How to Solve The Issue of Pitch Marks
We all fix our own, plus at least a couple more on every green, right?
The issues of pitch marks is ever prevalent in golf. Whilst we all claim to be fixing our own, as well as everybody else’s, their overall numbers don’t seem to be dwindling. So how can we all go about solving the issue of pitch marks to ensure the fine work our greenkeepers carry out each morning isn’t undone by the general golfing public. We put the question out to our own audience and crowdsourced some potential solutions, as well as adding in our own thoughts from speaking to those in the greenkeeping fraternity.
It must be noted that the below is entirely caveated by the assumption that most people don’t want to putt on greens that are filled with pitch marks, and have some pride in their own courses, or respect for a course that they’re visiting. We’re aware that this assumption may not cover 100% of those that play the game - but we’d like to think that it covers most, if not all of the Golfshake readership.
We’ve all seen the signs dotted around the course asking us to repair our pitch marks. Some clubs even go as far as to spell out the sheer number of marks which are made each day on the green; “did you know … each player, 8 pitch marks, 130 rounds a day, 1,040 a day, 31,000 a month, 374,400 a year …”. However, one of the biggest issues is that golfers don’t seem to understand when pitch marks are made, with many believing that they’re reserved for scratch golfers hitting towering iron shots into greens from 190-yards. Unsurprisingly, this just isn’t the case, with softer winter greens often seeing marks from the simplest of chip shots. More needs to be done to remind golfers that they should be looking for their pitch mark on virtually every approach to a green … if they can’t find theirs, or didn’t leave one, then fix somebody else’s!
One of the best suggestions which came from our Facebook audience was the implementation of ‘Member Greens’. The commentor's golf club allocated greens to look after, based on surnames of the membership (i.e., 1st green looked after by members whose name begins with ‘A’). This seems a fantastic idea, and could generate competition between the membership as to which green is best maintained. Additionally, the promise of potential incentives such as a monthly prize to the best group, or even a reduction of next year’s fees could really ensure this was a success.
Other potential incentives include member’s pitch mark evenings. Many clubs have member’s divoting nights throughout the season, rewarded by a drink from the greens team afterwards. This could be simply extended to also cover the repairing of pitch marks too, to ensure they’re ready for the greenkeepers to cut and roll them the following day - as cutting and rolling over unrepaired marks can cause longer term damage to greens.
Tour & Organisation Led Initiatives
It may not seem like the most important issue in the game, but a Tour or oganisation-led push on the repairing of pitch marks could go a long way to encouraging more golfers to get on board. Heck, we’d suggest that Tyrrell Hatton could become the official ambassador, with footage of him being robbed at a shot of victory on the PGA TOUR by a bump on the green used to emphasise the point. People pay attention to the world’s best players, and if the sport really wanted to shine a light on this issue, then utilising some start power could go a long way, particularly helping to connect to younger golfers.
Technology & Tools
Pitch marks can be repaired by a tee-peg, there’s literally no excuse for not attempting to fix one on the green. However, for those that might need an extra push, let us suggest a couple of ideas - one silly, one serious.
The more serious idea would be the placing of a pitch mark repairer by the side of each green for people that don’t have their own. This way, there’s no chance for people to use the excuse of not having something to repair their mark with. You could even affix it to the flag stick to really make the point …
The more fun solution would be to make pitch mark repairers themselves more interesting! Stoke Park used to sell tools which looked like gold bars, a nod to their James Bond connection. There’s also a plethora of new independent manufacturers making cool divot tools which people are proud to show off. Hopefully these continue to grow and we end up seeing a decent reduction in pitch marks as a result.
Scotty Cameron famously used to include a divot tool within the headcover of all new putters, and people cherished these almost as much as the putters themselves! We’d love to see a return to that … or for somebody else to pick up the mantle.
The last tactic isn’t the one we’re most proud to suggest, but one more extreme solution to ‘encouraging’ members to fix their pitch marks is to more actively call out those that don’t. Many golf clubs have an 18th or 9th green which is located relatively close to the clubhouse, and having a member or pro shop staff keeping an eye on the groups coming through on a particular day, may just give members the push they need to at least make sure that their marks are repaired on this green. Regularly slamming a putter into the green, or a driver into a tee box would likely warrant a quiet word, why not apply the same theory to deliberately leaving holes in the putting surface?
Whatever the solution is, it’s going to need to come from golfers themselves (ourselves?), and so whilst many still have an attitude of “I always do mine …”, the problem isn’t likely to get solved in its entirety any time soon. What’s your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!
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