Can You Use a Tee to Repair Pitch Marks?

You reach the putting green and discover your approach shot has left a nice, deep pitch mark on the soft surface. You reach into your pocket for your trusty, two-pronged divot tool (a k a pitch tool, ball mark tool) only to discover you don't have it. But you do have a golf tee. Can you use the tee to fix that pitch mark?

Let's ask and answer this question two different ways:

  1. Is it OK under the Rules of Golf to use a tee to fix a ball mark on the green? Yes!
  2. Will a golf tee actually work as a pitch-mark repair tool? Yes!
Using a tee to fix pitch marks is perfectly OK, whether considered as a rules matter, as an etiquette matter, or as a practical matter (meaning whether or not a tee will do a good job at the task).

As the USGA has written:

Many different tools have been created to repair ball marks, including single-pronged and fork-shaped tools. Almost any pointed tool, including a golf tee, can be used to effectively repair a ball mark.
The key is not so much what type of tool you use, but using that tool properly. Most golfers use a two-pronged (forked) divot tool, but single-pronged tools are also made (affiliate links). And, of course, there is the good ol' golf tee.

So what is the proper method for fixing ball marks on the green? The proper technique is demonstrated in the video at the top of this page, in which the instructor, as an added bonus to the present discussion, is using a tee to fix his pitch mark.

To summarize the proper technique: Insert your tee or other pitch tool just outside the edge of the pitch mark and pull the top of your tee toward the center of the mark. Work your way around the pitch mark, pulling toward the center (never trying to lever the bottom of the mark upward), then tamp down with your putter. Properly repairing pitch marks, with a tee or other tool, helps the grass heal and stay healthy, and is an obligation of everyone who plays our game of golf.

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