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How to hit out of a divot with ease, according to a Top 100 Teacher

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sarah stone points at ball in a fairway divot

Hitting out of a fairway divot doesn’t have to spell doom for your scorecard.

GOLF.com

Welcome to Play Smart, a regular GOLF.com game-improvement column that will help you play smarter, better golf.

During the 1998 U.S. Open at Olympic Club, Payne Stewart held a two-stroke lead on the back nine over Lee Janzen. He hit a perfect drive on the par-4 12th that left him in optimal position to hit the green and maintain his lead.

There was only one problem: the ball had settled in a divot. Stewart studied the shot carefully and gave it his best effort, but his approach found the greenside bunker. He made bogey on the hole and eventually lost the title by a shot. If not for that divot, Stewart may well have two U.S. Open titles instead of one.

Hitting into a divot while protecting the lead at a major is a nightmare scenario for a pro, but even recreational players have to play from less-than-ideal spots despite fairway-finding drives sometimes. And while many weekend warriors will just foot wedge it out of the divot, it’s important to know how to play these shots. When it comes time for a money game or your club championship, you won’t be able to improve your lie.

Check out below for more from GOLF Top 100 Teacher Sarah Stone on how to hit out of a divot with ease.

How to hit out of a divot

Seeing your ball settled in a divot in the middle of the fairway will make your stomach sink. Splitting the fairway should be rewarded with a decent lie, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, we just get unlucky.

Most recreational players have no idea where to even start when it comes to hitting out of a divot, but it’s not too difficult a shot to pull off. All you have to do is employ the proper technique.

“First you have to realize that the golf ball you’re going to hit is much lower than a normal ball would be sitting on the fairway,” Stone says. “You need to understand that your golf club needs to travel further away from you and further down.”

In other words, the low point of your swing arc is going to be lower than you’re used to. So when you ready to take your shot, you need to keep that in mind.

“I would also take a club with more loft,” Stone says. “Just to get it to launch higher and to get below the ball.”

Once you take your stance, remember that you need to be hitting down on the ball to get it up and out of the divot. To do this, put a little more weight on your front side and feel a little steeper during the downswing. When you get steeper, the ball will likely move with some cut spin, so adjust your aim accordingly.

And finally, it’s important to manage your expectations on the shot from a divot. It’s a tough lie to begin with, so aim for the fat part of the green and don’t try to take on too much trouble going for the flag.

“The famous saying is take a divot out of a divot,” Stone says.

If you can follow those steps, hitting out of a divot doesn’t have to be a score-killer. Who knows, you might even be able to save par.

Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.

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