Here's Everything You Need to Know about Divots in Golf

Four different divots on a driving range
Different types of divots in golf

    When it comes to ball striking, divots are very important. If you want to compress the golf ball and get the optimal distance and ball flight for every shot, you need to make a divot and you need to make the right kind. As caddies, part of our job is to fix and replace divots made by our players. So, if you ever get involved with golf, one of the things you won’t be able to avoid is a divot.

What is a Divot in Golf?

    In golf, a divot is a piece of turf or sod cut from the ground by a golf club after a swing is made. Divots vary in size and can often be indicative of how good a shot was.  The type most widely associated with a good shot is the “dollar bill divot.” Much like the name suggests, this type of divot is shaped like a dollar bill, rectangular, and even throughout. This signifies that the golfer was able the keep the golf club on a leveled plain through contact, leading to more on-target shots. Another thing people often refer to as a divot is a ball mark on the green. A ball mark, just like the name suggests, is what happens when the golf ball makes a landing on the green from a good enough distance, it leaves an impression of the ball on the surface of the green. These are another type of divot that we will dive more deeply into later.

How to Repair a Divot

    As caddies, we are trained to have the player focus solely on his or her game. This leaves a lot of the course maintenance to us. Some courses have different procedures for repairing divots. For example some prefer to reseed. This means that whenever a player makes a divot a caddie will fill the hole that is left with mixture of grass seeds and soil. This, procedure allows for new growth in the spot where the grass was dug up.  Other courses fix divots simply by replacing the patch in the place it came from. The problem with this method is that there are times when divots are simply broken into such fine pieces that they are hard to keep together, resulting in fast drying roots and a patchy fairway. If you’ve ever played at a public course, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you are lucky enough to caddie for a good enough player, chances are your divot repairing will be much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

What Does a Good Divot Look Like

A Titleist golf ball placed behind a shallow divot, demonstrating the ideal spot for taking divots
A Good Divot: Shallow and in front of the ball

    As mentioned earlier, a dollar bill divot is a good indicator of good ball striking. Ideally, a divot should be rectangular and shallow. A good divot should be no longer than 6 inches. One of the more important things about a good divot is its location. A good divot is always in front of the spot where the ball is. If you are looking at your golf ball, you want your divot to start at the forward edge of the ball. A great time to observe this is on par 3’s. Look at where the divot is, in relation to your tee, after the ball is struck and you’ll be able to tell because the tee might still be in the ground. If the tee is out, you should still be able to see the hole from which the tee came out.

What We’ve Learned About Divots

    Divots are an integral part of the game of golf. Knowing how to fix one is very essential to being a  good caddie and the general upkeep of the golf course. The next time you are out either playing or caddying, you’ll be able to assess the divot and know if that was a good shot and you’ll also be able to properly fix it and keep your golf course in the best possible shape. Take your new knowledge of divots and improve your game. If you think there is something I did not mention, drop a line in the comment section below.


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