The science behind your divots

I have had a lot of interesting conversations this week about ball striking on the wet, muddy ground and how difficult it has become. I thought it would be a good time to go into a bit of explanation about how divots happen to help you understand what you need to do to perfect your divot pattern.

Below is a video of some long iron strikes which show what happens wonderfully well. You only need to watch between the timings of 0:50 to 1:50…

https://youtu.be/OStvJf9qdUA?t=50
You’ll see a few patterns. More obviously, the clubhead slightly descends through impact but not much. It’s not a steep entry but actually quite shallow.

Less obviously, but critically, if you look at the clubhead itself right at and just after impact, the head twists down presenting the leading edge of the golf club to the ground. This is very important to know!

Let’s say the club enters the ball with an angle of attack at -2 degrees. By the time the ball has been hit the head twist and slight shaft bend (because of impact) make the angle of attack nearer -7 to -8 degrees. This is why you might see a few quite sharp divots from relatively shallow approaches.

There is a phenomenon called a ‘newton’s divot’ as termed by Dave Tutelman who noticed that even level entries (0 degree attack angle) to the ball create a small divot because of this downward deflection of the clubhead. It’s really bizarre but vital to know particularly when the ground is as soft as it is now.

So, you should definitely be looking to achieve a relatively shallow entry to the ball with your irons (-0.5 to -2.5 degrees would be ok) but your ball striking may suffer if it gets steeper than that. It explains why it can often look like tour players take huge divots from shallow entries when really it’s just the downward deflection of the head. Very deceptive!

Get in touch if you’d like some help with your game and click below to check out my previous blog posts or schedule your next golf lesson.

Lee Wilson

January 2022