Spin Generation

The question was asked by Andrew Rice on social media and I put it up as a pole. What plays the bigger role in generating spin between the grooves and flat spot between the grooves?

When looking at spin the biggest factor is friction. That means how clean of contact there is between the wedge face and golf ball. Although spinloft matters we are just talking about what effects the spin more: face or grooves.

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Chatting with PING engineers they created a wedge with no grooves on it.  Their conclusion is that a flat wedge spins just as much as a new wedge with grooves in a dry controlled environment.  Andrew Rice had access to the wedge and hit a few shots and put the findings HERE.

Let’s take a look in a different area: Racing.  When the track is dry they use race slicks in order to get the most grip on the road.  When it starts to rain they switch tires to the tread in order to channel the moisture and get better tire to track grip.  That is where the grooves come into play on the wedge.  They help channel the debris (moisture, grass, etc) away from the surface so there can be better ball to club face interaction.

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When reading through USGA Equipment Rules there are parameters on area roughness and grooves for a wedge.  My Golf Spy Article summed it up nicely with this quote “In simple terms, square grooves would have to be further apart than ‘v’ grooves because they can channel away more grass and moisture.”  The roughness also helps channel some moisture so there is a limit on the face milling.  The last area of grooves that are regulated is the sharpness of the edges.  There needs to be a minimum of a 0.010″ radius.  This rule is due to the sharpness of the top edge in the role of generating spin.

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Conclusion is that in a lab where you can guarantee there will be no debris/moisture getting between the face and the ball then the flat surface between creates the most friction.  As golfers we all play on a golf course where the situations are always changing from morning dew to grass heights.  Even on a tight lie there still is a little grass that gets trapped between the face and the ball.  The grooves are there in order to help move the debris away form the contact spot.  The sharpness of the upper groove edge will help reduce the slippage as the ball works up the face resulting in a little more spin.

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SO if you are looking to create maximum spin make sure your lie is dry, tight, and you are using a new wedge and premium golf ball.  Take a look at a warn wedge compared to a new wedge below.  You can see how smooth the surface is which would result in more friction and also how sharp the grooves are in order for the upper edge to add a little additional grip.

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One last note is that companies are starting to come out with new finishes and coatings.  This helps the moisture move off the face faster like a fresh wax on your cars paint.  PING released their Glide 3.0 wedge with Hydropearl and tests are coming out with significant results. See image below from TXG’s  Moisture Test Video

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Do yourself a favor and go test your current wedge.  See your local PGA pro and do a spin test.  Check your wedges compared to a new wedge.  First hit 3-4 balls off a small tee with your current wedge and the new wedge to guarantee a clean strike between face and ball.  Next repeat the same process and add a little moisture to the ball and the club face.  Finally hit a few off the turf.  The numbers should speak for themselves.  I like to replace my most used wedge once a year due to practice and play with the other wedges being replaced every 2-3 years.  Depending on your playing and practice habits that might change for you.

Playing from the SAND

There are different options in the sand. Bunkers require club speed, loft, and entry point control.  The main 2 shots are either from a fairway bunker where you are looking to get out and go a distance or from the green side bunker where you are looking for higher, softer, and shorter distance.  For the fairway bunker you are looking to have the club collide with the ball first just like off the fairway.  That way the energy is transmitted to the ball without any interference.  As for the green side bunker the club enters the sand first and the sand transmits the energy to the ball so there is a loss of energy.  This is similar to the rough where the ball comes out slower.  Lets take a look at a few scenarios:

Scenario 1:  Taking out the PINK box.  If you are trying to help the ball out of the bunker your club could be landing too far behind the ball.  With this the club is going through the sand then coming out before it even reaches the ball.  The club head will probably hit the top or the middle of the ball and the ball will not come out.

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Scenario 2:  Taking out the blue box.  In this situation you have to remove a lot of sand before getting to the ball.  This will need to have a lot of speed to remove that amount of sand.  Then by the time the club gets to the ball there will not be much energy or if you catch it towards the end the box the blade can come in contact with the blade.  This usually results in the ball staying in the bunker.

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Scenario 3:  Taking out the green box.  This is ideal for a green side bunker shot.  The goal is to remove a sliver of sand and have the ball be in the middle of that splash.  Think of it as a piece of toast in size and would be the same depth and length.  This would result in more predictable shots for your golfing career.  Again remember the more sand you take the more speed you need.  Also the less energy is transferred to the ball.  That means if one shot you take is 1/2″ deep and the next is 2″ deep the difference of energy transfer varies.

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Scenario 4:  Taking out the red box.  This is ideal if you are trying to advance the ball a good distance just like from the fairway.  The club will interact with the ball and the energy transfer is not slowed down by sand or grass.  If that red box was too far forward then the club head has a high potential of colliding with the middle of the ball and would result in a bladed shot or if it is higher up a topped shot.  The goal is to have the club touch the ball then the sand so the loft will get it out.

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For green side bunker shots I like the 2nd from top ball.  The white line is your target line, the grey line is your entry point, and the ball if just ahead of that.  when training draw these lines so your body does not get too open and you can have feedback from where the club entered the sand.

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Greenside Bunker

Quick Greenside Bunker Blog for today.  I drew the below image for a student today in the bunker.  The main line is where the club is entering (target is to the right of the photo).  The goal is to take a piece of toast length and depth out of the sand.  The top box was to show that portion of sand would not be there after the strike.  Then with the ball I drew a little rectangle around the ball with the ball placed in the middle of the slice of bread (rectangle).  We are not looking to dig holes and take loafs of bread out.  Moving too much sand takes too much energy and is hard to control the outcomes consistent.  So when you’re in there splash the sand out and let the ball go for the ride.  Trust the loft and your entry spot to get the job done.

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