Of Spin, Grooves and The Golf Ball
Last Friday I wrote about the new USGA Rules affecting grooves on our wedges and irons, and published a survey (Take The Survey HERE) so that you all could let your thoughts on the subject be known. We’re trying to get as many respondents as possible so that we can share our findings with the USGA, so please take the survey and send the link to your golf buddies, publish it on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. The Wedge Guy appreciates your help on this, and I’ll share the results with you next week.

This dialog has triggered an email from Shane S., with a very insightful observation about the USGA testing that led up to the change in the rules. Shane noticed that the testing showed that the loss of spin was mostly with the urethane covered balls preferred by top players, and that the difference in spin between the two types of grooves when hitting Surlyn covered balls was not significant. Since the vast majority of recreational golfers are playing the lower cost Surlyn balls for their durability and distance, Shane surmised that it stands to reason that most golfers will not really be affected that much.

Well, he’s right in most regards there. At EIDOLON, our own testing with golfers of various skill levels indicates that the skill level of the player and the ball being played both have a great influence on spin generated. We’ve also seen in live golfer testing that mid- to high-handicap players who do not spin the ball much . . . and who so often prefer the Surlyn covered brands . . . really won’t be affected that much by the change in groove geometry.

That said, however, I’ve long been a consistent proponent that you should play the highest spinning ball you can afford. You won’t lose measurable distance and your control around the greens will more than make up for it anyway.

As a primer on spin, I would like to refer all of you back to a couple of WedgeGuy articles I wrote back in that thoroughly dissected the subject. You can find them HERE and HERE.

So, let’s get more and more golfers to take this survey so that we can share some info with the USGA as to how you feel about the subject of grooves and spin. And congratulations, Shane, you have won a new EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge, so spin will not be a concern of yours any longer!
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[ comments ]
legitimatebeef says:
The majority of golfers have no business even thinking about backspin. There are many bigger fish to fry.
9/28/10
 
Banker85 says:
i need me some CHEAP urethane covered golf balls. I get some spin on my irons/wedges but it is usually maybe a hit and stop rarely any back spin, maybe a couple inches. the most i ever had was a 56* from about 95 yards that spun back 7-8 feet. it was awesome.
9/28/10
 
bducharm says:
The story goes:

Guy: "Mr. Snead, how do you make the ball back up like that?"

Sam Snead: "How far do you hit your driver?"

Guy: "About 200 yards"

Snead: "Then why the hell do you want to back it up!"
9/28/10
 
bkuehn1952 says:
Reminds me of an oft asked question and the reply attributed to Tommy Armour:

How do you make a ball hit the green and spin back?
Hit it short of the hole.
9/28/10
 
windowsurfer says:
I am a hi HC guy. (But improving lately - must be all the bullshite on oobgolf!) Play a short course w small greens. Running the ball up to the hole is hard except when conditions are great (which sadly is not often). I am soooo often short. I accidentally-on-purpose figured out how to spin shots so they check up better, 7i down but especially 50* and 56*. That gave me confidence to hit more aggressive shots and GIR/scoring improved. So - spin helped me, hacker or not. Cally Tour ix, HX Tour - cheap on the web. I keep grooves sharp and clean and don't care if ball looks like it just played Chernobyl G+CC.
9/28/10
 
KVSmith59 says:
windowsurfer...what's the best way to sharpen the grooves?
9/28/10
 
KVSmith59 says:
@wedgeguy: "That said, however, I’ve long been a consistent proponent that you should play the highest spinning ball you can afford. You won’t lose measurable distance and your control around the greens will more than make up for it anyway."

for those unfortunates who have a slice, won't a higher spinning ball make it even worse for them?
9/28/10
 
KVSmith59 says:
oh, and you'd probably get more responses to your survey (which I took) if you didn't have to provide an email address.
9/28/10
 
Banker85 says:
@KVSmith59: ya it adds more spin to all your shots.
9/28/10
 
windowsurfer says:
Heh KV. There are tons of hardened tool steel groove cleaner/sharpeners on the interwebs. Google golf groove sharpener or somethin like that. Don't ask me bout legality, conforming, etc. They DON'T make yer clubs pretty: easy to slip and put scratches on face. ~~~ Don't some 4 pc balls offer low spin off driver and high spin off wedges -- this fresh magic caused by the different substances in the various core materials used? Think wedge spin is mostly due to soft covers. I know if i swing easy and hit it on the sweet spot, I sometimes get a weird low ball flight on drvr that goes far in the air + almost looks like a knuckler.
9/28/10
 
windowsurfer says:
BTW, I got the groove tool in the 1st place to clean up some old Toney Penna blades. (I took Wedgeguy's advice to play blades in the scoring irons.) My old clubs were so worn on the 7i and 9i that the grooves were shallow and round- edged. The tool steel made short work of the soft forged steel faces and these club faces can now be used for shaving (if I ever got around to shaving, that is.)
9/28/10
 
cjgiant says:
It's been a while since I well-struck full iron has not stuck for me (note: not spun back, but held where it landed). So maybe I'm generating enough spin, but I would not want my ball spinning back on these shots. Maybe one shot every other round I play a hole and think I wish I could fly it past the front-tucked pin and spin it back. It would be nice to have that shot, but I have not found it essential.

On pitch shots, however, spin can be nice to hold the ball where it lands (again - I am rarely looking to fly it and spin it back). On these half shots, I have benefited from newer wedges, as they have behaved unlike my older wedges. I don't even know if they are conforming to the new rule (prob not), but I guess I will find out at some point.
9/28/10
 
KVSmith59 says:
ugh....this whole new groove thing is a conspiracy by the clubmakers and the usga to get peeps to buy more clubs due to the declining golf population lol
9/28/10
 
Shane1 says:
Thanks Wedge Guy! I look forward to trying the Eidolon V-sole wedge, and perhaps that will help me from having to carry four specialty wedges in my car with varying bounces for different course conditions. What I still don't understand though is why the USGA avoids the issue regarding urethane covered balls? Their own test data proves that urethane is the reason for the higher spin rates from fairway and rough lies. If they were serious about "defending the integrity of the game" as they stated when implementing the new groove rules, then they should seriously look at banning urethane covers and other materials that have similar performance. Until such time, I question their motivation and their competency, but as long as the rules allow it, I'll continue to play with urethane balls using the new grooves.....
9/28/10
 
Shane1 says:
Just my two cents from some of the comments regarding "spinning the ball" on the green. First, higher spin rates are more important with the trajectory of your shot as backspin provides the lifting force that allows your ball to fly in the air....without sufficient backspin, all you would have are low running "topped shots," which are great on links courses, skipping balls across water hazards, and playing into the wind! :) Second, generating higher spin rates out of the rough allows you to stop the ball sooner on the green vs. running through it, which is great when you're trying to recover from a wayward tee-shot. Generating enough spin in order to "back it up" (although looking really cool and impresses the cart girls) isn't always useful as distance control becomes harder....saw many shots this past weekend at East Lake where the pros were backing the ball way past the flag (even off the green) when their approach shots landed within "kick-in" birdie range. Instead, they left themselves with a 20-footer.
9/28/10
 
TeT says:
I have recently started getting clean enough downward hits on the ball to generate some "backup" spin on the greens. The few times that I have done it, I would have preferred a bounce stop instead of the 10ft spin...

They have all been shots that I hit stupendously well and knew it from the feel; What must it be like to hit a fairway shot like that 18 times a round....?
9/28/10
 
Matt F says:
@Banker85 - Try the www.bridgestonegolf.com/product/balls/e5. Urethane ball for about $25 a dozen new.

Matt
9/29/10
 
lcgolfer64 says:
@Banker85
This was on Oob a while back (sorry forgot the forum/discussion thread) but purchased some Callaway iZ's and tour 56's at Knetgolf.com
They have pretty much any ball you'd want to play. Deals were great and the purchase and delivery was superior.
9/29/10
 
lcgolfer64 says:
I too, keep my wedge groove sharp. I've only really started spinning the ball enough this year to get it to hop and stop and/or control it more on approach shots and pitch shots. But I think that more has to do with practice and learning the technique. I still don't have it down to where I can accurately predict exactly what my ball will do but the interesting this is, I think there are a wide variety of factors that affect spin on the green. - ball type, technique of the shot, flight and distance, green conditions as well as build.

- Most times I've spun the ball back considerably was not when I needed to (short of the hole) and surprisingly did not do it with my sharpened wedges, but with 3+ yr old slightly worn 8i, 9i's.
9/29/10
 
stedar says:
After being told by a "salesperson" that I needed a golf ball to give me better control, I switched up to the Srixon z star. I liked the feel, it seemed to travel a lot further and I felt confident. However, I noticed my handicap went from 11 up to a 14! So I decided to try another brand, and went the callaway ix way. Handicap still stayed high. Went back to a shop, salesperson asked what ball I played, so I pointed at the few expensive balls tried. They asked how my game improved and I told them it hadn't, in fact it went the other way. He put me back down to cheaper balls, this time a precept. I was hitting the same distance and stopping on the greens with a wedge. Didn't lose any balls either (cant be said for the expensive ones, as I seemed to be buying more every two weeks).
As far as groove and spin control, I'm not that good a player to worry about it. If the ball lands on the fairway I'm happy. If the ball stays on the green once it lands, I'm happy. All in all, easily pleased
9/29/10
 
larrynjr says:
I have purchased one of the groove sharping tools and what I wonder is how effective they really are. My tools seems to only be a groove deepener, it doesn't touch the outside edges of the groove. Having a deep groove with rounded edges doesn't seem to make much sense to me. Maybe other tools address the edges also or maybe I'm not using my tool to it's fullest extent.....
9/30/10
 
windowsurfer says:
My groove edges feel sharp and cut the ball cover.
9/30/10
 
wedgeguy says:
Re: groove sharpeners. Since you are having lots of dialog on this subject, I should let you know that the use of them will make your wedge grooves gradually get deeper and wider, as the only way to sharpen the groove is to remove metal. The result is that the grooves will become "non-conforming" to the Rules of Golf, if you care. Just .02 worth of insight. From the early results of the Groove Survey, most of you could care less about that rule anyway. I'll post results next week -- would like a few more responses.
10/1/10
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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