Respect and integrity are two of the foundational pillars of the sport of golf. As a golfer, you’re often playing without the supervision of an official or umpire. It’s one of the few sports where it’s up to the individual player to have respect for the game by keeping an honest score. This same personal accountability extends to golf course maintenance as well. As a player, it’s your responsibility to respect and care for the turfgrass by taking the necessary steps to prevent damage and to repair any harm you may have caused to the grounds during your round.
The Real Dish on Divots
What’s the one similarity between your golf game and that of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, and Rory McIlroy? You all create divots when you play.
A divot is a chunk of turf that gets knocked out of the ground during play. This often happens on the fairway when the golfer plays a shot and their club cuts out a piece of grass during the swing, sending the turf flying through the air. This damages the playing surface, creating small holes that can interfere with play.
Contrary to what you might think, “taking a divot” isn’t a sign of a poor shot. You can hit a beautiful shot and still create a divot. Just watch a PGA tournament on TV and you’ll see the pros do it all the time. Divots aren’t bad. It’s how you handle the divot that matters.
When Divots Turn Disastrous
Creating a divot during play is an unavoidable part of golf. It’s expected and it’s not poor etiquette when done unintentionally during responsible play. However, it’s your responsibility as a player to repair your divots immediately.
Divot repair is easy and only takes a few seconds. Spending those few short seconds to replace or repair your divots can help keep the golf course in prime condition for fellow players.
Divot repair is an extension of the respect and integrity expected from golf players. It’s about respecting the golf course, respecting your fellow players, and having the integrity to fix any damage you’ve caused or encountered during play.
How to Prevent or Repair Divots
With these five simple steps, you’ll show better respect for the turfgrass and for the game.
- Prevent divots by keeping your anger in check: Look, we all know the feeling of hitting a bad shot. Golf can be an incredibly frustrating sport. It can make you want to slam your club into the ground or toss it into the air. But when you do either of those things, you can damage the course and create divots. So, keep your anger in check. You’ll play better, too!
- Watch your practice swings to avoid damaging the turfgrass: It’s customary to take a few practice swings before striking the ball to make sure your form is in check and the shot is lined up. However, it’s important to watch your practice swings to make sure you’re not driving the club into the turf and creating divots.
- Replace the grass immediately: In a lot of cases, simply replacing the divot onto the hole in a timely manner will allow the grass to heal quickly and completely. If the divot isn’t shattered to pieces, simply place it grass-side-up over the damaged ground and lightly step on it to establish good contact with the soil below.
- Use soil and seed mixture if divot is too damaged: Sometimes, the divot may explode into many pieces, making it impossible for you to simply replace it. Or you may be playing in a region (typically the South) where Bermuda grass is used and replacing the divot won’t work. When that happens, you’ll need to apply the soil and seed mixture provided by the club (usually a bottle will be on your cart or given to you at the pro shop prior to your round) to the scarred area. Fill the divot with the mixture and tamp the soil to make it level with the surrounding area. This is important. If you put in too much or too little of the mixture, it makes the playing area uneven.
- Take care of the putting green: Divots aren’t just created on the fairway. The putting green can get damaged to from ball marks, poor swings, foot traffic, careless flag placement and more. To repair putting green divots, simply use your small divot tool (available at most golf courses and sporting goods stores), inserting it around the edges of the divot and gently pulling toward the center of the divot. Don’t pull up, because you could tear the roots and ruin the green. After you’ve worked your way around the divot, tamp the ground lightly with your club to finish the repair.
Being a Good Sport
Repairing your divots is good for the course, good for fellow players, and good for the game. Be a responsible golfer and take care of any damage you cause or encounter during your round. A little effort goes a long way to preserving this great game!