Divots are part of golf, especially out on tour. Pros swing with more speed, and they’re usually hitting shorter clubs into the greens from really tight fairways, so it’s always raining clumps of turf.

But not all divots are created equal. If you’re at your course trying to copy what Patrick Reed is doing here but hit an inch behind the ball, you’re not producing backspin, like Reed is. You’re just slowing down your swing.

To make better divots, remember that they should be something you’re thinking about only with a short iron in your hand-. That’s when you want to make a descending blow, catching the ball first. On anything longer than a 7-iron, it’s OK to make a sweeping swing that produces little or no divot.

Why? Two reasons. Today’s irons are more forgiving low on the clubface versus high on the face. You might as well take advantage of that technology. Second, when you sweep the ball, you’re coming in on a shallower angle of attack. If you do happen to catch the ball a little thin or a little fat, you’re going to get a much better result than the same mis-hit with a steeper swing. In other words, your misses will be smaller.

Patrick Reed

Pickers Vs. Diggers

Modern pros like Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler definitely come at the ball on a steep angle and produce big divots, but that isn’t the only way to do it. Tom Watson has done pretty well picking the ball clean, and he has had the same style through the revolution in equipment. Watson’s way also makes hitting longer clubs easier – something most players need.   

– Hank Haney is based at the Hank Haney Golf Ranch, Lewisville, Texas. To get fixed in Golf Digest, send Hank your swing on Twitter: @HankHaney.