Golf ball mark severity and recovery as affected by mowing height, rolling frequency, foot traffic, and moisture

Joseph Young, Mike Richardson, Douglas Karcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Putting greens experience stress from golf balls striking the surface, maintenance equipment, and foot traffic. Improved creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) cultivars, sand-based root zones, and skilled superintendents maintain plant health while providing firmer conditions. Many researchers have studied effects of compaction and wear on putting greens, but few have determined the effect of these stresses on ball marks. The objective of this research was to evaluate ball mark severity and recovery of creeping bentgrass under different mowing heights (2.5, 3.2, and 4.0 mm), rolling frequencies (0, 3, or 6 d wk–1), and foot traffic using digital image analysis. Digital images of golf balls placed in the depression were used to calculate ball mark depth, and a cover analysis was conducted to model ball mark injury area using a one phase decay model to determine theoretical maximum injury, slope, and days to 50% recovery. Soil moisture content was positively correlated with ball mark depth, but common stresses rarely altered ball mark depth. The mean theoretical maximum ball mark injury was 377 mm2 greater for daily rolled treatments in 2010 compared to non-rolled treatments. The slope of recovery rarely changed among treatments suggesting that theoretical maximum ball mark injury area has a greater effect on recovery. Lastly, combining the lowest mowing height or daily rolling and foot traffic slowed the time ball marks took to reach 50% recovery. This research demonstrates the effects common management practices and soil moisture have on the severity and recovery of ball marks during environmental stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1758-1764
Number of pages7
JournalAgronomy Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017


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