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. 10 USGA GREEN SECTION RECORD (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.