We encourage you to read through and follow these valuable course care tips. Collectively, we can elevate the overall aesthetic and playability of the golf course, while educating each other on the proper techniques to accomplish this common goal.
Bunkers make this game more difficult, as finding your ball in one often results in a penalty, or 2. Bunkers are problematic enough as is, but rolling into someone’s footprint or poor rake pattern makes them nearly impossible! Like filing divots and fixing ball marks, proper bunker raking is a vital piece of good course stewardship.
The chief objective when raking a bunker is to create a smooth surface for the golfers who follow. Pushing the rake away from my body, while working outward, works well for me; but that may not necessarily work best for you. Whichever technique you use is your prerogative, so as the sand that is left behind is smooth, without any jagged teeth marks or lingering footprints. Before leaving the bunker, you should tap any remaining sand off the bottom of your shoes and place the rake parallel to the bunker edge.
Using a little finesse, and a lot of common sense, you can leave the bunker in a condition that is both acceptable for play and appearance. Please take a look at the attached pictures to see appropriate and not-so-appropriate ways to leave a bunker.
Driving Range Divots
As evidence of our driving range tee, golfers love to practice. With every swing of a iron, a divot is usually removed. Even just a quick warm up with 25-30 balls can be pretty damaging to the driving range tee depending on the divot pattern. Golfers have a big impact on the amount of turf coverage and performance of practice range tees. How one practices not only influences how much turf is removed with each swing, but also how quickly the turf will recover. The three most common divot patterns are: scattered, linear, and concentrated.
A scattered divot pattern is recommended for the golfer that does not take the large, deep divots consistent to what you see from a professional golfer. While this is divot pattern can be spatially inefficient, it will fill in faster than the other two. This is because the turf surrounding the divot is undisturbed, making it the easiest to fill in with time.
The linear divot pattern involves placing each shot directly behind the previous divot. In doing so, a linear pattern is created and only a small amount of turf is removed with each swing. This can usually be done for 15 to 20 shots before moving sideways to create a new line of divots. So long as a section of undisturbed turf is preserved between strips of divots, the turf will recover in quickly. Because this divot pattern is spatially efficient and promotes quick recovery, it is the preferred method for the golfer that is strictly practicing for an extended period of time.
A concentrated divot pattern removes all turf in a given area. While this approach is the most efficient use of space, by creating a large void in the turf canopy there is little opportunity for timely turf recovery. We strongly advise against this divot pattern.
Growing up, my dad's on-the-course catchphrase was, "Fix yours, and two others!", in reference to ball marks. As kids, it felt like an Easter egg hunt, as we'd compete to see who could repair the most. Unfortunately, as I got older, I came to understand the damage an unfixed ball mark causes, and the excitement of finding many turned to frustration.
You see, as golfers, a small amount of time and attention can go a long way in helping the overall quality and aesthetics of the putting surface. Not only does an unrepaired ballmark take weeks, sometimes months, to heal; but the void can allow weeds, such as Poa Annua, to infiltrate the green. In addition, unrepaired ballmarks can impact green speed and cause putts to bounce off line.
The proper way to fix a ball mark is quick and easy, and can be done with any almost pointed object. A designated ball mark repair tool works great, although a standard golf tee works just as well! Insert your selected tool behind the ball mark and gently pull the top of the tool toward the center. Continue working around the ball mark, pulling the surrounding turf in toward the center of the indentation. Once you have finished pulling turf in toward the center, gently tamp the area down with your putter to create a smooth, firm surface.
One point should be made about ball mark repair techniques; while everyone can agree that aggressively lifting the dented turf is damaging for the roots, the USGA and GCSAA have slightly different verbiage when it comes to their technique. Below are the official illustrations from both organizations. If you can look past the specific adverbs used to describe the action, you can see they are very similar in their approach.
Below is the USGA and GCSAA's illustration on proper ball mark repair:
As we know, a well struck ball typically produces a divot. When we say divot, we are talking about two things: the piece of turf that goes flying and the scar left behind. Not only does an untouched divot diminish the play-ability of the golf course, it will also result in some pretty grumpy golfers revisiting the fact that the USGA did not decide to amend the divot rule in the 2019 modernized Rules of Golf.
Knowing we must play the ball as it lies, the incentive to repair every divot we make becomes greater. Having to play a ball out of a divot you created the day prior is probably the ultimate form of 'golf karma'. Together, let's make sure that never happens!
You may ask yourself, "I just hit the purest shot of my life, a chuck of turf flew 15 yards forwards, and I'm standing above a void the size of a small animal. What do I do next?" It's pretty simple, if the 'chunk of turf' held together and is larger than a dollar bill, pick it up and replace it. If it fell apart on contact, take your sand bottle and fill the divot. Whether you replace or fill make sure that the final product results in a level playing surface for the golfers that follow.
The next question you may ask yourself is, "We've got a maintenance staff to take care of divots, why should I have to participate in this?" While this is a valid question, if you find yourself asking this, we encourage you to spend some time with our team while we are filling divots. For every divot we fill, 5 more are created.