How to Put Backspin on a Golf Ball (6 Easy Steps)
Backspin is like a unicorn in the golf world.
Everyone wants to have it, but very few golfers can find it. Because let’s get real, backspin is awesome and usually a sign of a good player.
Whenever you’re watching golf on TV, it’s fun to see players hit something on the green and watch it zip back… especially if it zips past the hole and has a chance of going in.
But there are a lot of myths and confusion about how to actually create spin on the golf ball.
How to Put Backspin on a Golf Ball
So how do you get backspin? Is it just something that happens when you reach a certain handicap? Do you need to do certain things in your swing?
Let’s break it down…
Choose the Right Club
The first step to generating spin is choosing the right club. The club you use has a huge impact on whether you’re going to make the golf ball spin backward or not.
For most golfers, you need a wedge to create backspin. If you’re hitting with a mid to long iron, don’t expect it to happen.
Even the best players in the world don’t get backspin with these clubs unless they’re playing very soft, wet green. They usually get it to stop within a few feet when the greens are soft (at best).
But if you have a wedge in your hand, you can get some spin or have it sit quickly on the green.
The other part of the club that matters are the grooves. If you’re playing an old wedge where the grooves are worn down, it’s going to be harder to hit a shot with spin.
If you have a wedge in hand with fresh or clean grooves, then keep reading.
Evaluate the Shot
While having the right club is a big part of creating backspin, you also need to think about three other factors for the shot you’re facing.
First, your distance to the green plays a big role. For most golfers, especially mid to higher handicaps, you need a full swing distance to create spin.
For example, let’s say you hit a sand wedge 100 yards with a full swing. If you have 95–105 yards, you can make a full swing and expect some spin.
Otherwise, if you have a shot that’s not full, let’s say 50–60 yards, it’s nearly impossible to get backspin as you don’t have enough speed. That’s why a lot of low handicap amateurs and professionals lay up to certain distances. They want to ensure they have a full swing for their approach to get the most spin possible.
The second factor to consider is the lie because without the right lie, it’s nearly impossible to spin the ball. If your ball is in the fairway or a very, very short cut of rough, you can get spin. But if you’re in the deep stuff or fescue grass, forget about it.
The final thing to consider is the green conditions. If the greens are firm (not speed wise, but firm as in hard), spin is very difficult to achieve. But if the greens are soft and receptive, you’re much more likely to get spin.
Related: Wedge Distance Chart
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Set Yourself Up For Spin
Once you have a wedge with clean grooves, a full shot, a good lie, and receptive greens, then you can make it happen.
So how do you actually create backspin?
Remember, golf is a game of opposites. Aim right so you can hit it left. Hit down on the ball so that you can get it airborne.
The same goes with backspin to an extent; to create spin on the golf ball, you need to hit down and through the shot. Your divot should start at the ball and go ahead of the golf ball.
As Ernie Els said in Golf Digest, “The good kind of spin — backspin — comes from hitting the ball cleanly, then making a divot after impact. The biggest mistake is trying to pinch down on the ball and ripping out a big divot, often hitting the ground before the ball. You’ll dig up some turf, but you won’t create much backspin.”
To create more spin, follow these steps with your sand or lob wedge.
Correct Ball Position
One of the most important things to do to create spin is having the proper ball position at setup.
A wedge should be in the middle of your stance, not in the back.
One of the biggest mistakes amateurs make is putting the ball in the middle-back or back part of their stance to hit down on it. But this leads to a very choppy swing that will create a fat shot, not one with spin. Also, too far forward in your stance and it won’t work either, as it’s harder to hit down on it enough.
Hands in a Neutral Position
To get spin you need to make sure you don’t forward press the club.
When your hands get too far ahead of the ball, it’s nearly impossible to hit it with the right angle for spin. Instead, start at a neutral position with your hands, so the shaft angle promotes spin.
Keep Your Speed Up
To generate backspin you must swing with speed.
One of my favorite coaches once said, “Speed equals spin.” If you don’t have enough speed with your swing, you won’t have enough momentum to create spin.
Ernie Els said in the same Golf Digest article mentioned above, “To really put stop on it, take one less club, so you’re making a more aggressive swing. With a steep angle of attack, hit the ball while keeping your hands and wrists firm. Your divot should be a shallow scrape pointing straight at the target — not a worker’s trench.”
If you take less club you’ll have to swing harder and thus, create more spin. Taking more club is better when you want to hit a knockdown shot vs. one that has a ton of spin.
Ultimately, these steps should lead to hitting a wedge that hits the green and stops or spins backward.
Other Factors For Backspin
Here are a few other cases that might affect if you get backspin or not:
- Wind. If you’re playing downwind, spinning the ball is nearly impossible, even the best players. When you have a tailwind, the ball is much more likely to skip forward than spin backward, even with a wedge. But if you’re hitting into the wind it’s much easier for the ball to hit and stop. The wind direction will impact spin both full shots and even pitch shots too.
- Golf ball. Your golf ball also plays a big factor if you can get spin or not. Softer golf balls yield more spin than harder golf balls. If you’ve done all the steps and still not getting spin, I suggest testing out different balls with lower compression as well. Test them out for both full and short game shots to make sure it will help your game. Using a golf ball selector tool can help as well.
- Wet conditions. You need dry surfaces to create spin. If you’re playing in wet conditions and there is water on your face or the ball, creating much spin is unlikely. This is why it’s so important to wipe off your club before every shot in winter conditions. Don’t forget to dry your ball on the greens too as water can impact the quality of your putt too.
- Turf conditions. You also need the turf to have the right firmness for spin as well. If it’s rock hard, it’s hard to get a divot and create spin, too. When the golf course is soft during winter conditions, it’s much easier to produce backspin. But sometimes it’s so soft that it’s hard to control the spin and a better idea is to hit more of a knockdown shot.
Top Questions About Spin
Want to learn even more about creating backspin in golf? Keep scrolling through the top questions and answers below.
How do you put backspin on a golf ball with a wedge?
Follow the tips above and make sure your wedges aren’t worn down. Your equipment plays a big role in having the ability to spin the golf ball.
How do you hit backspin with irons?
You won’t get as much backspin with irons as you will with wedges unless you’re playing very soft greens. Ideally, you want to have your iron hit, bounce once, and stop.
This is much more reliable than an iron that hits on the green and spins backward as it’s much harder to control. This is why so many professional golfers hit a lot of knockdown shots vs. full swing, hard irons that produce more spin.
How do I increase the spin on my golf club?
One of the easiest ways to create more spin is to make sure your grooves are cleaned. A Golf.com article referenced how Dustin Johnson cleans his grooves after every shot when warming up. This allows him to calibrate his swing and make sure the launch monitor numbers are spot on.
As the article said, “If the grooves are caked with dirt, it’s almost a guarantee his spin numbers would be all over the place, even if he was making a nearly identical swing.”
This is why it’s so important to clean the grooves of your clubs between shots… especially with wedges. If you have dirt and sand in your grooves, it’s going to be nearly impossible to create consistent spin.
How do you put backspin on a pitch shot?
You need a lot of things working in your favor to hit a pitch shot with spin. First, you need a clean lie first and foremost so you can get the club on the ball.
You also need the right green conditions. If they’re too firm the ball will hit and release. But if they’re soft enough you can hit it and stop.
Most importantly, you need plenty of speed to create spin and have the ball land softly.
Does wedge bounce affect spin?
Yes, the bounce can factor into how much backspin you create but not a huge amount. Bounce is more important to create better contact, which in turn helps produce more spin.
For example, if you play firm, hard golf courses you need less bounce on the club. But if you play soft conditions and/or a lot of wet rounds, you need more bounce on your wedges. Ideally, it’s a good idea to have a low, mid, and high bounce wedge for any conditions you might face.
What wedges spin the most?
Newer wedges – like the Callaway Jaws or the Titleist Vokey – spin a ton. All new wedges have fresh, deep grooves which make it easier to spin the ball.
This is why it’s a good idea to replace your wedges more frequently than your irons or woods. Especially your lob wedge (or sand wedge) – whichever you use most in practice. Since range balls are hard, they wear down the grooves much faster than a normal golf ball.
How often you might ask? Here’s what Titleist said, “Wedges may look fine, but may not be delivering maximum spin. You should inspect your wedges for groove wear every 60–70 rounds. Start by inspecting the overall physical condition of the wedge and groove.”
This YouTube video also does a great job showing how much a difference new wedge grooves can make.
As you can tell, there are a lot of factors that go into getting backspin. But, as I’m sure you noticed, not a lot of them are in your control. Most of them depend on the lie, the course conditions, and weather.
The things you can control in your quest to get backspin are:
- Ball position.
- Swing speed.
- Approach shot distance.
- Type of golf ball that you use.
Even if you don’t get 5–10 feet of backspin, that’s okay.
Having a shot that can hit and stop pretty much in its divot is just as beneficial (if not more beneficial). Too much spin can lead to sucking it off the green and leaving yourself a chip instead of a birdie putt.
Do you consistently get spin on your golf ball? If so, what wedge do you like to use the most?
Let us know in the comments below!