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To Fill, Or Not To Fill, There Is No Question

By USGA Green Section

| Apr 7, 2017

Overfilling a divot can damage mowers and create poor playing conditions.

There are many ways golfers can impact play, not raking footprints in a bunker or improperly fixing ball marks immediately come to mind. While ball marks are sometimes difficult to find and can have a major impact on ball roll, there is no excuse for not fixing a divot. Failing to do this simple act after hitting a shot is not only bad for the turf but has a potential negative impact on players that follow.

Just as ball marks require a certain technique to correctly fix, divots also require attention to detail for proper repair. So, the next time you hit a take a divot please keep the following in mind:

  • Watch where your divot went. As you admire your shot – or look away in disbelief – always keep in mind that you may have displaced a small piece of turf. Replacing your divot is always the best option for repair, assuming it has some soil attached. If the entire divot explodes into pieces, look around for any other usable divot that can fit in your scar.
  • Take your time fixing or filling divots. Regardless of the club used, replacing a divot is a simple act: find the dislodged turf and replace it, making sure to push the divot back into the scar with your foot to enhance rooting. However, if the divot explodes into pieces and cannot be replaced, fill the divot with the divot mix provided by the maintenance staff.


When using divot mix, it is important to avoid over or under filling divots. Under filling a divot will result in a depression that affects golf ball lie. On the other hand, overfilled divots will damage mowing equipment and create poor playing conditions. To properly fill a divot, bend over and directly place divot mix in each divot, making sure the divot mix does not spill onto undamaged turf. Add divot mix until it is even with the base of the adjacent turf. Finally, just as with replacing divots, use your foot to compact and level the divot mix. This will provide better soil-to-seed contact to enhance germination and seedling survival. The USGA Course Care video, “Divot Repair Etiquette,” demonstrates the basics of divot repair for both warm- and cool-season grasses. Make sure to check with the pro shop staff before teeing off for the preferred method of divot repair at your course. And remember: to fill, or not to fill, there is no question.


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