The best ball-mark repair technique you’ve never tried? A superintendent demonstrates

a golf ball divot on a green

Most golfers fix ball marks on greens with a tee or a divot-repair tool. But there's another method a prestigious private club uses.

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How do you fix ball marks on the green? Most likely with a tee or a divot-repair tool. Both methods are endorsed by superintendents. But just as golfers love to tinker, course-maintenance experts like to experiment, too.

Mark Patterson, the superintendent at a pair of Florida courses — Legacy Golf Club at Lakewood Ranch and Serenoa Golf Club — has been in the business for nearly 30 years, but he’s still learning, still trying new techniques. Only recently, he caught wind of a different way to handle a familiar task. The news trickled down to him from Friar’s Head, a prestigious private club on Long Island, where only caddies are allowed to repair pitch marks on the green. 

Their method is unconventional.

Instead of probing in the turf with a tee or repair tool and working in a circle to close the mark, they pour water into the divot and tamp down the edges by hand or with a putter. It’s a less intrusive way to smooth out the putting surface, one that avoids the risk of tearing the roots of the turf. The idea is that it allows for faster healing.

“I can definitely see the upsides,” Patterson says. 

He can also see why it might be favored at an upscale club that receives limited play. Whether it’s realistic for busy public courses is another matter.

“My only question is how many golfers are going to be carrying enough water around with them to do it,” he says. “But I was surprised how nicely the technique works.”

That’s the beauty of the game. Everyone is always learning something new.

Josh Sens Editor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.