How to Repair Divots

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Play Your Shot

Laura Diaz sends a divot flying
Laura Diaz sends a divot flying during an LPGA Tour event. A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Most good swings on well-struck iron shots produce a divot in the fairway. The word "divot" actually refers to two different things: the top layer of turf that is sliced off and sent flying as your iron enters the ground; and the resulting scar, or patch of bare earth, that is left in the fairway.

If you look closely, in the photo above, just to the left and forward of the golfer you can see part of the divot flying away.

Repairing divots is an important duty of golfers who create them. According to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, a repaired divot can speed up the healing process (meaning: the grass will cover over the scar in the fairway) by a couple weeks, as opposed to an unrepaired divot.

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Identify Your Divot

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Yep, that's a divot all right. The golfer's iron has sliced off the top layer of turfgrass, exposing the sod underneath. (This happens because irons are designed to strike the ball on a descending path, meaning that they continue downward and into the ground after making contact with the ball. See the article "With irons, hit down to make the ball go up" for more explanation of this concept.)

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Choose the Appropriate Method

how to repair divots

Now that you've taken a divot, what's your correct course of action? There are two ways of repairing, or "fixing," divots. One is to fill the divot with sand or a sand-and-seed mixture; the other is to retrieve the turfgrass/sod patch that was sliced off and put it back in place.

How do you know which is the proper course of action where you are playing? Check the golf cart. If the course wants you to use sand, they'll provide it for you. The sand (or a mixture of sand and seed) will be in a carafe that sits in a what looks like a large cupholder. The cupholder is usually attached to the frame that holds up the roof of the cart.

If you see this container of sand on the cart, the golf course is telling you to use sand. If you don't see it, then you'll put the turf back in place (which we'll see a couple pages forward). On the cart above, we see that sand is provided, so ...

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When Using Sand or Sand/Seed Mix, Pour Into Divot

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Take the container of sand and simply pour the sand, or sand/seed mix, into the divot. Pour enough to fill the divot.

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Smooth Over Sand to Level Out Divot

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One you've filled the divot, use your foot to smooth over and tamp down the sand. And you're done! Such a simple thing to do, yet it helps the golf course heal.

But what if no sand is provided on the golf cart? In that case, you'll do something a little different.

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No Sand or Sand/Seed Mix Means Replacing the Displaced Turf

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When no sand is provided, find the turf that was sliced off from the fairway. If you've taken a "clean divot," you'll find the turf still in one, neat piece. But sometimes, the turf will be in bits in pieces. Just retrieve it as best you can, and replace it in the ground. If your divot is in one piece, then fit it back into the ground the same way it came out (as you would a puzzle piece). If it's in multiple pieces, just do the best job you can to make it fit neatly back into place.

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Tamp Down Replaced Turf To Complete Repair

how to repair divots Golf

When the turf is back in the ground, tamp down with your foot, and you're done.

Repairing divots is not always a necessity; with certain types of turfgrasses, at certain times of the year, repairing the divot won't make any difference, good or bad, to the health of the golf course. But unless you are certain that's the case where you play, and when you're playing, you should always repair your divots on the golf course.