What are some good drills to help take a divot without hitting behind the ball?

10 Professionals Contributed |
We've all heard before that we're supposed to "hit down" on the golf ball - but sometimes this is confusing and leads to hitting the ground behind the ball. In this thread, we ask our golf professionals for some good drills to help you hit down and properly take a divot (after hitting the ball of course).

Hit the Tee!

When you focus upon an object in front of the golf ball, you’re more likely to make a divot in front of the ball. Why? Because you swung through the ball, not at it.

To avoid making your divots behind the ball, think of hitting a tee directly in front of the golf ball. As demonstrated in this video tip from my YouTube Channel.

John Hughes Golf
"Hit the Tee!" @johnhughesgolf Click to Tweet

Hit the little ball before the big ball.

I tell my students “the little ball is the golf ball and the big ball is the earth. I’d like them to hit the little ball the golf ball before the big ball the earth”. A good drill is to scratch a line on the grass perpendicular to the target and make practice swings hitting a little to the target side of the line. This is going to give them a feel for hitting the golf ball slightly on the downswing catching the golf ball then the grass.

Links at Mariners Point
"Hit the little ball before the big ball." Click to Tweet

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Hands/Grip Lead

To take a divot in FRONT of the ball you need to understand why you either hit the ground first or don’t hit the ground at all.
The two biggest reasons this happens are: players try to help the ball in the air–to do this they try to swing the head end of the club and not the grip. This causes the head to pass the grip early on the downswing causing the club to bottom out way too soon. Or they don’t shift weight properly and hit everything off their back foot.

To get the right feeling you have to start very small. Draw a line perpendicular to your target line. Take an 8 or 9 iron–set the weight about 65% on the front foot and leave it there, set up with the line in the middle of a very narrow stance with the hands slightly ahead of the club head. Start making very small chip swings without a ball, keeping the hands in front of the clubhead try to brush the ground IN FRONT of that line. Gradually start making the swings a little bigger–up to waist high–but DO NOT let the weight leave the front foot. As you start seeing your brush marks in front of the line every time put a ball on a tee on the line and continue with the same swings as without a ball.

Bottom line–the weight has to shift into the front leg and the grip/hands have to stay in front of the clubhead. Look in the picture how much Tiger has shifted his weight from the backswing to impact position and how his hands are in front of the clubhead at impact.

"Hands/Grip Lead" Click to Tweet

Bottom of swing arc

A few things that have helped my students are:

1. Place a tee a few inches in front of the golf ball and try to hit it instead of the ball .
2. Place a golf towel a few inches behind the golf ball and try to not hit it.
3. Go into a fairway bunker and draw a line in the sand; make several swings trying to hit in FRONT of (target side) the line.
4. When hitting balls on the range, always place the next ball you’re going to hit on the BACK of the divot you just made, never in front of it.

The Rookery At Marco
"Bottom of swing arc" Click to Tweet

Down and Through Range Ball Stripe

For many years I have taught students how to take divots by taking a Driving Range ball and putting the stripe down at what would be 6 o’clock on a clock and having the golfer hit down and through the stripe. The stripe needs to be flush with the ground and barely in sight from the set up position. It seems simple but it really works for the golfer of all abilities. This starts the divot decent in the proper position to create better spin for the correct ball flight as well.

Mattawang Golf Club
"Down and Through Range Ball Stripe" Click to Tweet

Drills for Divots?

Rarely would I consider using a drill to help one take a divot after contact, rather than before. Why? Because there is a reason one would hit behind the ball, and you should focus on correcting that, not putting a Band-Aid on it.

Three primary reasons for fat shots come to mind.

1) Faulty balance/swing center control.
2) Faulty set up.
3) Poor transition from the loading motion to the downswing.

If those are not correct, all the divot drills in the world won’t help your game. You’ll just hit different bad shots.

Moses Lake Golf Club
"Drills for Divots?" @owenmcclaingolf Click to Tweet

Punch down on the 7 iron...

A good way to create a divot but first hitting the golf ball is to get the student to choke down on a 7 iron and hit punch shots…A easy way to create a divot…

"Punch down on the 7 iron..." Click to Tweet

Paint Line

Draw a line with paint on the ground perpendicular to the target line. Place the ball one to two inches in front of the line. With a PW begin with 1/2 swings then 3/4 swings and then full swings. The divot must be in front of the paint line on the ground! For better players have the ball closer to the paint line.

Tsai Hsing Golf Academy
"Paint Line" Click to Tweet

Making a divot

2 answers to the question, if you have a practice Bunker then draw a line the Sand place the club head/leading edge in the Sand make some swing an see if you can return the club head on that same line. If not grab a towel place a golf ball 6 to 8 inches in front of TOWEL. It should force you to miss towel an make a more cleaning strike.

Fox Hollow Golf Club
"Making a divot" Click to Tweet

The Perfect Divot

Many higher-handicap golfers have an improper weight shift. This causes the student to slide with their hips and hit behind the golf ball. A simple, but effective drill can help most golfers to hit crisp iron shots. Take a short iron to start. Set up to the golf ball and take your stance. From here, simply take your trail foot and place it behind you. Make sure your trail foot is on your tippy toe. Feel your balance a bit off? I’ll bet you do! Now begin hitting half-shots (not full swings). Are you able to keep your balance? If so, you’ll be taking divots ahead of the golf ball, not behind it. Please visit www.SwingEssentials.com for more tips!

PGA Golf Pro
"The Perfect Divot" @SwingEssentials Click to Tweet

TLDR: A quick summary of what our Backswing professionals have to say on the topic “What Are Some Good Drills to Help Take a Divot Without Hitting Behind the Ball?”:

  1. “Practice the ‘Tee Drill’ by placing a tee in front of the ball and focus on taking a divot after striking the ball, encouraging a descending strike.”
  2. “Try the ‘Ball-First Drill’ by placing a towel or headcover behind the ball and focus on hitting the ball first, ensuring a proper ball-then-turf contact.”
  3. “Utilize the ‘Alignment Stick Drill’ by placing an alignment stick or club in the ground just ahead of the ball, ensuring that your club brushes the ground after impact.”
  4. “Experiment with the ‘Impact Bag Drill’ by hitting into an impact bag, focusing on striking the bag after making contact with the ball.”

Adding these drills into your practice routine can help improve your ability to take a divot without hitting behind the ball. By focusing on proper ball-then-turf contact, using visual aids like tees, towels, or alignment sticks, and practicing with an impact bag, you can develop a more consistent and effective ball-striking technique.

The Professionals in this Roundup

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