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It's a simple but important course maintenance task that you may be overlooking

Broken youth is not as dangerous as it may seem.

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He is a good golfer. Correcting your football grades. You fill in your divots.

But for all your good behavior, there's one course maintenance job you might be neglecting: picking up your broken teeth.

This can happen on any hole. But (spoiler alert!) it happens more often on par-3s, where most golfers hit irons and leave low, broken pins behind.

Why does this matter?

Mark Patterson, a longtime member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, is the Legacy Golf Club champion at Lakewood Ranch and Serenoa Golf Club, two Florida courses. We asked him about the problems caused by broken girls, and what golfers can do to be part of the solution.

The aesthetics

Broke girls aren't as bad as, say, crushed beer cans, but they're not pretty, either. At the end of a busy day at the popular public course, Patterson says, the par-3 tee boxes are ready to be filled with 40 to 50 broken pins. And yes, the word “trash” is the right word. “The problem has gotten better in the last 10 years as more golfers have become aware of it,” Patterson said. “But when people leave a bunch of guys, it can be a dirty look.”

Equipment damage

Broken girls don't pose much of a risk to mowers, which, Patterson says, can cut through broken spikes without too much trouble. But reel mowers are another matter, and those are the mowers that are often used to cut grass for teeing purposes. When those wheel cutters pass over the broken tapes, Patterson says, these scraps often get caught in the bed knives, rendering the material obsolete.

Patterson says: “You're going to get series and imbalances. “It messes up the quality of the cut, and then you have to take it to the maintenance shed.”

Repairing mowers can take hours that could be used for other tasks. In the worst cases, Patterson says, the reels fill with water, stop spinning, which can lead to a burned out engine, and that's an expensive repair.

The best thing golfers do

You've probably noticed that many courses have trays with small gaps in their tee boxes: trays for broken tees. “It's very simple,” Patterson said. “Take your tee and throw it there. He will do us a great favor.” You're doing something good for the next golfer, who can use the broken tee you set for them.

The next good thing

There is nothing to accept. No problem. Just sweep the tee into the rough, Patterson said. “We use rotary mowers there, and broken tees don't hurt them.”

Other options

Yes, you can simply put the broken tee in your pocket and save it for use later in the round. Sometimes, broken tees are pushed so far into the ground that it is next to impossible to pull them out by hand. If so, Patterson, a little digging with a divot repair tool should do the trick. Another option is to press the tee down with your club so that it lies even with the ground, low enough that the mower won't cut through it.

For a video tutorial on broken tees, check out Patterson's video below.

Josh Sens Editor

Golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a contributor to GOLF Magazine since 2004 and now contributes to all areas of GOLF. His work has been honored in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Have Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.

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