It's always better to replace a divot than fill a divot with sand/seed mix.
At least that what this series plans on proving true.
At Edina Country Club, however, what you see far more often is the opposite: golfers take a divot, and if they bother to repair the damage at all, reach for the divot mix. It's an unintended consequence of putting divot mix canisters on carts. It's far easier to reach for the mix than walk 20 feet to retrieve a divot (and 20 feet back!), especially for the lazy-ass demographic that takes golf carts.
To demonstrate that divot replacement is superior to filling with mix — especially in the fall — in late 2017 I ran my own side-by-side divot/mix experiment on number 12 (very near the bunker on the left, roughly 90 yards from the middle of the green).
As you can see, on October 10th I fully filled the divot on the left with sand/seed mix. On the right, I replaced a divot that was about 85% intact. By October 29 (the last day Edina CC was open in 2017) the replaced divot on the right, while still healing, had living tissue and was on the road to recovery. By contrast, the mix-filled divot looked about like it did immediately after the ball was struck on October 10, as if the fill had either blown or washed away. Clearly no germination ever occurred.
I'll revisit these two divots in the spring of 2018 and see how they fared over the winter, and into the early parts of next year's growing season. I'll also run a new mix/replace divot test in the spring, and another in the summer. Stay tuned.