2 Ways to Hit Your Ball Out of a Fairway Divot

By Denis Pugh

You are not usually laughing and smiling when you see these lies. You are in the middle of the fairway and you are in a trouble shot. Two different types of shots you can get here, the sand filled divot, similar to the one Payne Stewart had a few years back in the US Open, and the regular divot. Not surprisingly they need two separate techniques.

Situation #1: Bad lie in a sand trap

The first one, the sand filled one, well that is really a fairway bunker. It is the smallest fairway bunker on the golf course. You need to think about how you are going to play this one.

  • I have about 140 yards and am going to take my 7-iron and try to play a slight cut shot in order that I get a steeper angle of attack onto the ball and try to ensure that I do not catch any sand before impact.
  • I will set up to this shot by aiming slightly left and playing the ball further back in my stance.
  • Not much leg action here, trying to make sure that if anything I catch the ball slightly thin.

Watch how I play it. OK, now that worked out pretty good.

Situation #2: Bad lie in a regular divot

But what about the one that is in the regular divot hole. It needs a different approach. Where I might have needed a 7-iron to get to the green I now go to the 8-iron.

  • What I am going to play now is more of a driving shot. Instead of cutting it out of the sand filled divot, I am going to drive this one forward.
  • You will not see much of a follow-through for this shot.
  • Once again I play the ball back in the stance but now I will aim just slightly right of the flag.
  • As I make the swing I am going to make an aggressive movement to the left side and hit down and hard on the ball. Watch the size of the divot that comes out of the divot.


So let's recap, when you are in the sand-filled divot you are going to try to cut it out, take more club. When you are in the regular divot you are going to try to drive it out, so take less club. An 8-iron and 7-iron were the clubs of my choice, but that stays true throughout the bag. It is a tough break when you land in divots on the fairway. As if the game was not tough enough already. But you can cope with them and you can get away with pretty good shots if you use your mind and think about the situation.

Category: Bad Lies

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