There is one golf stroke that the pros can do with ease: hitting the ball with backspin. It is the main reason most fans have "healthy envy" in the world of golf: seeing how the ball performs capricious movements on the green as if it were driven with remote control.
The backspin effect is achieved from a series of factors that we will explain in this article.
One of the best players of all time putting backspin on a golf ball is Australian Greg Norman. "The White Shark," as he is known, started playing golf at age 16. And from a very young age, he was characterized by an aggressive game. The distance of his drive shots was already causing a sensation at a time when not everyone hit long. But his aggressiveness was not in the distance he achieved with the driver. Instead, it was in his shots to the flag. And it is on the green where he achieved his characteristic backspin.
The same is true for several of the best golfers today. Here you will find some of the best shots of the last years on the PGA Tour from players who've put a lot of backspin on their approaches.
Every hit generates backspin
I want to tell you a secret: every time you hit a decent golf shot, you can generate backspin, even with your driver or woods. And it's good to know, as understanding how to create backspin on impact is supreme. For now, the first thing we have to learn is the meaning of spin rate and its implications in our shots.
Speed is a crucial factor in creating spin when hitting the ball. The equation is straightforward: the higher the speed of our swing, the greater the spin we will achieve. It should be noted that this speed has to be harmonic during the swing, as we have already explained in our post: How to Swing a Golf Club.
So what is the secret to achieving backspin from speed? Very simple, in shots from 80 to 100 yards away, with a club with a lot of lofts (a pitch or a wedge), where the speed, grooves of the clubface, and angle will generate backspin the ball.
A second factor must be taken into account to achieve backspin on the green, and it is called Spin Loft. How do you get it? Starting from the angle of attack and dynamic deviation. To keep it simple: the angle of attack is the angle through which the clubhead moves when hitting the ball.
Meanwhile, the dynamic loft is the angle of impact of the clubface on the ball. This angle is primarily determined by the club and how the shaft is aligned at the moment of impact.
Lastly, the turning loft is precisely the angle from the factors determined in the previous paragraphs. And it works in the following way: with a driver, the turning loft decreases, resulting in a more significant flight of the ball (flight and distance). On the other hand, near the green, we want to increase the spin loft and generate the greatest amount of effect. That is why we need a lot of lofts and a greater angle of attack in the club.
Friction is nothing other than the moment we hit the ball with the clubface. This friction is explained as if it were glue. This means the higher the friction, the greater the amount of friction. And so we get the ball to rotate more and more. How is friction created? It is essential to have good technique and generate a lot of speed to reach the desired backspin.
In this video recorded in slow motion, we can see the impact through the ball and better appreciate the angle of attack, the club grooves position, the speed, and the friction on the ball.
The Best Drills to Increase Backspin
There are many ways to achieve the desired spin. Therefore, it is good to know that we can perform different drills in the Driving Range that will allow us to acquire a successful technique. Here are some of them:
The Tee Drill
This drill is just adequate. It consists of putting a ½ inch tee in front of the ball and burying it until only the top of the tee is visible. Then do the same with another tee, putting this one outside of the ball. Now it's time to hit the ball. You have to start the impact where the first tee is and continue it until you reach the second tee. Next, the divot must start where the second tee is and continue for an additional 5 inches. This exercise allows us to achieve a good angle of attack, which will generate more spin on the ball.
Weighted Club Drill
In golf, as in other sports, we often need to feel more weight on our arms. Believe it or not, this will later cause our arms to apply more significant pressure. It happens in baseball, in hockey, and, of course, in golf. For this exercise, our recommendation is to take several practice swings taking two golf clubs simultaneously. And in each swing, feel the weight of the two clubs. Then hit a few balls on the Driving Range with a single club, but with the same intensity as if you were holding two at a time. This drill will result in more consistent strokes and greater friction on the ball, which will allow us to obtain a greater backspin.
Hitting backspin is not just an attribute of top professionals. Mid-amateur and scratch players do it too, and quite easily. So if you are a weekend player, but want to stop the ball on the green with spin, keep these tips in mind, and you will find that it is not that difficult to do so. Of course, you will not make the ball dance on the green as the Spanish Sergio García, or Jon Rahm do, but we can indeed print enough backspin to control the ball and leave it closer to the hole, thus being able to sign good scorecards.
Golf expert. Assistant for professional golfers on major tours for almost 20 years.