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Dealing with


									                                  Dealing with Divots
                                  by PATRICK M. O'BRIEN
                                  Agronomist, Mid-Atlantic Region, USGA Green Section


(Above) This old Oaken Bucket
helps repair divots.
(Right) Not too unusual for a
par-3 tee.

(Top right)
At Allegheny Country
Club, Pennsylvania,
Superintendent Bill
Schmuck shows a
tee bench.
(Right) Lift the lid and it
becomes a divot repair
soil box.

W         HAT TO DO about divots?             possible. But in time as the number of          keeping a dense cover throughout the
         This is one of those little things   golfers increased, good grassy tees be-         playing season. This is an important
         that every golf course super-        came more difficult and more costly to          consideration for anyone planning to
intendent must contend with but can           maintain. The only answer to the problem        rebuild old tees or designing new ones.
never overcome.                               lies in larger tees and a constant divot           The use of fast growing grasses on tees
                                              repair program.                                 with divot problems is another aid. In
   Small wonder! The National Golf Foun-                                                      northern climates, some favor Penncross
                                                 Next to providing a level stance for the
dation reports that the average seasonal                                                      bentgrass while others prefer improved
                                              golfer, size is the most important tee
daily play today on an 18-hole course is                                                      perennial ryegrasses. In southern areas,
                                              consideration. Without enough ground,
about 150 rounds. That's about 30,000         grass cannot recover from heavy divoting        various burmudagrass and zoysiagrass
rounds of golf a year for each of the         and traffic. Luckily, it is easy to calculate   varieties are the choice. Obviously there
nation's 18-hole courses. That adds up to     how much area is needed. For par-4 and          are growth rate differences, even among
a lot of divots and a lot of repair work.     par-5 holes, 100 square feet of usable area     grasses of the same species. For example,
  When golf was young, the teeing ground      is required for every 1,000 rounds of golf      the faster growing Vamont bermudagrass
was a small area. Since there was not a       annually. For par-3 holes, 200 square feet      is preferred over the slower growing
great deal of play and the tees were          is needed. Tees meeting these general           Midiron bermudagrass for tees where
mowed by hand, a good grass cover was         guidelines will have a better chance of         these varieties are adapted.

                                                                                                     NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1984           11
   Good tees, regardless of the grass          and some have also included small top-         areas. The next step is to smooth the area
species, absolutely require very close         dressing containers on every electric golf     with a shovel and then off to the next tee.
attention to fertilization rates, irrigation   cart. Each container holds the divot top-      Devoting time to divot repairs pays
needs and pesticide protection. These          dressing mixture, seed and a scoop. The        dividends. The golfers, too, become more
needs are even greater when cutting            scoop is used to place topdressing over        conscientious about repairing injured
heights are lowered and grass clippings        the scar left if the divot is destroyed.       turf when they see that the professional
collected. Many tees have become an               The self-repair approach, unfortu-          staff is devoting time to it.
intensive management area.                     nately, receives only mixed reviews.
                                               Many golfers are apathetic. Agronomi-
   Although there are no set rules for
divot repair programs, the greatest hope
of all remains with the golfer himself. If
                                               cally, it doesn't take long for the seed to
                                               germinate in the mix and the helpful golfer    T    HE DIVOT MIXTURE used by the
                                                                                                   professional staff is usually one of
                                                                                              seed, soil, and/ or sand. Seed germination
                                               may find a mass of vegetation in the con-
every golfer would only repair his own                                                        of cool season grasses such as bentgrass,
                                               tainer. One solution is to place the seed in
ball marks and replace his own divots,                                                        is more difficult in sand alone. On the
                                               a dispenser, like a salt shaker, to keep it
the nation's golf courses would be con-                                                       other hand, actively growing warm season
                                               dry and prevent germination. But each
spicuously improved and noticeably less                                                       grasses will readily spread in pure sand
                                               new step in the self-repair process only
expensive to maintain. Proper etiquette                                                       and rapidly cover without the need of
                                               seems to complicate and discourage its
calls for this, but too few hear the call.                                                    additional seed and soil.
                                               use even more.
Surely, if golfers would limit their prac-
tice swings to off-tee areas only, a tre-         The best approach to divot repair is a         Good tees and a dense, uniform turf
mendous leap forward could be made.            regular program by the professional            cover undeniably add to the enjoyment
                                               grounds staff. The professional staff is       and attractiveness of every golf course.
                                               more proficient than most golfers in           Good tees don't just happen. They must

T   HE PRACTICE of placing top-
    dressing containers on par-3 tees
has made a small comeback in recent
                                               judging how much topdressing to place
                                               over an old divot hole. Usually, doing
                                               the work once or twice a week is enough
                                                                                              be of adequate size, have the proper grass,
                                                                                              and, follow a conscientiously planned
                                                                                              management and divot repair program.
years after being commonplace in the           if the tees are sufficiently large. Most       Good tees cost money. The enjoyment
1920s and 1930s. A few clubs use the           often, one or two crew members apply           they bring and the impression they leave
topdressing containers as tee markers          the divot mixture by hand to the injured       make it all worthwhile.

A good tee leaves a lasting impression.

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