COURSE CARE
Does Your Divot Pattern Help Or Hurt The Golf Course? September 16, 2014 By Ty A. McClellan

To maximize use of your practice range tee, consider the impact that divot patterns have on turf removal and rotation of tee stalls. (USGA)

Golfers love to practice. But have you ever wondered how the pattern of your divots on the practice range tee affects the golf course? With every swing of an iron, a divot of turf is usually removed. A small bucket of golf balls (typically 25 or 30 balls) can remove a lot of turf. And if you’re really working on your short game it is not uncommon to hit 100 shots or more. This means a lot of divots which require a lot of turf recovery before a tee stall may be returned to the same location.

Golfers have a big impact on the amount of turf coverage and performance of practice range tees. How one practices not only influences how much turf is removed with each swing, but also how quickly the turf will recover. The three most common divot patterns – scattered, concentrated and linear – can be seen in the photo.

A scattered divot pattern removes the most amount of turf because a full divot is removed with every swing. Scattering divots results in the most turf loss and uses up the largest area of a tee stall. This forces the golf facility to rotate tee stalls most frequently and often results in an inefficient use of the tee.

A concentrated divot pattern removes all turf in a given area. While this approach does not necessarily result in a full-sized divot removed with every swing, by creating a large void in the turf canopy there is little opportunity for timely turf recovery.

The linear divot pattern involves placing each shot directly behind the previous divot. In so doing, a linear pattern is created and only a small amount of turf is removed with each swing. This can usually be done for 15 to 20 shots before moving sideways to create a new line of divots. So long as a minimum of 4 inches of live turf is preserved between strips of divots, the turf will recover quickly. Because this divot pattern removes the least amount of turf and promotes quick recovery, it is the preferred method.

Placing signage in the golf shop and on practice range tees can be an effective way to encourage golfers to adopt the linear divot pattern at your golf facility.   

For more information on how your divot pattern has significant season-long implications at your facility, please see the article Practice Like a Pro.

Source: Ty A. McClellan (tmcclellan@usga.org)

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