Increased interest in golf was certainly one positive that came from the COVID-19 pandemic. Most courses I work with are experiencing record rounds and many private and semiprivate courses now have waiting lists. Maintenance crews, despite a tough labor market, are doing an extraordinary job – but it feels like they haven’t been getting as much help from golfers lately. It seems to have gotten a little too easy to skip repairing that ball mark on a green, to skip raking a bunker after your shot, or to forget about filling your divot with sand.
All of these small acts of neglect can end up having a big impact on playability. There is no disputing that an unrepaired ball mark in your line will affect your potential for making a putt. Winding up in an unrepaired fairway divot or in an unraked footprint in a bunker makes the next shot much harder and might add some strokes to your score. The most frustrating part of these issues is that they are almost entirely avoidable with a little effort from golfers.
On a recent USGA Course Consulting Service visit, a golfer came up to our group and proclaimed with a wide smile: “The course is great, and for every time I repair my ball mark on the green, I’m repairing two others.” I took an instant liking to this gentleman and this approach. Doing this good deed gave him satisfaction that he was doing his part to better the course. If a few other golfers see him doing it, hopefully it will remind them to address their own impact on the course to benefit everyone else who plays.
As we transition back to more normal times, we can all enjoy golf not only as it was, but maybe we can make it better. Playing golf involves good manners and etiquette that should include taking care of the course. If you make a ball mark on a green or leave footprints in a bunker, take a few seconds to repair them before continuing with your round. Whether the golfers behind you know it or not, their round was improved by your efforts in the same way that someone else made an effort to care for the course so you could enjoy your round and make that birdie putt.
Southeast Region Agronomists:
Chris Hartwiger, director, USGA Course Consulting Service – firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Kammerer, Ph.D., senior consulting agronomist – email@example.com
Jordan Booth, Ph.D., agronomist – firstname.lastname@example.org
Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service