Green keepers are the often forgotten force of a golf course, working hard to keep the course in top conditions. So it is no surprise that the superintendent can get annoyed and upset when golfers fail to look after the golf course.
So how can you get into your superintendents good books?
1 – Almost certainly the best thing you can do is to repair your pitch mark (ball mark), after all the greens are the most important aspect of a golf course. I must point out that incorrectly repairing a pitch mark is worse than not repairing it and causes more of a headache for the superintendent and his team. Everybody should repair at least one pitch mark per green, so even if you don´t find your own pitch mark repair another one.
To correctly repair a pitch mark you must push the “creased” turf back towards the centre of the indentation, working your way around the edge. When you have finished gently tap down the turf to leave a flat well repaired pitch mark. Under no circumstances should you lift the center of the pitch mark to the surface, this will just damage the roots and leave a nasty scar on the putting surface.
2 – Replace divots. When you have played your shot you must replace your divots. Go pick up the divot from down the fairway, place it back in the hole and press it down, making sure that the surface is more or less level. If the course provides you with sand, use it, place a little sand in the divot and smooth it over. This will ensure that the golf course remains in good condition.
3 – Correctly and carefully replace the flag. This may seem a strange thing to say, but the number of holes I have seen damaged by players failing to take care when replacing the flag is ridiculous. When you take the flag out of the hole, be sure not to scrap it along the lip of the hole and do not just throw it down on the green. Place it carefully on the ground to avoid unnecessary damage. When you replace it, ensure you replace it in the center of the hole and make sure you have pushed it in correctly, especially on windy days.
4 – Rake bunkers when you have finished playing from them. It is common courtesy to leave the bunker in the same state as you found it. So rake and smooth out ALL of your footsteps. Walk backwards towards the lip of the bunker so that you can see all of the marks that you have made and any that you have missed. Do no walk towards the lip dragging the rake behind you. When you have finished raking the bunker leave the rake in a position that will help players behind maintain speed of play, do not just throw it down anywhere. In my opinion you should leave the head of the rake in the sand with the handle on the side, this way the chance of the rake interfering with play is reduced.
5 – On the green, tread carefully and avoid dragging your feet, leaving unsightly marks on the green. If you are wearing metal spikes repair any spike marks as you leave the green. Another no – no on the green is leaning on your putter, this will leave an indentation much like a ball mark only bigger and more damaging.
6 – Buggies / Carts. If you use a cart take a while to think about where you drive and park the cart. A big problem green keepers face is the wear to grass on the sides of cart paths, especially by the tee boxes. Please do not park the buggy half on the path and half on the grass, as this damages the grass verges and leads to ugly bare patches. Bare patches that with a little consideration and care can be avoided. When driving the buggy try not to make any sudden directional changes which can churn up the grass, especially during the wet season or when early morning dew is present.
Always follow the directions and where possible stick to the cart paths and never take carts onto or close to the fringes of the greens.
7 – Trolleys are more versatile than carts and can be taken almost anywhere on the course. However under no circumstances should you leave a trolley on a tee box or enter the green with your trolley. In the wetter winter months, avoid the soft wet areas where the weight of the clubs will leave nasty ruts in the surface.
8 – Do not intentionally stand on or damage trees and plants. This may be something that you do not consider when faced with a shot from beneath trees, but damaging trees and shrubs increases the work load for the maintenance team. Remember that you are not allowed to bend or push branches or shrubs out of your way as this is deemed to be improving your lie.
9 – Respect the green keepers. If you see that a member of the green staff is working do not play until they are aware of your presence, it is extremely dangerous and could lead to nasty injuries, especially if they are operating machinery. Most green staff will move to one side as soon as they realize you are waiting to play. Remember that they are working to present the course in the best possible state for you.
10 – Pick up your broken tees and place them in the bin or depository at the side of the tee. Broken tees can create problems with the blades of the mowers.
All of the above good habits will aid the green staff in maintaining the golf course to the highest possible standard. This, in turn creates a better golfing experience for you the golfer.
You should always leave the course as you would expect to find it, set an example to those you play with and take care of your golf course.