The Masters has just wrapped up and all eyes were glued to the TV sets on Easter Sunday. Bubba Watson was so deep in the woods late Sunday afternoon that he couldn’t even see where he was going. With his golf ball nestled on a bed of pine needles, he hit a gap wedge that shot out toward the fairway and hooked some 40 yards and onto the elevated green. Nothing less than the Masters was riding on the outcome. Nothing else would do except for a page right out of “Bubba Golf.”
We all love it when we hit that shot that draws back quickly 5-10 feet after landing like it was on a string. Well, putting backspin on a ball isn’t easy. You need the proper technique and the right conditions to do it. You also need the right ball.
Any time someone asks me “how do you put backspin on a golf ball?”, I always grab a golf ball and put it on the ground and start stepping on the back half of the ball. Without even saying a word I just keep on stepping on it allowing the individual to see what I am doing and getting them to answer their own question. All that I am doing by stepping down on the golf ball is compressing the ball between my shoe and the ground allowing the ball to squirt forward then spin backwards by all the reverse RPM’s that my foot caused. Depending on how hard or soft I push down determines the amount of backward RPM that occurs on the ball.
I then relate it to putting backspin on a cue ball in the game of billiards. To do that you hit downward on the bottom half of the cue ball with significant force. Putting chalk on the stick’s tip, striking the ball at a steep angle, and increasing the velocity of the cue stick as it moves toward impact also helps.
So to put backspin on a golf ball you have to do basically the same thing as the above mentioned examples. With golf, the goal is to “pinch” the ball between the club and the ground. You not only need to hit downward on the ball with a fair amount of force, you also must make clean contact on the lower portion of the ball. It’s essential to have a clean club and a new ball when putting backspin on a ball. The combination of all these factors, angle of attack, force, and clean contact puts backspin on the ball.
Most people have a hard time putting backspin on a golf ball because this “hitting down” and “pinching” goes against most amateurs logic as the majority of people try to “help” the golf ball up into the air. When you do this you are actually doing the opposite, the golf club is moving up on the ball rather then down, and if you think about billiards again, what happens when you hit up on the cue ball? It stays down on the table with top spin. So the key is to compress the ball into the ground and let it ride up the club face generating backspin.
If you are successful at doing this, you also need certain conditions to do it. Below are the three conditions you need before hitting the shot. If these factors are missing, forget about putting backspin on the ball.
-Conditions must be fairly dry
-You must be on the fairway
-Greens have to be in good shape
It is also helpful to use a high spin/soft cover ball. Golf balls are available with three types of spin and are available to you the consumer depending on what you are looking for as your end result.
One of the biggest myths in the game of golf. Do the grooves on the face of a golf club produce backspin?
Here is an eye opener for everyone… The grooves on the club face have NO influence on the launch angle or backspin on the ball. A well known club designer Ralph Maltby built a set of irons with no face groves at all and played with them extensively to prove this point to disbelievers.
In the mid 1980’s the USGA undertook extensive groove type testing and concluded that in dry conditions it was loft, not grooves that put backspin on the ball.
So what is the function of the club’s grooves? Let me tell you in a very easy way that we can all relate to if we have driven our car in wet or snowy weather. The clubs grooves are like the treads of car tires. Tires with no treads would work perfectly well on dry roads (think of a race car driver on slicks). However, we need them to work in the wet as well. The treads channel away water so that the rubber of the tire stays in contact with the road. The treads prevent “hydroplaning.”
A club face without grooves work fine in dry conditions but with water and grass in the way, the grooves allow some of the trapped materials to be moved from the hitting area. Without grooves you may get a high flier with less spin and in this instance the ball does in fact run up the face – it actually skids up the face on the lubricating water and/or grass.
Practice improves your ability to put backspin on a golf ball, but keep in mind that the shot is one of the hardest to master in golf so don’t spend the majority of your practice time trying to master this shot.
Remember…it’s all in a pinch.
By Todd Keirstead.
Todd is conducting Traveling Golfer Golf Schools throughout the summer in the Greater Toronto Area (Canada) as well as providing private instruction. To contact Todd call 289.200.5770 or firstname.lastname@example.org