Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ball marks are your responsibility

This past Saturday, I walked mowed greens with the crew since we were short on help with many staff members on vacation. Walk mowing greens is like riding a bike so I enjoy the opportunity to get behind a GM1000 and stripe up some turf. More importantly, it gives me a really good look at the greens and forces me to see every square foot of the surface.

Saturday, I was disappointed to see many unrepaired ball marks on some of the greens that I mowed. The number of these blemishes really varies over the year. Winter time is one of the worst periods since the fog and precipitation keep the greens soft and the cold temps reduce the healing ability of the turf. If you don't repair the ball mark right away, the turf will die and may lead to other problems like moss, algae, or snow mold. We will get to those problems in another post.
Back in 2007, I placed a flag on every unrepaired ball mark resulting in over 85 flags on one green. We actually ran out of flags, but this photo definitely makes the point. If there are this many bumps and bruises on the green, you can forget about the ball rolling smooth and consistent on the way to the hole. A bouncing ball is not always a result of the dreaded poa annua or a thatch problem. Sometimes it is caused by poor golfer etiquette and unrepaired ball marks.

Luckily, we have many members that will repair every mark they see. I truly do not believe that golfers intentionally skip their portion of course maintenance, they just forget or have never got into the habit in the first place. I occasionally will be paired up with a golfer that is oblivious to this task. They don't look for a mark when they get to the green, they don't own a ball mark repair tool, and in many cases, they don't think that they make ball marks because they don't hit the ball that far, high, or hard. When you point out a ball mark to an owner of this variety, they are honestly surprised to see it. After you provide them with a spare ball mark repair tool, this person will make up for lost time and repair multiple marks during the rest of the round.

Your playing partners may need a little encouragement to clean up after themselves by raking traps, filling divots, and fixing those ball marks. Don't be afraid to be that person that reminds them of their responsibility because they probably won't mind, they just forgot. If they do mind, then tell them on every hole, right before they putt, and their etiquette will improve just to shut you up.