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Of the specific course-related behaviors cited by Post Golf Survey respondents, one faux pas stands out above all others: Failing to repair ball marks on the green. What makes this failure so tragic is if a ball mark is repaired immediately after it's made, the spot quickly grows back into a smooth, unscarred stretch of grass. A ball mark left unrepaired, however, is an unfixable blemish that will remain visible for weeks. Even worse, these ball marks aren't found just on the periphery of the green. They often occur near the flagstick, where they can potentially affect the putting of every golfer playing that hole. Repair marks off the green, too!
Most clubs have ball-mark repair tools that they either give out as freebies or sell for a nominal fee. Carry one in in your golf bag with your spare tees, ball markers, and golf glove, if you use one. To repair a ball mark:
Do not insert the tool and then pull the handle away from the mark, causing the tip of the tool to lift the mark. While this may seem like an easy way to raise the indentation made by the mark, by lifting the ground you tear the roots of the grass and kill it, leaving a blemish that will take weeks to heal.
Let me make a quick public plea to golfers everywhere: Fill in your divots, please! Golf is hard enough to play without having to worry about hitting your ball out of someone else's divot. There's an inherent unfairness to hitting a great tee shot down the middle of the fairway, only to find your ball half-buried in a divot: A great shot, penalized unfairly. A number of golfers have even suggested that a rule be passed allowing them to remove their ball from a divot if it should happen to land in one. So far, the USGA has not acquiesced to their wish.
If you're new to a course, check with the starter or with the golfers you're playing with regarding the best way to fix divots at that course. There are two basic options:
Remember that regardless of the method used, the key is to check on the correct procedure for the course you're playing, and then follow it.