How to Put Spin on Your Golf BallPublished on 03/14/2023 · 9 min readGolf Expert Billy Estes breaks down the how-to of putting a spin on your golf ball as well as suggesting a few balls and clubs that will increase your spin rate!
Photo by Andrew Anderso
What Is Spin on a Golf Ball?
Ok, first let's start off with a basic understanding of what we actually mean when we refer to “spinning a golf ball.”
Spin Rate: the rate of rotation of the golf ball around the resulting rotational axis of the golf ball immediately after the golf ball separates from the club face.
This definition of spin is measured in revolutions per minute.
In regular golfer terms, what does this mean? This is the friction created from the club face hitting the golf ball and the grooves hitting the dimples of a ball. As the ball rides up the face, it creates backspin, thus creating spin on a golf ball.
Ok, pretty simple, right? But how would a typical mid-handicap golfer spin a ball like we see the guys on the PGA Tour doing it—spinning their ball back 10 feet with a zipping action? To answer that, let's first get into what the club has to do to generate spin, and then we will explore how grooves, technology, and conditions affect spin.
We may have to get a little technical for a minute to help you understand what the best players in the world can do. In golf, we have pieces of technology called a launch monitor. These devices are used to measure club and golf ball characteristics and ball flight. Today, I will be referring to Trackman launch monitor technologies, but there are many others that you should check out given the time!
In Trackman, there is a term called spin loft, which is the angle between the direction of the clubhead’s center of gravity movement (attack angle and club path) and the clubface orientation at the center-point of contact between the clubface and golf ball (dynamic loft and face angle).
All else being equal, a higher spin loft will result in a higher spin rate. Controlling the spin loft is key to controlling the spin rate. Also, a higher spin loft will create a lower smash factor (the amount of energy transferred from the clubhead to the golf ball), with all else equal. Because of this fact, some will refer to spin loft as “compression.” A lower spin loft creates greater “compression” (and a lower spin rate).
Wow! Now that was technical, but creating a forward shaft lean to lower ball flight while also not being too steep into the ball will…BOOM…create the zipping spin! So how can a regular player accomplish this?
Giving It Our Best Shot: A Wedge Shot Example
To illustrate, let’s break down a wedge shot of 70 yards. Most recreational golfers will grab their 60-degree wedge and swing hard, hitting a pretty high shot that will land and roll out five or so yards, and there it is! A pretty good shot, right? Well, according to our spin loft definition, the first thing we need to do is lower the ball flight. So we'll just play the ball back in your stance, right? Not so fast. While, yes, that can lower the trajectory, but playing the ball back in your stance will also cause a steeper angle of attack and actually increase spin loft, thus hitting a lower shot with less spin than we wanted! Instead, we need to maintain a normal ball position (middle to slightly forward in stance) and change our clubs. Swapping out your clubs is the easiest way to lower loft for recreational players and maintain a good angle of attack. Grab that sand wedge and then give a little bit of shaft lean to deloft the club at address. For a great address, we want a little weight on our forward foot—about 60%—which, if you add that shaft lean, should do the trick for you.
Now here is where it gets a little difficult—but you can do it! You need to take a practice swing, trying to just brush the ground with a hip-to-hip swing. Nothing hard, but focusing on brushing the ground will teach you how the club can remain shallow while still striking down on the ball. This will help keep you in a slight in-to-out path, which will draw the ball but lower the flight, and thus, increase spin! This is the basic motion for flighted wedge shots! As you get better with contact, you will learn how to increase speed and maintain that ideal flight and spin.
On to the full swing!
As we execute the full swing, we will have more speed, so creating a forward shaft lean can become a little easier. However, the key thing to remember is to club up (to a club with less loft) in order to get a lower flight. This will allow you to swing easier and not force shots.
Yes, you will see spin increases just by changing clubs! When hitting a full shot, the spin will be less than with a wedge shot, but ideally, we want it to be about 1 to 1.5 times the loft of the club. For example, ideal spin rates for a 7 iron should be between 7000 and 7500 (given ideal conditions). These are just base numbers and can vary for different players, but just for a base, these are good metrics to go by. Now, this is where fitting becomes so important. A good fitting from one of our certified Curated Experts can help you with a shaft and clubhead combo to maximize spin for your swing.
“But Billy, what if I can’t spin my wedges…but I actually put too much spin on my irons?”
Well, that is a good question, and actually a very common problem. So let's go back to our definitions. When there is an axis on the golf ball and you tend to slice the golf ball and come in very steep, you will actually create side spin, which given the faster clubhead speed, will result in spin—but high, side spin—causing the ball to actually go shorter and spin up in the air (what we call “ballooning”). So yes, you are adding more spin, but with bad dynamics, resulting in a huge loss of distance! This is a problem that a PGA Professional can correct by teaching you to fix that slice and become more shallow into the golf ball to reduce dynamic loft and increase spin loft, which will give you a good amount of “good” spin with less side spin!
Also, a certified fitter or your Curated Expert can help you find a shaft and club combo that will reduce side spin by either adding offset or finding you a shaft that reduces your coming-over-the-top move.
Addressing the Driver
However, there is a slight difference when it comes to the driver. We literally want to do the opposite with it. In driving, you want a low spinning shot to carry further, but the good thing about this approach to spin is that it is done with ball position and the face on a driver. When driving the golf ball, we play it more forward in our stance, giving us the ability to launch it higher with less spin. Drivers also have less loft and minimal grooves to help reduce spin.
That was a lot, I know, but we have other factors that have a direct effect on spin, which are the design of the wedge or club, the golf ball itself, and turf conditions!
The Golf Club
Let’s talk about wedges and grooves. The primary role of grooves is to disperse moisture and matter from between the face and the ball, not generate spin. Older clubs with worn-down grooves will not spin the ball as much as a new wedge with fresh grooves. All other factors being equal, a new or newer wedge will spin the ball more than a wedge with worn-out grooves.
Fresh grooves help with friction and launch, so, make sure your wedges are being cleaned with a wet towel after a couple of shots and then dried. This will help optimize your wedge and irons for spin.
I also recommend replacing your wedges based on usage. If you mainly use your 60-degree wedge and sand wedge, I would replace them about once a year, depending on how often you play and practice. I recommend replacing irons either once a year or every other year.
If you’re looking to upgrade your wedges, here are some of my favorite options.
- Titleist SM9 Wedges
- TaylorMade Milled Grind 3 Satin Wedges
- Callaway MD5 Jaws Wedge
The Golf Ball
Plain and simple, a premium golf ball will spin more and launch lower than a non-premium golf ball. A high-quality golf ball offers a softer outer layer which increases compression leading to better spin and launch rates. Simply put, the more layers, the more compression. Range balls and those older Top Flight balls will simply be harder to spin than a nice new Titleist Pro V1.
Golf Ball Recommendations
- Titleist Pro V1 Golf Balls
- Titleist Pro V1x Golf Balls White
This is pretty easy to explain, but it is still important to understand. First off, when the lie is “into the grain,” meaning this grass is growing towards you, the ball will be affected and will have less spin and a higher flight. Conversely, when the lie is “down grain,” meaning the grass is growing away from you, it will be easier to spin and flight it lower.
Based on where you live, you may have heard names like Bermuda grass (very common in the South and Southeast) or bentgrass. These are grass types that can be cut very tight, and will give you less interaction between ball and turf, increasing your ability to spin the ball. A grass like Zoysia, which makes your ball sit up like a tee, can be a tad too fluffy—reducing spin and sometimes creating “flyer” shots, which is a shot that has lower spin than expected, due to grass being between the ball and the club grooves.
In most cases, fairway lies are ideal for creating spin. But when we move the ball to the rough, spin is decreased by a ton! This is yet another reason to hit fairways and ensure clean contact with the golf ball.
I realize that was a lot of new information, but I wanted to share the full picture of how to spin that golf ball. Now, you can read through this article and take what you need for your game. The techniques we talked about are very high-level actions that Tour professionals have spent years mastering, so please be patient with yourself and reach out to a local PGA Professional or to a Curated Golf Expert for additional help.
As far as equipment, I have added links to some great wedges that you can purchase through Curated, as well as some premium golf balls that will increase spin just from that purchase alone! I'm so happy for this opportunity to help everyone keep enjoying this wonderful game of golf and have more fun on the golf course! If you have any questions about this or any other golf related issues, be sure to check in with myself or another Golf Expert here at Curated and we would be happy to get you squared away!