The pin is placed near the front of the green, protected by a deep bunker. Phil Mickelson takes out his wedge and lines up this 120-yard second shot. It sails over the bunker, over the pin, and pitches towards the back of the green.
There’s a sigh from the gallery as they expect the ball to overshoot the green, but wait, it bites and spins back, coming to rest just inches from the pin.
The sighs turn to oohs and ahhs, cheering and high fives, and there are murmurs wondering how he pulled it off.
The answer is that he knows how to put a backspin on a golf ball. Want to improve this technique for your game? Read on.
What Is Backspin?
In golf, backspin refers to when you take a shot, and the ball spins backward in the air.
Getting backspin on a golf ball to hold the green is a valuable lesson to learn. It’ll stop the ball faster on the green – you just need to understand the dynamics.
How to put spin on a golf ball, you ask? Well…
How To Put Backspin on a Golf Ball
Three considerations when learning how to create backspin on golf ball:
- Spin loft
This relates to the speed of the clubface as it strikes the ball. The faster you hit the ball, the greater the backspin on a golf ball will be.
For this reason, you won’t be looking for spin on a chip shot a mere 20 yards from the green because you will not be able to generate enough speed.
The ideal distance would be where you can hit a full wedge shot up to, say, a 7-iron. Ideally, you want to see the clubhead accelerate through the shot or maintain a steady speed.
If you decelerate on the shot, the ball rides up the clubface, loses grip, and has no spin results.
Another key lesson in putting backspin on a golf ball is to hit down on the ball – you are not trying to sweep it smoothly and cleanly off the surface of the fairway.
Place the ball slightly further back in your stance than usual, hit into the ball before making contact with the ground, and follow through, taking a divot if possible.
This steeper angle of attack combined with the club’s angle will create the spin loft. By hitting down on the ball while maintaining speed or accelerating, the ball gets compressed, generating the spin effect.
The third requirement in picking up how to get backspin on a golf ball is friction. It sounds simple enough, but how do you ensure you get it right?
The grooves on the clubface are there for this very reason, but grooves alone won’t do the trick. You need a good solid strike, or the result will not meet your expectations.
There are, however, other important considerations to ensure good friction is obtained. The grooves need to be ‘fresh,’ so if your clubs are old or your wedge is a bit worn, and the grooves are not as sharp as they should be, you will not get the best result. The clubface needs to be clean of any dirt or grass, and it needs to be dry.
The ball itself is important. There are two basic types of golf balls, hard-core and soft or wound core balls. The softer, premium balls are better for producing a good spin effect.
There must be no moisture or grass between the ball and the clubface. For this reason, don’t expect to get spin when playing in the rough or in wet or rainy conditions.
Now you know how to get backspin on a golf ball. It’s drill time…
Drills To Practice How To Get Backspin on the Golf Ball
- Use sticks as a guide. Practice making contact with the turf just ahead of the sticks without the ball. Then bring in the ball and make contact with the ground after hitting the ball. With all the above considerations, that should help you learn how to spin a golf ball back.
- Put your tee in the right spot. You can also put a tee between half an inch and one inch in front of the ball at ground level. Aim to hit the ball first and then the tee.
- Put emphasis on your front foot. The majority of your weight should be on the front foot to hit the ball downwards.
- Practice on different types of greens. You can see how the conditions affect how to get backspin on the golf ball, and make a mental note for next time.
Read more: How To Drive Your Golf Ball Further
Other Considerations When Putting Backspin on a Golf Ball
When looking at golf balls, the hard-core type typically has a compression rating of 100, which is the least favorable for achieving backspin. A compression rating of 90 is best for getting backspin on a golf ball.
Then you get golf balls with softer covers. These tend to grip better on the clubface grooves, thus resulting in more spin. However, they also will be more prone to cuts and abrasions.
Club choice is important – you would not expect an impressive backspin from a 3 iron that isn’t desired from drivers. Your 7 iron is probably the longest club you would use in this manner, the 6 iron upwards would not give you the required spin loft.
When looking at how to generate backspin on a golf ball, you need to focus on height, not distance. The greater the loft, the easier it will be to put spin on the ball.
The backswing should be adjusted for the spin effect. Bring the club back in an upright position to ensure that you increase the angle of attack as the club head meets the ball.
You must also meet the ball before hitting the grass. This increases the compression on the ball, and you should take a small divot on your follow-through.
This video showing how to back spin a golf ball demonstrates these ideas quite well.
Things Not To Do When Learning How To Hit Backspin in Golf
- Do not attempt to play a backspin golf shot if you are playing downwind. It will not work, and you will overshoot the green.
- Always make sure you play this shot into a headwind, as it will help with the height and elevation.
- Do not attempt this if the green is sloping away from you. Again you will be embarrassed by the result. Safer to choose a green sloping towards you.
- The green should also preferably be soft to allow the ball to grip and then spin if the greens are too hard, the ball might not bite.
How To Put Backspin on Chip Shots
The key ideas to keep in mind when learning how to spin back a golf ball while chipping are that the ball has to be slightly more forward in the stance, and you use the bounce of the club more.
How Do You Put Backspin on a Flop Shot?
Use the wedge with the most loft, open up the face and place your weight slightly forward. Then hit down on the ball and use the bounce. That allows for backspin and height, rather than the shot staying low, which will help put backspin on a flop shot.
Does Backspin Increase Range?
No, backspin doesn’t increase range on a golf shot. The distance tends to be impacted more by club head speed, the angle of attack of the shot, the type of club used, and other factors.
How Do I Get More Backspin on My Chip Shots?
The key to getting more backspin on chip shots is to look at your shot’s speed, spin loft, and friction. Practice the technique by using sticks as a guide to make contact with the turf after hitting the ball. Golf ball and club choice, among other considerations, can also better your chips.
If you’ve wondered how you put backspin on a golf ball before, now you know and can spin like Phil. Well, something like that.
Remember to keep your shot’s speed, spin loft, and friction. And don’t forget that your ball, club, and swing also matter.
Avoid the shot if you are playing downwind and if the green is sloping away, forget it. You should know how to put a backspin on a golf ball with all the above tricks, drills, and tips.
Practice, practice, and practice some more, just like anything else in golf. Enjoy it when you pull it off.
Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.