4 Factors to Consider for Effective BackSpin on the Golf Ball
In order to get effective backspin on the ball, there are a few factors to consider. First and foremost, for the beginners, don’t expect the Driver or Woods (and maybe even mid-longer irons) to spin much, if at all. Just don’t typically plan on it. With that said, to understand how to get the ball to spin on the green, let’s start with understanding these 4 simple concepts.
#1. Proper Impact ON the Golf Ball
To start, let’s begin at the beginning and determine the proper way to strike the golf ball. This will drastically impact the way that the ball reacts when it lands. The club selection and proper setup for each club will get you in the right position to strike the ball effectively. And let me say this at the beginning - for pretty much all wedge and iron shots, the ball will be located in your stance middle (directly in between your feet at setup) to more toward the back foot. Lie, Slope, and other things may require you to adjust this, but all things considered, if we are in the fairway on a good lie, this is pretty much how the clubs should be played. For most mid-iron shots (let’s say 6 iron - 9 iron) you will play the ball pretty much middle to just back of middle in your stance. When playing the shorter of those irons, I would suggest playing it a little more back of middle (maybe 1–2 balls). For most wedge shots (60 degree - P Wedge) you will play the ball back of middle in your stance. In other words, the ball should be closer to your back foot. How much will be up to you and requires putting in some practice chipping and finding the feel.
Once you have your ball positions correct on each of your shots, you can begin to dial in where you are impacting the ball and then you can begin to expect some back spin. With that said, your goal should be to hit the golf ball first before you hit the ground; therefore your ideal target point to impact the ground should actually be in front of the ball. The illustration below shows exactly how you should be making contact with the ball. Ball first, then ground after.
A simple tip on how to get there, is to take to the driving range for some experimenting (I don’t recommend trying new swing thoughts or changes while playing a round). But to execute this simple idea, just pick a spot an inch or so in front of the ball and take a swing. This will help you to change your target impact zone and will begin to help you hit the ball first. Another great drill is called the towel drill. Place your golf towel about 6 inches behind the ball and hit some shots while trying not to hit the towel. If you hit the towel, that means you’re hitting ground first, and not ball. Go back to the drill where you practice picking a target spot in front of the ball.
#2. Angle of Attack
While making all that dirt fly is not necessary to create backspin on the ball, it does illustrate the right idea for angle of attack. The angle of attack on the golf ball should be down and through the ball, unlike a baseball swing which is side to side. The face of the golf club should swipe into and under the ball, effectively allowing the natural angle of the club face to work for you, and creating back spin from impact.
This will come the more that you practice and play, but if you’re having trouble with making good contact, then you need to start back at the beginning and fix the contact first. Once the ball is positioned correctly in your stance, and you’re making good contact, the spin will naturally begin to happen for you.
#3. Acceleration Through the Ball
I know it may sound simple, but it’s a very common mistake among amateur golfers. Decelerating (slowing down) the club through the shot is a killer if you’re trying to get spin on the ball, while accelerating through the shot is crucial to creating the spin that hits, checks, spins back and sits nicely. There are 2 examples that I try to think of that help me remember to accelerate through the shot. Both of these will only make sense if you know what I’m talking about or have done what I’m talking about.
If you’ve ever played tennis or ping pong, or even watched either on tv, you will notice that they create massive spin on the ball. For example, a backhand shot is typically used to create backspin and if done effectively, can actually move backward after it bounces and/or cause the other player to naturally hit the return shot with top spin. My favorite shot in ping pong is a backhand shot with crazy spin, that causes my opponent to have too much top spin on the ball when they try to return (which often they aren’t even aware of, unless they are seasoned tennis or ping pong player), and the ball goes straight downward into the net. Tricky, eh? This is the same effect created on a golf shot - striking the ball underneath with such acceleration and downward force that you create back spin. Now, for whether or not your ball will actually spin or not, you’ll need to keep reading on to #4.
Secondly, if you’ve ever played the video game PGA 2K, it will negatively effect your shot if you do not accelerate your swing through the golf ball. And the result is just like real golf, a shank or a scold, or a hook. Timing is a huge part of your swing on this video game, and while you’re only sitting on your couch and using your fingers to play, mentally it really helps to see the effects of deceleration on a golf shot. And it holds true on the actual golf course as well.
Speaking of Timing, IT is EVERYTHING to a golf swing. If your timing is off (meaning too fast or too slow at any point in your swing) it will definitely not go well for you. My only major swing thought right now is timing/tempo/rhythm - however you want to think of it. And one of the best drills that I am using right now (on the driving range as well as on the course during my practice swings before each shot), is simply Counting to 3. You heard that right, if you can count to three, it will do wonders for your golf swing. This will keep your timing in perfect rhythm.
Ready, here’s the count… Backswing = 1, 2 and Downswing = 3.
So on the backswing, you’re counting 1 and 2 and on the downswing, you’re counting the 3. In other words, this will give you great rhythm and timing, and will keep you accelerating through the ball because essentially the downswing should be twice as fast as the backswing. Make sense?? Good, because that will change your golf swing for the better! You might even cut off 5 strokes with just that 1 tip! If you do, I’m glad it helped.
#4. Picking the Right Golf Ball
Lastly, and maybe the most important factor in whether or not your ball spins, is simply playing with the right golf ball. Now you may be saying, “that can’t actually make a difference”. Take it from a guy who’s been playing golf for over 25 years (more on my story), and the same guy who used to only play Slazengers because I liked the name and the cat logo - the ball makes a major difference around the greens (and off the tee for that matter). You’re paying for the name, sure, but not just the name; you’re also paying for the quality. Let me tell you, I know how to spin the golf ball with any iron or wedge, but I can’t spin a Pinnacle or Top Flite ball consistently. It’s just not the same… it’s not what they are created to do. In my opinion, they are created to give amateur golfers what they typically want most, distance. Therefore, they are built like a rock, with no softness or feel about them - hence why they don’t stop soft on the greens.
The best ball that I could recommend would probably be TaylorMade TP5 or Titleist ProV1, but if you’re like me and you don’t necessarily like paying $50 for a box of golf balls, my absolute favorite ball, and one that’s proven in testing to be competitive with Titleist ProV1, is the Wilson Staff DUO golf ball. When they first came out, they claimed that they had more distance off the tee + more spin on the greens than the Titleist ProV1. I can attest to that fact - they will do the job for you… and save you around $20-$30 per box of balls. Currently, a box of Titleist ProV1 golf balls are around $54. A box of TaylorMade TP5 golf balls are around $45. A box of Pinnacle golf balls are around $20 and a box of the Wilson Staff DUO golf balls are around $22. A reasonable move for your golf game and your wallet, in my opinion.
Be assured that the selection of the right golf ball for what you want out of your game, is important. Don’t just grab whatever you can find, or whatever’s cheapest, IF you want to get spin on the greens.
With all that said, combine the right golf ball with the prior steps that I’ve laid out, and you’ll begin to perfect the 1 hop, stop shot, allowing you to begin shooting at more flags with confidence.
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