Have you “sworn off” taking divots? I must ask you to reconsider that decision as your golfing health depends upon it. Recreational golfers take no divot at all, or if they do, the divot ends up in the wrong place. Please etch this into your golfing consciousness: a divot, when properly taken, falls in front of the ball and the deepest part of that divot is 1 to 4 inches in front of the ball. It may surprise you to hear, but if you work on nothing else this spring but getting your divots in the right place, your ball-striking and enjoyment of the game will skyrocket – I guarantee it.
The forward divot depends upon two critical impact dynamics: 1) a forward leaning shaft, and 2) a flat left wrist. For most normal golf shots, the shaft is relatively vertical at the address position. Getting the shaft leaning more toward the target at impact than it was at address (if even by only an inch or two) is a big step towards achieving a forward swing bottom. As for a flat left wrist, it’s common for most golfers to have a slight “cup” of their left wrist at address. Assuming an orthodox, palms-facing grip, the cup in the left wrist will give way to a “flat” orientation through impact. For those who have a strong grip (hands turned to the right on the grip so that the V’s formed between the thumbs and first fingers of each hand are pointed toward the right shoulder), the key is to not add additional “cupping” in the lead wrist through impact. Given this hand position, work to maintain the cup set at your address just past impact. If a strong grip position (significantly cupped at address) “flattens” through impact, you will be yelling “fore to the left” more than you would like.
How is a forward leaning shaft and a flat left wrist best learned? Well, I would suggest you start with chips and pitches. Start small and work up. Be patient with the process and it will yield gratifying results.
A personal story. Many years ago, while still an amateur, I was playing a round of golf on Maui’s Waihue County Golf Course in Hawaii. The course was crowded and while waiting on a par 3, I started to swing at the cigarette butts littering the tee box. Something started to happen. I could feel it, but I couldn’t quite explain it. When the green cleared, I struck my shot with what felt to be effortless power and control. What had changed? All these years later, I can tell you exactly what it was. I had discovered quite unexpectedly the power of a divot. My swing bottom was in front of the ball thanks to my numerous swings directed at little cigarette butts. Who would have thought?
Try it when play is slow. Take swings (lots of them) at broken tees or whatever you can find on the ground. Let’s just say that the magic of Hawaii will visit you wherever you are and leave you striking the golf ball better than you ever thought possible.
May all your divots be found forward!