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GOLF ETIQUETTE: THE HOW AND WHY OF REPAIRING YOUR BALL MARK

The unique etiquette of golf is one that takes some beginner golfers some time to get used too. One of the biggest things to learn is how to repair your ball mark. Some beginner golfers have yet to learn this almost unspoken rule of the game, and then there are even some established and good-intentioned golfers out there that have been repairing their ball marks the wrong way.

Here is what a ball mark would look like directly after impact after a rainy day.

This article will stand as a friendly reminder to all golfers, men or women, young and old, beginner or avid, that fixing your ball marks it is a good habit to get into. This article will also delve into how to do it properly because it is an important part of the game and every golfer has an obligation to help take care of the courses we play. 

What is a ball mark?

A ball mark is a little depression or crater in the grass left by a golf ball when it lands on the green from a tee shot or approach shot. They’re formed usually by an extremely high or hard-hit shot in which the golf ball reaches enough velocity and direct impact to leave a golfball-sized dent on the putting surface. 

Why is it important to fix?

Unrepaired ball marks are a nightmare for a course grounds crew and you, the golfer! A ball mark that has gone unrepaired or repaired unproperly can kill the grass and can turn a beautiful and smooth green into a lifeless and crater filled surface that resembles the surface of the moon. 

Repairing a ball mark restores a smooth surface and helps keep the grass as green and healthy as it can be. A smooth and healthy green means a happy grounds crew who can allocate more time to tending to other parts of the course. Smooth greens also mean smoother putts for the golfer and less opportunity for a well-hit ball to be knocked offline by a divot in the green. 

A simple design divot repair tool, by Pinnacle. This is just one design, but they can look different and be made out of wood, metal, or plastic.

What is even more important than repairing your ball mark is making sure you are repairing it the proper way. Not only can an improper technique damage the green severely, but it also can take a long time to repair. Researchers at Kansas State University conducted a study that found repairing a ball mark incorrectly can actually cause more damage than not attempting to repair it at all, sometimes take twice as long.

What is a divot repair tool? 

A divot repair tool is exactly what it sounds like! It assists golfers in fixing their ball marks and should be an essential item in every golfer’s golf bag. It is a small two-pronged tool usually made out of hard plastic or metal. They are relatively cheap and can be found for sale at almost every golf course, but if you are a thrifty individual or have lost your divot repair tool you can use a golf tee to repair ball marks as well. 

How to properly repair a ball mark?

Here are the steps recommended by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America on how to properly repair divot holes on a green.

Follow step #1 and insert your repair tool into the turf like this at a 45-degree angle.

Step #1:   Take your ball mark repair tool and insert the prongs into the turf at the edge of the depression. Note: Do NOT insert the prongs into the depression itself, but at the rim of the depression.

Step #2:  The next step is to push the edge of the ball mark toward the center, using your ball mark repair tool in a “gentle twisting motion,” in the words of the GCSAA.

This is the step where golfers who incorrectly “repair” ball marks usually mess up. Many golfers believe the way to “fix” a ball mark is to insert the tool at an angle, so the prongs are beneath the center of the crater, and then to use the tool as a lever to push the bottom of the ball mark back up even with the surface. Do not do this! Pushing the bottom of the depression upward only tears the roots, and kills the grass.

The green on hole #8 at River Oaks Golf Course.

Step #3:  Once you’ve worked around the rim of the ball mark with your repair tool, pushing the grass toward the center, there’s only one thing left to do: Gently tamp down the repaired ball mark with your putter smooth the putting surface.

Please continue to repair your ball marks and remind others to do so as well, so we can keep our greens looking like this!

CORONA & THE GOLFING SEASON: WHAT CAN WE EXPECT?

The City of Cottage Grove is doing its part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and unfortunately, that means closing River Oaks until March 29th. It is such a shame that right when it seems that the Twin Cities is at the cusp of what seems like an early golf season we find our selves amid a national health emergency. Most public places are being avoided at all costs, events are being canceled, kids are out of school and people are working from home. It is a rather strange time . . . but what will all this mean for the golf season?

Well, the PGA has closed down in response to the coronavirus and some golf clubs around the nation are following suit. It is even questionable if there will be a Masters this year. 

Who knows what this national emergency will look like in two weeks? It could get better or worse, but either way, it doesn’t look like the virus is going away anytime soon. Even when we can all come out of quarantine (whenever that may be) we will still have to practice our social distancing. 

The truth is golf is a very low-risk scenario when it comes to spreading the virus, but that doesn’t mean that golf goes without any risk. When River Oaks does officially open up it’s the course for the season it will be good to implement these social distancing practices on the golf course.

Tips for golfing with the coronavirus:

  1. Golf can be a solitary sport, try golfing alone.
  2. If you are golfing with others, avoid the 18th green handshakes.
  3. Store a bottle of hand sanitizer in your golf bag.
  4. Wipe down your club handles and golf bag with alcohol wipes.
  5. Avoid picking up random golf balls you find on the course.
  6. Wipe down seat, steering wheels, handles, and cup holders if you take a cart or perhaps consider walking.
  7. Leave the cellphone in the car.
  8. Consider washing or sanitizing your golf glove before and after your round.

Following these simple tips will further help prevent the spread of COVID-19 once our golf season starts. The golf season will come. Everyone at River Oaks is anticipating and preparing for the day that we can finally open the course, but the health and safety of our customers mean a lot to us and we will work to continue to provide a safe environment and serve the needs of our customers as best as we can.

Snow at River Oaks Golf Course - Cottage Grove

5 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR GOLF GAME THIS WINTER

It can be difficult working on your golf game when you live in a northern state like Minnesota! If you live in the Twin Cities metro area, you are lucky to get six months of solid golf play before the long Minnesota winter shuts down like the white lid of a box. Even though most Minnesotians are acclimated to the cold weather, nobody wants to golf in a foot of snow with a windchill of – 20 degrees. Whatever the reason, it’s during the winter months that we need to find creative ways to keep improving our game. I mean, we’re not gonna stop golfing just because of a little cold weather, are we?

Here are 5 ways for you to improve your golf game this winter. 

1. Chip and Putt at Home

Chipping and putting is an easy thing that everyone can do to work on their golf game from home (provided that you have space and carpet). You can keep it as simple as putting into a coffee mug at the end of your hallway or you can invest a little money into some indoor equipment.

They make indoor putting mats and cups with automatic ball-return that are relatively inexpensive. If you are looking to improve your short game from home, consider purchasing a chipping net. If you plan on chipping inside, I would suggest using practice balls! These practice balls feel, spin, and react like a real golf ball but are much softer and have less distance. They can be used indoors and won’t damage drywall, furniture or other property. 

2. Find an Indoor Driving Range

Practicing your drives at home proves to be a little more challenging than chipping and putting. Of course, hitting into a net from short distances allows you to get a feel for your swing, but finding the indoor space to swing a driver (the longest club in your bag) can be difficult. 

However, there are heated indoor driving ranges you can go to that will allow you to take a full swing at a real ball and watch it fly off the tee! The Midwest Golf Dome is a local favorite for the Twin Cities area with 33 stalls and indoor chipping and putting green.

Topgolf in Brooklyn Center is also a place you can go in the winter months to practice your swing. Even though it technically isn’t an indoor range, Topgolf has over 100 climate-controlled hitting bays that will allow you to comfortably work on your swing in a T-Shirt, even in the dead of winter. 

3. Play Golf on a Simulator

Golf simulating technology has really come a long way over the last decade! Early golf simulators felt more like playing an archaic video game with many bugs and glitches that didn’t really allow you to gauge your actual state of play, but now there are simulators that make it feel like you are playing an actual round of golf. Simulators give you the chance to play at famous courses like Pebble Beach or TPC Sawgrass, giving you a pretty realistic score in the process.

If you are looking to try out one of these state-of-the-art simulators, indoor golf and entertainment facilities have begun to pop up in recent years. X-Golf and Birdi Golf are two new businesses that have opened up the city of Woodbury that are as realistic and accurate as simulated golf can be. Both offer golf events, leagues, and lessons that will allow you to play golf all year round! 

4. Watch Golf Tips and Tricks on TV or Youtube

This is a rather simple suggestion, but taking some time to listen to professionals can be very beneficial. Watching the Golf Channel can often reveal some informative tips. There are also hundreds of Youtube channels dedicated to teaching you tips, tricks, and techniques that you can watch from the comfort of your own home!

Content can range from how to fix your slice to different grips for holding your putter. Some of the more popular Youtube channels include Me and My GolfAskGolfGuru, and Buzza Golf. Whether you decide to take their advice or not, just listening to others’ opinions and techniques can further your knowledge of the game. 

5. Take a Trip Down South for a Golf Weekend

This option might be a little out of your price range because traveling and golf aren’t cheap, but southern states like Florida, Arizona, and Nevada are popular destinations for year-round golf. Depending on what destination you pick and what weekend you decide to go, one can find some deals on airfare.

However, lugging your clubs through the airport can be a major hassle. Sure you can rent clubs at the golf course, but you don’t often get the choice of what kind of clubs you get to use. Yet thanks to new technology and business ventures there are ways to get around this. Websites like Ship Sticks will allow you to easily ship your own golf clubs to your destination for a reasonable price. Or the website Club Hub will let you rent the clubs of your choice and have them waiting for you at your hotel when you arrive. Traveling for golf has never been easier!

Don’t let the cold weather and snow deter you from working on your game.