A Lesson Learned: Hitting out of divots

David Toms
Getty Images
David Toms watches his approach shot from the 18th hole run up towards the flag.
Joe Plecker

Problem Area: Putting
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Sunday, May 15, 2011 | 9:30 p.m.

It was one of the most exciting Players Championship tournaments I can remember, and surprisingly, two of golf's biggest names weren't in the mix at the end. I love watching Phil and Tiger contend, and I know most fans do, but this bodes well for the sport of golf that K.J. Choi, David Toms and Paul Goydos can keep the drama as high as they did for everyone there at the Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass and for all of us watching at home.

There were so many memorable moments from the week, but on a Sunday that saw many players play nearly two full rounds (and then a playoff for Toms and Choi!), the best shot of the week may have been David Toms' approach on the 72nd hole - out of a divot! - which led to a dramatic birdie putt and to an eventual playoff.

Hitting out of a divot

Learn more from David Toms' incredible shot on the 72nd hole of The Players Championship.

This week's "A Lesson Learned" will be how to hit out of a fairway divot. David Toms gave us all a great tutorial on Sunday.

1.) Accept the rub of the green: In one of the most important holes of his career, David Toms hit a perfect drive on a notoriously difficult hole, and the ball ended up in a divot. Toms did not pout, gesture or stomp around in anger. He accepted his bad break and made a plan to make the best of it. It could be argued that in a way, it was actually a good break. The shot would be more difficult of course, but it made him focus on the shot itself, on the proper execution, not on the enormity of the situation. So by forcing him to think of the process and not the consequences, it became a way to take some of the nervous tension out of the swing.

2.) If your ball is in a divot, it is even more imperative than normal to hit the ball with a descending blow. To do this, you'll want to
a.) put the ball a little further back in your stance
b.) move your weight and hands a little more forward
c.) grip down on club for more control

3.) Know the ball will come out lower than normal and will run out longer. It was actually another good break for Toms that the pin was located in the back of the green. This would have been an even tougher shot if the pin were in the front.

4.) Take a practice swing or two and visualize taking or extending the divot towards the green. That is what you'll want to do when you take your actual swing.

Toms gave a good explanation of his execution after the round, much of going over the steps outlined above. Instead of taking what would normally be a 6-iron for him (at 178 yards), he took a 5-iron, choked down a bit and let the ball come out lower with more run. It obviously worked. What a great hole, a great putt and a great tournament. It didn't work out in his favor at the end, but it doesn't take away from the fact it was still a tremendous week for him. That shot out of the divot will be one we all look back on - and learn from - for a long time.

Joe Plecker is the Director of Instruction at Baltimore Country Club. Plecker has won numerous regional and national awards. For more on Joe Plecker or to contact him, visit his PGA.com profile.  


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This is great but video of the shot would help a lot.