Golf courses spend large sums of money carefully crafting courses and maintaining them to the best of their abilities. However, the responsibility to properly maintain a course does not end with those who own or work at it. Players are also trusted with properly maintaining the course, ensuring that when they leave a hole, it is in no worse shape than when they arrived, providing following groups with a fair playing surface.
On the Tee Box
The first shot on every hole may be seem like the shot least likely to be altered by poor conditions, as the ball is held off the ground as with a tee, ensuring that the ball won't be settled in a divot. When on the tee box, however, players are still expected to replace any divots that they make, and also to take care around the markers to avoid stepping on or kicking the markers, or accidentally striking them with a practice swing.
Like on the tee box, players are expected to repair all fairway divots, an even more important task, as a player's ball can otherwise end up coming to rest in the divot, making for a difficult shot. If the course provides you with filler, a mixture of dirt and fresh grass seed, scoop it into the divot and rake it flat with your club. If no filler is provided, replacing the displaced earth and tamping it down is an acceptable alternative.
Many courses offer the luxury of golf carts for players, particularly when the course requires a lot of walking. When driving a cart, a player is expected to follow all signs directing cart traffic to ensure the course is not hurt by the weight of the cart and its turning tires. Carts are never permitted on or around a green, and on holes where the ground is likely to be wet, they may also be banned on the grass in the fairway.
Bunkers are a challenge already, even without finding them pockmarked from prior players' errors. Players are asked to enter the bunker from the closest side that can be easily walked along, and are not permitted to ground the club unless in the act of taking a stroke. Once the ball is out of the bunker, the player should rake up footprints and ball marks with back-and-forth motions, leaving a smooth surface layer of sand.
Balls that land on the green from a great height may occasionally leave a mark, particularly on soft greens. To prevent the green from becoming covered in marks, players should maintain the green by fixing their mark. To fix a mark, a tee or ball mark repair tool is used to push the soil towards the center of the mark from all four sides, and the soil is then tamped down with a putter.