Ball Flight & Spin
One of the driving forces behind the development of our new SCOR4161 line of precision scoring clubs was the quest to maximize spin with the new mandated grooves. Unless you’ve been in hibernation, you know the USGA issued new rules regarding groove geometry, which have completely gone into effect for equipment manufacturers. We can no longer mill our grooves with the same sharp edges you all became accustomed to over the past decade. Now, the grooves must have a definite radius to the edges.
When we began testing various configurations of these new grooves, we saw some things that really puzzled us. So we dug deeper and the result was the progressive weighting concept behind the new SCOR4161 scoring clubs. Very simply, we found that by launching the ball lower and getting it off the clubface quicker, we could impart measurably more spin to the ball. To achieve this more desirable ball flight, we created SGC3 Weighting. “SGC” is an acronym for Short Game Control, and the “3” is a multiplier – we improved distance control, trajectory control and spin control with this innovation.
Now, this is not an ad for SCOR4161, but I wanted to use this research and development project to help illustrate a key principle of how ball flight and spin are so related. We’ve been doing extensive testing of short range clubs on a Foresight Sports GC2 launch monitor. This is a great little device that uses synchronized high speed cameras to capture two images of the golf ball after impact. It then gives a true reading for launch angle, ball speed, backspin and side spin, and then extrapolates the carry distance. But the true readings are what we are most interested in.
What we found is that shots that fly lower almost always have more backspin than those launched higher with the same club. And the lower shots are almost always struck much lower on the clubface than the higher shots. The other thing about shots struck lower on the face, and that fly lower, is that the distance deviations are much tighter than those struck higher on the face.
So, what we can now see with the help of this sophisticated launch monitor is what golf professionals of decades ago found with trial and error. Look at any old worn blades of a good player and you’ll see that the lower third of the clubface is what is worn away. Those players found that a lower trajectory with the short irons and wedges led to perfection of distance control and accuracy.
What we saw is that shots that were only a hair away from being truly “bladed”, or almost skulled, left the face with the most spin. Golfer after golfer could not believe the results of shots they felt were hit “thin”. But we saw it time and again.
So, if you want to improve your short range shotmaking, you need to learn to make contact with the ball on the lower third of the clubface. To do that, I suggest you focus your eyes on the forward edge of the ball and be sure your left side and hands lead the clubhead through the impact zone. If you work on this, you’ll find your distance control improving dramatically and your spin enhanced measurably.
And it wouldn’t hurt if you abandoned those cavity back short irons that were designed to hit the ball as high as possible . . . great for a 5- or 6-iron, but not so much for your scoring clubs.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.
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I absolutely agree with the launch monitor. I know the feeling when it's low enough and "too low". It's very difficult to do intentionally -- hence why pros are pros. The odd thing is that it's not a "solid" sort of feel like a scull is. when it feels good and flies low you know you hit the equator of the ball with the leading edge, so bring your chipper... but when you hit it on the last 2 or so grooves, it feels like hitting a rock or something because you're below the sweet spot and hitting just under the ball's equator.
Indeed, the higher in the face you hit the ball the more you compress it against the ground (and the more you are reducing the loft of the club). The more the ground interacts with the ball at impact, the more it will hinder the spin of the ball. So if you pick the ball cleanly you will: A) Reduce the ground interference with spin. B) With the new groove rule, the lower you hit it, the more it will slide up the club face, increasing the timeit's in contact with the club groved surface and therefore also increasing spin.
Thus the old adage"Thin to win"!!!!
I had a "miss hit" thin with my 60* Eidolon wedge that I thought flew the green from my blind angle.....but my friend got all excited that the ball gripped and rolled back a couple of inches....it looked like a 4 iron shot not a 60* shot....so Now I understand why!
Tim Horan says:
I have all but given up hitting full shots with anything over 44 degree clubs. I have more control hitting low spinning +/-100 yard shots with a 44 degree nine iron than hitting a 52 degree gap wedge nearly full on. The "ten to two" swing and easy tempo increases strike quality and distance control. Dialling this in with 48, 52 and 60 degree wedges from shorter distances reduces the chances of the fluffed chip from say 40 yards out. Why stick the ball 50 yrds up and 50 yrds down again with only a going of 100 yrds if you don't need to ? all that distance with a slight error in direction could be the difference between a one putt or 2/3 putt. Of course there will always be the need to hit full out wedge shots with trees to go over or bunkers to fly to tight pin positions but these should become rare recovery shots. More than any other part of the game the short game needs practice, practice and more practice.
Tim Horan says:
Just as an aside I found that in addition to Terry's tip of focusing on the leading edge of the ball to promote a downward strike hovvering the club at address also helps. As a drill for practice place two tees in the ground say half an inch high three inches in front and four inches behind the ball. The aim is to miss the back tee (both backswing and downswing), strike the ball and take the leading tee out without taking a beaver pelt divot. If you do take a divot this needs to be forward of the front tee and not between tee and ball position.
"...Now, this is not an ad..."
You go ahead and ad away, Terry! You gave me a free 60 degree wedge so it's fine by me! :)
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