How Does Spin Affect A Golf Shot?

By Glenn Mcanally

golfer standing over a tee shot with iron
Spin makes your golf ball rise into the air. The dimples on a golf ball are like the wings of an airplane. They create rushes of air across the ball that go at different speeds. When this occurs, the air that passes across the dimples creates a low pressure zone. The air beneath this low pressure zone moves upward toward the ball because of the pressure differential. Air pushing up toward the ball creates lift. The faster a ball spins the higher it will go. This article will discuss how and when you want to produce varying rates of spin.

Types of Spin

You have two types of spin when you hit your golf shot--back spin and forward spin. Back spin will cause your ball to rise high and stay close to where it lands with little forward roll. Sometimes, depending on spin rate, your ball may even roll back after it hits the ground. A forward spin will make your ball stay lower to the ground, but roll much farther after impact.

Impact of Shorter Clubs

Your shorter clubs are designed to produce more loft and shorter distances. They give you more control over where the ball lands. The shorter clubs, such as the sand wedge, pitching wedge, lob and gap wedges, all have club faces with high lofts. Loft is the angle that the club will launch the ball into the air. If you have a higher launch angle, you will have a higher ball flight and more back spin. The proper loft and trajectory for these clubs is always dependent on hitting the ball with a downward strike.

Impact of Longer Clubs

The longer clubs are designed to create less back spin and even some forward spin as the clubs get longer. With each longer club you will see that the loft angle of the club face is shorter. Loft angles on your shortest clubs can be around 60 degrees, while your longest club, the driver, can be 10.5 degrees. PGA Tour members have drivers with lofts as low as 7.5 degrees. With less loft, your ball will roll much farther but you will have less control over your shot's distance. The fairway grass conditions will always affect how far your ball rolls after it lands.

About the Author

Glenn McAnally is a thriller novelist and life long golfer who lives in Southern California. His most recent work is the action thriller Endangered as well as a story credit for the upcoming Nintendo DS title Elite Forces: Unit 77. He is a graduate of Villanova University.