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Scooping vs Divots - Pros & Cons?


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Finished up my 3rd round of 9 holes this past Wednesday after being away from Golf for a long time and had a few light bulb type moments while I was out there and after my round. 

Scooping vs Divots

For as long as I can remember I've always been a scooper without really putting much thought into it. I think I've never really put much thought into it because I mostly play off feel. Playing off feel is fine and all that but I feel like I'm going to hit a wall somewhere and not continue to improve, and I really want to improve. My goal is to be a scratch golfer and the closest I've ever been is 2 over on my home course which is not that difficult. Since I'm coming back to the game after such a long absence I'm wondering if I could start tweaking things with the way I approach the game. What are some pros and cons of scooping vs divots?

Example of me tweaking things

Right now if I was on a fairway with a perfect beautiful lie my normal swing would scoop the ball up with either no or very minimal divot. I would have to really concentrate and think about striking down at the ball to get that good "pinch" or compression to take a nice divot. Would love to hear some feedback on this!

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4 minutes ago, ShawnSum said:

Right now if I was on a fairway with a perfect beautiful lie my normal swing would scoop the ball up with either no or very minimal divot.

Depends on how you are doing it. If you are flipping the club, then it's not a good thing. If you are doing it because you are getting too much extension too soon, a bit thin isn't a terrible thing.

5 minutes ago, ShawnSum said:

I would have to really concentrate and think about striking down at the ball to get that good "pinch" or compression to take a nice divot. Would love to hear some feedback on this!

You don't compress or pinch the ball between the ground and the club. The ball deforms on the clubface, but it also slides up the clubface due to the loft.

Also, thinking about hitting down may not be the thought you need. You might have something else going on in your swing that is causing you to scoop the ball.

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Nicklaus sometimes practiced this way in practice rounds. I vary but as I don't even carry a 6 iron I have hybrids 6 up I tend to be a far more shallow divots on those. I would be interested do you tee up shots with irons and fairway woods? I don't anymore as I want to have a consistent attack on the ball for all clubs and all tee and fairway shots except driver.

Edited by PerfectStriking
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You mean hitting the ball clean without taking a divot? Scooping implies a flip, which isn't good for consistent contact.

Picking the ball clean can be done at a high level, but you need really good low point control. You're going to get a larger margin for error by taking a proper divot.

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4 minutes ago, PerfectStriking said:

Nicklaus sometimes practiced this way in practice rounds. I very but as I don't even carry a 6 iron I have hybrids 6 up I tend to be a far more shallow divots on those. I would be interested do you tee up shots with irons and fairway woods? I don't anymore as I want to have a consistent attack on the ball for all clubs except driver.

Right now I am teeing iron shots up on the par 3s..simply because I'm not comfortable/confident with everything again yet. When I start getting my "feel" back I won't tee up with iron shots.

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Johnny Miller tells a story about playing a round with Jack Nicklaus. Jack shot 66, but Johnny thought his irons sounded clunky and afterward he mentioned it to him. Jack’s reply was "I was practicing hitting it one groove down."  This is also a more recent classic Miller / Nicklaus moment. 

 

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7 minutes ago, billchao said:

You mean hitting the ball clean without taking a divot? Scooping implies a flip, which isn't good for consistent contact.

Picking the ball clean can be done at a high level, but you need really good low point control. You're going to get a larger margin for error by taking a proper divot.

Hmm...ya know I'm not sure to be completely honest because I'm not familiar with "flipping". If this helps explain the situation I am more likely to thin the ball vs doing anything else as far as mishits go.

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Just now, ShawnSum said:

Hmm...ya know I'm not sure to be completely honest because I'm not familiar with "flipping". If this helps explain the situation I am more likely to thin the ball vs doing anything else as far as mishits go.

In golfer slang you are "hitting it one groove down" 🙂

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32 minutes ago, ShawnSum said:

Hmm...ya know I'm not sure to be completely honest because I'm not familiar with "flipping". If this helps explain the situation I am more likely to thin the ball vs doing anything else as far as mishits go.

Your best bet would be to create a member swing thread.  A face on video will show if you're flipping at impact (as shown below).  If you're going for scratch, this will be a big hindrance.  You want your wrist to be in line with the shaft at impact.

Image result for golf swing flipping

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9 minutes ago, Foot Wedge said:

Your best bet would be to create a member swing thread.  A face on video will show if you're flipping at impact (as shown below).  If you're going for scratch, this will be a big hindrance.  You want your wrist to be in line with the shaft at impact.

Image result for golf swing flipping

Going to the range this weekend and will get some video of the swing.

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1 hour ago, ShawnSum said:

Right now I am teeing iron shots up on the par 3s..simply because I'm not comfortable/confident with everything again yet. When I start getting my "feel" back I won't tee up with iron shots.

Why? Teeing up gives you a perfect lie - it's an advantage. I'd tee up all my approach shots if the rules allowed me to.

1 hour ago, ShawnSum said:

Hmm...ya know I'm not sure to be completely honest because I'm not familiar with "flipping". If this helps explain the situation I am more likely to thin the ball vs doing anything else as far as mishits go.

You can flip with or without taking a divot. I'm not going to get into a discussion about flipping without seeing your swing and knowing whether you do it or not. I'm just pointing out that using the word "scooping" implies flipping. The term more commonly used for hitting the ball without taking a divot is picking.

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12 minutes ago, billchao said:

Why? Teeing up gives you a perfect lie - it's an advantage. I'd tee up all my approach shots if the rules allowed me to.

You can flip with or without taking a divot. I'm not going to get into a discussion about flipping without seeing your swing and knowing whether you do it or not. I'm just pointing out that using the word "scooping" implies flipping. The term more commonly used for hitting the ball without taking a divot is picking.

I guess I'd prefer to get in a habit/feel of striking the ball with my irons without a tee so I can translate that to my approach shots. Just something I do as I play more, like I said I'm a pretty big feel type player..some things just come naturally to me as I play more.

 

Thank you for pointing out the terminology on scooping vs picking. Perhaps I used the wrong words in the title. I'm going to look into it more and get some video footage at the range this weekend!

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Yeah, I think the OP means picking the ball clean off the turf/tee. 

Scooping would be a big distance killer I would think. 

As for the pros/cons, when done properly, I am thinking taking a divot is the way to go. I think the divot swing/impact, when properly done, allows for more distance, and accuracy.

When I was playing my best golf, I took divots with my irons. Some of my divots could pass as irrigation ditches.

Now I am a "picker" of the ball. I hit all my full swing irons a little on the thin side. I even practice this type of impact. This is due to my surgically repaired left wrist, elbow, and shoulder. If I were to take full swing divots, I would run the risk of breaking down those repair jobs. This is especially true on firmer fairways, that are "NOT"  divot friendly. I see alot of these types of fairways.

By picking the ball clean, I have pretty much done away with full swing fat & shank shots. I get my distances between clubs, and my accuracy is pretty good. 

I don't even take divots on my chips, and some pitch shots. I do take smallish divots on some abbreviated approach, wedge swings. 

Edited by Patch
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7 minutes ago, Patch said:

Yeah, I think the OP means picking the ball clean off the turf/tee. 

Scooping would be a big distance killer I would think. 

As for the pros/cons, when done properly, I am thinking taking a divot is the way to go. I think the divot swing/impact, when properly done, allows for more distance, and accuracy.

When I was playing my best golf, I took divots with my irons. Some of my divots could pass as irrigation ditches.

Now I am a "picker" of the ball. I hit all my full swing irons a little on the thin side. I even practice this type of impact. This is due to my surgically repaired left wrist, elbow, and shoulder. If I were to take full swing divots, I would run the risk of breaking down those repair jobs. This is especially true on firmer fairways, that are "NOT"  divot friendly. I see alot of these types of fairways.

By picking the ball clean, I have pretty much done away with full swing fat & shank shots. I get my distances between clubs, and my accuracy is pretty good. 

I don't even take divots on my chips, and some pitch shots. I do take smallish divots on some abbreviated approach, wedge swings. 

Since making this post and watching a few things I believe I should have used the word Picking instead of Scooping. I don't feel like I'm losing distance on stuff or being "handsy" or "flippy" with my swing but I'll try and get a video posted sometime over the weekend.

When I do make an effort, and it does require an effort for me to take a proper divot the difference in feeling is noticeable...I feel like the ball is being propelled more or something rather than just hit solid when I'm picking it clean. Maybe that makes sense, maybe not...I'm going to do some experimenting on the range and course!

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37 minutes ago, ShawnSum said:

Since making this post and watching a few things I believe I should have used the word Picking instead of Scooping. I don't feel like I'm losing distance on stuff or being "handsy" or "flippy" with my swing but I'll try and get a video posted sometime over the weekend.

When I do make an effort, and it does require an effort for me to take a proper divot the difference in feeling is noticeable...I feel like the ball is being propelled more or something rather than just hit solid when I'm picking it clean. Maybe that makes sense, maybe not...I'm going to do some experimenting on the range and course!

I don't think that there is a problem with picking the ball clean as opposed to taking a divot - if done correctly there should be the same result from what I know about golf ball physics.  However, if you are like me and I'm a frequent picker, when I pick I am usually just a tad thin on the shot.  Usually this doesn't bring much harm but the ball will roll out a little further than usual.

For whatever reason, I pick a lot more on Bermuda grass than bent.  I think I was told once to play the ball slightly back on Bermuda, but I frequently forget.

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39 minutes ago, gbogey said:

However, if you are like me and I'm a frequent picker, when I pick I am usually just a tad thin on the shot. 

Yeah basically this. The problem I have with this, granted it's not a HUGE problem considering it's happened twice in the past 27 holes of golf I've played...but the problem I have with this is when I skull/blade the ball 20-30 yards past where I should be. When that happens I start to think about all kinds of things with my swing in regards to not taking divots and all that.

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IMO the problems are different.  With the pick / tad thin shot, rarely does anything bad happen. Example from last night - 143 yds to back pin, usual 9i is 135-140 yds - hit it a tad thin and actually went 2 yards past the pin (and 20 feet left), so good result.  Obviously there are situations where the pin is really tight to the back or it's a very firm green and you go off the back, but most of the time the results don't hurt you.  And given that I seem to do this when I'm trying to get max distance out of an iron (that's the other common fact besides Bermuda grass), it might actually help at times.

A blade/skull is a bad shot in that in addition to missing the green you usually end up in a position that makes scrambling difficult.  

I feel (opinion not fact) that the tad thin could be the result of either swing flaw or ball position and that usually better ball position solves the problem.  A blade/skull is probably more from a bad swing.  

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3 hours ago, gbogey said:

IMO the problems are different.  With the pick / tad thin shot, rarely does anything bad happen. Example from last night - 143 yds to back pin, usual 9i is 135-140 yds - hit it a tad thin and actually went 2 yards past the pin (and 20 feet left), so good result.  Obviously there are situations where the pin is really tight to the back or it's a very firm green and you go off the back, but most of the time the results don't hurt you.  And given that I seem to do this when I'm trying to get max distance out of an iron (that's the other common fact besides Bermuda grass), it might actually help at times.

A blade/skull is a bad shot in that in addition to missing the green you usually end up in a position that makes scrambling difficult.  

I feel (opinion not fact) that the tad thin could be the result of either swing flaw or ball position and that usually better ball position solves the problem.  A blade/skull is probably more from a bad swing.  

I'm going out tomorrow morning and plan to do some experimenting with ball position. Seems like a better idea vs tweaking the swing at this point.

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