During my career as a golf professional and a golf coach I have played hundreds of golf courses. Of these courses I have been lucky enough to play on some of the best courses the British Isles and Europe has to offer. I have played Open and Ryder Cup venues and the thing that still amazes me with all of them is something so little, something that can if we take it upon ourselves to repair can be eradicated.
This little blemish that can change the fortunes of many has no place on a golf course.
The scar can be the difference between a golf course getting an outstanding review or a damning review.
The pitch mark has to be the ugliest thing that you find on a golf course. I have spoken about it before, but it amazes me, regardless of the stature of the golf course, the number of unrepaired pitch marks that I find on golf courses throughout Europe. I am certain that this is not only a problem in Europe, but throughout the world.
It is a problem, that no matter how well the green staff work to maintain the greens, will always leave a bad taste in the mouth of a golfer that has been unlucky enough to have had a match winning putt knocked off line by an unrepaired pitch mark.
So what can green staff do to ensure that their green are “pitch mark” free, well to be honest other than have a member of staff on each green repairing every pitch mark as they happen, not a lot.
The responsibility lies in the hands of the golfer. It is your responsibility to repair your pitch mark, it is your responsibility to search for it as soon as you enter the green. It is your responsibility to make sure that your playing partners take the time to search for their pitch mark as well. As a golfer it is your responsibility to repair every pitch mark that you see on the green.
I have lost count of the number of times that I have witnessed a golfer tap down a pitch mark without even attempting to repair it correctly, the number of golfers that don’t even look to see if they have left an ugly mark on the green is even more worrying.
There are 3 types of pitch mark that all require the same level of attention and care so that they do not damage the green for weeks or even months.
The first causes the most damage as it rips through the roots of the grass. The pitch mark is long and deep and to repair it requires care. You should place your pith fork at the back of the mark and gently push it I towards the center, making sure not to lift the turf. Move around the edges doing the same thing, pushing into the center. At no point should you attempt to lift the turf up, this will cause even more damage.
The second is a simple mark, that is a similar size and shape to the ball. This pitch mark has dented the green, but hopefully not damaged the roots of the grass.
The third is the least repaired pitch mark of all and is the culprit for the ugly marks on the greens. It is a small depression caused by a chip from around the green, they are not easy to find and the majority of people do not even look for them.
All pitch marks should be repaired in the same way, starting from the back of the pitch mark and pushing all sides into the center. It is vital that under no circumstance so you lift the turf to repair the pitch mark, this will just do more damage than good.
It is also advisable not to replace the “divot” of grass that sometimes comes out of the pitch mark, this grass will not “bed” back into the green and will deprive the newly repaired pitch mark of sun and could also cause more damage when the lawnmower passes over the green in the future.
It is the duty and obligation of each golfer to ensure that pith marks are repaired. If you see a golfer at your course that fails to repair a pitch mark then make them aware of it. If you visit a local course, then make sure you treat the greens, and the course in general, exactly the same way as you would expect a visitor to treat your course.
I believe that there is absolutely no reason for a green to be riddled with pitch marks if we all take the time and care that we should to find and repair our pitch marks.
Until Next Time,
The Golf Swing Doctor,
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