never drive on or near teeing boxes, putting greens, and in and near hazards (penalty areas).
- Stay out of marked/roped off areas.
Groundskeepers mark these areas to help protect the course and decrease further damage or provide time for vegetation to grow. Always take relief here when given.
On the Green
- Fix ball marks!
Not just yours but also fix other’s by pulling turf towards the center of the mark. Never lift the ground up as this allows air to the roots and can kill the grass. Fixing ball marks provides a better roll for everyone looking for par.
- Be careful setting down the flagstick
Don’t throw or drop the stick on the ground. This can cause the metal tip to tear the putting green.
*Note, 2019 USGA rules allow for putting with the flagstick in the cup without penalty!