An Analysis of Spin: How To Make A Golf Ball Dance
I get dozens, if not hundreds, of questions like, “How do I get more spin with my wedge shots?”
It’s obvious that too many golfers really don’t understand the dynamics of what makes a golf ball spin, so let me see if I can’t break it down into pieces here for all of you.
First, understand that the amount of spin imparted to the golf ball is affected by six things – the quality of grooves on the face of the wedge, the loft of the wedge, the speed of the clubhead at impact, the path of the clubhead as it approaches the ball, the specific “quality” of impact . . . and the ball itself.
The great thing is that you have control over all these factors, though some are easier to improve than others. Let’s examine each, but in the order of easiest to most difficult.
The Ball - This is one very simple way to improve the spin you get with your wedge shots. Many of the more premium balls feature a softer urethane cover that allows the club to grip the ball better. The harder, and usually less expensive, balls typically have a Surlyn cover which is more durable, but doesn’t allow as much spin. You should experiment with various balls to see which gives you the optimum combination of distance and spin.
The Grooves - There’s a page on this on our new EIDOLON website under “About Wedges”. But very simply, if you are playing a wedge that you’ve had for years, it’s costing you strokes. And if you buy a new wedge that does not have milled grooves, you are wasting your money.
You wouldn’t buy a driver that was advertised to be “up to 20 yards shorter than the competition”, would you? Well, that’s exactly what you are doing when you carry a wedge that does not have the most modern technology in groove design and production.
The Loft of the Wedge - Very simply, your 56* wedge will impart more spin than your pitching or gap wedge, because it has more loft. And your 60* will give you even more. That assumes, of course, that they all have modern milled grooves.
I do know for a fact that an EIDOLON V-SOLE Gap Wedge, for example, will outspin an off-the-shelf sand wedge with cast-in-place grooves. But generally speaking, when you want more spin for a shot, choose a higher lofted wedge.
Now we get into the technique aspects of generating improved spin. Let’s examine these:
Clubhead speed - It’s pretty simple physics, actually. Given all the other parameters the same, the faster the clubhead is moving through impact, the more spin will be generated. That’s one reason why most of us amateurs should not lay up on par fives and long par fours to that awkward 30-70 yard range. Not only is it an in-between swing we probably don’t practice, but you don’t have the clubhead speed at that range to generate optimum spin.
Angle of approach - We've read thousands of times that you have to “hit down” on the ball to get spin. Well, that’s true, but can also be misleading. I mean, the ball is sitting on the ground – how would you hit “up” on it anyway?
I contend that’s practically impossible. When you're hitting practice shots, you want to think of making contact with the ball . . . and then the turf – it’s that simple.
The thought of hitting “down” on the ball causes many amateurs to make an overly steep swing path, which is undesirable.
Just realize that you do not need to “help” your wedge get the ball in the air. We club designers have given it 56-60* of loft to make sure it will get in the air. All you need to do is swing the club and make sure the clubhead is traveling slightly downward at impact. Slightly.
Quality of Impact - In my mind, this is possibly the most important and misunderstood aspect of good wedge play, and is worthy of an entire article. So, think about these other five aspects of spin, and come back in a couple of days and let’s examine impact in detail.
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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As usual, good advice, especially on the short shots with little clubhead speed, and also the hitting down part, which I think a lot of people, as you say, tend to overdo as a "swing thought."
But I am surprised to hear that buying that driver advertised as getting 20 yards less might not have been a good deal. Next, you'll be telling us to stop using the niblick.
This was my Ask Terry question! woot!
I think some guys fixate on spin because it looks cool, but I don't want to make that a priority (especially if it means switching to $40/doz. balls).
That being said, there are a few holes in every round when I REALLY wish I could hold the green a little bit better. I'm thinking it may be time to look into some new wedges.
William Marshall says:
As much as we (readers of this site) like the idea of putting more spin on balls with the scoring irons - not to mention Terry's need to make a living selling wedges with great stopping power - I am reminded of what a pro once replied when asked by his amateur partner how he could get his ball to dance to a stop on the green. "Pardner,the pro replied, you been two clubs short on every shot to the green today. Why would you want to stop the ball!!"
I love that quote, it was Sam Snead, I believe. But he was referring to stopping full iron shots, that for most golfers don't go far enough already. Around the greens, it is darn near impossible to have "too much control", which is what spin gives you. Few course are set up, and few golfers have the skill, to allow a short wedge shot to back up. Keep those comments coming.
i have the sharp grooves wedges nike sv tour, i do most of what you say above and i get spin stopping spin maybe spin back or sideways a few inches but not the 10 15 feet the pros do. I hit a 56* from 90 yards and it spun back about 7 feet that was the coolest thing i have ever done with a golf club. it was a ProV1 too. hmmm me thinks me needs some more ProV1's
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