How to Read Your Divots

read your divots

Golfers take divots with irons and wedges, hitting down on the ball to get the ball in the air. The size of your divot is great for understanding how you attack the golf ball. The shape and direction of your divot also reveal any swing or club issues that, when corrected, bring more success on the course. In this tip of the week, I’ll teach you how to read your divots to help your game.

Read Your Divots

Divot Depth

There are 2 main swing types in terms of divots, sweepers and diggers. Sweepers take a very small and shallow divot. Diggers take a deep divot that could sometimes double as a drainage ditch.  Neither is right or wrong, it just reflects how your club comes into the golf ball at impact. A shallow divot means you are coming into the ball at a shallower angle, sweeping it off of the ground. A deep divot means you are coming in steeper.

Divot Direction

The direction of your divot is the line running back to front and its relation to your intended target line. Ideally, the divot direction should align with the target line.

divot direction

The most common error I see for right-handed golfers is a divot that runs from right to left of the intended line. This means the club is swinging from outside the target line to inside the target line through impact. The resulting shot is either a slice or a pull hook, depending on the position of the clubface at impact.

There are many causes of this outside-to-in path, also referred to as an over the top move. Being able to identify this flaw gets you half-way to the solution. However, you should visit your local PGA Professional to diagnose the exact cause and come up with a plan for a solution.

Divot Shape

The shape of your divots teaches you a lot too. To study the shape of your divots, look at the bottom surface where the grass has been removed. A proper divot is flat on the bottom, as the club has struck the ground in the properly. If the toe side or heel side of the divot is deeper than the other, that signals issues to learn from.

slice divot shape

One issue of an uneven divot is that your golf clubs lie angle is either too upright or too flat. The club comes into impact either toe up or down. This improper impact position causes left or right ball flight. To fix this, have your local Pro check the lie angle of your clubs and get them adjusted accordingly. Note that over time, the lie angle of your clubs will change due to repeated impact with the ground. This is especially true if your irons are the softer, forged irons that are available. It is a good idea to have your lie angles checked at least once a year so they can be adjusted back to where they’re correct for you.

The other issue that comes from an uneven divot shape relates to the swing. Divots that are deeper on the heel side tell you the swing was flatter. Divots with deeper on the toe side signal an over-the-top motion. A visit to see your Pro will get these swing issues fixed.

Now You Know How To Read Your Divots

Understanding how to read the direction and shape of your divots help you self-diagnose what happened with a shot. If you have questions or need anything explained further, leave a comment below or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook.

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Rudi Fann

Rudi Fann has been a Class “A” member of the PGA of America since 2008. He began his career in 1998 as the Assistant Golf Professional at Wake Forest Golf Club in Wake Forest, NC. In 2002, Rudi accepted a similar position at Rio Mar Country Club in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. He spent a year there before moving to Nipomo, CA where he worked at Blacklake Golf Resort. Over the next 10 years, he worked his way from Assistant Golf Professional to Head Golf Professional and finally Director of Golf Operations. In his time at Blacklake, Rudi devoted much of his time to running tournaments and other activities in order to create a social atmosphere at the club. After Blacklake, Rudi spent one year as Head Golf Professional at Paso Robles Golf Club before deciding to return home to North Carolina. Since returning to North Carolina, Rudi has worked with the First Tee of the Triangle helping to instill life skills and core values through the game of golf to local youth.