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Golf Digger Vs. Sweeper Vs. Hitter

by M.L. Rose
    Arnold Palmer is known as one of golf's all-time great hitters.

    Arnold Palmer is known as one of golf's all-time great hitters.

    Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

    There are many ways to classify golf swings. Among the most common is to label players either "diggers" or "sweepers," based in large part on how they hit from the fairway and whether they take divots. Another common classification compares "hitters" to "swingers," taking into consideration players’ overall swings and also often focusing on their power and their play off the tee.

    Digger

    A digger strikes down on the ball and takes a larger divot than a player who sweeps the ball off the turf. Tiger Woods says if you’re compressing the ball properly with your irons you’ll create "a long, shallow divot about the size of a dollar bill" on the target side of the ball. Compressing the ball helps the lofted club face lift the ball into the air, which is why golf pros often recommend that their students use more of a digging style, at least when hitting irons from the fairway.

    Sweeper

    Sweepers tend to hit the ball with a level or upward stroke, sweeping the ball off the ground or tee. While this is the normal hitting stroke with a driver or a fairway wood, a true sweeper also plays iron shots with a sweeping motion, taking little or no divot from the fairway. To play a sweeping shot, place the ball more forward than usual in your stance and swing with a shallow arc. To develop a sweeping shot, all-time PGA Tour great Tom Watson suggests taking practice swings without a ball while focusing on hitting the turf "just forward of the center at the bottom of your arc."

    Hitter

    The PGA Golf Glossary defines a hitter as "A player who favors a forceful, aggressive style of swing." Hitters aren’t known for smooth, fluid swings. Rather, their motion "appears to be more violent," says golf instructor Martin Green. More graceful-looking players are typically referred to as "swingers." While the swinger pulls the club head through the stroke, emphasizing the left arm (for right-handed players), the hitter pushes the club through, emphasizing the right arm to muscle the club into and through the impact zone.

    Examples

    Golf great Arnold Palmer is often mentioned as an example of a hitter. Other examples include powerful drivers such as John Daly and Alvaro Quiros. Watson was a classic sweeper, as was Woods early in his career -- before he tweaked his swing and began taking larger divots. Lee Trevino is frequently referred to as one of the game’s all-time best diggers.

    About the Author

    M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

    Photo Credits

    • Jamie Squire/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images