Golf Swing Tips for Taking a Proper Divot

By Lyle Smith
A proper divot is a result of crisp contact with the ball.
A proper divot is a result of crisp contact with the ball.

Taking a good, clean divot like the pros doesn't help you make good golf shots, but good iron shots do produce good, clean divots. The perfect shape is that of a dollar bill pointing directly down the target line. The divots you produce should be level and not overly deep – maybe half an inch or so. Unfortunately, many amateurs never develop a comfort level for taking divots. Give some of these tips a try.

Go Down After It

All the great iron players have what amounts to a low spot at the bottom of their swing. The great Byron Nelson practically sat down as his club head struck the ball. The term for this is "going down after the ball." Ben Hogan called it "digging out of the dirt." It is the point in your swing where your knees have the most athletic flex and you literally move slightly closer to the ground to hit the back of the ball first.

Cut the Turf

So many amateur golfers, especially when playing well-manicured fairways on high-end courses, actually develop a fear or reluctance to take a divot. It's as if they are afraid to scar the turf. Don’t be afraid to hit the ground with your club. Take a good divot. Just put it back after you've hit your great shot--it'll grow back.

Finish Your Swing

Too many amateurs feel the golf swing finishes at the moment they make impact with the ball. The key to good golf shots, and good divots, is releasing the club head right through your swing along your target line. The finish affects the flight of your golf ball just as much as your setup, downswing or strike.


Extend your arms toward the ball. Specifically, keep your left arm straight through your swing (right arm for a left-hander). Keeping your forward arm a consistent distance from your body ensures that you'll return the club back to the ball the same distance from the ground that you started. Bend your elbow and you've shortened your club and your swing, and you'll hit the ball thin every time.

Divot Placement

Taking a divot is a great accomplishment, but if you don't take it from the right spot, you can still have problems. It is imperative for a good iron shot that you hit the ball slightly before you strike the ground. As a result, a perfect divot begins just beyond where the ball was and extends a few inches toward the target. Study your divots to make sure you are getting the right results.

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