Golf Ball Spin - How to Choose the Best Golf Ball

 | October 19, 2020

What is golf ball spin?

I bet you have seen professional golfers hit their golf ball few yards past the hole and then voila! it magically goes back closer to the hole!  What did you just see? Magic? How do I do that?

I'm going to try to explain what golf ball spin is, how and why a golf ball spins, how to choose the best ball to improve your game.

Spin is basically what makes your golf ball go up in the air. When the air hits the dimples on a golf ball, it create a low pressure area which makes the golf ball go up in the air - lift. The faster the spin, the higher it will go!

What is a golf ball spin rate?

Golf ball spin rate is the rate of rotation of the golf ball immediately after impact from the club face. Spin rate has such a big influence on the height and distance of a shot.

Definition: Spin Rate – The rate of rotation of the golf ball around the resulting rotational axis of the golf ball immediately after the golf ball separates from the club face.

There are two types of golf ball spin: Backspin and Sidespin

What is Backspin in Golf?

Golf ball backspin is the backwards rotation of a golf ball.  

Backspin on a golf ball causes the ball to lift into the air and rotate backwards. 

To get backspin, you will need to strike your wedge with a downward blow and make a clean contact.

Backspin gives the golf ball it's trajectory:
More backspin causes the ball to have a higher trajectory.
Less backspin creates a lower trajectory.

What is Sidespin in Golf?

Golf Ball Sidespin is the spinning that happens sideways. Yes, it's that easy to understand.

Sidespin CAN be good for some golfers but most of the time, it doesn't end well for most of us. However, it's almost impossible to hit a perfectly straight shot as any player will have some degree of sidespin with every shot.  

Too much sidespin - slice or hook
Little sidespin - fade or draw

Types of Sidespin

Left Sidespin (hook) – the spin that makes your golf ball spin to the left. 

Right Sidespin (slice) – the spin that makes your golf ball spin to the right.

Types of Sidespin - straight, hook, slice

Spin and impact of clubs

Shorter Clubs

Shorter clubs are designed to give you more loft and shorter distances. Examples of shorter clubs are the sand wedge, pitching wedge, lob, and gap wedges. These give you more control over where the ball lands with high lofts.

What is Loft?

Loft is the angle that the club will launch the ball into the air.
Higher launch angle - higher ball flight and more back spin.

Longer Clubs

Longer clubs are designed to give you less back spin and some forward spin as the clubs get longer.

Longer club - shorter loft angle

What is Loft Angle?

Shorter clubs can have a 60 degree angle where as a longer club (driver) will have much less of an angle with 10 degrees.

Having less loft will make your ball go farther but you will have much less control over your distance.

What affects golf ball spin?

1. Club face at impact

A closed club face is when the face of the club is aligned to the left of the target. This will give a left sidespin making the golf ball go to the left, called a Draw or a Hook.

An open club face is when the face of the club is aligned to the right of the target. This will give a right sidespin making the golf ball go to the right, called a Fade or a Slice.

A square club face is when the face of the club is aligned perfectly straight to the target. This will have the maximum backspin giving you the perfect shot.

club face impact on golf ball spin


2. Club Path

Just like the club face has an impact on how a golf ball spins, the club path has an impact as well.

What is club path?

It's the direction of the club head is moving at impact, relative to the target line. Most players know this as 'in-to-out' or 'out-to-in'.

Definition of Club Path – The horizontal direction of the club head’s geometric center movement at the time of maximum compression

In-to-out is when the club face approaches and strikes the golf ball from inside the target line. This is the preferable path.

In-square-in is when the club face approaches and strikes the golf ball square to the target.

Out-to-in is when the club face approaches and strikes the golf ball from outside the target line.

3. Angle of impact

Attack Angle is the up or down movement of the club head at the time of maximum impact. Attack angle is measured relative to the horizon.

Definition of Attack Angle – The vertical direction of the club head’s geometric center movement at maximum compression of the golf ball.

angle of attack

Hitting UP – When your angle of attack goes up at impact, the club head shifts back and raises the loft angle of the club. This will get you less distance and less spin because the loft is now more than what the golf club is actually designed for. 

Hitting DOWN – When your angle of attack goes down at impact, the club head shifts forward and lowers the loft angle of the golf club.  This will get you more distance and more spin because the loft is now less than what the club is actually designed for. 

4. Club head speed

This one's fairly easy to understand. Higher club head speed will increase spin and lower club head speed will decrease spin.

It is important to note that we have looked at factors that impact spin in isolation to help illustrate the impact of each factor. What matters is when you swing that club how much the ball actually spins based on the combination of the above (and other) factors and if that amount of spin is what is required for the shot that you are playing.

How do I use golf ball spin to improve?

Now that you understand the technical parts of what makes a golf ball spin, it's time to use that knowledge to improve your own golf game.

Before we jump to picking a ball, let's talk a little bit about the clubs you'd typically use on a hole. For the purpose of explaining this concept, picture a 500 yard par 5... you tee off with your driver, right down the middle of the fairway with a good roll 275 yards. Next using a 4 or 5 iron another great shot for 175 yards. You pick up your wedge for your 50-60 yard approach shot and land the ball 5 feet from the flag. It does not spin back like when the pros do it, but the ball stops and rolls a bit to get you a little close. Finally a gentle tap for BIRDIE! Nicely done! So what role did spin play here?

Driver

With your driver in your hands, ready to tee off, what's going through your mind? You want to DeChambeau this thing as far as you can right? The way you get maximum distance is to get the ball in the air (and we learnt we need spin to do that), keep the ball in the air (again we need spin and ball speed), then you want the ball to land and keep rolling (less backspin will help here) to maximize total carry distance.

Don't mean to send you down rabbit hole, but while we're talking about spin and drivers, it might be a good idea to also review our blog on golf ball compression.

Irons

With the driver, most of us want to hit that ball as far as we can (in a straight line, not into the woods). As we get into the irons, control of distance becomes more important. You still want some carry and roll, but you want more control especially as you start getting into the higher lofted irons such as the 7, 8 and 9 irons.

The way we have control is using spin. Unlike the driver, as we get into the irons (especially the short irons), more spin is our friend. The combination of spin and land angle will give us better control.

For example, a 5 iron will have low land angle and less spin which will give the ball some roll (but not too much), whereas a 9 iron will give a higher land angle, more backspin which will help stop that ball where you want it to stop (i.e. on the green close to the pin). This is why knowing your yardage for each club is important, but let's not go down that rabbit hole now.

Wedges

With these high lofted clubs you are typically less than a 100 yards from the green so you want the ball to land and stop, so what do you need? Yep, you guessed it, more backspin.

The biggest factor is the ball, but it isn't the only factor. We want to briefly mention here to make sure your wedges are clean and the grooves are not worn out. The grass on the fairway (or rough) will also have a say here. Grass between the ball and club face at impact will reduce the amount of spin you can impart on the ball, so keep these factors in mind as well.

Bottom line on clubs and spin

So what's the bottom line with clubs and spin?

With the driver you want low spin or just enough back spin on the ball to keep it in the air and then roll when it lands.

With your irons you want a moderate amount of spin so you have some distance control.

With wedges you want high backspin, if not that ball is going to bounce and roll right off the green (hello double bogey).

Next we need to pick a golf ball that suits you.

Types of golf balls by spin

Low, Medium, High

Higher handicapped golfers are more likely to have a flaw in their swing which creates an imperfect ball strike at impact. They will most likely have an open or closed club face at impact or an incorrect club path.  They might also have a angle of attack that is too high or too low. We've now learnt that all these will mean that you will end up with sidespin, which leads to a hook or a slice!  

Low Spin Golf Balls

These low spin golf balls are best for high handicap golfers to get have better control of the shot. Some of the best low spin golf balls are Titleist DT TruSoft, Callaway Warbird, Bridgestone e6 Soft, and TaylorMade Aeroburner Pro used golf balls. You can try them out here for half the price of retail.

Medium Spin Golf Balls

These golf balls are best for medium handicap golfers to have a better shot with medium spin.

High Spin Golf Balls

These golf balls are best for low handicap golfers who are experienced.

Golf Ball Spin Chart

Golf Ball ModelSpin RateRead More
Bridgestone e5, e6, e7 modelsMidBuy Now
Bridgestone e6 Soft, e6 SpeedLowBuy Now
Bridgestone Tour BRX, BX, BXS, BRXSHighBuy Now
Bridgestone B330, B330S, B330RX, B330RXSHighBuy Now
Callaway Chrome SoftHighBuy Now
Callaway Chrome Soft XHighBuy Now
Callaway Chrome Soft Truvis modelsHighBuy Now
Callaway HEX Tour SoftLowBuy Now
Callaway DiabloMidBuy Now
Callaway Superhot 55LowBuy Now
Callaway SupersoftHighBuy Now
Callaway WarbirdLowBuy Now
Maxfli U/6HighBuy Now
Snell MTB Black, XHighBuy Now
Srixon Q-Star, Q-Star TourHighBuy Now
Srixon Soft FeelMidBuy Now
Srixon Z-Star, Z-Star XVHighBuy Now
TaylorMade BurnerLowBuy Now
TaylorMade Project (a)HighBuy Now
TaylorMade Tour Preferred, Preferred XHighBuy Now
TaylorMade TP5 & TP5xHighBuy Now
Titleist AVXMidBuy Now
Titleist DT SoLoMidBuy Now
Titleist DT TruSoftLowBuy Now
Titleist NXT Tour, NXT Tour SHighBuy Now
Titleist NXT Tour SMidBuy Now
Titleist Pro V1 & V1xHighBuy Now
Titleist Tour SoftHighBuy Now
Titleist TruFeelMidBuy Now
Titleist VelocityMidBuy Now
Vice Pro, Vice Pro SoftHighBuy Now
Vice Pro PlusMidBuy Now
Wilson Staff Duo ProfessionalHighBuy Now
Wilson Staff FG TourHighBuy Now

I am confused, dumb it down for me

Is your head spinning yet? See what I did there, this blog is about spin, I asked you about your head spinning, get it? Anyway, if you are confused, that's understandable, so let me try to put it together for you.

We said we want different spin rates depending on the club and shot that we are playing. Then we said that the characteristics of the ball will determine spin rates. So the obvious answer here is to pick a low spinning ball when teeing off with your driver and a high spinning ball when hitting wedges right? WRONG!! You can't tee off with a Callaway Warbird and hit your approach shot with Titleist Pro V1! It would make life easier but it's against rules.

The general rule of thumb that we advise most golfers, as we had alluded to above, is pick your ball based on your handicap. For example, if you are a high handicapper, picking a low spin ball will help (to a certain extent) to eliminate the undesirable side spin off the tee and keep the ball in play.

You will not be able to do the Phil Mickelson flop shot 30 yards from the green, but what you could try instead is the bump and run with an 8 or 9 iron. You are a high handicapper now, but as you continue to play this great game and improve, you will change the ball that you play with along with other aspects of your game such as your strategy for approach shots.

Let's summarize with some FAQs

How to make a golf ball spin back?

backspin in golf

This is called backspin. You will need to strike your wedge with a downward blow and make a clean contact. More backspin causes the ball to have a higher trajectory. Less backspin creates a lower trajectory.

Is golf ball spin good or bad?

Golf ball spin is good AND bad. It depends on what type of spin we are talking about and what club you are hitting. For example, when hitting a driver the right amount of backspin is needed to get the ball in the air. Excessive backspin will make the ball balloon up and not get enough distance. Sidespin is almost always bad since it will result in a hook or slice. I say almost always since you need side spin to play a fade or draw, however, it requires a decent amount of skill and experience.

How do you get backspin on a golf ball?

To get backspin on a golf ball make sure your wedges are clean and the grooves are not worn out. Conventional wisdom states to hit down (i.e. negative attack angle) on the ball, however, keep in mind that that your lie will have a big impact (fairway or fringe will get you better backspin than the rough). Position the golf ball toward your back foot, rather than the center of your stance. That will force you to hit down on the ball, which will create backspin. Swing down hard and hit the ball first, taking a divot after the ball is struck.

What is a good golf ball spin rate?

2,685 rpm

An average PGA Tour professional is able to get a golf ball spin rate of 2,685 rpm. An average male golfer has a spin rate of 3275 rpm.

Do low spin golf balls go straighter?

The short answer is yes. A low spin ball such as the Titleist DT TruSoft will go straighter than a Titleist Pro V1 when you don't hit that perfect shot. Too much side spin is what causes a slice or hook and low spin ball will be more forgiving, thus can fly straighter. Should you go for a low spin ball just to have it fly straighter at the expense of greenside control? If you are a high handicapper the answer is maybe, however, as you improve your game you may want to rethink this.

What golf ball has the most spin?

Ball such as Titelist Pro V1, Bridgestone B XS, Callaway Chrome Soft, Taylormade TP5 will have a higher spin rate. It's hard to pin point any single ball as having the most spin, however, most tour level balls will generally have more spin. Click here to see all our high spin balls.

How to reduce golf ball spin?

This question generally applies when using a driver. If too much spin is a problem for you, you may want to consider a low spin golf ball. Other tips are to make sure you are not teeing the ball too low, not hitting down on the ball and making sure the ball position is left of center. Check this blog by Golf Tips Mag for more details.

What's the best golf ball for backspin?

2019 pro v1 used golf balls

The Titleist Pro V1 golf ball has the most backspin.

Best golf balls for spin

Best low spin golf balls

The best low spin golf balls are Titleist DT TruSoft, Callaway Warbird, Bridgestone e6, and TaylorMade Aeroburner Pro golf balls.

Got any questions or comments? Let us know below...

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