Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ball marks are a pet peeve of many superintendents and golfers around the world.  There are different reasons that this is the case, but we’d like to take a few minutes to express some of the reasons why they are a pet peeve of ours.  First of all, we’re in the business of creating the best possible course conditions while operating within a given budget.  When our staff has to spend time repairing ball marks, it is taking away from other tasks that they could be completing.  To us, it is difficult to justify spending man hours repairing ball marks that should have been fixed by the golfers that created them.  Therefore, when we send a crew out to mow greens, it takes longer to complete the task because they must walk the entire green fixing marks prior to mowing. 

Since the grounds staff is typically the first ones on the golf courses in the morning, we must set up the golf course as quickly as possible to prepare for the day’s golfers.  While we are out there, we can’t help but think about the last group out from the day before.  Imagine what the greens looked like for that group if even 1 person from each group didn’t repair their ball marks.  Sometimes it’s hard to find a line to the cup without a ball mark in it and that’s a poor product for the afternoon golfers!  These ball marks will always leave a scar, but fixing them properly will greatly reduce the recovery time.  We’d like to include an excerpt from the February, 2006 Golf Course Management… “Proper use of a ball mark repair tool resulted in smaller scars and better surface quality and required nearly half the recovery time of an unfixed or improperly fixed ball mark.”  We work hard to keep the golf courses in great shape and we need help from the golfers to “pay it forward” to the groups that come behind them.  Like the old saying goes, “leave it in better shape that how you found it!”

 One last reason the turfcare department doesn’t like ball marks stems from creating a place for fungal diseases to incubate.  The soil profile is a living, breathing environment that we as turfgrass managers must assess, monitor, and modify if necessary.  The extremely low heights at which we mow golf greens coupled with the high traffic volume these greens are subjected to can create less-than-ideal growing conditions for turf.  With these added stresses, the ever-present fungal pathogens in the soil are allowed to grow and thrive if not suppressed.  I was out walking the greens this morning and found a perfect example of fungal mycelium growing in a ball mark.  Fungi  are some of the most common turf pathogens and can create poor playing conditions if left unchecked.  Repairing ball marks won’t keep diseases from infecting turf, but reducing areas where pathogens can survive may limit the number of infection sites on a golf green.

As always, if this email creates any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thank You,

Mike Turner, Director of Agronomy

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