Proper Divot of Golf Swings

Proper Divot of Golf Swings

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Hall of Famer Tom Watson takes a divot at the bottom of his downswing arc.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

A divot isn't just a chunk of turf that chases your golf ball after impact. A proper divot comes from hitting the ball before the club strikes the ground on iron shots. Skilled ball strikers do this consistently because they know how to position their ball correctly at address behind the bottom of their downswing arc. For proper divots and solid irons, you should learn how to find that point in your swing, too.

Divots and Skill Level

TV commentator and tour pro Bobby Clampett studied divots from players of all skill levels for his book “The Impact Zone.” He discovered that PGA Tour players take divots that start in front of the ball and bottom out 4 to 5 inches ahead of the starting point. High handicappers, on the other hand, start their divots 4 to 5 inches behind to ball. In golf terms, that means they hit the ball fat if they don't hit the ball thin or top it. According to Clampett, a proper divot is long, deep and starts in front of the ball. He believes moving a players divot forward is a key to improvement.

Chipping Drill

Clampett uses chip shots from sand traps to teach players how to take a proper divot. He draws a line in the sand and positions the ball along the line. To get the ball out of the sand, and take a divot in front of the ball, as Clampett demonstrates, a player has to lean the club shaft toward the target and create a flat front wrist at the impact position. The golfer must hit the ball and then the sand without disturbing the line to perform the drill correctly.

The Bottom of the Arc

The key to taking proper divots in front of the golf ball, according to Hall of Fame golfer Tom Watson, is to get your clubhead to bottom out at the same place each time. In “A Swing for a Lifetime,” Watson says a consistent swing bottom comes from proper lower body action in the downswing. You must shift your weight to your front foot coming down, and your back knee should point to the ball at impact, Watson says. That will help you hit down on the ball, he states. Repeating that move and producing the same divot with every iron shot is one of the most important parts of the swing a golfer must learn, Watson writes.

Ball Position

The arc of your club changes as your clubs get longer or shorter. Therefore, Watson writes, you may need to move your ball position around slightly to place the ball in front of the bottom of the arc. Watson plays the ball in the center of his stance for short irons and closer to his left instep for middle irons and long irons. To find the bottom of your arc, you can draw a line on the ground and see where the club strikes the ground with different clubs when you make practice swings.