How to Fix a Ball Mark in Golf

The Correct Way to Repair a Ball Mark

If you want to anger the Golf Gods and greenskeepers at the golf course, don’t fix your ball mark. 

But if you want to get favorable bounces and have karma work for you, repair your ball marks every single time. In fact, don’t just repair your ball mark, repair at least one more too because unfortunately, too many golfers don’t repair ball marks.

Fixing ball marks isn’t just about good karma though, it’s one of the most important rules of golf. When you hit a shot into the green and it leaves a mark, it’s up to you to fix it. It’s also important to fix your mark correctly.

Keep reading to learn more bout the art of a repaired ball mark and how to repair a ball mark properly.

How to Fix a Ball Mark in Golf

First off, why does it matter if you don’t repair your ball mark? 

Ball marks, also known as pitch marks, if left unfixed can damage golf course greens. If left unfixed it can take weeks for the green to heal and leave the putting surface damaged. 

This not only looks bad visually but also leaves for unreliable putts on the green. As I’m sure you know, there’s nothing worse than seeing well struck putts drift offline from hitting an old mark. Golf is a hard enough sport, don’t make it harder by not fixing your approach shot!

Second, it’s just the right thing to do and part of the rules of golf. It’s one of the most common requests from superintendents as it helps the golf course bounce back quickly.

It’s even more important on holes where players hit wedges as the green will get plenty of wear and tear. A properly repaired mark will keep the grass healthy and a smooth surface without divot holes.

Finally, I think there’s some karma involved too. When you fix your mark and others who forgot to fix theirs, I think you get a few points from the Golf Gods. In this crazy game, we need all the help we can get. 

Now, let’s get into how some players fix the ball mark incorrectly and how to properly repair divot holes.

How to fix a Pitch Mark

How to Use a Ball Mark Repair Tool

So, what is the proper way to repair a ball mark on the green? 

It’s pretty simple as long as you have a divot repair tool and can even use a golf tee as well. I think it’s easier and faster to use a divot repair tool and suggest always carrying one in your tee pocket. This complimentary tool is made of hard plastic or other material and makes it easy to fix little depressions.

Grab your repair tool and insert the prongs behind the ball mark. Then, pull the top of it toward the center of the mark. You don’t want to pull up from the bottom as it won’t fix the indentation as well.  

The key is to make sure you pull up from the back of the mark without twisting it. If you twist the tool into the ground too much and then pull it up, it can cause damage underneath the surface of the green. A gentle twisting motion is okay as you work around the surrounding turf.

Do this around the entire hole and then gently tap the entire mark with your putter. This will help even out the mark for a smooth putting surface. Also, make sure to fix other unrepaired ball marks as so many golfers fail and forget to fix.

Here’s a helpful video tutorial on YouTube from the USGA

Types of Divot Tools

Kind of like golf clubs, there are a ton of choices when it comes to buying a divot tool. Some are foldable, some have a magnetic ball mark, and others might have your favorite team logo. 

Here are some of the best picks for divot tools I’ve found:

  • Callaway 4 in 1 Golf Divot Repair Tool: This highly rated ball mark repair tool can do a lot more than just fix a pitch mark. Aside from fixing marks on the green it also has a magnetic ball marker, club cleaner bristle brush, and metal groove cleaner
  • Foldable All Metal Divot Tool: Another popular divot tool is this foldable one from the Mile High Life Store. For under $10 this collapsible divot tool fits easily in your pocket. Simply hit the button to fold out the fixer. Plus, there are 10+ color options to choose from. 
Tools to Fix a Ball Mark

Bonus Tip: Fill Your Divots

While fixing a ball mark restores the green, don’t forget about the tee boxes and fairway too. Always fill your divots with sand provided or the original divot to repair the grass and allow it to heal faster. Plus, there’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a divot!

This is a very important etiquette rule and will also help you get some karma points with the Golf Gods. Click here to read the 13 rules of golf etiquette now.

FAQs About Fixing Pitch Marks 

If you have more questions about fixing ball marks and other best practices on the golf course, keep scrolling through our FAQs. 

How long does it take for a golf ball mark to heal?

If a golfer repairs a ball mark using the steps above and done correctly, it should take 3-4 days. However, if you do it the wrong way or forget to fix it entirely, it can take 7-10 days. Other factors include the softness of the green, weather, and frequency of mowing. 

How do you not fix a golf ball mark? 

One of the worst things you can do when repairing ball marks is by starting in the center of the mark. Instead, you want to start behind the original pitch mark and work your way around it. 

Another common mistake is pulling the ground up and twisting too much and can add more damage. Always move toward the center using a divot tool at an angle or a golf tee.

How do pros repair pitch marks? 

Pros repair ball marks just like the rest of us or have their caddy do it. Most professional golfers carry a unique divot tool (usually for superstitious reasons) or fix their marks with a tee. 

Can you repair a pitch mark in your line? 

Yes, you can and should repair pitch marks in your line or anywhere on the greens. Always push the edge of the ball mark toward the center to properly repair and then fix the edge of the depression upward too.

Can a caddy fix a ball mark? 

Yes, a caddy can fix a ball mark on the greens. 

According to the USGA this is covered under Rule 14.1b, “The player’s caddie is allowed to mark and lift the player’s ball on the putting green any time the player is allowed to do so, without needing authorization.”

Additionally, caddies can mark, lift, and clean a players ball on the putting green as well. But if the caddy picks up the ball, they must replace it too. 

Since they aren’t putting, they tend to get several unfixed marks to ensure the greens bounce back faster. Caddies also tend to replace divots, help read greens, clean clubs, and more.

To learn more about caddying, click here to read our full guide

Can you fix spike marks on the greens? 

Yes, thanks to the latest rules update you can fix spikes marks that might interfere with your line. This was not the case until 2020 but a much-needed rule update in my opinion. While not every golfer wears traditional spikes, enough do that it can chew up the greens and mess with your putt.

Can someone else fix your ball mark?

Yes, this sometimes happens in amateur golf tournaments.

For example, in tournaments I might hit a shot and the pitch mark is right in the line of another player. While I could repair it myself, I often ask playing partners if they would like to do it instead.

This makes sure I don’t possibly step in his line and also guarantees it’s their issue if their putts hits the mark. 

Final Thoughts on Ball Marks 

Please fix your ball marks and others on the greens. Don’t forget, a repaired ball mark heals in 48 hours… while one that isn’t fixed will leave not just a scar but take up to two weeks to heal properly.

Plus, not only will it put some good karma out in the world it will make every other golfer happy. Fixing pitch marks is basically “paying it forward” for other golfers behind you to putt on great greens.

Karma aside, it’s one of the most important rules of golf. Alongside yelling “FORE”, adding sand to your divots, and not talking when other players are hitting. 

Fixing your mark is even more important when the greens are soft and your mark might be in a fellow player’s line. Follow the steps above to keep the greens rolling smooth.