Ball marks - also called pitch marks - are the bane of smooth-putting and healthy greens on golf courses all over the world. They're the little depressions, or craters, sometimes made when a golf ball descends from the sky and impacts the putting surface.
Repairing those little depressions is very important. Equally important is doing it the right way. Because while many golfers fail to repair ball marks - and shame on you if you are one of them - there are also many well-meaning golfers who do "repair" the pitch marks, only to do so incorrectly.
A ball mark can cause the grass in the depression to die, leaving not just a scar but also a pit in the putting surface that can knock well-struck putts offline. Repairing a ball mark restores a smooth surface and helps keep the grass healthy. But "repairing" a ball mark incorrectly can actually cause more damage than not attempting to repair it at all, according to a study done at Kansas State University.
The KSU researchers, whose conclusions were reported on Cybergolf.com, found that incorrectly "repaired" ball marks take up to twice as long to heal as those that are properly repaired.
So golfers, lets all start fixing our ball marks, and doing it the right way. And if you have a moment - if there isn't another group of golfers behind you waiting for you to clear the green - fix one or two other ball marks, too, if you find more of them on the green.
Repairing ball marks isn't just important for the health of the greens, and for smooth-rolling putts. It isn't just a matter of golf etiquette. It is our obligation to help take care of the golf courses we play. And repairing ball marks is a big part of that obligation to the game.
On the next few pages are illustrations courtesy of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, and text explaining the right way to fix ball marks.