Are Divots Good?

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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One of the most difficult maneuvers in golf has to be striking the ball before the ground. For many, this concept is difficult to grasp and is fundamental to playing the game well.  Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to take a crater sized divot but the club certainly needs to make contact with the ground in order to maximize the clubs sweet spot.

I see many golfers struggle with taking a divot past the ball. The most common error is hitting the ground early or before the ball. This is referred to as a fat shot. Generally from here the golfer will transition into not hitting the ground at all. The attempt to pick or sweep the ball off the ground with no club head to ground contact is a way to make contact but certainly not the most ideal.  

So, how does one learn to make ball to ground contact? Follow these three swing concepts and you will learn to hit the ball before the ground more consistently.

1) Stay centered during the backswing.  Swaying off the ball during the backswing is a common fault that leads to fat shots. The more your head moves away from the target the greater chance of poor contact.  During the backswing turn your shoulders and stay centered with minimal head motion. This will improve your contact immediately.

2)  Strike the ball with most of the weight on the lead foot.  The best players in the world have approximately 80% of their weight on the lead foot at impact. How much do you have? Perhaps it is something never thought of before. Next time you practice or play pay attention to the pressure under each foot and attempt to get more under your lead foot at impact.

3)  The handle has to win the race.  What I mean by this is simple…the handle of the golf club has to be past the ball at the point of contact. This will create forward shaft lean which is absolutely essential for solid golf shots.

Everyone struggles with those unwanted fat shots. If you would like to get rid of them forever, experiment with the above and I know you will hit the ball better than ever before.

John Stahlschmidt, PGA is the Director of Instruction at Camelback Golf Club is Scottsdale AZ. To schedule a lesson with John or to comment, email John at