Golf Ball Spin Explained!
If you are like most golf fans you LOVE when you watch professional golfers land their golf ball 10 yards past the hole and then watch it SPIN back to a spot within a few feet from the hole. I bet you have wished, at some point, you can do the same thing!
Although I can’t guarantee that you will be able to spin the golf ball on demand, like the Pro’s do, what I can guarantee is that after reading this blog you will understand what golf ball spin is, how a golf ball spins, why a golf ball spin, and what it means to you.
Also, I will highlight golf balls that have low, medium, and high spin characteristics so you will be able to match your golf ball spin to your golf game!
Let’s start by discussing Golf Ball Spin first.
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.
There are two types of golf ball spin: Backspin and SideSpin.
Wait…what about underspin? Underspin is backspin. Ben Hogan referred to it as underspin so I wanted to point that out just in case you ever heard the term.
Let’s look at BackSpin first.
What is Golf Ball BackSpin?
Golf ball backspin is quite simply the backwards rotation of a golf ball. Think about throwing a softball underhand and flicking it back. This is exactly the same concept of how a golf ball exhibits backspin.
Exerting backspin on a golf ball causes the ball to lift into the air and rotate backwards through the air. Exerting backspin on the golf ball does two things:
1. Gives a golf ball it’s trajectory. More backspin causes the golf ball to have a higher trajectory and less backspin creates a lower trajectory
2. Allows for the ball to spin back after contact with something (hopefully the green)
Now that we know about BackSpin, let’s talk about SideSpin.
What is Golf Ball SideSpin?
Golf Ball SideSpin is just as it sounds – spinning which occurs to a degree of sideways or horizontal rotation.
SideSpin can be good for golfers but the oftentimes end up being not so good. Have you ever heard of the term slice or hook? You guessed it, TOO MUCH SIDESPIN! Whereas just a little sidespin is called a fade or a draw which can be a golfers best friend.
There are two types of sidespin:
- Left SideSpin – Golf Ball Spin which causes your golf ball to spin to the left. Have you ever hooked a golf ball? Yep, that’s left sidespin
- Right SideSpin – Golf Ball Spin which causes your golf ball to spin to the right. Have you ever sliced? You guessed it – Right Sidespin.
How does a golfer exhibit Backspin and SideSpin on a golf ball?
There are 3 dominant factors which affect golf ball spin.
- Club face at impact
- Path of club through impact
- Angle at impact
Club Face at Impact
Is your golf club face OPEN, CLOSED, or SQUARE at impact?
OPEN Club Face – An “open face” or “open clubface” occurs when the clubface is aligned to the right of the target. This means that golf club face is pointing directly to the right of the target line at impact
SPIN IMPACT – An open face will produce right SideSpin on the golf ball causing the golf ball to move right (Fade or Slice)
CLOSED Club Face – A “closed face” or “closed clubface” occurs when the clubface is aligned to the left of the target. This means that golf club face is pointing directly to the left of the target line at impact
SPIN IMPACT – A closed face will produce left SideSpin on the golf ball causing the golf ball to move left (Draw or Hook)
SQUARE Club Face – A “square face” or “square clubface” occurs when the clubface is aligned perfectly at impact. This means that golf club face is pointing directly perpendicular to the target line at impact
SPIN IMPACT – A square face will produce maximum backspin an launch angle producing the “PERFECT” shot!
Club Path at Impact
Have you ever heard “in-to-out” or “out-to-in” when referring to golf club path?
It is the movement of the club head’s geometric center at the time of impact with the golf ball.
As we just learned, If you want to hit a straight shot, the club path should be zero at impact (square). The club path is also a factor that influences golf ball spin after impact.
There are 3 club paths:
Let’s look at IN-TO-OUT first.
IN-TO-OUT Club Path at Impact – When the golf club approaches the golf ball from inside the target line then pushes outside the target line after impact. This path is referred to as a “push”
SPIN IMPACT – An IN-TO-OUT path at impact will still create a fade, draw, slice, or hook based on the clubface being open closed or square at impact. The difference is that the spin applied to the golf ball will be with the “PUSH” category and start to the right.
IN-SQUARE-IN Club Path at Impact – When the golf club approaches the golf ball from the inside the target line then is square at impact and then pushes back inside the target line after impact.
OUT-TO-IN Club Path at Impact – When the golf club approaches the golf ball from inside the target line then pushes outside the target line after impact. This path referred to as a “pull”
SPIN IMPACT – An OUT-TO-IN path at impact will still create a fade, draw, slice, or hook based on the clubface being open closed or square at impact. The difference is that the spin applied to the golf ball will be with the “PUSH” category and start to the left.
Either path could give you a “ZERO” at impact but many argue that a inside – out path is the most optimal for consistency.
Angle of Attack at Impact
Are we hitting up or down on the ball at impact?
Attack Angle is defined as the vertical (up-down) angle at which the club head is moving at impact. Positive means hitting up on the ball while negative means hitting down on the ball.
Hitting UP on the golf ball at impact – When your angle of attack goes UP at impact the club head actually shifts back and raises the loft angle of the club. When you hit UP on a golf ball at impact you will get less distance and less spin because the loft is now more than what the golf club is actually designed for. Think of this as starting with a 8 iron and because of hitting up at impact the angle turns into the loft of an 9 iron. Golfers fell like they are “scooping” the ball at impact when this happens.
SPIN IMPACT – Hitting up on the ball will add less backspin on the golf ball thus creating less distance less trajectory
Hitting DOWN on the golf ball at impact – When your angle of attack goes DOWN at impact the club head actually shifts forward and lowers the loft angle of the golf club. When you hit DOWN on a golf ball at impact you will get more distance and more spin because the loft is now less than what the club is actually designed for. Think of this as starting with a 9 iron and because of hitting down at impact the angle turns into the loft of an 8 iron. If a golfer hits too far down on the club so say they just “chunked” the shot.
SPIN IMPACT – Hitting down on the ball will add more backspin on the golf ball thus creating more distance and trajectory
What does golf ball spin mean for my Game?
Alight, alight enough about the technical part about the spin of a golf ball. It seems like its complicated and makes your head spin (Oh yes) but breaking it down to a few sections should make you understand it a bit better. If not, read it again and again and again…. OR don’t read it ever again if your head is still spinning!
The good news is that I am going to make this section very straight forward. Applying the above concepts to your game will help you understand WHY your last shot did what it did but also help in your selection of your golf ball.
Let’s put the golf balls in 3 categories LOW, MEDIUM, and HIGH Spin golf balls. We can then correlate your golf skill (Golf Handicaps) to those categories. EASY, right?!
Great but WHY??
**NOTE: If you didn’t realize we like to Question Everything when it comes to our posts because this way we can bring the most comprehensive information for our audience. Who’s wants to read something that isn’t clear or incomplete right?!
The WHY is very straight forward
Higher handicapped golfers are more likely to have some kind of a flaw in their swing which creates more of an “imperfect” ball strike at impact.
Higher handicapped golfers will have a greater tendency to have an open or closed club face at impact or an incorrect club path. They will also have a greater potential for having too high or too low angle of attack at impact.
All this means is that there is a more room for error at impact so why not try to help minimize those errors? No one likes nasty SideSpin after they hit a golf ball because we know those shots turn into hooks or slices.
Here is a quick reference for golf ball spin.
Low Spinning Golf Balls are best for Higher Handicap golfers
- Precept Laddie Extreme
- Titleist DT TruSoft
- Callaway Warbird
- Bridgestone e6
- TaylorMade Aeroburner Pro
Medium Spinning Golf Balls are best for Medium Handicap golfers
High Spinning Golf Balls are best for Lower Handicap golfers
What should you do know?
Remember knowledge is power and now you have everything you need to know about golf ball spin.
Also, remember that golf ball spin is just ONE factor in determining the correct equipment for you. I’m pointing this out because your approach to equipment needs to be tailored to YOU! Just because you have a moderate swing speed that doesn’t mean a higher spinning ball may not give you the best golf ball experience.
We need to remember that golf is an amazing sport but it’s a difficult sport. There are so many different factors for success’ and failures.
For Example: If you don’t use a proper grip, your club face at impact MAY never be perfectly square which may lead to an unwanted hook or slice.
Golf is a game of misses. We need to keep this in mind when choosing a golf ball with a higher or lower spin. We’ve learned that too much of the wrong spin will give us unwanted results and maybe hurt our score.
So should I use a ball that spins more or less?
If you feel like trying a new ball with a different spin then go ahead, just keep in mind the points we highlighted earlier in this blog.
Whatever you decide, remember that human emotion is such a powerful factor of the game of golf and choosing a golf ball that makes you FEEL AMAZING is most important. That’s why I choose using a Pro V1x as it may not be the perfect ball for my game but it makes me feel GREAT! (especially when I’m not paying full price for them.)