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Bobby2Swings

Consciously Hitting Down or Taking a Divot

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Most of us know that taking a divot just after the ball with irons is generally desired because it usually means solid contact, compression, spin, etc... I know there are some "pickers" out there that might say different but for the sake of the conversation lets assume the above statement is true.

What is not clear to me is whether or not that act of taking a divot (or hitting down) is conscious. Are you folks actually "aiming" to bottom out after the ball or are you trying to pick it clean and the divot is a result of a swing mechanism like the forward weight shift?

I've also heard that I should think of it like trying to hit my ball and another imaginary ball a few inches in front of my ball. This would suggest trying to achieve a very shallow swing path that just barely bottoms out after the ball.

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To me, taking a divot is a by-product of the rest of the set-up and swing.  I wouldn't ever recommend consciously trying to hit downward in most situations.  Yes, from gnarly rough I'll play the ball further back in my stance and hit down, in order to decrease the amount of grass I have to swing through to get to the ball, but normal swings, I'm just swinging through the ball.  

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5 minutes ago, Bobby2Swings said:

Most of us know that taking a divot just after the ball with irons is generally desired because it usually means solid contact, compression, spin, etc... I know there are some "pickers" out there that might say different but for the sake of the conversation lets assume the above statement is true.

What is not clear to me is whether or not that act of taking a divot (or hitting down) is conscious. Are you folks actually "aiming" to bottom out after the ball or are you trying to pick it clean and the divot is a result of a swing mechanism like the forward weight shift?

I've also heard that I should think of it like trying to hit my ball and another imaginary ball a few inches in front of my ball. This would suggest trying to achieve a very shallow swing path that just barely bottoms out after the ball.

No I don't think it is or should be a conscious thing as in "I need to make sure I come down into the ball". It is my belief is that thought process lends the player into coming into the ball too steeply. It may not for some people, but I have experienced it myself and I know other golfers who have as well. In my opinion, the proper low point in the golf swing is achieved through properly addressing the golf ball and then the swing mechanics (Centered pivot, good weight transfer, and flat left wrist at impact etc...) will allow the golf swing to bottom out correctly. 

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It is not a conscious act for me, it just happens naturally as a result of my swing. I don't take a deep divot, just a little streak. The only time I don't take a divot is if I stand up out of my posture and hit the club thin or on the toe, which I can feel by the vibration in my hands.. IME if you try and force the divot you'll wind up hitting the ball fat every time and driving yourself crazy. So my advice is don't think about it. 

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This is all really helpful feedback. For months I have focused on hitting down with pretty poor results. I played 9 yesterday by myself and experimented with "picking" but with the other fundamentals in place. Lo and behold I took some really shallow divots right after the ball and saw some pretty good results from it.

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28 minutes ago, Bobby2Swings said:

This would suggest trying to achieve a very shallow swing path that just barely bottoms out after the ball.

Place a towel or a lie board about 12” behind your ball. Hit balls without hitting the towel/board. 12” is just the starting spot. Try to do it from 8”, 6”. You will soon get the feel of hitting ‘down on the ball.’

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1 minute ago, Bobby2Swings said:

For months I have focused on hitting down with pretty poor results. I played 9 yesterday by myself and experimented with "picking" but with the other fundamentals in place.

Be careful with trying to "pick" as well. Worry about getting the mechanics right and the swing arc will take care of itself. Trying to pick is a recipe for thin shots and horrible distance control with your irons. 

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33 minutes ago, HJJ003 said:

Be careful with trying to "pick" as well. Worry about getting the mechanics right and the swing arc will take care of itself. Trying to pick is a recipe for thin shots and horrible distance control with your irons. 

Understood. By "pick", I just meant trying my best to make perfect contact on the club face. I wasn't actively trying to avoid the ground after the ball. Poor word choice as "picking" means something else. 😐

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The conscious thought "hit down on the ball" is a very dangerous one for me. I'll get even steeper than I already am and I'll loose my balance forward. That puts the old hosel front and center and we all know what that means. 

A good divot is just the normal result of a good swing. 

 

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I take good divots but never think about doing so on the swing. Be careful swinging down steeply into the ball. I did this off mats on concrete when I first started golfing in response to youtube videos and the divot came out of my ribcage--I had a muscle pull that ruined golfing for about a month. Also, I started swinging more steeply with irons a few weeks ago with better results, but after overdoing it over the labor day weekend I've got a bad back strain that is going to keep me out of golf for at least another week.

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I am one of those "pickers", who also gives the turf, in front of the ball, a bit of a trim. Even when I practice on those thin lies at the dry lake bed, I tend to leave a mark in front of the ball. 

I don't consciously think about a divot after the ball 99% of the time. Fact is, alot of the desert courses I pay, are not what I consider to be "divot friendley". The ground underneath the fairway turf is just too firm. Hence, I am more of a picker.

Now sometimes (1%) I will actually focus on a taking a deeper than normal divot, by hitting down more, if the conditions are right, and it will help out my shot. One of my practice regimines is to focus on swinging faster, and taking deeper divots with my wedges. 

My thoughts on taking a divot are this. Better golfers take divots after the ball. It's my opinion that in the golf swing, this is one of the more important parts of the swing, that most amateurs just don't do correctly. Folks complain about hitting slices, hooks, fatties, and other poor impacts, but few practice on actually taking divots after the ball. Perhaps getting the correct swing, and weight shift is just hard to learn for alot of golfers. 

I read some where that part of reasons pros hit the ball so far with their irons is because they they take those deeper divots after the ball. They are getting full use of the loft on that particular iron. That in some cases, say when using a 8i for example, they maybe hitting the ball with  6, or 7 iron loft. I don't know if that is actually true, but it does seem possible. 

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24 minutes ago, Patch said:

I read some where that part of reasons pros hit the ball so far with their irons is because they they take those deeper divots after the ball. They are getting full use of the loft on that particular iron. That in some cases, say when using a 8i for example, they maybe hitting the ball with  6, or 7 iron loft. I don't know if that is actually true, but it does seem possible. 

I was of the understanding that the dynamic loft increase is because of their forward shaft lean. Combine that with the great compression and lag and you get some serious distance. 

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1 hour ago, Bobby2Swings said:

I was of the understanding that the dynamic loft increase is because of their forward shaft lean.

Forward shaft lean causes dynamic loft to decrease.

Average dynamic loft for a 6i on the PGA Tour is 20°, while the average 6i on tour has a static loft of 30°.

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Thanks for the correction billchao. That is what I meant, just came out wrong. 😶

2 hours ago, Patch said:

It's my opinion that in the golf swing, this is one of the more important parts of the swing, that most amateurs just don't do correctly. Folks complain about hitting slices, hooks, fatties, and other poor impacts, but few practice on actually taking divots after the ball.

I agree and that's why I created the thread. I know its important and knew I wasn't executing quite right. Thanks for all the clarifications. I feel its provided me with the knowledge I need to improve my iron game.

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32 minutes ago, Bobby2Swings said:

I agree and that's why I created the thread. I know its important and knew I wasn't executing quite right.

I disagree about the importance of divots. You can flip and hit a divot after the ball, doesn't mean your swing is good.

Tom Watson did alright without hitting divots.

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Only thing I will add is it takes more conscious effort to not scoop. At least for most beginners. 

Easier said than done but if you succeed in in eliminating scooping divots after a ball comes as a by-product of normal clubhead path. 

As pointed out in posts above, there are specific occasions for a concious chop down. 

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5SK Key #1 Steady Head

When you keep your head steady and have set up with your arm/hands/club grip hanging down from your left shoulder, the ball being back in your stance means the ball and club head will be 'higher' than the bottom of the arc. So when you swing you should naturally strike the ball first. Then the swing should end with the club head descending to the low point in your arc which is back at a vertical line from your left shoulder, potentially taking a divot.  We're only talking a few degrees here.

The driver set up is the same, but with the ball position at or in front of your left shoulder, so the though you are swinging 'down', the arc is actually flat or going up at contact.

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Hey everyone. Just joining the forum and offering a first post. I do not concentrate on taking a divot but recognize that, for me, when I do not appropriately shift my weight to the forward foot through the swing I do not take a divot nor hit the ball as correctly as I should.  Hope that is helpful. 

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