Articles

Backspin
by Mark Moore

Often students ask me how to get backspin.  It is the elusive stuff the pros use to make the ball dance as if it had English, where the ball backs up like a yo-yo on a string.  It is referred to sometimes as bite, check, even juice. It has nothing to do with some secret that only the pros know.  For the ball to back up there must be certain factors in place, these are loft, speed, clean and precise impact and accommodating greens.  In fact, everyone has the ability to spin the ball, only some do it better than others and here is why.

For the ball to stay in the air it must have backspin.  To impart backspin we are trying to get the loft of the club under the ball without hitting behind it.  Simply put; the more loft, the more spin.  That is why the wedge is the easiest club to spin. It has the most loft and thus the most backspin

Speed when coupled with loft greatly increases the amount of rpm (backspin) on the ball.  The loft of the club is equivalent to the launch angle.  The faster the swing is the higher the ball will fly and thus descend at a steeper angle. The more vertical the ball falls to the green the more the spin will cause the ball to back up.  A lower lofted club will send the ball on a shallower angle like a rock skipped across a lake with no chance of stopping.  We want clean contact with the handle slightly in front of the ball to compress it allow the loft and friction of impact to impart backspin.

There is a misconception that the grooves on the clubface create spin. Grooves can have an affect on the amount of spin but not necessarily from the width of the grooves but from the sharpness of the edge.  Remember that grooves run horizontally.  Yet some of us can still curve the ball an extreme amount with our driver.  So why all the fuss about the width of grooves?  The purpose of grooves is to act as a trash can and collect water and debris much like the tread on a tire moves the water of the road so there is tire to pavement contact.  The wider the grooves are the more grass and matter that will be collected and not get between the face and the ball.  When we do get a lot of trash between the face and ball we get a "flyer," a shot that comes off hot with low amounts of spin.  Grass is 90% water and the more grass between the face ad the ball, the less friction.  The cleaner the contact between the face and the ball the more spin we get.

Another factor is the green.  To see the ball spin you need the green to be soft and receptive, sloped from back to front. You would want to be hitting into the grain rather than with it.  The green's speed should be fast rather than slow. You want to hit into the wind rather than with it.

Now, if all the factors are in place, that being a lofted club, a clean lie, an accommodating green, and a slight wind in our face, the rest is up to you.  Make good contact with a full swing and you are sure to see some boogie on the green. Just remember to hit long to allow for the ball to back up.

The shaft needs to remain at the same angle through impact and not "scooped."  Trying to help the ball in the air will not add spin, only loft without spin.



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