Even with the best professional coaching, fixing your golf swing is no easy task, but imagine how difficult it would be if you had no one there to watch you or help you at all? Is there anything you could do to help you figure out what’s going wrong with your swing?
Luckily for you, there are several things you can do that can help you analyze your golf game, but today we will be focusing on just one; your golf divot. That’s right; you weren’t expecting that we’re you? But in fact, studying and getting to know everything about your golf divot can tell you more than you think.
Your divot can help you determine things like swing path, depth, direction, ball flight, and even whether or not your address position was correct when you made impact. Obviously, setting up a camera or having a professional coach watch every shot you hit is the most desirable approach, but not every golfer has access to either of these things; this is where reading your divots can come into play.
After you’ve made contact with your ball, it’s airborne for a significant amount of time, but it’s not up there forever; on the other hand, your golf divot is there for you to study for an unlimited time, well, at least until you have to fix it anyway.
So next time you’re struggling to figure out what just went wrong, remember the answer to your questions might be sitting right in front of your feet.
Learning To Read Your Golf Divot
- 1 Learning To Read Your Golf Divot
- 2 The Correct Way To Fix Your Divot
- 3 Taking Divots On The Practice Range
- 4 Golf Divot FAQS
- 5 The 18th Hole
Learning to read your divot is easier than you think, especially once you know what to look for and what it means. Whether it’s a vicious slice, a snap hook a complete flub, your divot is like reading tea leaves; it’ll tell you everything you need to know.
The Direction Of Your Divot
The direction of your divot can reveal to you or “confirm” for you exactly what went wrong with your shot. Generally speaking, when you look at your divot, it will be pointing in one of three directions; straight, left, or right.
If you’re a right-handed golfer and see that your golf divot is directed to the left, that indicates a swing path moving from the outside to the inside. An “outside to inside” swing path typically results in a sliced shot, and depending on how far left your divot is pointing, it will reveal how far you’ve sliced your shot; hopefully, it’s not pointing too far left.
Next is the golf divot that points to the right, and again here, we’re still talking about a right-handed golfer; sorry left-handed golfers, but for you, it’s as simple as reversing the procedure. A divot that points to the right indicates a swing path moving from the “inside to the outside;” this swing path produces a draw or hook.
The final golf divot direction is one that’s straight as an arrow, and as you’d expect, it’s the divot every golfer is hoping to see. That being said, sometimes you might look down to see a straight divot, yet your ball flight was either slightly to the left or right, indicating a draw or a fade. In this situation, although you’re divot was straight, your club face was more than likely not square at impact, hence the distinct ball flight.
An excellent way to practice reading your divots is to find an already damaged area of the practice range, take some divots intentionally, and then see if you can make the appropriate adjustments to fix your swing and ball flight.
The Depth Of Your Divot
Just as the direction of your divot can tell you a stack of information on your ball flight and swing path, so can the depth of your golf divot. But instead of signifying the direction of the swing path, the depth of your divot indicates the angle of attack of your swing.
Different clubs will leave different sizes and depths of divots, and some clubs won’t leave any divot at all, such as your driver and putter. Note: if you find your driver and putter leaving a divot, you might want to start pursuing another sport.
Generally speaking, hitting your long irons, like your 3 and 4 irons, should leave longer and shallower divots when compared to your shorter irons like your wedge or 9 iron which will leave deeper divots due to the angle of attack.
If you look down and don’t see any divot at all, your swing path is too shallow, and you’ll probably find yourself “thinning” or “skulling” the ball more often than you’d like. Alternatively, if you find yourself taking divots the size of Australia, your swing path is too steep, which will cause a loss of distance and the all embarrassing “flub.”
Despite what most amateur golfers think, one particular divot is not more acceptable than the other; sometimes, you might be forced to attack the ball at a steep angle, leaving a deep divot or “nip it” off the deck, leaving no divot at all.
My advice is to play the shot that is required and worry about what kind of divot you left behind later.
The Location Of Your Divot
Ok, so I know what you’re thinking; What is he talking about the direction of your divot? Isn’t the divot right in front of you? Simply put, yes, but what I’m referring to is the location of your divot in relation to your stance while addressing the ball.
If you find yourself consistently “miss hitting” the ball, there are a couple of issues with your swing that could be the cause; however, more often than not, it’s not your swing that’s to blame at all; it’s your stance and address position. If your stance is set up incorrectly, you’re already setting yourself up for failure before you even swing the club.
The easiest way to check whether or not you’re making good divots in relation to your stance is to mark the ground next to where the ball sits; obviously, this needs to be done on the practice range, not during the round.
A good divot ideally should begin between 1 to 2 inches in front of the mark you placed on the ground, indicating where your ball was. If you find that your divots are consistently starting behind the ball or mark, your angle of attack is too steep, meaning you will hit the ball fat more often than you’d like.
On the practice range, experiment with your ball position in relation to your stance by moving it either slightly forward or back, then review the result of the shot and check to see if it corresponds with the divot you left.
The Correct Way To Fix Your Divot
Although repairing your divots and ball marks is a non-negotiable, you’d be surprised at just how many golfers either don’t fix them correctly or, in some cases, don’t fix them at all. Apart from doing the right thing, repairing your divots and ball marks makes the groundskeepers’ job much easier and helps to keep the golf course in pristine condition.
A good rule of thumb is to fix your divot plus two others that you can find; this way, you keep the playing surface in mint condition and reduce the time the grounds staff spends on fixing divots left by us golfers.
So as you can see, repairing pitch marks and divots is incredibly important, but equally as critical is the way in which you fix them. The reason why it’s so important to fix your divot or ball mark is because the indentation left by the golf ball can kill the grass if not repaired. The second reason is that the ball marks can knock putts offline. On the fairway, not fixing your divot can mean another player’s drive could end up in the divot you failed to fix.
According to a study conducted by researchers at Kansas State University, ball marks and divots that were not repaired, take nearly twice as long to recover compared to those that were. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the steps recommended by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.
Use the ball mark and divot repair tool to insert the prongs around the depression of the mound; never insert the prongs into the actual depression as this can cause further unwanted damage.
Now you can carefully “twist” the repair tool and move the turf to the middle of the depression. Take note here because this is the step that most club golfers get horribly wrong. Most golfers insert the repair tool at an angle and then use the “lever side” of the tool to bring the damaged turf back to the surface. Steer clear of this because it can damage the roots of the grass.
Now that you’ve got the damaged turf back towards the center of the depression, simply tap the grass very lightly with the head of your putter; this helps to flatten the surface, making it ready to go for the next playing group.
Now when it comes to fairway divots, make sure that you replace the divot by gently putting it back and filling it with the sand from the sand bucket on your cart. Many golfers do not repair their divots, so if you do see this, just give them a gentle reminder; they may be new to the game and unaware they need to fix their divots, or they may have simply forgotten.
Taking Divots On The Practice Range
Did you know that there is a preferred way to practice on the range? If you’re like most golfers, probably not. To be honest, I’ve seen experienced players at my home club frequently “wrecking” the practice area simply because they don’t understand how to “pattern” their divots correctly.
Most golfers practice either by playing their shots from anywhere, or they pick a designated practice spot and absolutely destroy the turf after only 20 minutes; as you can probably guess, both these ways are far from ideal.
The most suitable way to practice on the range is by hitting shots in a linear fashion, meaning that each shot is hit directly behind the previous. This method works best because the general area of grass that is damaged is far less than the two other methods mentioned above. Ensuring that you keep at least 6 inches of grass between your two lines of divots will help to promote the recovery of the grass much quicker; anything less and the grass takes longer to recover.
Please take heed of this advice because it helps keep the practice area in premium condition for others to use and also takes a lot of stress off the greenskeepers and superintendent, who are constantly striving to keep your course in immaculate condition.
Golf Divot FAQS
Do I need to replace my divots?
In short, yes. You must replace your divot as it’s recognized as a written rule of the game and is also viewed as the “right thing to do” or common courtesy. If you do see someone forget to replace their divot, just give them a gentle reminder. Remember, try to fix as many divots as you can during your round, regardless of whether they’re yours or not.
Fixing and replacing your divots helps the greenkeeping staff keep the course in the best possible condition they can for all members, not just for you.
Why is my divot pointing to the left?
Many golfers will find that their divot is pointing or directed to the left rather than straight ahead as hoped. If you find your golf divots constantly pointing to the left, your swing path is coming from the “outside to the inside” for a right-handed golfer.
Don’t look at this as a negative; in fact, it’s a tremendous positive because the divot is providing you with instant feedback as to what went wrong with your swing. Learning to read your divots can provide valuable info allowing you to make the necessary adjustments.
How do I play out of a divot?
Ah, every golfer’s worst nightmare; you’ve ripped a 300-yard drive right down the middle of the fairway only to find your ball has come to rest in a divot someone neglected to repair.
Although playing out of a divot is far from ideal, it’s not the end of the world. Simply play the ball from back in your stance and hit a “knock-down” shot. The steep angle of attack means you can create clean contact on the ball; however, it will make an even larger divot, but not to worry; you’re going to replace it anyway.
The 18th Hole
Who would’ve thought the humble divot could tell you just as much about your swing as your local golf pro; Ok? That might be taking it a bit far, but in all seriousness, learning to read your divots can improve your swing.
Understanding the direction of your divot can you confirm your swing path and help you make the necessary adjustments. On the other hand, understanding the depth of your divot signifies your angle of attack, meaning you can see if you’re coming in too shallow or too deep.
Last but certainly not least, DO NOT FORGET to replace your divot and repair your ball marks on the green. Doing this helps keep your home course in immaculate condition and, more importantly, keeps the greenskeepers on your side.