I was terrible at fixing divots. And not just one type of divot. Throw the shallow bowl, the thin skid, or the dinosaur killer at me (that muddy extinction crater you get on bent grass after a week of rain) and I’d display equal ineptitude. I’d tried the tee of course, the dual prong, the curved dual, the levered see-saw tool; tried any of about ten combinations of putter taps and thumps, gouges, twists and attendant expletives without any meaningful improvement in my gardening skills.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t “infomercial” bad – like the guy who suddenly can’t figure out how to cover up using a standard blanket in a thirty minute spot for the new “Hyper-Fleece Strait-Jacket” (“Order now! At these prices, you’d have to be CRAZY not to get one!”)
There’d be a broken root here, a bit of mud driven to the surface there. Sometimes I’d get lucky and have a “take only pictures, leave only footprints” moment, but by and large my repair jobs eventually left the kind of dead-grass-depression your six-footer for par hopped through about a week later.
Yep, I was that guy. But I’m better now, thank you, because I have The Spider Divot Tool.
Enter the Spider
When it was first brought to my attention, it was with the side-note that The Spider was, “a little different looking.”
The Spider – serial genius Conor Fallon’s most recent offering – is constructed of CNC milled aluminum, custom-colored and anodized, and has stainless steel legs that are installed by hand. I’ve seen German engine parts that were manufactured with less precision, and feel vaguely like some clandestine field operative with it in my pocket. An Aston-Martin is a little different looking. So if by “different looking” we mean “seriously cool”, then we’ve reached an accord.
Where the standard divot repair tool works on the principle of pushing the edges of the depression toward the center, then lifting that center mass slightly before patting down, the Spider starts at the center. The slight twist on extraction pulls the soil and grass upward. You wouldn’t fix a dent in your car by pushing the edges to the center – you’d take a Klutch™ Pneumatic Dent Puller and yank that puppy out from the center. Or maybe you’d just pay somebody to do that for you. Can we pay people to fix our divots?
I’ll research that, but assuming divot repair is a “do-it-yourself” kind of thing, there are three recommended techniques you can use with The Spider, depending upon the type of divot you encounter. Each is as effective as the last, and most are derivatives of the one shown below by international man of mystery and part time superhero, Conor Fallon. (Pay no attention to the top-secret putting tool used for the tap down.)
Pretty fast and effective. You can spend the seconds you save on either a good solid daydream, or extra study of the slope-gradient. You can also make a confident putting stroke, knowing that somewhere, Smokey the Bear, Chief Iron Eyes Cody and leading environmentalist and pop-star, Conor Fallon, are all applauding your divot-repair craftsmanship (the Spider, after all, reduces pitch-mark heal time by thirty percent or more.)
The Spider comes with a few bonus features that we were able to uncover in testing.
First, the “six-shooter flip”, once you’ve mastered it, is a whisper-quiet nervous habit you can adopt to replace that annoying pocket-change-jingle thing you don’t know you do. Just anchor the curved, milled recess of the Spider on your pointer finger, and flip it around like a six shooter. Uttering “Draw, Pilgrim!” before you flip is both optional and discouraged.
Second, The Spider is tough to lose. It integrates so well with greenside activities (fix a divot, mark your ball, balance your grips on it to keep them dry, do your taxes) and has such a reassuring heft, you’d be as likely to lose your putter.
Like all products, it wasn’t without its detractors. In order to use your tool properly, you’ll have to hit the green. Daunting. You do have the option of shuffling around, head down, mumbling, searching for something, anything, to fix, but the guys in your Saturday morning group already think you’re crazy – don’t hand them more ammunition.
Also, in lieu of the “six-shooter flip” you could adopt the magnetic ball-marker slide as your new nervous habit. Don’t do this. Put the ball marker on the ground where it belongs and stick to the cowboy flip. Your playing partners and etiquette consultant, Conor Fallon, will thank you.
There’s something very cool, very evolved about this tool and its operation. Given the things I’ve seen tour players do to ensure a fair surface for their fellow competitors, it’s a wonder that The Spider isn’t compulsory. The fix is superior in quality, you spend less time fixing, and you only have to have enough dexterity to open a bottle of Coke to use it.
The Spider is well made, considered, and in the long term benefits both the golfer and the groundskeeper. I no longer have to intentionally blade my wedges from 100 yards and in for fear of doing a poor divot repair job – thanks Conor!
Like my unauthorized tagline suggests “You Too can be an Expert Divot Fixer.” I’ll even go one further “The Spider Divot Tool – you really would have to be crazy not to get one.”
You can learn more about the Spider Divot Tool at www.instagolf.net
You can also watch their commercial here: Spider Divot Tool Commercial (Soundtrack coming Spring 2014.)