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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Three Surprising But Useful Facts About Divots

This post will sound painfully simple but you'll be amazed at how much it can help you troubleshoot swing problems.

Martin Hall began School of Golf Wednesday night with "three things you might not know about divots... but should." These three facts were:
  1. The divot made by a straight shot actually points a bit to the left. (That's for righties, of course. If you're a lefty, it should point slightly right.)
  2. If you hit the ball correctly, the divot should begin right under the center of the ball and NOT in front of it.
  3. Except when attempting special shots, your divots shouldn't be very deep.
Now let's look at each of these facts in more detail.

1. You swing on an inclined plane, which means that -- for a straight shot -- the club head approaches the ball from inside your aim line, contacts the ball when the club head is facing straight down the line and then immediately moves back inside your aim line. So if you hit the ball straight, the club head should be moving to your left (if you swing right-handed) right after it contacts the ball. Therefore your divot should point just a bit to the left -- not a lot, just a bit.

That also means that if your divot is pointing straight at the target, you probably pushed the shot. So if you keep slicing but your divot points straight ahead, you've got the ball a bit too far back in your stance.

This actually makes sense once you think about it... but you do have to think about it

2. Although the main part of your divot is in front of the ball -- if you hit the ball before you hit the ground, it has to be -- that doesn't mean ALL of the divot is in front of the ball. In fact, the beginning of the divot is UNDER the ball. The club face should hit the ball first, then hit the ground where the ball is resting, and then take out the divot starting there.

Again, this makes sense if you think about it. If the entire divot was in front of the ball, you would have hit the ball thin.

3. Martin quoted the late Moe Norman, who once said your divots should be "bacon strips, not pork chops." Under normal circumstances you want a shallow divot that doesn't slow down the club head or twist it sideways when it hits the ground. A shallow divot four to six inches long -- Martin said the size of a dollar bill -- is a good rule of thumb.

If you're coming over-the-top, you'll likely get a deep divot that points quite a bit left. (Or quite a bit right, if you swing lefty.) That's because your downswing comes in steep and from the outside of your aim line. And taking deep divots can also hurt your wrists.

So there you have it --  a quick lesson on "reading" divots. These simple facts about divots provide a lot of very useful information when you're trying to troubleshoot your swing.


  1. Blair's favorite takeaway