Hitting from a Divot

Overcome Bad Luck: How to Hit from a Divot

Imagine this… you hit a perfect drive, right down the middle of the fairway. As soon as the ball leaves the face of the club, you don’t even have to watch it land. You know it’s a perfect shot and will find the short grass, leaving you with a good approach shot.

But as you arrive at your golf ball, your mood changes quickly. Instantly you go from proud to frustrated as you find it sitting in a divot.

Your great drive and hopeful outlook on the hole just went to flustered and stressed. You might even curse the Golf Gods and ask what you did to deserve such bad luck.

While it is frustrating to hit a great drive and end up in a divot, it’s part of golf. In those times, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself, “How do you hit a shot out of a divot?”

It’s a good question because it’s not like your normal approach shot. In this post, we’ll give you simple tips to overcome this bad luck so you don’t let it derail your round. 

How to Hit From a Divot – 5 Tips

Step 1: Accept the “Bad Luck” 

The first thing to do once you find your golf ball in a divot is to relax and take a deep breath. It’s so easy to get frustrated with this bad luck and have a “why me” mentality. While we’ve all done it before, I think we can all agree that it doesn’t help the situation. 

Instead, take a deep breath and laugh it off. Whenever you find yourself in a tough spot on the golf course, reframe the situation by saying, “I can’t wait to pull this off.” By reframing the situation you’re instantly getting yourself in the right mindset to execute the shot. 

Laughing out loud never hurts either. It’ll get rid of tension and get your body primed for the shot as well.

The first step is simply accepting the shot first so that you can create your strategy moving forward. 

When your ball does end up in a divot, you need to also dial back your expectations. Unless you’re a single digit handicap player with a consistent swing, this is the time to play it safe vs. being ultra aggressive with your approach shot. 

Instead, ask yourself, “How can I make par from here?”

This will allow you to work backward from the green to your shot and hopefully get your ball near or possibly on the green. The goal is to not compound this stroke of bad luck and not give one back. 

How to Hit from a Divot

Step 2: Analyze the Shot

Once you’ve accepted the shot and are in the right mindset, it’s time to evaluate the lie and analyze the shot. The first thing to ask yourself is, “How is the ball sitting in the divot?” Because as I’m sure you know, there are all types of ways the ball can come to rest in a divot.

Sometimes, it might be perfectly in the middle of an unfilled divot. Other times it might be in the front, back, or the side of a divot without sand. While other times the golf ball might be sitting on top of the sand, almost like a fairway bunker shot

The better the ball is sitting, the more you can do with the shot. But if it’s in the side of a divot or the divot is quite deep, you want to play it safer.

Step 3: Pick the Right Club 

The third setup to hit out of a divot is to pick the right club and not play overly aggressive. Remember, the goal is to not give up any shots and figure out how to make par, not go flag hunting in hopes for a close birdie putt.

When hitting out of a divot, the shorter the club, the better… especially if it’s a bad lie and sitting down. If it’s sitting up in a sand filled divot, you can be more aggressive but still want to error on the side of caution. 

While I’m all for carrying easy to hit hybrids and fairway woods, this isn’t the time to use them. Since you need to hit down on the ball these clubs make it much harder.

My biggest piece of advice here is to not try and get too much out of this shot. This isn’t the time to go flag hunting with a mid or long iron. Or the time to try out a hero shot over water, with a hybrid, or some other risky situation. 

Instead, take the club that you know will allow you to hit the shot, even if you know it won’t reach the green. Which in most cases, is a short iron or possibly mid-iron.

Step 4: Adjust Your Setup for Proper Technique

Once you have the right mindset, strategy, and the right club, it’s time to execute the shot. To hit out of a divot effectively, you want to do several things at setup.

First, choke up on the club slightly to compensate for the ball sitting down below the fairway. This also makes it easier to keep your lower body stable and ensure a downward strike on the ball (just like a fairway bunker shot).  

Second, position the ball slightly further back in your stance than normal. This will help you hit the ball, then turf with a proper downward strike. So many golfers play it off their front foot and wonder why they don’t make great contact – it needs to be further back for good contact.

But don’t overdo it and think the ball needs to be off your back foot in your stance. This will likely make your swing too steep and won’t make this difficult shot any easier. 

Third, get more of your weight to your lead foot at address position with a little forward lean. This will also make it easier to hit down and through the shot. 

Finally, take a ¾ backswing and shorter follow through like a knockdown or punch shot

Step 5: Trust Your Routine 

Once you have your target, distance, and club, it’s go time.

The final step is to go through your pre-shot routine like you normally would if the ball was in the fairway or rough. You want to keep everything as normal as possible as your routine will give you more confidence and certainty with the shot.

Don’t try to do something new when your ball ends up in a divot – stick to what you normally do with your full swing routine. 

Practice on the Range 

Now that you know how to hit out of a divot in golf, it’s time to practice the shot. You might be thinking, is this guy crazy? 

No, I think every player should practice these shots during practice. I’ve actually known elite players who intentionally practice from divots on the range because it guarantees you make a solid strike. It’ll make hitting from fairway and rough lies look easy when you’re on the golf course.

Remember, it will happen on the course, so prepare in practice!  

How to Hit from a Divot

FAQS About Hitting from a Sand Filled Divot

Do you have more questions about hitting from divots? If so, we have answers down below to give you confidence with this tricky shot. 

Why is there no relief from a divot? 

This is a good question and a rule that I think a lot of golfers would love to see.  While it’s one of the frustrating things in golf, there is no free drop.

I think it’s not a rule because it would slow down pace of play as each golfer would have to double check if it’s in a divot. Or, get a playing partner to confirm. Not to mention the lies differ and would likely cause confusion during the round.

How do you hit irons with a divot? 

To hit irons with a divot, you need to make sure you hit the ball, then the ground. If you hit the turf before the ball, you will chunk it and end up way short of the green. Conversely, if you don’t make a divot you will hit it thin and likely end up long of the green. 

To improve your iron game, make sure to check out some of our most popular articles: 

How do you hit out of a divot? 

By following the five step process mentioned above. Remember, you need the right mindset first, then a good game plan to attack the shot.

After a few adjustments at setup, you should be able to make decent contact and get it close to the green. 

Can I move my ball out of a divot?

If you aren’t playing in a competitive event that has USGA rules, you can “foot wedge” it to a better lie. That might be a rule that you and your playing partners adopt for your regular weekend foursome. But in a tournament, that would result in a one stroke penalty if you chose to take an unplayable lie. 

Do pro golfers fix divots? 

Pro golfers themselves don’t fix many divots, instead, this is the job of their caddy. Unlike most public golf courses, they don’t have sand/seed with them so instead, replace the divot with the original turf. After the round is complete, the greenskeeping staff might replace them with a sand mix and it depends on the course/type of turf used. 

Final Thoughts

Sometimes the Golf Gods will test your love of the game when a great drive that should be in a perfect lie in the fairway ends up in a divot. Once you learn to love the challenge, it’ll make your game (and world) so much better.

Remember, the goal is to salvage par, not attempt an impossible shot that compounds the issue. 

As long as you have a descending blow on the downswing, any golfer can execute the shot. Follow the tips above to attack this shot.

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