Pitch marks that last for days
This is a difficult problem—pitch mark scars—and the only long term solution I know of is firmer surfaces. I was reminded of that this week when I saw balls bouncing on the greens at a tournament in Japan (see videos below).
A correspondent wrote:
A problem we have at … courses with bentgrass greens is pitch marks making distress marks on the greens that last for days. Obviously proper ballmark repair and firm greens help but are are there turf management techniques used beyond this?
Here’s how I replied:
Hmm, I would only be speculating on the pitch mark topic. Bentgrass is always going to bruise, even on firm greens. That will be a visual thing but should not affect ball roll. Anything beyond a bruise, such as indentation or a breaking of the surface from the pitch mark, will be related to how firm the surface is. The firmness one wants to set to match the course design and optimal playability, and then try to maximize the number of days in the year during which that firmness range is maintained.
The first thing I recommend is making the greens as firm as possible. That’s going to reduce the severity of the pitch mark damage. I watched highlights from the Landic Challenge 9 tournament this week, and saw the type of firmness levels that leave minimal pitch mark damage. Note that these videos (one shot with a mid-iron, and a shot with a wedge) are on korai (Zoysia) greens. Bentgrass surfaces may not produce exactly the same ball reaction.
『LANDIC CHALLENGE 9』第2ラウンド⛳️— JAPAN GOLF TOUR (@JGTO_official) June 9, 2022
The next thing I recommend is maintaining a growth rate that is sufficient to recover from pitch mark damage. That’s going to be site specific, based on how many pitch marks are made, how they are repaired, and how severe the damage is (size of the scar) for each pitch mark.