Overcome Bad Luck: How to Hit from a Divot

Hitting from a Divot

Imagine this… you hit a perfect drive, right down the middle of the fairway. As soon as the ball leaves the face of the club, you don’t even have to watch it land. You know it’s a perfect shot and will find the short grass, leaving you with a good approach shot.

But as you arrive at your golf ball, your mood changes quickly. As soon as you see your golf ball in a divot, you feel proud and frustrated.

Your excellent drive and optimistic outlook on the green just became strained and stressed. You might curse the Golf Gods, and ask yourself what you did to deserve such terrible luck.

While it is frustrating to hit a great drive and end up in a divot, it’s part of golf. In those times, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself, “How do you hit a shot out of a divot?”

It’s a good question because it’s not like your normal approach shot. In this post, we’ll give you simple tips to overcome this bad luck so you don’t let it derail your round. 

How to Hit From a Divot – 5 Tips

Step 1: Accept the “Bad Luck” 

When you find your golf ball in trouble, the first thing you should do is to take a deep breathe and relax. It’s so easy to get frustrated with this bad luck and have a “why me” mentality. While we’ve all done it before, I think we can all agree that it doesn’t help the situation. 

Instead, take deep breaths and laugh it off. Reframe any situation that you find yourself in on the golf course by saying: “I can’t wait to pull this off.” By reframing the situation you’re instantly getting yourself in the right mindset to execute the shot. 

It doesn’t hurt to laugh loudly. It’ll get rid of tension and get your body primed for the shot as well.

Accepting the shot is the first step in creating your strategy. 

If your ball ends up in the divot, it is important to adjust your expectations. Unless you’re a single digit handicap player with a consistent swing, this is the time to play it safe vs. being ultra aggressive with your approach shot. 

Instead, ask yourself: “How can I make par from here?”

This will allow to work backwards from your shot to the green, and hopefully get your golf ball on the green. It is important not to make it worse and not give it back. 

Step 2: Analyze and analyze the shot

Once you’ve accepted the shot and are in the right mindset, it’s time to evaluate the lie and analyze the shot. The first thing you need to ask is: “How is the ball sitting in the divot?” Because as I’m sure you know, there are all types of ways the ball can come to rest in a divot.

Sometimes it may be right in the middle of a divot that is empty. It might be in front, back, or on the side of a unfilled divot. Sometimes the golf ball may be on top of the sand almost like a fairway bunker shot. 

The ball should be sitting correctly to maximize your shot potential. But if it’s in the side of a divot or the divot is quite deep, you want to play it safer.

Step 3: Select the Right Club 

The third way to hit out of a hole is to choose the right club and not be aggressive. Remember that the goal is not to lose any shots but to figure out how to make Par, not to flag hunt in hopes of making a birdie.

When hitting out of a divot, the shorter the club, the better… especially if it’s a bad lie and sitting down. If it’s sitting up in a sand filled divot, you can be more aggressive but still want to error on the side of caution. 

While I’m all for carrying easy to hit hybrids and fairway woods, this isn’t the time to use them. These clubs make it more difficult to hit the ball.

My main advice is to not try to get too much from this shot. This isn’t the time to go flag hunting with a mid or long iron. Or, you might want to try a hero shot above water with a hybrid or other risky situation. 

Instead, take the club that you know will allow you to hit the shot, even if you know it won’t reach the green. This is usually a short iron, or possibly a mid-iron.

Step 4: Adjust Your Setup for Proper Technique

Once you have the right mindset, strategy, and the right club, it’s time to execute the shot. You need to set up several things in order to hit a divot well.

To compensate for the ball being below the fairway, you should clench your club slightly. This helps you keep your lower body stable and ensures a downward strike on it (just like a fairway bunker shot).  

Second, place the ball slightly farther back than usual in your stance. This will allow you hit the ball and turf with a proper downward strike. So many golfers play it off their front foot and wonder why they don’t make great contact – it needs to be further back for good contact.

But don’t overdo it and think the ball needs to be off your back foot in your stance. This will likely make your swing too steep and won’t make this difficult shot any easier. 

Third, add more weight to your lead leg at the address position by leaning forward. This will make it easier for you to hit the shot. 

Finally, take a ¾ backswing and shorter follow through like a knockdown or punch shot. 

Step 5: Trust Your Routine 

Once you have your target, distance, and club, it’s go time.

The final step is to go over your pre-shot routine as you would if it was in the fairway. You want to keep things as normal as possible, as this will give you more confidence in your shot.

Don’t try to do something new when your ball ends up in a divot – stick to what you normally do with your full swing routine. 

Practice on the Range 

Now that you know how to hit out of a divot in golf, it’s time to practice the shot. You might be wondering, “Is this guy crazy?” 

These shots should be practiced by every player. I’ve actually known elite players who intentionally practice from divots on the range because it guarantees you make a solid strike. It’ll make hitting from fairway and rough lies look easy when you’re on the golf course.

It will happen on the course, so practice it!  

How to Hit from a Divot

FAQS About Hitting from a Sand Filled Divot

Are you still unsure about hitting from the divots? We have the answers below for you to help you make this tricky shot confident. 

Why isn’t there any relief from a divot 

This is a great question. I think it’s a rule that many golfers would love.  While it’s one of the frustrating things in golf, there is no free drop.

I think it’s not a rule because it would slow down pace of play as each golfer would have to double check if it’s in a divot. You could also ask a partner to confirm. Not to mention that the lies may differ from one another and could cause confusion during the round.

How do you hit irons when you have a divot in your hand? 

You must hit the ball first, then the ground, before hitting irons with a “divot”. If you hit it before the ball, you’ll end up chugging it and shortening the green. Conversely, if you don’t make a divot you will hit it thin and likely end up long of the green. 

Check out these top-rated articles to improve your iron game. 

  • How to hit the long irons
  • How to hit irons consistently and well

How do you strike out from a divot 

Follow the five-step process. Remember that the first step is to get the right mindset. Then, you must have a good game plan in order to hit the shot.

After some adjustments to your setup, you should be capable of making decent contact and getting it close to the green. 

Can I move the ball out of a hole?

If you aren’t playing in a competitive event that has USGA rules, you can “foot wedge” it to a better lie. This might be a rule you and your playing partners adopt as a weekend foursome. In a tournament, however, this would lead to a one-stroke penalty if you choose to lie. 

Do pro golfers fix divots? 

Pro golfers themselves don’t fix many divots, instead, this is the job of their caddy. Unlike most public golf courses, they don’t have sand/seed with them so instead, replace the divot with the original turf. After the round is over, the greenskeeping team might replace them with a mixture of sand and seed depending on the type of turf used. 

Final Thoughts

Sometimes, the Golf Gods will test you love of the game by making a great drive on the fairway end up in a divot. Once you learn to love the challenge, it’ll make your game (and world) so much better.

Remember that the goal of salvaging par is not to attempt an impossible shot that makes the problem worse. 

Any golfer can hit the shot as long as they have a downswinging blow. This shot can be tackled using the tips provided.