Have you ever noticed how the driving range tee at professional events looks so much better than that of your local course? Ever wonder why? Some might blame the course Superintendent. Others might think that it is because the pros are so good. In actuality, it has little to do with the Superintendent and all to do with the golfer, regardless of skill.
The reason that the range tees at professional events look so clean is that pros hit shots off of the back edge of their previous divot.
The ball is still sitting on enough grass for solid contact to be achieved, but instead of taking another divot, very little additional turf is taken up with each shot. There are two purposes for this, both of which are reasons why every golfer should do this.
The first is that hitting off of the back edge of divots promotes making proper contact. To create proper contact with any ball that is not on a tee, the player must strike the ball with a descending angle of approach with the hands slightly ahead of the ball. This pinches the ball against the turf which sends the ball up the clubface. This allows the grooves on the clubface to impart backspin on the ball which in turn helps the ball rise up into the air, remain in the air for downrange flight, and land softly on the green. That’s how good players hit the ball and, regardless of skill level, following this simple method on the range will help you do the same. Hitting shots with the ball sitting atop the front edge of a divot promotes striking the ball with an ascending angle of approach. Because you never actually get a lie such as this on the golf course, practicing hitting the ball with an upward strike will lead to shots that are topped, thinned and drop-kicked.
The second reason pros hit off the back edge of divots is that it uses less turf space. A proper strike with an iron or wedge will create a divot. The turf area that is taken should always be the area that is directly in front of where the golf ball was. So, if you hit off the back edge of your previous divot, you will use less turf area because you can’t take a divot that isn’t there! You don’t have to be a highly-skilled golfer to do this, you just have to be a considerate one. If you hit every ball from a completely different area, inches away from your previous divot, not only will it make the teeing area look all chopped up, it also wastes a tremendous amount of turf space. This leaves little to no useful space for the next person, and also creates unnecessary work for the Agronomy and Golf staff at your course.
So the next time you head to the range to practice, or warm-up before a round, follow this simple tip to improve your game AND your course at the same time!