Golf Tips: Make repairing your divots part of the game

By: Shawn Kelly
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I hope you were able to watch the U.S. Open from the beautiful Olympic Club in San Francisco over the week-end. There were divots flying all over the place ? especially on No. 18, where a lot of drives congregated and there appeared to be more divots than grass. Even announcer Jonny Miller frequently mentioned this condition during the live broadcast. A divot is the piece of sod that is displaced when the club strikes the ground and leaves a scraped depression in the soil below. I have had some interesting questions arise lately about the divot. Do you replace it or not, do you fill the void with sand, or do you even care? Since the day I started playing golf, I was told to replace my divots by getting as much of the turf that I could and fill in the hole. I looked at it as being part of a good shot, and it was my responsibility to care for the course. It was basic etiquette. Sometimes the divot broke apart and it was tough to replace any turf, especially with Bermuda grass! Just do the best you can to clean up the area and the maintenance crew will do the rest. Well, times have changed. Today some courses don?t want you to replace divots because the mowers may lift them back out of the turf on mow day. They would rather have you use some sand and seed to fill in the hole. This will cause the grass to grow back faster. Most courses these days have sand and seed bottles on the carts to help accomplish this task. I personally feel this is the best way to fill in divots. If you?re walking, remember to do your part to replace your divots or use another player?s sand and seed bottle. Now, the debatable issue in the game is should that sand- filled area be deemed ?ground under repair?? Would you rather dig the ball out of a bare hole in the fairway or one filled with sand? It is difficult to strike a ball solidly when it is sitting on a sandy depression. I feel that the USGA should change the rule and define a sand-filled divot as ground under repair, allowing a free drop if you land in one. It only seems reasonable and fair that you should have a good lie if you?ve hit the fairway. Until they change the rule, you?ll have to play the ball as it lies, so here?s is a tip to help you achieve solid contact. I make only one adjustment in my set-up when I address the ball and that is to move the ball approximately one inch farther back in my stance. This allows me to strike the ball more solidly and have a little more control over the shot. I don?t have to change my swing, just the set up. Try this next time you?re in a sand filled divot and see if your contact improves.