Read Your Divots
by Jason Kwok
So many of us do most of our practicing on rubber mats so that we end up developing some very bad habits. There are significant differences between hitting shots on real grass and hitting them on mats. If you make a swing on real grass that is either very steep or one that bottoms out behind the ball, the result will be a very weak shot or even a total duff. But on a mat, the club bounces off the padded artificial turf and into the ball, so the resulting shot may not be so bad. So when you are playing on course or practicing on real grass, be sure to take a close look at your divots to identify issues with your swing.
In the first image on the top of the left page, we see a deep outside in the divot. Under that image is the type of over the top chop swing that causes it. The shot will probably be a weak slice.
In the second image on the top of the left page, we see an inside out divot well behind the ball position. Below is the swing with sliding or swaying hips that created that divot. The shot will either be fat or a topped hook if you manage to flip your hands over to make contact.
My suggestion is to practice your irons on grass when you can and try to make shallow even divots pointing toward or slightly left of the target. On the course, I hope you can adopt the shot routine that I have favoured for many years.
As you can see on the first image above, I set up next to the ball and make a full swing and take a good divot. Then I set up to the ball and make my actual swing, which creates a second divot, as seen on the second image above.
If I’ve made two good swings, my divots should be parallel and roughly equal in length and depth, as seen in the top image above.
I feel strongly that you should never take a practice swing that intentionally misses the ground and then try to take a divot on the actual shot. That type of rehearsal will do more harm than good. If you struggle with taking a consistently good divot, ask you favourite PGA instructor to help you out.