In golf, a divot is what results when the club penetrates the ground after making impact with the ball. One can examine the characteristics of a divot to determine possibly what flaws occurred during the swing. Characteristics that you should look for in a divot are the direction the divot points, the depth of the divot and the beginning point of the divot in relation to the ball's original position.
Proper Divot Direction
A divot that does not point at the target is often a sign that the arms and body are not moving in sync toward the ball. For a right-handed player, a divot that points left of the target tells a player that on the transition to the downswing, the club is being re-routed outside the target line -- what is commonly referred to as an "over-the-top" move. To help cure this, a player must try to allow the arms to drop vertically as the body rotates back toward the target. This will help the club head travel on a path toward the inside of the ball. Players who begin the downswing by throwing the club down at the ball with arms before the body moves at all, generally suffer from the "over-the-top" move and their divots subsequently point to the left of the target.
Proper Divot Depth
The longer the club, the shallower the divot should be. This is because a player's swing plane becomes flatter as the club becomes longer. If a player is making deep divots with long clubs, then he is swinging the club on too steep of a plane coming into the ball. The player needs to make sure that the club's shaft is at a 90-degree angle to the spine and that the club swings around the body on this plane. Keeping the arms and body moving simultaneously on the downswing is a good way to keep the proper angle intact. If the divot is too shallow, or even non-existent, the player may be pulling the body up on the downswing. It is important to maintain the spine angle set at address throughout the entire back swing and downswing. Only after making impact with the ball, does the spine lift out of its original angle.
Proper Divot Proximity
In all cases, except green-side bunker shots, a player makes contact with the ball before making contact with the ground. This means a divot's starting point is past the ball's original starting point. By hitting the ground before the ball, the divot starts behind the ball and the shot is deemed to be hit "fat" with tremendous deceleration of the club head. This problem results from either poor ball position or an ill-timed swing. By positioning the ball farther back in the stance, a player can help avoid the premature divot, but this can lead to the development of some poor swing mechanics. The best way to deal with this situation is to make sure the spine does not dip during the downswing and that the arms begin the downswing simultaneously with the body rotating back to the target.
- "PGA Teaching Manual: The Art and Science of Golf Instruction"; Gary Wiren, et al; 1990
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