Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: An analysis of spin

Published

on

As long as I have been in the wedge design business and writing my blog (over 700 articles!), I have received hundreds of questions like, “How do I get more spin with my wedge shots?” The truth is that there is a very complex answer to what appears to be a simple question. So, let’s dive into it today.

We all know those golfers who seem to spin the ball easily, and others who just do not generate much spin. And of course, we watch the tour professionals every week hit a wide variety of shots with varying amounts of spin. How do they do that?

I believe that very few recreational golfers really understand the dynamics of what makes a golf ball spin, so let me see if I can’t break it down into pieces here.

First, understand that the amount of spin imparted to the golf ball is affected by six things. Those six factors are (in no particular order of importance):

  1. The quality of grooves on the face of the wedge
  2. The loft of the wedge
  3. The speed of the clubhead at impact
  4. The path of the clubhead as it approaches the ball
  5. The specific “quality” of impact . . . and
  6. The ball itself

The great thing is that you have control over all these factors, though some are easier to improve than others. Let’s examine each, but in the order of easiest to most difficult.

The ball. This is one very simple way to improve the spin you get with your wedge shots. All of the more premium balls feature a softer urethane cover that allows the club to grip the ball better. The harder, and usually less expensive, balls typically have a Surlyn cover which is more durable but doesn’t allow as much spin. You should experiment with various balls to see which gives you the optimum combination of distance and spin.

The grooves. One of the major wedge brands is now reporting that your wedges begin to lose their ability to spin the ball after as few as 50 rounds of golf. If you practice a lot, that number would surely be lower. I can’t comment to these numbers, but I will say that, very simply, if you are playing a wedge that you’ve had for years, it’s likely costing some of your spin. That said, I have seen golfers who play badly worn wedges that seem to be able to spin the ball at will.

The loft of the wedge. It stands to reason that your 56-degree wedge will impart more spin than your pitching or gap wedge, because it has more loft. And your 60-degree will give you even more. So, generally speaking, when you want more spin for a shot, choose a higher lofted wedge.

Now we get into the technique aspects of generating improved spin. Let’s examine these.

Clubhead speed. It’s pretty simple physics, actually. Given all the other parameters the same, the faster the clubhead is moving through impact, the more spin will be generated. That’s one reason why most of us amateurs should not lay up on par fives and long par fours to that awkward 30- to 50-yard range. Not only is it an in-between swing we probably don’t practice, but you don’t have the clubhead speed at that range to generate optimum spin.

Angle of approach. We have read thousands of times that you have to “hit down” on the ball to get spin. Well, that’s true, but can also be misleading. I mean, the ball is sitting on the ground – how would you hit “up” on it anyway? I contend that’s practically impossible. When you are hitting practice shots, you want to think of making contact with the ball…and then the turf – it’s that simple. The thought of hitting “down” on the ball causes many amateurs to make an overly steep swing path, which is undesirable. Just realize that you do not need to “help” your wedge get the ball in the air. Club designers have given it loft to make sure it will get in the air. All you need to do is swing the club through the ball and make sure the clubhead is traveling slightly downward at impact.

Quality of impact. This aspect of the spin equation takes into account the ability to get a clean face on the ball, not compromised by grass or moisture. And it also considers exactly where on the clubface you make contact, a subject on which I have personally conducted quite a bit of research. In fact, from my experience, this is possibly the most important and misunderstood aspect of good wedge play and is probably worthy of an entire article.

So, think about these other five aspects of spin for a bit. I’ll dive into that subject next week, and we’ll examine impact in detail.

Your Reaction?
  • 204
  • LEGIT24
  • WOW6
  • LOL2
  • IDHT2
  • FLOP8
  • OB2
  • SHANK33

Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan, a native of a small South Texas town and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He has had a most interesting 40-year career in the golf industry. He has created five start-up companies, ranging from advertising agencies to golf equipment companies. You might remember Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, or SCOR, but you would certainly know his most recent accomplishment: the reintroduction of Ben Hogan to the golf equipment industry in 2015. Terry has been a prolific equipment designer of over 100 putters and several irons, but many know Koehler as simply “The Wedge Guy”, as he authored over 700 articles on his blog by that name from 2003-2010. For almost 25 years, his wedge designs have possibly stimulated other companies to also try to raise the CG and improve wedge performance.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. stephane morency

    May 1, 2019 at 10:23 pm

    I agree with Matt,
    of course better ball, better grooves but spin comes from 2 essential elements: Speed and friction.
    Maximum friction is at 46* of dynamic loft. A putter has zero spin and at the other spectrum a 90* wedge would have zero spin.
    Max friction is at 45* so maybe a gap with 3* negative angle of attack would generate more spin but go to far. So more loft will allow to have more speed to get the job done.

  2. Greg Laves

    May 1, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    For an older golfer, I still can manage to spin the ball pretty well. Even on some shorter chip shots around the green where there isn’t a lot of club head speed. I have always felt that one of the factors influencing spin was acceleration through the ball.

  3. dtrain

    May 1, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    Doesn’t hitting the ball cleanly but slight low on the face impart more spin? Like one groove below the sweetspot?

    Also I read once a 58* wedge imparts the most spin for the majority of players, although I am sure this varies a bit based on technique.

  4. RP Jacobs II

    May 1, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    As always, excellent stuff Terry!! I hope that You & Yours are well~

    All the Best,
    RP Jacobs II

  5. 15th Club

    May 1, 2019 at 7:03 am

    Of course point Number One is… urethane-cover balls. The revolution in equipment technology that produced, for elite players, acceptable spin in a solid-core “distance” golf ball.

  6. J3

    Apr 30, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks TWG!

  7. Matt

    Apr 30, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Don’t think its true that more loft always imparts more spin. There are diminishing returns as spin loft increases and spin will actually decrease at some point. Reasoning has to do with compression – the more glancing the blow is the less likely you are able to impart maximum spin. Its obviously going to depend on many delivery characteristics, but many people will spin their 56 more than their 60. In a related story – trackman shows wedge shots hit with draw spin actually have more backspin than those with fade spin.

    • DB

      Apr 30, 2019 at 1:12 pm

      I agree. I find this to generally be true, but in terms of how the ball behaves once it hits the green you also have to factor in angle of descent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Opinion & Analysis

5 most common golf injuries (and how to deal with them)

Published

on

You might not think about golf as a physically intensive game, but that doesn’t change the fact it is still a sport. And as with every sport, there’s a possibility you’ll sustain an injury while playing golf. Here’s a list of the five most common injuries you might sustain when playing the game, along with tips on how to deal with them in the best way possible so you heal quickly.

Sunburn

While not directly an injury, it’s paramount to talk about sunburns when talking about golf. A typical golf game is played outside in the open field, and it lasts for around four hours. This makes it extremely likely you’ll get sunburnt, especially if your skin is susceptible to it.

That’s why you should be quite careful when you play golf

Apply sunscreen every hour – since you’re moving around quite a lot on a golf course, sunscreen won’t last as long as it normally does.

Wear a golf hat – aside from making you look like a professional, the hat will provide additional protection for your face.

If you’re extra sensitive to the sun, you should check the weather and plan games when the weather is overcast.

Rotator Cuff Injury

A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that surround the shoulder joint. This group are the main muscles responsible for swing movements in your arms. It’s no surprise then that in golf, where the main activity consists of swinging your arms, there’s a real chance this muscle group might sustain an injury.

To avoid injuries to this group, it’s imperative you practice the correct form of swinging the club. Before playing, you should also consider some stretching.

If you get an injury, however, you can recover faster by following RICE:

Rest: resting is extremely important for recovery. After an injury, the muscles are extremely vulnerable to further injury, and that’s why you should immediately stop playing and try to get some rest.

Ice: applying ice to the injured area during the first day or two can help. It reduces inflammation and relaxes the muscles.

Compress: bandage the rotator cuff group muscle and compress the muscles. This speeds up the muscle healing process.

Elevate: elevate the muscles above your heart to help achieve better circulation of blood and minimize fluids from gathering.

Wrist Injuries

Wrist tendons can sustain injuries when playing golf. Especially if you enjoy playing with a heavy club, it can put some strain on the wrist and cause wrist tendonitis, which is characterized by inflammation and irritation.

You should start by putting your wrist in a splint or a cast – it is necessary to immobilize your wrist to facilitate healing.

Anti-inflammatory medicine can relieve some of the pain and swelling you’ll have to deal with during the healing process. While it might not help your wrist heal much quicker, it’ll increase your comfort.

A professional hand therapist knows about the complexities of the wrist and the hand and can help you heal quicker by inspecting and treating your hands.

Back Pain

A golf game is long, sometimes taking up to 6 hours. This long a period of standing upright, walking, swinging clubs, etc. can put stress on your back, especially in people who aren’t used to a lot of physical activities:

If you feel like you’re not up for it, you should take a break mid-game and then continue after a decent rest. A golf game doesn’t have any particular time constraints, so it should be simple to agree to a short break.

If you don’t, consider renting a golf cart, it makes movement much easier. If that’s not possible, you can always buy a pushcart, which you can easily store all the equipment in. Take a look at golf push cart reviews to know which of them best suits your needs.

Better posture – a good posture distributes physical strain throughout your body and not only on your back, which means a good posture will prevent back pain and help you deal with it better during a game.

Golfer’s Elbow

Medically known as medial epicondylitis, golfer’s elbow occurs due to strain on the tendons connecting the elbow and forearm. It can also occur if you overuse and over-exhaust the muscles in your forearm that allow you to grip and rotate your arm:

A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug is the way to go to alleviate the most severe symptoms of the injury at the beginning.

Lift the club properly, and if you think there’s a mismatch between your wrist and the weight of the club, you should get a lighter one.

Learn when you’ve reached your limit. Don’t overexert yourself – when you know your elbow is starting to cause you problems, take a short break!

Your Reaction?
  • 2
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP2
  • OB1
  • SHANK15

Continue Reading

Podcasts

TG2: Our PGA picks were spot on…and Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball

Published

on

Rob picked Brooks to win the PGA and hit the nail on the head, while Knudson’s DJ pick was pretty close. Rob hit a school bus with a golf ball and we talk about some new clubs that are going to be tested in the next couple days.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Your Reaction?
  • 1
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP1
  • OB1
  • SHANK1

Continue Reading

Podcasts

The Gear Dive: Vokey Wedge expert Aaron Dill

Published

on

In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with Titleist Tour Rep Aaron Dill on working under Bob Vokey, How he got the gig and working with names like JT, Jordan and Brooks.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Your Reaction?
  • 6
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB1
  • SHANK18

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending