If you asked a weekend golfer for the difference between professional and recreational golfers, he might say the professional's ability to put spin on the ball. Along with a towering drive and a long put with multiple breaks, learning how to put spin on a golf ball is a dream for many hobby golfers.
What Is a Backspin in Golf?
The rotation of a golf ball always has some amount of backspin, but we typically use the term “backspin" to refer to a golf shot that results in the ball backing up after landing on the fairway or green. Learning how to put backspin on a golf ball will add a professional-like component to your game.
For instance, when a hole location has danger in front but a lot of open green behind, it can be easier to hit the shot long and back it up by using backspin. Otherwise, you must attempt the perfect shot that lands just past the danger yet does not go too far past the hole.
What You'll Need
There are variables that make it more or less difficult to put backspin on your shot. When learning how to put backspin on a golf ball, it is best to start with the optimal equipment.
It is easier to spin the ball with a shorter iron, particularly with a wedge. Putting backspin on a golf ball requires a good elevation on the shot, and many weekend golfers struggle to accomplish that with a 4-iron, for instance.
With that in mind, a lob wedge is a perfect club to use when learning how to put backspin on a golf ball. Once you begin to spin your lob wedge, you can gradually expand to longer irons. A 60-degree lob wedge is ideal.
Grooves on your club face are very important when learning how to put backspin on a golf ball. A new golf club comes with deep grooves and straight lines. These are important when the club face makes contact with the ball.
As you use the club over time, the grooves wear and become less rigid and deep. Professionals are known to update their wedges with great regularity to ensure their grooves are rigid and crisp.
Similarly, it is important to keep the grooves on your clubhead clean. You cannot put backspin on the ball if your grooves are filled with dirt.
The Best Ball
Putting backspin on your golf shot will depend on the ball you choose. Golf balls come with either wound or hard centers. Typically balls with wound centers are easier to spin than hard-centered balls.
When impacted, a golf ball is momentarily flattened. Sometimes when they show the pro's shots in slow motion, you can see the ball flatten when struck. This is known as compression.
Balls with higher compression ratings, with a maximum 110 rating, will travel farther but not spin as easily. A ball with a rating of 70, the minimum, will not travel as far but allow you to more easily put backspin on the golf ball.
The cover of the ball will also influence its backspin. Cheap balls usually have hard covers, and hard covers are not conducive to backspin. As you learn how to put backspin on a golf ball, be sure to pick a ball with a soft cover.
How to Put Backspin on a Golf Ball
There are three ingredients in a proper recipe for putting backspin on your golf ball:
Club head speed creates a spin rate. The spin rate is the amount of spin on the ball when struck. The faster the clubhead travels, the greater the spin rate will be on your shot.
That makes it very difficult to put backspin on a short chip shot, but on a bull lob wedge shot of about 100 yards you can get a fast spin rate. A fast spin rate makes backspin easier, but it also makes distance more difficult.
A shot with high loft is easier to spin than a shot with low trajectory. To accomplish this, it is useful to play the ball near the middle of your stance. This will allow the clubhead to lift the ball from underneath creating both loft and high spin rate.
It is important not to let your hands get out in front of the shaft at impact. Doing so will alter how the clubhead is aligned when making contact with the ball and hinder it from lifting the ball.
Friction is necessary when the clubhead meets the ball in order to grip the ball at impact and create spin. This is directly related to the need for grooves on your club.
Friction is so important that you can actually buy a wedge with a course, sandpaper-like surface that promotes friction and spin, although such a club is likely illegal in any formal play.
It is difficult to create backspin when the ball or the club is wet, or when there is grass between the ball and the clubhead. It is exceedingly difficult to create backspin from a thick rough.
Along with good grooves and a dry ball, friction is created when the clubhead makes a solid impact against the ball. In other words, you must have a fundamentally solid swing to create friction and ultimately produce backspin.
To avoid unwanted sidespin, and to have the best chance of learning to put backspin on a golf ball, you need a fundamentally solid swing.
The best golf grips are typically those that grip the club more with the fingers than with the palm. The left wrist is also a meaningful element to a good grip.
A basic guide is to survey your left index finger and thumb. They should make an even V shape that points to your right shoulder. If the V veers too much direction, adjust accordingly until it points to your right shoulder
The position of your ball will impact your swing path as well as the angle of your clubhead at impact. A general rule of fundamentals is that the longer the club, the more the ball should be near the front of your stance.
For a driver, the ball should be just inside your left foot. For a short iron, the ball should be closer to your rear foot. However, for attempting to hit a shot with backspin, it is beneficial to have the ball in the middle of your stance.
Recreational golfers develop many bad habits because of poor posture. Some key posture elements to keep in mind as you learn to how to put backspin on a golf ball include paying attention to your back.
Be sure your back is straight. Don't arch your back to address the ball. Instead, bend at the waist and knees while keeping your back straight. Keep your feet at a width near or just outside your shoulders. Do not spread your feet too wide instead of bending your waist and knees.
As you swing, your body will pivot. Your arms move and your shoulders turn, but your head should remain steady in the center of your stance. With your head steady, your weight will shift during the swing. It moves to the back during the backswing and then forward during the follow-through. Your hips play a key element in the pivot as they turn toward the target during follow-through.
Finally, think about your rhythm. A fundamentally sound golf swing will be fluent. It is easy, especially when practicing or learning a new skill, such as how to put backspin on a golf ball, to over-think your swing.
When you do, your swing becomes choppy and robotic. Keep a rhythm that is comfortable and fluent for you.
There are many variables that will affect you as you learn how to put backspin on a golf ball. Some of the variables you can control, including your choice of golf ball and the condition of your clubs. You can also control your posture and practice your swing until it becomes fluid and the rhythm works for you.
Other variables, such as the weather and course conditions, may be beyond your control. So as you practice, always consider each variable and what you can do to address it.
It will take time and practice as to learn how to put backspin on a golf ball, but if you want to look like a pro, the opportunity is all yours.
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