New year’s resolutions

Dean Bailey sets out his on-course resolutions for 2022 – goals every club golfer can aspire to

The new year brings with it a chance to look ahead and set new, positive ambitions.

On the golf course, I have a few personal ones, but I also have a few which are applicable to every club golfer and will make us all better club members in 2022.

Most club members can’t commit the time to taking on tasks with specific time commitments, but we can all play a part in keeping our courses in top condition.

Some of you will do all these things already; others – like me – will do most of them most of the time; and some will never have thought about any of them. As we head into the season and conditions improve, we’ll begin to expect more from our courses. To help our greenkeepers and ensure our courses are in their best condition, let’s all play our part.

Repairing pitchmarks is the easiest thing we can all do to improve greens. A mark repaired within 10 minutes will fully recover within three days while an unrepaired one will take over a week to heal. Carry a tool or use a tee to repair your own pitchmark and keep an eye out for others while you’re there – it only takes a few seconds! Be sure to repair the mark correctly as a poorly repaired mark takes just as long to heal as an unrepaired one – take your tool (or a tee) and insert the prongs into the turf at the rim of the depression. Using a gentle, twisting motion, push the edge of the mark towards the centre then flatten by gently tapping with the sole of your putter. If we can all repair two marks on every green, we’ll see a vast improvement in no time.

Divots also need repairing promptly in order to heal properly. Pop these back in and press down with your foot to save the angst of finding one in the centre of the fairway on your next hole (while we can’t promise you won’t find a divot, every bit of good karma helps). When your club hosts a divot party, try to make the time to take part as many hands make this task a lot easier and you’ll often get a bite to eat or a pint for your walk around the course.

In my experience in the last few months, bunker raking has become a rare phenomenon. While rakes have returned to courses after Covid restrictions, I still regularly see bunkers in poor condition with players either not bothering to rake them at all or making a half-hearted attempt to drag their feet through the sand as they leave. Let’s get back into repairing bunkers to the standard we expect to find them in. Grab the rake, smooth your own marks, and get any others that have been left. Again, the good karma won’t do you any harm! My own resolution is to take the time when the course is quieter to tidy up any bunkers I walk past, even if I haven’t visited them. If just a few members do this every day we’ll have far fewer poor lies in the sand in 2022.

For many of you reading this column, these will be completely obvious things you do all the time. But think about whether you do these every time you play, just some of the time, or rarely. If we all take a step forward on each of these fronts, our course conditions will improve a great deal and our greenkeepers will be able to focus their time on using their skills rather than tidying up after us.