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How to Repair Ball Marks in Golf – Golf Ball Divot Repair Techniques for Golf Greens

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As fun as golfing is, the golf etiquette surrounding it takes some time to comprehend and get used to. But that’s not a problem. One of the things to first understand is how to repair ball marks from approach shots on the greens. Unfortunately, some newbie golfers refuse to understand this unwritten and unspoken rule, and even some well-known golfers have been repairing their golf ball marks incorrectly without knowing.

Imagine yourself playing a round of golf, you hit an awesome tee shot, and you’re now left with a 30-foot putt. It isn’t easy to think of a better feeling than sinking a long putt for birdie. However, it is also quite hard to come up with something worse than watching that same golf ball roll towards its target, only to hit an old divot and miss the cup. Imagine how frustrated you would be! These are risks that revolve around leaving a ball mark, so take the tie to repair all your golf divot marks. Yes, it can take some time to fix these ball marks, but you will have the golf course superintendent, the golf course pro, and all other golfers thanking you for repairing your ball marks.  

Most of the time, you will need to repair the ball mark once you have a green in regulation. Find out more on what is a GIR in golf here!

This relatively short but detailed article will enlighten you on how to repair a golf divot mark correctly. See it as a friendly reminder that fixing your golf ball marks is a healthy habit to teach. This article will also delve into the details on how to do it the right way because it is a vital part of the sport, and as a golfer, you must take care of all the golf courses you play.

What are ball marks?

A ball mark is a little crater or concave impression in the grass that’s often left by a golf ball when it ultimately lands on the green from a high approach shot. These craters or depressions form when the golf ball drops after a hard hit or an extremely high shot. The ball must reach enough velocity to leave a golf-ball-sized dent on the green surface to create this land impression. Depending on the green’s hardness, you will not always leave a divot mark when you hit the green.

But why is it crucial to fix all your ball marks? Ball marks left unrepaired are nightmares for the golf courses grounds crew and, of course, you the golfer as well. An unrepaired golf ball mark or one that hasn’t been repaired properly can kill the grass on the golf greens and turn a smooth green into a crater-filled and lifeless surface that looks like the moon’s shape. No golf course ever wants to see this.

Smooth golf greens mean smoother putts for golfers and less opportunity for a golf ball to be knocked off of the golfers’ line. Repairing one helps keep the grass green, and it is, of course, healthy too. A healthy green means smooth grass and a happy crew who’ll be eager to allocate more time to tend to other parts of the golf course.

Interestingly, more important than repairing a ball mark is ensuring that you repair it correctly. A faulty technique can damage the golf green, but it can also take a very long time to fix. Interestingly, when a ball mark repair is done incorrectly, there’s bound to be more damage than just not repairing it.

How to repair golf ball marks the correct way

Our experts recommend these steps to repair divot holes on a golf green correctly. These steps include:

Making use of a golf divot repair tool

You must get a golf divot repair tool as soon as you can. This will make clearing your divot much easier than any other tool you have in your golf bag. Once you are able to get one of the best golf divot tools, insert the prongs of this tool into the turf right at the edge of the crater. But remember, do not insert the prongs into the crater itself. Instead, insert it at the crater’s rim.

*Inserting the divot tool into the crater itself can damage the grass and surrounding areas of the green.*

Fixing a ball mark on a green at a golf course in AZ
Fixing a ball mark the proper way on a golf green in AZ.

Push the edge of the ball mark forward

Use the ball mark tool in a gentle pushing motion toward the center of the crater to fill in the crater. Do not worry if this step is not perfect, you will clean this all up in the end.

*This is the step most golfers often get wrong. Most golfers believe the way to fix this properly is by inserting the repair tool at an angle, so the prongs are right beneath the crater’s center and by using the tool as a lever to further push the bottom of the ball mark up, even with the surface. This tends to pull the roots away from the grass and destroys the grass in the long run. Do not use this technique.*

Push the grass to the center

When you’ve worked around the rim of the particular ball mark using a repair tool, push the grass toward the center. And there’s one thing left to do. Tamp down the repaired ball mark with a putter to smooth the putting’s surface. Don’t stop repairing your ball marks, and give other golfers a heads up.

Five techniques on how to repair golf ball marks

Reiteratively, repairing ball marks on the greens is quite an easy way to leave a positive mark, though the essentiality lies in the technique and the tools used. Asides from the three steps we stated above, these are extra tips every golfer should know about the intricacies of repairing ball marks.

1. Taking the proper route is easy and fast.

Insert the repair tool behind the ball mark and put the top of the tool close to the center. Keep working around the mark and pull the surrounding turf toward the center of the indentation. However, you should avoid twisting motion because this can damage turf roots. And once you’ve finished pulling turf in toward the center, subtly tamp the spot the area down with your putter to create a firm surface and flatten any uneven surfaces.

getting ready to show how to repair ball marks in AZ

2. Faulty ball marks can morph into something worse.

Failing to repair a ball mark properly may be a simple mistake, though doing this will have huge consequences for the course. Unrepaired ball marks, once hardened, can take days or weeks to fix. And during this time, the faults can cause the golf balls to bounce or move from a golfer’s intended line. Interestingly, any depression in the greens is an entry point for weeds that can cause serious problems to any green.

3. Soft conditions mean more ball marks.

When playing on golf greens that are soft, the ball marks will be more of an issue. If an excessive soft layer accumulates right underneath the putting surface, the ball marks will be much more problematic. It is one of the reasons why golf course superintendents work hard to promote firm playing conditions with topdressing, aeration, and other known golf course maintenance practices.

4. Certain putting greens are vulnerable to ball marks compared to others

Any golf putting green that receives lofted approach shots will be susceptible to all ball marks. Meanwhile, the greens on par-3 holes are ideal examples. And if you recognize that a putting green is prone to damage from all ball marks, you will be able to proactive manage it better. For par 3’s, it is crucial for you to mark all ball marks that you see even if they are not yours. This will help promote a healthy playing surface for years to come.

Example of ball marks and how to repair them
Example of a divot ball mark that needs to be repaired

5. All pointed tools can fix a ball mark.

Curious about how to repair your golf ball divot mark without a divot tool? Different tools can repair ball marks, including fork-shaped and single-pronged tools. But almost any pointed tool can be used to repair a ball mark. Using the proper technique is essential to repair a ball mark. Golf tees are one of the most common things used in the replacement of a golf divot tool.

Long Bombs Golf Final Say:

The USGA is very strict about golf ball mark repair. Continue to repair your entire ball marks and remind others to ensure that our greens look and stay in great shape. And now that we’ve established that you shouldn’t be prying or twisting the turf, you should endeavor to repair your ball marks. Hopefully, you learned how to repair your golf ball divot marks. 


About the Author


How we got onto 16 with a 5 minute wait at the WM Phoenix Open!

How I got on hole 16 (The Stadium hole) at the Waste Management Phoenix Open with little to no wait!! I also have tips and tricks on what to do once you are inside the gate and inside the stadium hole. Check this out if you ever plan to make a trip out! If you ever have the chance, it is definitely worth the trip.

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