Repairing pitchmarks

With the Masters only a month away and many golfers already thinking about getting back out onto the course after their winter hibernation, this could be a good time to remind people of that perennial problem the golf world over. Please repair your pitchmark!

At this time of year increased play inevitably leads to more pitchmarks being left on greens which is largely down to the naturally occurring softer ground conditions. However, it is also as a result of golfers not repairing them. All golf courses in the UK face this issue at this time of year and it’s a cause for concern with the additional problems pitchmarks can bring.

The increased numbers arise despite golfers in every Clubhouse in the land often being heard to remark, “Why can’t people repair their pitchmarks?” Everyone you talk to always claim that they repair 3 or 4 on every green.

Last year, I took a bag of practice balls out to some greens and placed a ball in each unrepaired pitchmark. Having only 75 balls, I ran out before I had covered even half of the green in each instance. The below image shows the 8th green of the Eden Course where the slope at the front was worse for pitchmarks than the main part of the green. The image below shows the 1st green on the Eden where 75 balls only covered the pitchmarks on 25% on the green.


As well as looking unsightly, from a golfing point of view, pitchmarks can affect ball roll and cause a player’s putt to bobble and deviate offline. Studies have shown that on average, a golfer will make 8 pitchmarks during a round of golf. If 130 rounds are played per day, that’s over 1,000 pitchmarks per week; no surprise then that it can be difficult to hole a putt!

It’s essential that all players are diligent in their repair of pitchmarks on greens. A correctly repaired pitchmark will recover in 24 hours. An unrepaired pitchmark left unattended for two hours will take up to two months to recover.

Unrepaired pitchmarks also foster disease and infections in the green as any gaps left in the turf will be filled by Annual Meadow Grass. This is a much weaker grass type than the favoured fescues and bents we encourage and is much more prone to disease attacks.

Due to the exceptionally mild and damp weather around the turn of the year, staff were constantly on the lookout for disease outbreaks. Spraying a preventative fungicides to combat this is an expensive operation at over £2000 per application for 18 holes while it isn’t an ideal course of action as regards good environmental stewardship.

When it comes to repairing pitchmarks there is a right way and a wrong way.  The right way really aids their recovery and there are many diagrams available online for Golf Clubs to display on notice boards.


In summary, you should take your ball mark repair tool and insert the prongs into the turf at the edge of the depression. Do NOT insert the prongs into the depression itself, but at the rim of the depression. Then push the edge of the ball mark toward the centre, using your ball mark repair tool in a gentle twisting motion. Do not insert and attempt to push up the depression as this only leads to tearing the root and killing the grass.

Next time you’re out on the Links or any course for that matter try and do your bit to help us deliver smooth, firm and true greens this year.

Words by Gordon Moir, Director of Greenkeeping


Header image credit: Welkom bij UGC De Pan

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