Backspin is one of the most important elements of the golf swing. It allows you to control the ball’s trajectory and distance and gives you a better chance of hitting your target. While putting a backspin on a golf ball may seem difficult, it is actually a fairly straightforward process.
With just a few small techniques and adjustments to your swing, you can start hitting the backspin to your advantage!
What is Backspin?
Backspin is the name given to the spin which is imparted on golf balls by the clubface at impact. It is a lift created by the friction of the grooves on the face of the club causing the ball to spin backward in the opposite direction of the intended flight.
This “effect” is an important shot requirement for golfers of all skill levels. It is used to create a lift on the ball which can reduce overall distance and improve control, making it easier to shape the shot around obstacles or hazards. Backspin is also used to gain extra loft, allowing the ball to stay airborne longer and therefore travel farther.
What do you gain by adding backspin in your shots?
Adding backspin in your shots has a number of advantages.
- Control: Backspin increases control by giving the ball more lift and thus reducing the "run out" factor. If you hit a pitch shot with backspin, it will stay in the air longer and land more softly, allowing you to be more precise with your approach.
- Distance control: Backspin also gives you more control over the distance of your shots. The more spin you apply, the less the ball will roll, allowing you to hit specific yardages more precisely. This can be a big advantage when trying to navigate tight fairways or land on a particular side of a hazard.
- Improved scoring: A combination of more control and more distance leads to lower scores. All of these benefits result in lower scores. Bottom line, you want to add backspin to most of your shots.
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Creating Backspin in the Golf Ball
Now let’s talk about actually putting a backspin in a golf ball. There are 5 main steps in producing this effect in your shots. Read below and follow them!
1. Adjust your grip
For backspin, you need to make sure your hands on the golf club are working together in a circular motion. To do this, place your trail hand—the hand that is lower on the grip—at the bottom of the grip, with the thumb overlapping your lead hand. Your grip should be firm but relaxed.
Recommended reading: How to Hold a Golf Club Correctly: Learn the Proper Golf Grip and Improve your Hits!
2. Angle your clubface slightly open at the address
This is the most important step in generating a backspin, as the angle of the clubface will determine the trajectory of the ball. Depending on your level of loft, you'll want to aim for an open angle somewhere between 1º and 5°.
3. Move towards the ball
When you make your downswing, make sure you are moving your body toward the ball. This will create the type of shallow angle through the impact that is necessary for backspin.
4. Strike the ball cleanly
When you make contact with the ball, make sure to hit it as solid as possible—this will ensure you don't impart any sidespin and generate true backspin.
5. Accelerate through impact
To get the full effect of your backspin, make sure to start accelerating through impact. This will create a downward force on the ball, which will help create the spin.
What Affects the Backspin?
From the angle of attack to the grass, several factors influence the ball’s backspin. Read below to check out all the aspects to mind when putting a backspin on a golf ball.
Angle of attack
The angle of attack is how steeply or shallowly you attack the ball. A steeper angle of attack will create more backspin whereas a shallower angle will generate less spin.
The angle of the clubface has a huge effect on the spin of the ball. An open clubface will create more backspin whereas a closed face will generate less. Experimenting with the angle of the clubface can give you more control over the ball's flight and spin.
Swing speed also has a major influence on the backspin. Players with faster swings tend to generate more backspin than slower-swinging players.
However, players should be careful not to swing too fast as it can also lead to excessive spin which can cause the ball to balloon and lose distance.
The loft of the golf club also affects the level of backspin imparted on the ball. The more loft the club has, the more backspin the ball will have when it leaves the clubface.
The groove design of the golf club has a great effect on how much backspin the ball will receive. Grooves are designed on modern golf clubs to channel clubhead speed into the ball at impact creating backspin.
Without grooves, the ball would not spin as it would not have been given any spin at impact.
Different types of grass can affect backspin. For example, playing on a tighter playing surface will allow for more backspin as the ball compresses and more friction is generated between the ball and the ground.
So far, you understand the benefits of backspin and, in theory, how to put it into practice. But how do you get there? I mean, adding backspin to a golf ball isn’t easy peasy, it’s something you must train for a while to do it right.
Keep reading to know how to practice your backspin!
If you need more assistance, don’t forget to check our collection of golf training aids.
1. Practice the basic fundamentals
The same fundamental techniques are needed to create a backspin as to hit any other golf shot. Make sure you are consistently standing at the optimal address position, check your grip speed, and strike the ball cleanly.
2. Play shots from various distances
Get comfortable with the amount of backspin you need from various distances. As you gain comfort with various distances, you will learn the best way to control and manage the amount of backspin you need.
3. Adjust the loft as needed
Experiment with various lofts to get comfortable controlling the spin rate. For example, if you are hitting a pitch shot from 10 yards and you are getting more backspin than you need, adjust the loft of the club or uptick your swing speed. Play around with the distance, loft, and speed to get the backspin you need for each shot.
4. Balance practice drills with playing
The best way to become comfortable with backspin is to practice it routinely. That being said, it is important to also use it while playing. Not every shot needs backspin, but understanding when and how to use it during a round will help you become comfortable controlling it.
5. Visualize the desired spin
When you address the ball, think about the spin you intend to create. It's important to create a mental image of what the shot should look like. Visualizing the desired spin will help you make the proper adjustments that will give you more control over the ball.
Adding backspin to your shots can make a huge difference in your game. By adjusting your grip, clubface angle, angle of attack, loft, grass, and swing speed, you will be able to create the desired spin on the ball.
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