Taking A Divot

By Bill Herrfeldt

When the U.S. Open was played at Pinehurst in 1989, a most unusual thing happened on the 18th hole, a par 5 that's fronted by a pond. Several players hit their approach shots to the back of the green, only to have the backspin draw the balls all the way back to to the water. Little did television viewers know that it was the way the pros make their divots that contribute to so much backspin, which, in most cases, helps them control the ball. Learn how to take a proper divot and give your ball more backspin so you too can improve your control.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Step 1
Realize that a divot should be taken only after the ball has been struck, and that the depth of a divot is determined by the degree that the club is descending before it hits the golf ball. If the club is coming from the side and not the top, it is impossible to take a proper divot unless your spine angle or your upper body dips during the downswing. Even then, you are likely to take the divot before you hit the ball.
Step 2
Relax your arms to make a wider arc and take a proper divot. Many golfers make the mistake of tightening up their arms the harder they swing, resulting in the narrowing of the swing's arc. Such a swing will reduce the distance the ball travels, and it makes it nearly impossible to take a proper divot that results in a lot of backspin. In fact, the head of the club will have a tendency to hit the ball thin or actually at the equator of the ball, which will result in topped shots. By relaxing your arms, you will increase the extension of your swing and you will be in a position at the point of impact to hit the ball and take a divot immediately thereafter.
Step 3
Make sure that your body rotates throughout your golf swing. If you're right-handed, that means your weight should be shifted almost entirely to your right side on your backswing, and then it should be shifted to your left side during the follow-through. If you do this correctly and your arms remain extended throughout the swing, your clubhead should be lower during your downswing, which will make ball contact and taking the proper divot possible.
Step 4
Avoid moving your body laterally both on your backswing and foreswing. That will cause you to be higher at the point of impact than you were at the address, and taking a proper divot is nearly impossible. Also, you will find it very difficult to keep your head behind the golf ball throughout the swing, which will result in wayward shots.

About The Author

Bill Herrfeldt specializes in finance, sports and the needs of retiring people, and has been published in the national edition of "Erickson Tribune," the "Washington Post" and the "Arizona Republic." He graduated from the University of Louisville.

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