Did you know that each one of your divots tell a story about every shot you hit?
Yes, it’s true. That small or large piece of grass is a great indicator to your every shot’s performance.
The only problem is that most amateur golfers don’t know how to understand their shots and make the necessary corrections. If you look at professional golfers ball striking, it is something to envy. Their divots are straight at the target, as wide as the club, and can be replaced entirely. They often a tell a story of a pure shot toward their intended target.
But your divots might tell a much different story.
For most golfers they are usually left or right of the target, sometimes as a deep as a ditch and other times non-existent because you thinned it (no judgement, I’ve been there myself). Not to mention, most golfers don’t have a consistent pattern, so it’s hard to know what to work on. Until now…
My goal with this post is to help you learn from your divots so you can change your backswing or downswing and post lower your scores.
Why You Create Divots
First off, looking at the turf doesn’t always tell the whole story of your shot, but it’s a strong start to diagnosing and correcting your swing issues. Before I give you the guide on your divot, have you ever wondered why do golfers take divots anyways?
Here’s a quick overview…
Compression vs. Proper Path
In very simple terms, you need to hit down so the ball goes up. Unless you’re hitting a ball that is teed up, you need to hit down and compress it. Hitting down at the proper angle will create the launch and proper impact position to get your ball airborne.
But one of the biggest problems is that a lot of amateur golfers, especially beginners, think they need to help the ball off the ground. When in fact, the loft of the club does that automatically.
So instead of trying to help it into the air, your goal should be to hit down on the ball and compress it. This will get that little white ball airborne and create a solid divot. Please note, this does not mean getting ultra-steep, which I’ll address in just a second.
Understanding Low Point
The best golfers all have the low point of their swing in front of the golf ball. This means they hit the ball first, and then their club will guide through the turf.
Usually, inconsistent iron shots are very frustrating and make you search for the little white ball in the deep rough or bunker, instead of the green. They tend to result in either fat shots that end up way short or thin misses that sail over the green.
Does that sound familiar?
Every golfer should be striving for a consistent bottom of the arc on every iron shot. This is a primary component in a repeatable swing that will dramatically help you improve ball striking. While this mostly pertains to your wedges and irons, it also applies to almost every shot from the deck. The only shots it doesn’t include are driver and putter as both are hit slightly on the upswing.
Proper Divot For Each Club
Now that you have a better understanding of why you create divots, next up is understanding what is the right type of divot for each club. In general, you should have a larger divot with shorter clubs like wedges.
For example, if you have a wedge into the green, the piece of grass should be much bigger than a 6-iron.
A great example on tour is Sergio Garcia. While his on course antics make him hard to watch for some people, his game is still something to admire, especially with his wedges and irons. He creates some of the best divots in golf because he is able to come in at the right angle and hit beautiful, spinny wedges on the green.
So what is the perfect size for each golf shot? Here’s a quick overview of the proper type depending on your weapon of choice:
- Wedges: Your lob, sand, gap, and pitching wedges will have the biggest divots as they are the shortest clubs in the bag. Remember, with a wedge, you hit down more on the ball which creates that epic backspin that so many golfers crave.
- Short & Mid-Irons: Your short and mid irons will still have a divot but about 1/2 to 2/3 the size compared to your wedge.
- Long Irons & Hybrids: These clubs will have even smaller imprints on the turf but still noticeable.
- Fairway Woods: Believe it or not, but you still should take a small divot with fairway woods off the deck. While you don’t want them super deep, you still want to make an impact on the turf. Henrik Stenson is a perfect example.
- Driver: Hopefully none at all! Since the big stick is teed up, this is the one club where you always want to hit up with the Driver and never down on.
What Divots Can Tell You About Your Swing
As I mentioned, each one tells a story for every golf shot. Here’s how to understand each one to play better golf.
A good divot starts just in front of the ball at rest. This means your club struck the ball then the ground. In general, this will result in a shot that is hit solid and more in the center of the club.
If your divot starts behind your swing, good luck creating a decent shot. This is when you hit it fat, thick, heavy, drop kick, or other poor results. In general, you won’t have to search far as it only travels a fraction of the distance it should.
If your divot is right or left of the target, you have another swing path issue to address. If it’s going left, you are swinging across the ball and have a descending blow. The result is usually a pull, fade or slice.
If it’s going right, you are pushing it because of an inside to outside path. The result of this shot is a push, draw or hook.
Does your piece of Earth remind your of a piece of a bacon or a pork chop? Ultimately, you don’t want to dig a ditch in the middle of each fairway. The depth should be shallow like a piece of bacon, not a huge pork chop.
*Side note: You will find that when it’s wet grass that your divot is usually larger than normal.
Drill to Square The Club
As I mentioned, you want to hit the ball then the turf, not the turf then the ball. Here is a quick drill to self-correct your path and create this impact position.
Begin by putting a tee in the ground that is two inches in front of the ball. Then grab a short to mid iron and work and hit a few shots at 70-80% speed. The goal is to make contact with the tee after striking the ball.
With repetition, this will create muscle memory on contact and keep the club square to the target. I’ve also found that this drill will help improve your ball striking as well. Remember to insert the tee almost fully into the ground and don’t swing at 100% percent. Do this drill for five balls then hit a few normally.
Preferred Divot Pattern on the Range
Did you know that if you’re like most golfers, you’ve been practicing on the range all wrong? Yes, there is actually a preferred divot pattern on the range.
Most golfers practice on the range or warm up and hit in one of two ways. They either hit all over the turf (which is known as scattered) and don’t make an effort to keep each shot near the previous. This leaves a scattered array of divots all over the range. It forces the golf course to move the swinging areas very frequently.
The other common way is that a majority of golfers practice is in one concentrated area. By the end of their warmup or practice session, there is one massive piece of turf that is gone. While it’s better than the previous option, there is a better way.
Instead, you should use a linear pattern as pictured below. This way involves placing each shot directly behind the previous shot. By practicing this way, only a small amount of grass is removed with each shot. This can usually be done for 15 to 20 shots before moving sideways at a new target .
As long as there are four inches of live turf between each strip, the grass will recover much faster. This pattern will remove the least amount of grass and promotes a quick recovery which you and every other golfer will benefit from. Share this with your buddies so everyone can benefit. Plus it keeps your local range from having to bring in mats!
FAQs About Divots
How do I replace them?
Each course is different, but a general rule of thumb is to always fill the dirt with the old grass or with sand and seed. The last thing you want to do take out a huge piece of earth for the groups behind you. There isn’t much worse than having a piped drive end up in a trench because someone forgot to replace it.
Why do my golf divots point left?
If you’re like most golfers, your piece of grass usually points leftward of the target. The main reason is because an overwhelming majority of golfers make an over the top steep move on the downswing (click here to read about how to attack from the inside). By coming over the top, you get too steep and chop across the ball.
This is usually the main reason but alignment is another important issues to start looking at. Sometimes, it may go left but in fact, it’s dead straight and you’re just aimed there.
The final reason it might go this way is because you have too much tension in your right hand. If you squeeze the club too hard with your right hand, it can cause a chain reaction through your entire backswing. This tension can make the right arm dominate more than your other side causing the right side of your body to create a swing path that is over the top.
Why do golfers take a divot?
The majority of shots that are played with an iron or wedge will scrape off a thin layer of turf where the ball was resting. The reason is because these clubs are designed to strike the ball on a descending path.
Since the iron or wedge is still moving downward, it continues down after striking the ball, digging slightly into the turf as the swing bottoms out. The only club that should not yield this is a driver as the ball is teed up and you are hitting it on an uphill strike.
How do you hit a golf ball with a divot?
The easiest answer to this is to let the club do the work. Remember, all clubs are designed to do this but so many amateurs try to help lift the ball into the air. The club’s loft will do this automatically as long as you hit down and through the shot.
I’m confident that over time, you can quickly self-correct a lot of full-swing issues by understanding your divot patterns. When you are knowledgeable about the direction and depth, you can fix your game mid-round and salvage a score even if you aren’t hitting it pure.
Remember hit down on it so you can create a perfect flight, hit more greens, save more shots, and make more birdies. Hopefully you can implement these tips immediately to start playing well and help your game quickly!
Please share this with a friend and comment below based on your own golf experiences.