Too Much Backspin Can Be A Problem
Robert sent this in:
On my sand wedge and lob wedge shots from the fairway, I am producing too much back spin and backing the ball up 15-25 feet. What is the best way to limit back spin to hit a one hop and stop type of shot (move ball forward / back) ?
Hey Robert, It's rare to hear a golfer complain of "too much spin", but it can happen.
If the ball is backing up that much, tell your course superintendent to quit watering the greens so much !!
In all seriousness, however, that much spin can be controlled by a few changes in your swing. To begin, let's dissect spin as the combined function of four elements - loft, quality of grooves, angle of approach and clubhead speed.
In order to minimize spin on such shots, I'd suggest the following as the simplest - use a lower loft wedge. In other words, when you want to minimize spin, go down to your gap or pitching wedge, grip down a bit and hit the shot.
At this point I'll ask a question about how far you are hitting your sand and lob wedges ?
For even the strongest players, in my opinion, you should get about 75-80 yards from a "full swing" lob wedge and 100 yards from the sand wedge.
If you are hitting them further than that, your higher clubhead speed is probably the main contributor to this kind of spin. Practice gearing down your swing speed to hit them shorter distances. That will also reduce speed.
In my upcoming book, "The Secrets of Scoring", I spend a lot of time and attention on controlling swing speed with body core rotation, rather than hand speed.
If you will work on "quieting" your hand action through impact and controlling your distance with the speed of your body core rotation, you will find much more consistent success.
The final element is angle of approach to the ball. I'm guessing you hit down rather abruptly on the ball, taking large divots - is that correct ?
Practice hitting wedges with less break of the wrists going back and think "W-I-D-E-R" in your backswing.
Then focus on the forward edge of the ball as you come through and swing "THROUGH" the ball, rather than at it, trying to take very little or no divot.
It's very hard to give instruction on short blog-type answers, but please let all of us know how these drills work for you.
Thanks for using the Ask Terry button.
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Terry - you left out the option of switching balls. Choosing a ball with less spin can lessen the need for swing changes (even though I really like your swing instruction - never hurts to have more variety in the swing).
I had the priviledge of talking with one of Callaway's rocket scientist/ball R&D guys. When Ernie Els and Phil Mickel-nuts switched to Callaway, they both picked the HX Tour 56 - TONS of spin - too much spin. They had to show both guys that they didn't need all that spin, that they already generated more spin than they really needed. Eventually, they both went with the regular HX Tour.
When does your instruction book come out ? Sounds like it will be a good one.
You are right, Courtney. The ball is a huge part of the equation. We've heard from lots of our EIDOLON customers that they have changed to a more distance-oriented ball because their wedges spin so well. One guy wrote, "Imagine that! Longer drives by switching wedges." The instruction book will be in the winter I hope. It is in first manuscript form now, being reviewed and edited, then we photo-illustrate it, then print. You'll be kept informed here.
John Torres says:
I was wondering how the pros create that shot around the greens that they pitch the ball and it hop, hop, and stop?
That is a shot that takes lots of practice and commitment to the shot. Basically, you have to play the ball further back in your stance, and keep your hands ahead of the clubhead through impact. The clubhead HAS to pinch the ball into the turf -- a good way to influence this is to focus your eyes on the forward edge of the golf ball so that you make sure to make ball contact before turf contact. Don't worry about hitting down on the ball -- that will happen.
As for quality of grooves... If you're hitting a wedge that you like - and believe me, it helps to have no superstitions with wedges and putters - you'll get used to the spin you can generate in different situations/ conditions (wind, temp, hard, soft, wet, dry greens, etc.). Often it takes some time to realize the obvious and tear your mind away from the ALL IMPORTANT YARDAGE. As the wedge "matures" you'll find a comfort zone that may last a months/ years, where your wedge and you become one - especially with spin. I usually set up with 2 or 3 different balls before a round - using the high spin balls for par 3's where I can get an accurate distance measure - utilizing a yardage book, pacing and notes from previous rounds. During a round, I'll rotate to different balls based on my confidence - higher confidence = higher spin ball = less likely to veer off with the driver.
Recently I've worked in a new wedge with fresher grooves, but a lower loft - and can go to it in the right situations.
As for conditions, hard greens with wetness on the surface, or frozen greens may be immune to the spin you generate. These adjustments require more radical shot making strategies. Pin/ bunker location and green size/ shape matter a lot; more like lawn bowling.
Interesting approach, but you do realize that the Rules of Golf require you to use the same brand and model ball for an entire round, right? Don't use your tactic if you are playing in a tournament where the Rules of Golf are applied.
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