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.

Attack Angle

This article is mostly going to cover attack angle on a stock mid range wedge.  For the YouTube clip Click Here.  In the wedge game you can get away with a low point in front of the ball, at the ball, or slightly behind which would be a club landing slightly behind the ball.  That is as long as the club is coming down like an airplane that is going to do a touch and go instead of one that is too steep and would crash.  For a stock shot it is good to have an attack angle from 4-10*.  The reason for this is to reduce the amount of interference between ball and club.  Also when you are in the rough the steeper attack angle will not have to go through as much grass as a shallower club.  Less interference will help create more friction, launch the ball lower, and increase the spin on a stock shot.

Now let’s take a look at a drill that will give you instant feedback.  Place a golf ball 1 grip behind the ball you are going to strike.  The goal is to land the club in a manner that the club will miss the back ball and not dig into the ground.  Sounds easier than it is if you are someone that has a tendency to want to try to help the ball in the air.

Below on the left is a successful attempt and the one on the right was not.  At shaft parallel to the ground you will notice that the butt of the club is closer to being over the ball on the left.  That is setting up the steepness needed.  When doing this drill or hitting my stock shot I feel as if I am going to miss the ball 2-3″ in front of the ball.

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As the club starts to release to be shallow through the turf strike the handle is now in front of the ball.

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Drawing a circle around that point you will see that the low point, where the yellow line is, varies.  On the left it is in front of the ball and on the right it is slightly behind.  If the back ball was not there I might have gotten away with the right shot.  The more grass behind the ball would have shown the club down more and more as well as reducing the amount of speed transferred to the ball.

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On the left the club is slightly pass the yellow line, or low point, and starting to travel slightly up.  The orange arrow is from where the ball started and where it is going.  You can see that on the left side of the circle the club was still traveling down and through.  A lot of golfers do not understand this and they want to try and help the ball in the air not trusting the club to do the work.

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Outside of shorter wedge shots we are looking for the left image more consistently.  The reason is that on the right the ball will be deflected too high and not out enough.  The right photo with the club arriving more vertical at the ball gets into high technique where the club actually lands behind the ball, projects it more upwards, and uses the landing angle to stop the ball instead of spin.

Also remember to change your wedges when needed, play a premium ball, and keep the grooves clean, and club face dry in order to create as much friction as possible.  I tell a lot of students that play Vokey wedges to replace their main wedge when each new model comes out which is roughly 2 years.  Their other wedges could be done every 2 cycles or 4 years or sooner if needed.

For the YouTube clip Click Here.