Rule Tip of the Week: Mr. “FIXIT” Rule


During the final round of the 2017 Masters, Russell Henley’s second shot “slam-dunked” into the hole for an eagle-2 on the par-4 5th hole. Unfortunately, on its way into the hole, his ball pitched into, and left a crater at, the side of the hole which necessitated an emergency repair by the Augusta National greenkeeping crew.   Within five minutes, the crew had cut a brand-new hole nearby, and had filled the damaged hole with the turf and soil extracted from the new one.


At the Masters, having a crew in waiting at all hours for such a repair is par for that course. However, what if you are the local PGA professional and your greenkeeping crew has left for the day? Or, what if you are a Rules Official stationed on a remote part of the course such that waiting for someone to come repair a damaged hole might take a considerable amount of time?


Guess what? Equipped with a few flat toothpicks, you can become “Mr. Fixit” and quickly achieve a masterful emergency repair of a damaged hole! The adjacent photographs illustrate how this simple repair process works. The first photograph shows the damage to the side of a hole caused by the impact of the golf ball after an almost perfect shot.

The middle photograph illustrates how a number of toothpicks have been inserted side-by-side between the soil and the outside of the hole liner. The tops of the toothpicks have been tamped down so that they are just below the lip of the hole. As a unit, the row of toothpicks forms a makeshift dam to hold back the soil and turf that is worked toward the toothpicks by using a pitch-mark repair tool. By carefully working the turf adjacent to the pitch-mark towards the flexible dam of toothpicks, the impact crater is slowly eliminated and the circular shape of the hole is restored.


By Definition, the diameter of the “hole” must be 4¼ inches. By folding a standard 8½” x 11” piece of paper lengthwise, you instantly have the tool to check that you have restored the hole to its proper dimension. The final photograph shows the quickly repaired hole by Ms. Fixit … almost as good as new!


April 2017 Rules