If you have trouble taking a divot with your irons, imagine you're driving the ball into the ground. You won't actually do that, but you will create a steeper downswing and get the shaft leaning forward at impact (above). That's how you compress the ball and cut a nice divot.
The first step is the backswing. If you hinge the club upward, with the butt end pointing at the ball at halfway back (above, left), you'll have a good chance of striking down on it. But if you swing the club back more around your body (above, right), you'll find it hard to hit the ground at all.
Coming down, think of swinging a sledgehammer at a stake angled 45 degrees away from the target. You'll lead with the grip end and smash it.
JIM MCLEAN, a Golf Digest Teaching Professional, is based at Doral Golf Resort & Spa, in Miami.