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Divots

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

First, a funny story.

 

A guy I know was obsessed with hitting the ball "in to out." This guy would eventually develop a very good golf swing, but at the time this story takes place, he was shooting in the 90s and was just getting started on learning about the golf swing. At this point, though, the guy absolutely loved seeing his divots point to the right, because that was proof positive that the path was "in to out."

 

So I play nine holes with this guy, and my brother-in-law is along (I was actually subbing for his regular partner in a league). The first hole is a short par four with water, and I bunt a 5I into the fairway. My brother-in-law steps up with his 4I or something, takes his waggles, and then hits the ground 18 inches behind the ball, taking a big divot, and flat out missing the ball (how the divot missed the ball too I don't know).

 

The guy immediately says - in all seriousness - "Aha! I can tell you are a very good player because your divot is in to out!" :-) We still chuckle over that to this day...

 


 

Anyway, I'd like to thank Dr_Fu_Manchu for suggesting I write about divots: what they mean, what they can tell us, how big or small they should be, etc. It's a big topic, so I doubt I'll cover all of the topics here, but I think we might get to the bulk of them in the resulting discussion. So here goes...

 

Divot Direction

Your divot - the actual piece of dislodged grass - should almost always fly to the left. The clubface closes (even if it's staying relatively square to the arc and closing slowly) and the path of the clubhead goes left, so most divots end up going to the left. Unlike the ball flight laws, divots tend to fly in the direction of the path of the clubhead at the end of the swing. ;-)

 

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But if you want to talk about the hole in the dirt - frankly, I don't know what that's called, so I'll call it the "trench" unless I come up with something better in a few minutes - then that will rarely point to the right except in the rarest of cases (i.e. hooks). There are a few reasons for this, some involving the physics of how a golf club interacts with dirt and grass and your natural swing shape, but let's consider a stock push-draw with a 6-iron. If the player hits down on his six iron 6 degrees, his path will be roughly three or four degrees to the right (and his clubface, if he hits a good shot, will be about 1-2 degrees right of target). The ball is gone, the divot is taken, and the clubhead continues moving in three dimensions - down, out, and forward - to low point about four inches in front of the ball. Then it exits, with the clubhead moving again in three dimensions - forward (duh), up, and in.

 

In the end, we get a section of a circle - an arc, with roughly equal halves on each side of the low point. Because the total divot length is about six to eight inches, and because the angles will go from about 3 degrees to the right to three degrees to the left, the divot will "point" pretty straight. Have a look at the image to the right - that divot is "pretty straight" and that's with a sudden change in angle, not the smooth arc and rough edges you'd get from a normal fairway divot.

 

Review my "A-B-C-D-Plane" video for more on this, by the way, but consider the fact that you can hit a dead push as well - clubface and path both 3 degrees right, for example - and have a divot pointing relatively "straight" and also left of where the ball went.

 

Now, people who cut the ball, their divots most definitely point to the left because, if they're hitting down on the ball enough, they have to shift their baseline far enough left to counter the fact that the clubhead is still traveling down, out, and forward.

 

Long story short: drawers tend to have relatively straight divots, and faders tend to have divots pointing a fair amount to the left.

 


 

Divot Shape

 

If you're a fan of looking at all of your divots, stop. Look at them generally, but unless you notice a pattern that persists, it's pointless. An individual divot can look "toe deep" or "heel deep" because the ground was different levels of softness or not quite level or a few other reasons. Don't obsess over individual divots.

 

If you see a pattern that's heel deep or toe deep, though, consider having your lie angles adjusted.

 

 

Lie Angles and Their Effects on Shot Direction (Click to show)

A brief aside.

 

You'll often hear it said that a "heel deep" divot (from having lie angles too upright) cause the ball to go left because "the heel catches the ground and it shuts the clubface down." You hear the opposite for a toe-deep divot: the toe digs into the ground first, opens the face, and causes the ball to go to the right.

 

That's not the case at all. If your lie angles are too upright, the clubface POINTS TO THE LEFT and if your lie angle is too flat, your clubface POINTS TO THE RIGHT. You don't take a divot until after the ball is gone - so how could the club "digging in" affect anything? Consider a sidehill lie: when the ball is above your feet, the clubface is pointing more to the left. It's the same thing if you have heel deep divots because your clubs are too upright.

 

The club digging in has nothing to do with the shot direction unless you hit the ball fat all the time.

 



 

 

Divot Depth

 

Though I value tools like Trackman, oftentimes the people who promote Trackman the heaviest get a bit too wound up in them. They'll say that you can't properly diagnose a golfer based on ball flight and video alone. My response to that? You rarely fix a slice by telling the golfer to increase his angle of attack. That's another D-Plane thing, if you're interested...

 

Anyway, I'll explain what a good divot depth is by explaining the extremes. On one side, you've got the "pickers" of the golf ball. I used to be a picker. I also used to lose the flying wedge and have a shaft very close to vertical at impact. Picking the ball consistently is difficult, particularly with shorter clubs. On the other end you've got the really big diggers. These people have a lot of shaft lean at impact, because the club is still traveling down quite a bit before it gets out of the ground. As you can imagine, it's easier to take bigger divots with your wedge than your 4I, but I've seen some big divots taken with every club. Including my high school teammate Franco taking them with his driver. :-P

 

The proper divot depth varies by the conditions (wet, firm), the lie (uphill, downhill), the type of shot you want to play, and so on. Let's assume average conditions for all of them and a relatively stock shot. In this case, with a 6-iron, the divot should get through the fairway grass and expose dirt. It'll be the "one piece" type of divot that's on the edge of falling apart (again, given relatively average conditions - and they may vary in your area, because Bermuda divots tend to fall apart more easily in my experience - I'm talking about moist but not wet poa/bent/bluegrass divots). With a wedge the divot will want to stay together a bit more with more dirt, and with a long iron will be mostly grass with the bottom of the club just reaching the dirt. Why? Again, you have more shaft lean with wedges than you do with long irons. With a fairway metal or hybrid? Scuff marks will suffice.

 



Ball Position

 

If you play the ball back, you'll tend to take bigger divots than a guy who plays the ball forward. Duh. Right?

 


 

Flip and Divot

 

Can you flip and still take a divot? Though the real answer is "no" it really depends on you defining "flip" the same way I do as well as one other thing. You can flip (i.e. let's say a "flip" occurs if the shaft has passed the left arm prior to impact) yet still drive the clubhead down into the ground if your shoulder alignments and tilts are out of whack. You can also flip and still take a divot with the ball position well back. Think about it.

 

So no, a divot doesn't mean that you didn't flip.

 


 

I'll wrap things up there. I've got a video from Playing Lessons with the Pros that I need to put together. :-)

 

As always, please, discuss. If I'm wrong, show me how I am. If you have questions or something to add, write it up. Share this with your friends, too. The more discussion we get, the better the end result and the more we all learn.

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post #2 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

First, a funny story.

The guy immediately says - in all seriousness - "Aha! I can tell you are a very good player because your divot is in to out!" :-) We still chuckle over that to this day...

 

Reminds me of people who look at the position of their tee after they've hit one OB and feel somewhat satisfied because it's behind them.

post #3 of 34

OK...but this doesnt explain what has been keeping me up for a week.  Not sure if he is a member here or not but a photo was posted on facebook of Grant Waite and him giving a thumbs up for a shot Osten hit who is left handed. It clearly shows his divot is dead right of the intended target which to me would either be a straight pull,pull hook,or a pull fade... right? I believe the heading says "The shot started out just left of the pin and came back with a little draw. Only a handful of instructors can explain this" Please help I need to sleep

post #4 of 34
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericg View Post

OK...but this doesnt explain what has been keeping me up for a week.  Not sure if he is a member here or not but a photo was posted on facebook of Grant Waite and him giving a thumbs up for a shot Osten hit who is left handed. It clearly shows his divot is dead right of the intended target which to me would either be a straight pull,pull hook,or a pull fade... right? I believe the heading says "The shot started out just left of the pin and came back with a little draw. Only a handful of instructors can explain this" Please help I need to sleep


It's D-Plane stuff mixed in with a few other things. I didn't get into it, but divots aren't always even on each side of the low point.

post #5 of 34

I stopped looking at my divots a while ago. The only time i look at them is if i hit a shot right and i think i hit it solid, so i check to see if maybe i aimed to far right. I tend to have straight divots with my irons. Other than that, i get more information of watching the ball flight.

post #6 of 34

I am so happy to see this post.  My iron shots go very straight and fade about a yard at the end of it's flight and my divots point to the left VERY slighty (I'm a righty).  I used to HATE seeing that they pointed slightly left ...I mean HATE it.  Over time, I got over it and this post helps this for me as well. 

 

I play a decent game of golf and worrying about divots is pointless and a waste of energy really. 

post #7 of 34

 

 

This is an interesting video....you will see that McIlroy hit a huge high draw to a center left pin on this shot...at the 0:10sec mark, you'll see that he's coming hard with an in to out path and after the ball makes impact, it's clear that the divot is straight.  So this adds to what Erk explained.  Such massive high draw shot shape still creates a straigth divot...

 

Also, look at how open the face is at impact even though the ball curved 10 yards...(but that's a seperate topic b2_tongue.gif)

 

post #8 of 34
Thread Starter 

GREAT Video, Deryck. Loved it.

post #9 of 34

I rarely notice my divots direction but I am a huge digger so Im disgusted when I look at my divots with a 5 iron compared to admiring the 6 inches of grass i took out with my wedges. Greatest feeling in the world is watching a piece of grass go flying while simultaneously watching the ball land on the green.

post #10 of 34
Quote:

So this adds to what Erk explained.  Such massive high draw shot shape still creates a straigth divot...

 

With Rory the divot is still going in the direction of the ball, majority of the grass is. Some of it is going straighter because it sticks to the club and the club face is rotating. I don't trust divots, just use a camera or just know were your aiming and see were the ball goes. Its not hard to figure out if your hitting the ball left or right of your target line.

post #11 of 34

I am more of a sweeper.. spent lot of time trying to get a divot and failed miserably... :-(

post #12 of 34

I took a divot with my lob wedge Friday that left a trench a family of chipmunks could live in.  It looked like a beaver's tail about 8 inches long and three wide.  Thing is, the shot was really good, all ball first with nice flight and on line.  The ground was a bit moist from rain the days before and a slightly uphill lie.  I tend to dig more with the wedges because the ball is back in my stance, slightly ahead of middle.  Still it was a bit surprising to see this small island following my shot.

post #13 of 34

Question, how much does the bounce of the club play a role in divot depth, or do you think that is not a factor in divot depth?

post #14 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mchepp View Post

Question, how much does the bounce of the club play a role in divot depth, or do you think that is not a factor in divot depth?

 

It plays a significant role.

post #15 of 34
Thread Starter 

To be clear (since I have good reason to think I wasn't as clear as I could have been, or thought I was), the divot is rarely inside of about 10° of the direction of the club's path. Because of how dirt works, only a perfectly homogenous blend of dirt would be useful for diagnosing club path (and even then it's well after impact). The point I was trying to make (and failed to, perhaps) is that people who fade will have a divot pointing left (typically!), but people who draw can have a divot pointing almost anywhere - it just won't tend to be as far left as a fader.

post #16 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by saevel25 View Post

I stopped looking at my divots a while ago. The only time i look at them is if i hit a shot right and i think i hit it solid, so i check to see if maybe i aimed to far right. I tend to have straight divots with my irons. Other than that, i get more information of watching the ball flight.


I have to agree. I may play a round of golf and have 8 defined divots and these are ones that were created during a miss-hit or a bad hit. I usually sweep the grass just about down to the soil. Very few times am I sanding my shot spot. I'm no better than a bogie golfer and these 8 shots with divots noted above each cost me a stroke in reality. So, I'm hoping if I can play a round with no trench digging, I may end up shooting 10 or so above par. My short game is good and is where I save a lot of strokes. Getting to the green or near it is where I end up losing strokes and in my opinion due to club strike/divots that ruin my shots. Now I'm certain lots of people take divots on every stroke or a large portion of them and play much better than I do. However for me, being old and broken physically, not taking an actual divot is the best approach for me. How many of you out there take no divots or very slight clipping of the grass only? Or, how many have bad shots after taking a divot?

post #17 of 34

I only take a divot when I hit it fat....I am a sweeper for sure.  I prefer the Sam Snead, Moe Norman approach...hit your irons like they are fairway woods and you are hitting the ball off a man's crew cut. 

post #18 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

 

It plays a significant role.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mchepp View Post

Question, how much does the bounce of the club play a role in divot depth, or do you think that is not a factor in divot depth?

There is a great video on youtube that explains this little bit of information for you located here:

 

Or take Luke Donald's advice he has very low bounce on his wedges and he believes that with correct fundamentals it doesn't matter - but to each their own 

 

I have a 52/05 58/08 64/07 all Mizzy wedges

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