Dec 05, 2022
POSTED BY: Nicholas Venditti

What Is a Golf Divot?

Divots, scrapes, and divot holes happen, and that’s not always a reflection on your game. 

Swinging an iron on a continuous trajectory to hit the ball leads naturally to divots. As the player follows the swing through, the turf can often suffer. 

Style of swing can dictate the shallowness or depth of a golfer’s divot—some players have natural form! But leaving divots or holes behind is bad form. Here’s what you should do about them.

What is the Difference Between a Divot and a Divot Hole?

A divot is a small mark or a depression caused by the golf ball as it lands on the grass. A divot is different from a scrape, when the club catches the ground adjacent to the ball as the player swings and strikes.

A divot hole results when the player hits the ball and lifts a patch of grass, sending it flying through the air. The result is an ugly mark on the course that leaves the grass in bad shape for other players.

Interestingly, you can analyze your divots and determine from the location of the divot details about your stroke. There are good and bad divots as far as the player is concerned.

If the divot starts just in front of where you placed the golf ball, it means your iron struck the ball first and then the ground. If the divot is behind the ball, it is a miss-shot as the club hits the ground before the ball.

If your divot points to the left of the target and you are a right-hander, you’ve cut across the ball on an outside-to-outside swing path, which might mean a slice or a pull.

A divot to the right of the target line indicates the swing path went from inside to outside, which usually results in a push, hook or draw.

What Is a Divot Tool Used for in Golf?

A divot tool repairs the marks and indentations left by golfers’ clubs. Even with the best players, the club will scrape the grass as they swing. Sometimes, even the ball itself can leave a small mark.

Why Repair Divots?

Repairing divots and holes offer the best ground for the players coming along behind you. Even a tiny divot or indentation can knock a putt off center.

Repairing divots as they happen keeps the grass healthy and the course in optimal condition. It’s best to repair divots immediately to prevent the grass from sustaining blemishes or dying.

It’s easy to assume this is the responsibility of the greenskeeper, but on a busy day, there will be a lot of damage to the turf that they won’t have time to repair until the course is clear.

For these reasons, common courtesy dictates it is the golfer’s responsibility to repair any damage to the turf caused by their play or the caddy’s job if you bring one. Repairing divots and divot holes is part of being a respectful and courteous player. 

Repairing divots may not be accounted for in the USGA rules, but it is best practice and etiquette to follow this tradition, one of many unspoken requirements in the game.

Many players will even repair divots and damage not caused by their game but just ones they spot as they play. Everyone is responsible for keeping the course in the best state possible; old divots are much harder to repair and take a lot longer.

Leaving divots without repair is one of the top faux pas any golfer can make.

How to Use a Golf Divot Tool

Using a golf divot tool incorrectly will cause more harm than good. If you’re going to repair, it’s essential to do a good job of it.

Most divot tools are either plastic or metal and have two prongs. There are short versions, which require bending down. Tools with a long handle, rather like your club, save effort.

Some tools even have interchangeable heads to suit different soils and ground conditions.

Once you’ve selected the tool you want to use, follow these steps to use your new golf divot tool:

  1. Insert the fork into the divot steeply. Try to go right beside the mark at a 45-degree angle. 
  2. Push inward/downward, not upwards. If you push up, you’ll just uproot the turf and turn a simple divot into a hole. 
  3. Work the tool around the divot while pushing inwards. You want to push towards the center of the mark.
  4. When you’ve worked all the way around the divot, use a putter to flatten out the area by gently tapping it on top. And voila, the ground should be even again.

Many players make the mistake of trying to fill in the indentation left by the golf ball. A slight indentation isn’t a divot hole; it requires just a few minutes of gentle restoration to make the ground flat again.

Final Thoughts

Divot tools are essential to any golf bag. You can usually borrow one from the clubhouse before you start your game. Remember, golf is not just about the irons—you need many extras on the course.

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