Backspin Advice

Lately, I have received many requests for 2 things.

1. Advice on how to hit backspin (always a common request)
2. Advice on the short game in general.

So I have decided to focus my next two newsletters on these subjects. Today the focus will be on backspin, and in the next few weeks I’ll get one out on putting and chipping, and then following that will be course management.

Honestly, the first thing that you need to realize about creating backspin is that it’s a very tough shot to accomplish, let alone control.

The second thing that you should realize is that there are very few situations where this shot is actually needed.

In my opinion, the best shot to master is an approach shot that bounces once, and then stops on a dime. This shot is not easy to accomplish either, but is more realistic and much more effective in the vast majority of cases.

So I’ll get in to the basics of this shot now, but please realize that an entire book could be written on this subject, and it would still be very hard to incorporate into a recreational game.

Here are the basic conditions that must be met before the shot even occurs. If these factors are not in place, don’t try to create backspin.

  1. Conditions must be completely dry - (the club face, and the ball included)
  2. You must be on the fairway – (grass can’t get in between the club and the ball)
  3. Green’s have to be very nicely kept – (very short)

Now, let me clarify. Those are the conditions that must be met before the shot even occurs. So hopefully, you are beginning to see just how difficult this shot is and why it doesn’t come highly recommended from someone who focuses on making golf simple.

I was thinking of ways to describe the action necessary to create backspin, and I came to the conclusion that the best analogy is one of placing spin on the cue ball in billiards.

Side Note: They say that good pool players are also good putters. So if you want to sharpen your putting skills, I would advise learning billiards as well. It will help you to develop steady hands, “learn to see the line”, and it will also teach you alot about spin.

In Pool, to create backspin you have to hit downward on the cue ball with a significant amount of force. Notice that players chalk up before hitting a shot requiring a lot of spin (dry). They also go at the ball with a very steep angle. And they hit the lower portion of the ball.

All of this is necessary in golf as well. The ultimate goal is to “pinch” the ball between your club and the fairway. You must take a downward blow at the ball, you must add a fair amount of velocity to your swing speed, and you must make clean contact with the lower portion of the ball. It is all of these factors combined that make this shot so tough to complete with any accuracy.

It’s also essential to have a new ball (preferably a high spin/soft-cover ball), and a newer (clean) club that has some of the grip left on the face. As the ball compresses into the grooves on the face of the club, backspin is created.

Getting into the impact position is a whole different ball game. You can find great information in "The Simple Golf Swing", although creating backspin is not covered.

On a final note; it’s important to realize that if you make course management the foundation of your game, you will rarely be in a situation where you need to use backspin. Course management is one of the true keys to golf. I’m going to publish a newsletter on it in the next few weeks as well, so be on the lookout.