Golf Divots: FAQ + 3 Things They Tell You About Your Swing

Everyone is talking about golf divots – but what are they?

If you’re new to golf or have simply got by until now without knowing the meaning of golf divotsyou’re not alone!

Golf divots are amongst those often used golf terms that you hear all the time – but many of us don’t know exactly what they mean, why they’re important, and what we can learn from them.

And that’s where we come in! If you’re interested then keep reading, because…

…in this article, we’ll walk you through:

  • What is a divot in golf?
  • Why is it good to take golf divots?
  • 4 Tips to help you take the right golf divot.
  • 3 Things golf divots tell you about your swing.


Let’s talk divots!

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What Is A Divot In Golf?

Quite simply, a divot refers to a piece of turf that is removed from the ground when playing a stroke.

With a sound golf swing, golfers should be making golf divots with every iron club they have in their bag, and in some cases with hybrids and fairway woods.

A divot is taken when a golfer’s swing is still moving downwards after striking the golf ball causing the club to slightly dig into the turf as the golf swing bottoms out – lifting some turf as a result.

It should be no more than about an inch in depth, between four to eight inches in length with the golf divot starting just after where the ball was located. 

Why Is It Good To Take Golf Divots?

To divot or not to divot – it can be a pretty a contentious issue.

Most professionals take golf divots – yet the majority of average club and recreational golfers don’t. And when they do, the golf divots they take are imperfect in several ways.

The great thing about taking divots is that they allow golfers to visibly see the mistakes that they may be making in their golf swing (as discussed later within this article in what divots tell you about your swing).

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A proper divot completely reflects the quality of the ball strike. Taking a few inches of turf in front of the ball is an attribute of all the greatest golf ball strikers. 

A true divot is created when you hit down on the golf ball and compress the club into the turf. When you do hit down on the ball with clean contact, it helps eliminate the two dreaded “nasties” of golf: thin and fat golf shots.

To learn how to compress the golf ball properly, read our earlier article How To Create Lag in Your Golf Swing.

4 Tips To Help You Take The Correct Golf Divot:

#1: Do not be afraid!!

Many beginner golfers, particularly those who play on well-manicured high-end courses are reluctant to take a golf divot, for fear of being seen to ‘ruin’ the beautiful golf course.

However, the turf was meant for hitting with your club and a divot is inevitable.

Turf is very resilient and will soon recover, particularly if you repair your divot as required. Divot repair/replacement is detailed later within this article. 

#2: Finish your golf swing.

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Many amateur players feel their golf swing finishes just after making impact with the golf ball.

Sound familiar? Well, try releasing the clubhead right through the golf swing along the target line. This will help you not only improve the quality of your golf shots but also achieve a good divot pattern.

Related Article: Can A Shorter Backswing Improve Your Game?

#3: Extension of Arms and Clubhead Release 

At set up, before starting your swing your arms should be straight and fully extended – and they must be in roughly the same position when you return to strike the ball.

Of course, the position will change slightly as your weight on the downswing will shift to the front foot – but the lead arm must still be fully extended.

This full-extension should continue throughout the follow-through. This process, if achieved correctly, ensures that you release the clubhead properly on impact.

#4: Correct Ball Position

Sometimes not taking a golf divot may simply be down to an incorrect ball position at address.

If you notice that your golf swing is not making solid contact with your ball then ground, the ball may be located too far forward or situated too far backward in your golf stance.

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For a mid-iron, the ball position will be fairly central between both feet at address. For longer irons, the ball position will be more towards your front foot, while for shorter irons move a little towards the back foot.

These small adjustments will help greatly in helping ensure the correct contact, ball flight, and divot pattern.

To help with finding your best ball position for each club in the bag, when you next practice, make a mark next to where the ball is to determine where the divot is taken in relation to this mark. 

If there is no real divot, the ball position is most likely too far forward and you are striking on the upward motion of the swing. This will result in a thin shot with a short iron in your hand. The ball comes out low and fast and will inevitably end up in troubles that lie beyond a green. 

Conversely, if your divot starts at the ball or behind it, you will hit a ‘fat’ with the ball coming up short. The further behind the ball the divot is, the fatter the strike and the more distance lost.

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3 Ways Golf Divots Teach You About Your Swing

One of the best and simplest ways you can determine why you are hitting the ball the way you do is by checking your divot.

#1: No Divot

Firstly, this is based on the premise that you have done suitable work on ensuring that you have the correct ball position at the address.

If you struggle taking turf when striking your golf ball, you probably have a flat swing

A flat swing plane tends to be more around the body, like a baseball swing. This shallows the angle of attack and results in a sweeping motion rather than the desired downward blow – rendering taking a divot nigh on impossible. 

Generally, this problem can be fixed by standing a little more upright and closer to the ball and then taking your golf club straight back on the takeaway. This ensures that your swing is more up and down rather than being around the body.

This will naturally help to ensure the angle of attack steepens and thereby helps you to hit down on the golf ball – and (fingers crossed) take a proper divot!

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#2: Divot Direction

Ideally, your golf divot will be straight at the target line, showing that your swing is on plane.

If your divot isn’t straight at the target line, then it will generally be attributable to the clubhead not being square at impact. For right-handed golfers, if the ball goes right, then the clubface is open. Conversely, if it goes left, your clubface is closed.

If the divot is pointing towards the left for right-handed golfers, it means that your golf swing path comes from the outside towards the inside. The bigger the variation from straight to the target line, the bigger the issue. 

If, for example, the divot is around 45 degrees out, your ball will have a pronounced and unwanted left to right ball flight, known as a slice. If only a few degrees off, then your ball has a much smaller left to right flight known as a fade.

A fade is manageable, but a slice needs rectifying.

Conversely, when the divot points to the right, you are probably swinging inside towards the outside – a path that tends to generate a right to left ball flight. This is known as a hook when the divot pattern is severely off line, a draw when just off line. 

A draw is manageable, like the slice a hook can be very destructive.

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#3: Divot Depth

Divot depth gives tells you a lot about your angle of attack into the golf ball.

As stated earlier, the perfect divot depth is about an inch deep. In an ideal world, it will be less when using longer irons as the golf swing naturally shallows out with these clubs.

The divots tend to get a little deeper as you work through the bag down to the wedges that you may carry. 

If you notice that you are taking out big chunks of turf with each swing you make, then it means your golf swings are too steep.

Not only does this result in many destructive golf shots, but it may also result in injuring your wrists over a period of time, particularly when playing on firmer ground like links turf. 

How to Play from a Divot 

Sadly it is inevitable that at some point you will have to play from a ball lying in a divot or on a recently filled divot. 

To hit a good golf shot from a divot, make sure you’re hitting down onto the ball. The simplest and best way to generate that downward strike is to set up with the ball slightly further back in the stance than you usually would.

Most golfers have resigned themselves to failing before they swing the club. All you can do is really focus on the quality of the strike and be positive.

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And Finally…..Divot Repair/Replacement

It is vitally important that golfers repair their divot after every shot to help maintain the course for every golfer to enjoy.

If you are lucky enough to be playing with a golf caddie, then one of their key roles will be the repair of any divot absolving any responsibility from the golfer. Happy days!!

Divot repair/replacement policies vary at different courses and are often dictated by the type of grass that the course is built on.

In the United Kingdom and mainland Europe, virtually all courses have Poa Anna (meadow grass). Here, divots tend to come out of the ground as an intact unit of grass that fits perfectly back into the hole created with a gentle stamp.

Overseas in places such as the United States and the Rest of the Golfing World outside of Europe, the grasses may be different, particularly in warmer, dryer climates.

These will include types such as Bermuda, Zoysia, and Paspalum. These grasses tend to “explode” when taking a divot and the policy for repair here is to fill the divot with a divot mix supplied and carried by the golfers.

Looking for a way to spice up your golf game?

Golfers love to do two things – talk about their game and bet on the outcome.

Now that what is a divot in golf has been answered, why not try these? The 8 Best Golf Betting Games


Photo of author
Ray has been playing golf for 35+ years, including being part of his High School and College golf teams. While he still enjoys playing in amateur tournaments, Ray now focuses on growing the game of golf through teaching and coaching. He has two sons that both play golf competitively and loves spending time watching them compete. Ray continues to play in local amateur golf events and currently has a +2 handicap.

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