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Dave Pelz agrees

February 10 2009 at 1:12 PM
Ham  (Login hammeredit)
SAGF Members 2001

Response to Graves again...

You can see the pictures and read the article at

I agree with Dave Pelz on this, as it is clear to me that hitting from hard ground produces much more spin when properly hit, then from a tee, or a soft lie where the ball is sitting up in the grass.


Become Your Own Spin Doctor

By: Dave Pelz
Dave Pelz Golf

Do you understand what produces spin? To impart backspin (spin that would bring the ball back toward the golfer), the face and club must contact the ball below the balls center of mass.

Figure 1 shows a lofted wedge face contacing a ball below its center, producing spin.

Figure 1

Therefore, it follows that over spin (or topspin) is produced by making contact with the club above the ball's center of mass. (As in Figure 2 below). However, if you haven't practiced this shot much, its hard to do this without skulling the shot. Thats why thin and skulled shots fly so low and so far - no backspin. In reality, most golfers who talk about applying overspin actually are referring to the condition of "less than normal" backspin. Its minimal because although they may have made contact below the balls center of mass, it isnt much below and the other conditions necessary for backspin are not present.

Figure 2

What are those conditions? Primarily the loft and angle of attack of the clubhead, and the surface below the ball. When the surface is firm, offering good resistance, the ball actually can get "pinched" against it (See Figure 3).

Figure 3

When the ball is pushed down and dragged along a firm surface, the "pinched" cover of the ball is stretched, then snaps back, producing some extra backspin. (It often damages the cover, which you see after the shot.)

The clubheads angle of attack to the ball is the exact direction of the clubheads movement (can be horizontal, upward, or descending), through impact. Even when no pinching is involved, the downward swing strikes a more glancing blow, and results in more backspin than when the clubhead moves horizontally, as in Figure 1. These spin differences can significantly affect whether or not the ball stops near the hole. To consistently pitch your shots and stop them close enough to the flagstick with a realistic chance to one-putt, you should be aware of how much or how little backspin can be imparted on shots from different lie conditions (as shown in Figure 4) when:

Figure 4

Theres nothing beneath the ball to pinch it against; typically when the ball sits up high in the grass.
The surface beneath and close to the ball is fairly firm, so the ball can be pinched against it; e.g., a normal lie on fairway grass.
The ball is in direct contact with something hard like hardpan dirt or sand. Its very easy to pinch the ball against the dirt or drag it through the sand with any downward swing. (A horizontal swing will pick it cleanly off the surface with no pinching, or else produce a skulled shot.)
On the golf course, one can use this knowledge of backspin and whatever is below the ball to determine what kind of shot to play, how much backspin it will have and where you want it to land.

I recommend using one of two swings to control the backspin on your pitch shots - one for maximum backspin, and one for minimum backspin. Both are reliable and consistent. Once you decide which to use, you must read the green for that shot. If you then execute reasonably well, you will end up near the hole.

To achieve the minimum-backspin-shot swing, you must always execute the same way, from all the lies - by making your clubhead travel horizontally through the impact zone. This can be achieved with a stiff wrist (no wrist cock) swing, in which the angle of approach to the ball is low and stays low after impact, as seen in Figure 5. It also helps to use as little loft as possible, by taking a lower lofted club, and contacting the ball as near to its center as you can.

Figure 5

To produce maximum backspin, create the most descending blow you can and pinch the ball as firmly as possible against he surface beneath it (Figure 6). If theres nothing beneath the ball, a more descending motion will produce a low-trajectory shot but only moderately more backspin. Increasing your clubhead loft at impact by opening the face will also increase spin a little, as impact occurs farther below the balls center of mass. This will produce some backspin, but not as much as in the pinching action discussed above.

Figure 6

Good luck practicing this shot and good scoring to you.

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