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Golf Ball Spin


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 Golf Ball Construction  | Golf Ball Types | Golf Ball Compression | Golf Ball Dimples | Golf Ball Distance | Golf Ball Spin

 
  

You can put spin on your golf ball to get distance. Applying the right amount of spin will also stop the ball. The ideal ball, is the one that carries for long distances and also stops.

What is Golf Ball Spin?

A golf ball can rotate in a number of different directions:

Direction of flight
Against the direction of flight (back spin)
Sideways (side spin)
Distance of travel is significantly affected by back spin, while the direction is influenced by side spin.

Golf Ball Spin Rate

A golf ball's spin rate -- refers to the speed that it spins on its axis while in flight. It is measured in revolutions per minute (rpm). The spin rate off a driver generally ranges between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm, while the average, cleanly struck wedge shot spins at about 10,000 rpm.

The golf ball spin generates lift, thus a shot's spin rate directly influences how high the ball flies and how quickly it stops after landing.
 
Good golfers apply back spin to the golf ball in order to hold their approach shots on the green. We've all watched the pros on TV, in amazement, as they back spin their golf ball huge distances.

Golf ball back spin is a combination of four main factors. Keep the following in mind the next time you want to give the ball back spin with your wedge shot.

Golf Ball Density - Selecting the right golf ball is critical. If you do not play a soft-covered ball then it doesn't matter how hard you try -- you will not be able to give the golf ball back spin. Playing a soft covered ball used to mean using balata balls, which are expensive, less durable and balata golf balls generally don't go as far. Recent breakthroughs in golf ball technology has made it possible to play a ball that is soft covered, durable and good for distance.

Club Face Grooves - Even a golf professional would struggle to generate back spin using a wedge that had dirty, or worn grooves. Be sure the grooves on the clubface are clean. Consider replacing your wedge or having it re-grooved if it is worn.

Conditions - Golf professionals play shots from tightly mown fairways, on to relatively soft or watered greens. Long grass between the ball and the clubface is sure fire way to prevent any spin.

Technique - Pro golfers using their wedges, hit the ball with a square, slightly downward stroke. This puts their clean clubface onto their soft-covered ball and compresses it against the tightly mown fairway. This technique results in golf ball back spin. So long as the green has a certain amount of give, the golf ball will stop and spin back.

How to put Spin on a Golf Ball

Getting a golf ball to stop quickly or to even spin backward can be a real lifesaver when you're hitting onto firm greens or when the pin is placed directly behind a bunker or water hazard.

1. Stand with your feet closer together than when you normally swing.
2. Position yourself so that the ball is closer to your back foot.
3. Use a flop wedge, also known as a 60-degree wedge (sand wedge in an emergency).
4. Swing the club on a steeper plane (more upright).
5. Hit directly underneath the ball before taking a divot.
6. Take a divot that is long and shallow.
7. Follow through normally.

Effect of Spin on the Golf Ball

A golf ball advancing toward its target is spinning not in the direction of flight but away from it. This back spin rotation, and the effect of the ball's dimples, generates the power that lifts the ball high into the air and plays a significant role in the amount of distance traveled by the ball.

Ideal amount of Spin

For shots where length of carry is important, such as those hit with the driver or long irons, golfers can gain distance if their balls do not spin more than necessary, but rather are able to keep spin down to an appropriate level. Conversely, for approach and other control shots, the greater the spin, the easier it will be to stop the ball, which gives players the ability to aim for the pin.

So, the ideal golf ball spin, is spin that carries the ball for long distances and can also stop it.

Golf Ball Deformation (compression) and Spin
 
Driver and Long Iron Shots

On driver and long iron shots, the ball itself is deformed (flattened). Large deformation means less spin and longer carries. However, if deformation exceeds a certain level, initial velocity will fall, causing a loss of distance. To hit for distance,  it is important to select a ball that will provide an appropriate amount of deformation for one's specific head speed.
 
Approach Shots
In approach shots, the ball as a whole is not greatly deformed, and the type of material used in the cover largely determines the amount of spin. Covers that are soft and have high friction coefficients facilitate the generation of spin, while those that are hard and have low friction coefficients make it difficult to apply spin.
 
Golf Ball Spin, Distance Travelled and Ball Trajectory
Golf Ball Spin Rate
Golf Ball Drop, Blow up, Carry and Run...

When it comes to the correlation between spin and golf ball trajectory, in driver shots, an excessive amount of spin will cause the golf ball to soar, resulting in a loss of distance. Too little spin will result in little or no lift and greatly reduced carry. Keeping the amount of spin at an appropriate level and hitting shots that trace ideal parabolic paths are the formula for maximizing distance. 

Although there are many factors which have a direct impact on increased driving distance over the past 2 decades, one of the most important factors for increased driving distance is the golf ball.

There are more kinds of golf ball spins than just back spin. Golf ball flight is also greatly affected by side spin. Golf ball side spin can cause shots to veer off course, which is a real problem for less skilled golfers. Their shots tend to rotate sideways, a condition that results in hooking and slicing among amateurs. 

Golf Ball Back Spin

Backspin causes a golf ball to lift and as a result will yield a longer shot, while poor back spin may cause the ball to slice to the right or hook to the left.

It is pretty obvious that a greater initial velocity and larger initial angle of trajectory will produce a longer shot.  Once your angle gets too large, you enter the zone of diminishing returns.  This means your distance will start to decrease again. Simple physics dictates that the optimum angle to achieve maximum distance is 45 degrees. However, with golf, due to the spin on the ball, air and wind resistance, and other factors, the optimum angle of trajectory is generally less than 45 degrees for maximum distance, and will vary from one golf scenario to another.