How to Control Backspin

By Jim Thomas
Kyle Stanley recovered from his debacle at Torrey Pines to win in Phoenix the following week.
Kyle Stanley recovered from his debacle at Torrey Pines to win in Phoenix the following week.

Controlling the backspin on your shots is extremely difficult. In fact, even PGA Tour and LPGA Tour professionals find it hard to control the backspin on their shots on a consistent basis. In 2012, for example, Kyle Stanley applied too much backspin on his wedge to the green on the 72nd hole of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, the ball sucked backward into a greenside pond, and he registered an 8 on the hole to lose a tournament that appeared to be in his hip pocket.

Alter your set-up to produce more backspin or less backspin depending on the situation you are facing. For more backspin, stand up straighter and set up a bit closer to the ball. Move the ball back in your stance as well. This set-up allows you to swing at a steeper angle and impart more spin by striking the ball before you strike the ground. To reduce backspin, widen your stance, move the ball up to a normal position, and shorten your swing. This set-up will produce a shallower swing and impart less backspin.

Practice, practice, practice and — as the old joke goes — you might get to Carnegie Hall. Or you might become a master at controlling backspin. You have to put in lots of time, experiment with different wedges to find the one that gives you the best control, and develop a feel for the types of swings you need in various situations.

Choose a golf ball with a high spin rate. Better players use high spin golf balls, specifically designed to spin more easily. A higher spin rate gives a good player a number of advantages. Drives carry longer and stop more quickly on fast and narrow fairways. Shots into the green can be launched at or beyond the pin and spin backward to your desired location. On short shots to tight pin positions, you can spin the ball and make it land softly and check up quickly.

Know your game. If you play on a casual or occasional basis, you won't be able to fine-tune backspin control. So concentrate on the shots you can hit with some consistency. Find a wedge you can hit with a degree of reliability to and around the green and note the amount of backspin you get on a normal shot. Then take into consideration where you need to land the ball to keep it on the green.

About the Author

Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.

Photo Credits

  • Christian Petersen/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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