The first step in repairing ball marks is to take your ball mark repair tool and insert the prongs into the turf at the edge of the depression. Note: Do not insert the prongs into the depression itself, but at the rim of the depression.
STEP 2: Push Edges of the Ball Mark Toward the Center.
The next step is to push the edge of the ball mark toward the center, using your ball mark repair tool in a “gentle twisting motion,” in the words of the Golf Course Superintendents’ Association of America. This is the step where golfers who incorrectly “repair” ball marks usually mess up. Many golfers believe the way to “fix” a ball mark is to insert the tool at an angle, so the prongs are beneath the center of the crater, and then to use the tool as a lever to push the bottom of the ball mark back up even with the surface. Do not do this! Pushing the bottom of the depression upward only tears the roots and kills the grass. Just use your ball mark repair tool to work around the rim of the crater, so to speak, pushing the grass at the edge toward the center of the depression. One way to envision this is to picture reaching down with your thumb and forefinger on opposite sides of the ball mark and “pinching” those sides together.
STEP 3: Smooth Over and Admire Your Work.
Once you’ve worked around the rim of the ball mark with your repair tool, pushing the grass toward the center, there’s only one thing left to do: Gently tamp down the repaired ball mark with your putter or foot to smooth the putting surface. Then admire your work and pat yourself on the back for helping to take care of the golf course.