COURSE CARE
Divot Repair: Why and How May 1, 2019 | Liberty Corner, N.J. By George Waters, USGA

Repairing our divots is an easy way to care for the course, while helping others to enjoy their round. (USGA Green Section)

Taking divots is a normal part of any round of golf. Making our best effort to repair our divots should also be a routine part of the game. Spending a little time to properly repair our divots makes a big difference in how a course plays and sets a positive example for others. Although repairing divots may seem simple, it is important to recognize that not all divots are the same. Using the right repair technique at the right time is critical for success.

Why Repair Divots?

Properly repairing divots helps the turf recover as quickly as possible and helps to restore a smooth playing surface. An unrepaired divot can take months to heal, and it may never fully recover. Repairing divots maintains good playability for your fellow golfers and sets a positive example of caring for the course.

USGA Video: Fore the Golfer: Divots 101 – Know When to Repair or Replace

Fixing divots allows turf to heal properly while creating a smooth playing surface. (USGA Green Section)

How to Replace a Divot

If the divot is intact and there is soil still attached, simply replace it in the correct orientation and firmly press the divot into the ground with your foot. Pressing down is important because this establishes good contact between turf roots and the soil, which helps the divot heal. Pressing down also creates a firm, smooth surface that provides better playability if someone's ball ends up on the divot while it is healing. If there are any significant gaps between the divot and the surrounding turf, fill them with divot mix and smooth it with your foot. This will help the turf knit back together.

How to Fill a Divot

If a divot does not have any soil attached, or if it has shattered into small pieces, it cannot be replaced and expected to heal properly. Filling the divot with divot mix is the best option in these situations. Depending on the course and the grass types, divot mix may be pure sand or it may contain seed to aid in recovery. Regardless of what's in the mix, the way to properly fill a divot is the same: Add mix until it is slightly below the height of the adjacent turf, then smooth the mix and press down with your foot. It is worth taking a few extra seconds to get the level just right. Too little mix will create poor playability and may not allow the divot to heal fully. Too much mix creates playability issues and can damage mowing equipment.

Making our best effort to repair divots is an easy way to care for the course and help others enjoy their round. Knowing the correct technique is an important first step. You should also check with the golf shop before your round to see if the course has any specific divot-repair policies.

Once on the course, take pride in your divot repair. Who knows, the divot you repair today could give you a better lie the next time around.

George Waters is the USGA’s manager of Green Section education. Contact him at gwaters@usga.org.

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