Christina Ricci and Karen Palacios-Jansen demonstrate the ‘Lean In’ concept with the driver to maximize your distance off the tee. So, let’s get to it!
To create a golf shot, you need to brush grass and/or take a divot. It is the only way the ball will climb the clubface loft to get into the air. No grass…. No up!
The perfect divot is taken AFTER the ball is struck, as per design of the golf club and related to your movement through the golf ball. It is approximately half an inch deep and evenly skimmed off the surface. The golf swing is a circle, and this circle is tangent to your target line (remember your geometry class in high school?). Therefore the divot will be relatively straight on the target line, even though this is not the swing path. Often the ideal divot is described as a “dollar bill” on the target line.
There are a couple of things that need to happen in your swing to take a good divot when you hit a golf ball. First, you must shift your weight from back foot to front foot. It is the way the golf club comes into contact with the ball… ball first then ground, only if you transfer your weight from right to left.
This weight transfer puts you into a position with your upper body slightly back and your lower body forward as it is in most throwing and striking sport activities. This slight backwards tilt puts you closer to the ground than when you first addressed the ball which means your club will now enter the ground and take a divot if you keep your arms extended through the shot. The only way you will hit it fat with this fundamental is if you do not get off of your right side. Although it sounds contradictory, a correct divot will be produced with your head/torso back and your weight on your left side at impact.
Keeping your arms extended through the shot is another thing that needs to happen to take a good divot. When you address the ball, your arms are naturally in an extended position, often with gravity helping to extend them. If you can keep your arms supple yet extended through the swing, the weight of the golf club, once set in motion, will keep your arms extended to and through impact. At impact, therefore, your club is descending as it hits the ball (because you are making a good weight transfer). Once the ball is released from the clubface, it continues on a downward arc which bottoms out just past where the ball was, thus taking a divot AFTER the ball is hit.
If you don’t take any grass or divot, it could be that your arms are buckling at impact or you that your spine angle changed from where it was at address. Working on a balanced set-up coupled with tension reduction could help if you are not taking any grass.
If your divot points to the left of your target, it could be telling you that you are starting your downswing with your arms instead of your lower body (think step…then throw). Hitting with your arms causes the upper body to lean to the left on the way down. Leaning this way at impact changes your swing path to the left instead of in a circle, resulting in a divot that points left. Working on a good weight transfer will help if your divots are pointing left of the target.
If your divots show up behind the ball or if they are deep, it could be that your upper body is too low at impact. This can happen when you swing hard with your arms and can also happen when your weight does not get transferred to your left side. Working on weight transfer and tempo/tension reduction could help with deep divots.
If your divot points to the right of your target, it could be telling you that your club is swinging out to the right too much. This might be due to your lower body sliding laterally through impact. When this happens, it causes your upper body to tilt too much to the right through impact. The more your body tilts to the right; the more your path will be out to the right, creating a divot that points right. Working on a good compound pivot (weight transfer and turn) could help with divots pointing to the right.
If you are hitting the ball fat, it could be telling you that you are too flat footed or too much on your right foot at impact. If the weight hangs back on your back foot, your upper body will tilt too much to the right, reducing the amount of clearance for your swing arc, making it bottom out behind the golf ball. Working on a good weight transfer could help with divots that are behind the ball.
In summary, a good divot occurs AFTER the ball is struck and will look like a shallow rectangle on the target line. You do not have to “hit down” on the golf ball to create a good divot. If you pivot correctly and utilize gravity with good tempo and tension reduction, the divot will happen. No need to take a divot on purpose unless there is a unique lie that promotes such action.
Remember, NO GRASS…. NO UP!
As our LPGA Director of Instruction, Deb Vangellow leads the WomensGolf.com team of expert LPGA and PGA qualified instructors.
LPGA Master Professional/PGA Honorary Director Deb Vangellow holds both a BA and a Master Of Science Degree in Health/Physical Education/Coaching and Educational Leadership/Psychology from the University of Northern Iowa and Miami (Ohio) respectively.
She currently is the Director Of Instruction at Riverbend Country Club in Houston, Texas. Deb is the 2012 LPGA National Teacher Of The Year, an LPGA, Golf Digest Woman, and Golf For Women “Top 50” Teacher, a Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine “Top Regional/Best in State” Teacher”, a US KIDS GOLF “Top 50 Master Kids Teacher” a GRAA “Elite Top Growth Of The Game Professional” and a Golf Tips Mag “Top 25 Teachers In The USA”.
Deb is the immediate Past National President of the LPGA Teaching And Club Professionals, the first ever elected LPGA National Vice President, and was a longtime lead instructor in the LPGA Global Education Program in the U.S. and Asia. An educator/coach who offers wellness based developmental programming integrated into her “student centered” philosophy; Deb can be reached online at www.debvangellowgolf.com, and on Facebook and Twitter.
See all of Deb’s articles on WomensGolf.com
Dr. Sue Shapcott is a former tour player with a passion for helping recreational players reach their potential. She trained with the British PGA and spent 5 years developing technical expertise with Hank Haney in Dallas, TX. Sue is also an educational psychologist and will sneak that into your lessons!
Sue is the founder of Change Golf Instruction www.changegolfinstruction.com based in Madison, WI. In addition to teaching in Madison, Sue releases weekly videos to help golfers with their swing technique, learning, short-game, or information about her golf vacations!
You can subscribe to Sue’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/c/ChangeGolfInstruction
Teresa Zamboni has been a highly respected and recognized member of the LPGA for more than 19 years and in 2007 achieved the LPGA’s highest honor by being selected LPGA National Teacher of the Year recognizing her as the best teacher in the nation.
Named on the LPGA Top 50 Best Teacher list for 2018 – 2021, Teresa Zamboni was awarded the Nancy Lopez Golf Achievement Award in 2015.
“Do your best, one shot at a time and then move on. Remember that Golf is just a game.”
Nancy Lopez Golf Adventures provides the opportunity to learn from the most recognized female golfer of all-time and the instruction team of Teresa Zamboni and Sue Powers.
Their goal is to educate golfers to ‘Play Happy’ and balance playing golf at their personal best while enjoying every moment of the game
Women’s Golf members are entitled to discounts and special offers for selected Nancy Lopez Golf Adventure events. Please visit the member’s discount page.
Maria Palozola has been selected as one of the Top 50 LPGA Teachers in the World from 2008 to the present and chosen as LPGA Midwest Section Teacher of the Year in 2008, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016 & 2018.
Maria was also selected as a U.S. Kids Top 50 Master Kids Teacher after making the Top 50 list in 2016, 2017 & 2018 and selected a Golf Range Association of America Top 50 Growth of the Game Instructor in 201, 2018 & 2019.
Listed as a Golf Digest Best Teacher in State, Maria was the Lead Instructor for the Golf Channel Academy with Maria Palozola in St. Louis, MO. Maria has appeared on the Golf Channel doing golf tips for the Golf Fix, School of Golf and The Morning Drive.
With the COVID-19 Coronavirus putting a temporary halt on the LPGA 2020 season, I thought this would be a good time to showcase some of the great players on the tour.
I have chosen one of my favorite players. She is one of the most consistent players on the LPGA Tour and is one of the most approachable. She is always happy to sign anything put in front of her, or take a picture with you. There is no “diva” in this lady and she is always wearing a smile. My choice is So Yeon Ryu (pronounced as ‘So-Yun-You’).
Hometown: Seoul, South Korea
Resides: Irving, Texas
Rookie Year: 2012 (Had already won the U.S. Women’s Open in 2011 as a non-LPGA player).
2019 Earnings: $815,758 (23rd on official LPGA money list).
So Yeon has won 6 times on the LPGA tour (including 2 Major Championships):
She has a history of playing her best golf in major championships. Here are her best finishes in each of the five LPGA majors:
And a remarkable record of finishing in the top ten in her career.
So Yeon Ryu started 2020 with career earnings of $10,915,457 (13th on the all-time LPGA money list)
All photographs of So Yeon Ryu taken by our LPGA photographer Ben Harpring. Follow Ben on Instagram at instagram.com/benharpringmedia.
Tony Jesselli is the former author of the very popular blog TONYS LPGA REPORT, which covered tour and player news from January of 2010 to September of 2019. Tony has earned the reputation as the ‘go-to’ resource for up to date and accurate news about the LPGA.
See all of Tony’s WomensGolf.com articles