Making solid contact with the ball on the ground can be one of the greatest challenges for many golfers. I see it on a daily basis on my lesson tee, and also with golfers I observe as they try to create a motion that produces solid, launching shots. Fairway woods can be a big challenge, but this mostly applies to irons and hybrids.
To keep it simple, to launch your ball in the air — and hit the sweet spot — you need your club to hit the ground. Ideally, it will make a thumping sound that sends grass and dirt flying down the fairway. Many golfers (especially women) have difficulty with this.
Below, I’ve highlighted 10 keys for taking proper divots.
1. Ball-first contact
Proper contact on these shots should be ball-first, and then turf. This might be counterintuitive for golfers who have played other sports, but in golf, hitting the ball first will launch the ball in the air.
When you see professional golfers hitting solid shots, the divot is happening on the target side of the ball, meaning the club continues bottoming out after impact. Watch some slow-motion videos of solid shots to see what happens as they impact the ball and then the ground.
2. Good posture
Good posture is immensely important when it comes to being able to get the clubhead down to the ground. Bend forward from your hips so that your arms can hang freely to put yourself in the most athletic position at address. If you still struggle to hit the ground, feel your weight more forward on your toes.
3. Be willing to hit the ground
Sometimes, it can be as simple as being willing to hit the ground to produce a proper divot. While it might seem counterintuitive to thump the club into the ground, it is necessary to have center-faced, solid contact. It might feel messy and violent, but it is essential.
4. Adjust your ball position
Proper ball position is another one of the most important fundamentals of the swing. If your ball position is off, it can adversely affect other elements of your swing and produce poor contact.
A good rule of thumb is to take a practice swing and see where the club hits the ground relative to your stance. Your goal should be to have your clubhead make contact with the ground in the middle of your stance. Your practice swings can tell you a lot about the best ball position for your swing.
5. Check your stance width
Stance width will also have an impact with how your clubhead interacts with the turf. You want your stance to be wide enough to provide balance and stability, but not so wide that it affects your ability to rotate.
For shots with irons and hybrids, your feet should be roughly in line with the width of your hips. This will give you the best combination of balance and the ability to rotate.
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Divot Board – Low point and swing path trainer
6. Trail arm extension
On your downswing, you want your trail arm to reach full extension. To get this position, feel as if you are throwing a ball straight into the ground as you reach your impact position. This is a drill I like using on the lesson tee to help players get the club all the way to the ground and make a proper divot.
If you want to make a good swing, you need to be balanced throughout your motion. If you fall away from the ball, it will be difficult to make a solid divot. And if you’re falling toward the ball, you will end up making chunky and inconsistent contact.
8. Correct weight shift
Once you’re able to get the club down to the ground, you want to be able to locate it consistently. Assuming your ball position is correct (and you’re actually making contact with the ground), you should allow your body to move laterally through the swing. If done correctly, you’ll be able to make a consistent divot after the ball.
9. Paint the line
For a great drill to produce consistent divots, paint a line on the ground with a series of balls lined up just in front of the stripe. Your goal should be to hit each ball and make a divot in front of the line. If you can consistently make your divot in front of the line, you’ll know you are using the proper motion.
10. Fixing yourself
Once you get the hang of the keys listed above, you’ll be able to react and correct your swing in turn. If you aren’t hitting the ground properly, check to make sure your posture and address positions are correct, and then practice extending your arm fully at the moment of impact.
Making a proper divot in the right location is crucial to hitting solid shots — but it’s a skill you have to practice to master. Practice all of the above and be patient with yourself. Soon enough, you’ll be making Tour-quality divots and launching the ball higher and farther than ever before.
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