Taking care of the course can be conceived of having two parts: preventing damage to the course by the choices one makes and repairing damage to the course caused by oneself, by others, or, when appropriate, by natural forces.
Preventing Damage to the Course
Some aspects of the game of golf are under human control, and damage can be avoided. Included in this category are the following etiquette injunctions:
o Keep golf carts on the established paths and follow any rules that allow or disallow carts on any part of the fairway. Carts are never allowed on the teeing ground or the green, and courses may designate the distance that must be maintained between a cart and bunkers and greens.
o Place golf bags and any other accoutrements off the green.
o When the flagstick is removed, lay it beside, not on, the green.
o If you choose to wear spikes, consider "soft spikes" so as to avoid damaging the green.
o Avoid leaning on your club on the green. Players may inadvertently use the club for support when removing the ball from the hole, which should be done with the hand, not the club.
o Do not strike the ground with your clubs for any reason.
o Stand at a distance from the hole and remove the flagstick and balls carefully to avoid damaging the hole and the grass immediately surrounding it.
Repairing Damage to the Course
Some types of damage to the course are unavoidable parts of the game. Players should take step to alleviate these before moving on. Here are some examples of the main requirements of care of the course repairs:
o Repair ball marks, divots, and shoe marks on the putting green before moving on to the next tee. Players seeing marks made by others, whether in their party or not, should repair them as a public service.
o Repair any damage caused by assistive devices that the golfers with disabilities employ. This may need to be done by another member of the party, as the golfer's disability may preclude taking part in the repair.
o Smooth and fill up a bunker to cover holes and footprints, including those of others not in the group, prior to moving on. Enter the bunker form the shallow end and use a rake, if one is available in the immediate vicinity.
Carrying a divot repair tool at all times is a good idea. On some golf courses, players must carry a sand bucket, repairing any unfilled divots they find while ensuring that the sand does not rise above the grass surrounding the divot. If golfers have never made repairs before, and no one in the party feels comfortable with their level of knowledge, checking with the green staff, ideally before beginning play, is a good solution.
Although they serve an important role in care of the course, divot repair tools have another aspect. Especially if they carry the insignia of a U.S. Open or another important tournament, divot repair tools are considered a collectible and are often found for sale at online auction sites.
Avondale Golf Club. (n.d.) Care of the Course. Retrieved on April 26, 2011, from http://www.avondalegolfclub.com.au/guests/golf/coursecare.mhtml USGA. (n.d.) Rules for Golfers with Disabilities: Miscellaneous Issues. Retrieved on April 26, 2011, from http://www.usga.org/rules/disabilities/Rules-for-golfers-with-disabilities/ USGA. (n.d.) Section I: Etiquette; Behavior on the Course. Retrieved on April 26, 2011, from http://www.usga.org/Rule-Books/Rules-of-Golf/Etiquette/