Let me start by saying this is not generalizing all golfers. I can not even say this is happening at specific golf courses. However, this is something I have noticed more and more at multiple golf courses. I noticed it the last several rounds I have played in the New Orleans area and during my visit to Nashville. This has also been a topic of conversation with friends and colleagues recently.
First, let me start with divots. I know with the recent weather we have had many golf courses have been cart path only. With that said I know many golfers, myself included, forget to bring the sand bottle with us to hit our shot from the fairway. Sometimes we don't realize it until later in the round. When it is the normal 90º rule the only time that is acceptable to not fill a divot with sand is if the cart does not have any or if the bottles provided are empty. Which has been another issue I have had to talk to golf courses about. There is no reason for sand bottles to be empty when you are given a cart. Let us forget about the playability factor for golfers if a ball lads in a divot. The real issue is how long it takes the turf to heal. If a divot is filled in with sand immediately it will heal much faster. An unfilled divot will take up to three months to heal leaving a slight impression. The USGA did a great article about this, Divot Repair: Why and How.
(please note: In the New Orleans area we have Bermuda grass. Do Not replace divots as this will hurt the turf. Fill them with sand if available.)
When it comes to ball marks on the greens there really is no excuse for not fixing them. All it takes is a tee or a ball mark repair tool. There is nothing worse than seeing a beautiful green only to walk onto it and see a bunch of unrepaired ball marks. Yes I know sometimes they can be hard to find but even if you do not find yours as you walk on and off the green look for them and repair at least one. This is something I really am seeing more of at every golf course. I honestly can say for every round of golf I play, I fix on average five ball marks per green, per round. A ball mark repaired within ten minutes can fully heal in twenty-four hours. A ball mark left unrepaired for just an hour may take up to fifteen days to heal. One left unrepaired until the next day may take up to two months. If it is repaired too late it will also leave an uneven surface. Unrepaired ball marks are not only about the visual of it. Even if you do not see an unrepaired ball mark it will make that small part of the green bumpy. Many golfers have probably seen perfectly manicured greens and watched a ball bump offline only slightly and wonder what it hit. More than likely if you can not see anything that one spot is from an unrepaired ball mark. Check out the short video below the USGA did on the proper way to repair a ball mark.
One other thing I would like to add is about bunkers. Why are so many golfers not raking bunkers lately? I have been in a bunker with a rake in the bunker and footprints that go right over the rake. Even if a rake is not present try and smooth the footprints as best as possible. It is as if many golfers forget there are other golfers on the golf course behind them. I respect those that wish to not touch a rake for a precautionary reason but you can use your foot or golf cub and smooth them out as best as possible. Bunkers do not have to be perfect as they are technically still a hazard. All I am asking golfers to do is not leave two-inch deep footprints.
The more we help maintain the golf courses we play the better the conditions and experience are for everyone. The Golf Course Superintendent Association of America (GCSAA) did a put-together a good PDF I downloaded. CLICK HERE TO VIEW