How to Put Spin on a Golf Ball With Your Wedges
Many golfers watch PGA Tour players spin the ball with their wedges, and want to figure out how they can do the same. Executing the one-hop-stop, or spinning the ball back 15 feet certainly looks cool, but there are several reasons why they can do it, and amateurs mostly can’t. In this article, I’ll explain some key requirements so you can figure out how to put spin on a golf ball with your wedges.
Simply put, you need a number of things to align in order to put a lot of spin on the ball. The good news is that you don’t need to do it exactly like the pros.
What Are Reasonable Goals?
Before we get into how to put spin on a golf ball with your wedges, I want to set reasonable expectations.
For the majority of recreational golfers reading this article, you do not need to spin the ball like a pro to play effective golf. On longer wedge approach shots (70 – 120 yards) you simply want the ball to stop within a reasonable distance of its landing point. You don’t need to suck it back 15 feet; it’s just not necessary.
As you get closer to the hole, your goal is also to control your spin so the ball is not excessively running out. If you have less green between you and the hole this becomes even more important.
It’s All About Friction
The most important factor required for extra wedge spin is friction. This has to do with the type of equipment you are playing, turf conditions, the quality of your strike, the ball you are playing, and if there is any debris on your clubface.
I will get into all of these concepts in this article, but in order to really spin the ball with your wedges, you need to have optimal conditions. Some of these factors are within your control, and others are not.
I play with a lot of golfers who have wedges that are more than 10 years old. The faces are completely worn out and this greatly reduces your ability to spin the golf ball around the greens. This is an area that is under your control.
How often you replace your wedges is up to you. Golf is an expensive game, and it’s not reasonable to expect that you are going to swap out every 2 months for fresh grooves like the pros do. Companies like Titleist would tell you to change them every 60-75 rounds and have some data to prove that performance is affected. It really depends on the kind of wedge you are playing and the quality of the materials used. They will all wear down differently.
There is no question that as you play more golf, the grooves will start to wear down and you will spin the ball less. Will that prevent you from playing effective golf? Not completely. My wedges are currently three years old and have gotten plenty of use. I can still stop the ball reasonably well, and am not ready to shell out $400+ to replace them all (I’ve got two kids to feed!).
This video gives an interesting look at how much your spin can change; the results might be a bit extreme though.
Long story short – if you are playing with extremely old wedges you will not be able to effectively spin the ball. I think it makes sense to swap them out once you are approaching the 4-5 year mark, and playing a decent amount of golf.
The Golf Ball
The quality of the golf ball you are playing will also have a large impact on your spin rate. However, I would say this is becoming less of a factor as there are far more options available, and the quality of manufacturing has increased.
You don’t need to play a Pro V1 anymore in order to spin the ball with your wedges. There are plenty of other premium golf balls out there that will get the job done. Independent manufacturers like Snell and Vice have popped up, and are offering quality balls at lower prices.
Long story short, if you are playing a low-quality “distance ball”, it probably will affect your ability to put spin on the ball with your wedges. Playing a premium golf ball will absolutely help you get the job done.
The more debris that gets between the golf club and the ball will greatly affect the spin rate. Having a clean lie on the fairway is obviously your best chance to put the most spin on the ball. However, even then moisture and debris can still get on the face of the wedge before impact.
Sometimes the setup of the golf course is beyond your control. The courses that the pros play on TV are in absolutely perfect condition. The fairways are mowed extremely short and the greens are rolling fast and generally receptive to approach shots. This allows them to hit those zippy wedge shots.
Many times public courses will have fairways that are a little more “hairy” and greens will be much slower. No matter what you do, you won’t be sucking that wedge back 20 feet. That’s OK though! It’s not necessary.
Generally speaking, the less grass and moisture you have to deal with, the more spin you are able to generate. Once you get into the first and second cut of rough, your spin rates are going to greatly decrease because there is more grass between the clubface and the ball.
Clean Your Wedges!
This might be the most important takeaway from this article. If you want the best chance to spin the ball, you need a clean clubface.
Watch this video from Andrew Rice. It shows just how much spin rate can change when there are moisture and debris on your clubface (as well as using a premium golf ball).
Make sure you have a towel handy and a groove tool – I have this one and it works great.
Quality of Strike
If you really want to know how to put spin on a golf ball with your wedges, then you have to master the strike. All of the factors I have discussed earlier in the article play a big role, but how you are striking the golf ball is the most important.
Simply put, you need to be striking the golf ball first, and then the turf. This is where most golfers fail because they are striking the ground first, and debris and moisture will get trapped between the face and the club.
Watch this video, this is one of the best slow-mo representations of how it works:
Additionally, if you really want to spin the ball a lot, you need speed.
Clean strike + clubhead speed = more spin
If you want help with this, then I recommend checking out Adam Young’s The Strike Plan (full review here). This is the best online course I have seen that can help golfers improve their striking ability.
How to Put Spin On a Golf Ball With Your Wedges – The Recap
OK, I’ve covered a lot here. Let’s do a little recap…
In order to increase your chance of putting spin on the golf ball with your wedges you need:
- Proper turf conditions – in the fairway, and a receptive green
- Newer wedges, preferably a higher-quality build
- A premium golf ball
- Clean the clubface! There should be no debris or moisture
- Optimal strike – hitting the ball first, and then the turf. The more speed you generate, the more spin as well
All of these factors will allow you to generate more friction between the golf ball and your clubface. Some of them are within your control, and others are not. The good news is you don’t need to do all of them to play effective golf. If you take care of the easier ones and get incrementally better at improving your strike, you can have success.
Remember, you don’t need to spin it like the pros. You simply want the ball to stop within a reasonable distance of its landing point, and I believe all of you reading this are capable of that. Now you know what it takes, so the job should be a little easier!
Andrew Rice did another experiment regarding wedge spin. He had a wedge filed flat and compared with a new wedge. There was a 4% difference, if I recall, which is 10,000rpm vs 9,600rpm for instance. For a completely flat wedge! That shouldn’t affect very many people’s game.
I don’t use them anymore because I want a full matched set of wedges and I lost one along the way, but the most spin I ever got was from a set of PureSpin wedges. The ones with the diamond coated face. The two I have left must be ten years old at least and were used in many hundreds, maybe even a thousand rounds, but that diamond face can still shred the cover on the ball it has so much grip. I don’t know if they are legal now or not, or even if you can still buy them, but boy did they spin the ball. My current Mizuno’s don’t give even half as much, but I seldom see the ball go much more than a foot or two after landing unless I meant to have it run out and that’s all I want. To me, lots of pull back just complicates things. I can’t say for sure whether my wedge game is better with the wedge set change because of the reduced spin or because of the lessons I took though because both those changes occurred at the same time. But I don’t miss the PureSpins at all on the course. As an amateur who is barely a 7 handicap with a goal to drop a couple more this year, I am happy not to see all that extra spin. And happy not to destroy the surface of so many balls so quickly.