Optimizing Spin For Better Accuracy
By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
The spin rate of a golf shot is what determines how high or low a golf ball will fly. Too much spin and the ball goes too high (and often not as far), whereas not enough spin will cause the ball’s trajectory to be too low, resulting in minimal carry and overall distance.
Optimizing the spin rate on your golf shots is the key to maximizing the distance you get off the tee with your driver and from the fairway with your irons. Measuring the spin rate of a golf ball is an integral aspect of a custom club fitting, as well as the overall game improvement process. After all, longer drives often result in shorter approach shots, which often produce more makable birdie putts - the game of golf is a process, and though we never perfect it, we also never stop trying.
There was a time, however, when this philosophy wasn’t necessarily true for most golfers in the U.S. As Labor Day arrived and the football season kicked off, many of us would stash our clubs in the garage or corner closet, longing for the game we love by December, and absolutely chomping at the bit by spring. At that point, we just wanted to play - fittings, the practice range, and the idea of perfecting our game took a back seat to simply getting on the course with our buddies.
Thankfully, technology has changed all that. Golf is now a year-round endeavor no matter where you live in America. Too hot in Dallas? Take it inside. Snowing in New York? Take it inside. Raining in Seattle, and when isn’t it raining in Seattle? Take it inside!
Launch monitors and indoor golf simulators provide valuable data on many aspects of the golf swing. In fact, millions of dollars of golf equipment are sold each year based on the information provided by launch monitors. Spin rate specifically is a key factor in this analysis. A ball trajectory that is too high will land softly and with no roll. Where this is usually advantageous on approach shots, it’s detrimental off the tee. Consequently, too little height on a drive will cause it to almost fall out of the sky, reducing the pivotal carry distance we strive for off the tee. Sure, you’ll get some roll, but this is not ideal when a forced carry presents itself.
So, what causes this conundrum? Well, there are many factors involved:
- Type of golf ball used - hard or soft, two-piece, three-piece, or even four-piece;
- Golf club specifications - loft of the club head, flex of the shaft;
- Height of the tee - this equates to the quality of contact;
- The swing itself - the angle of approach, swing speed, face angle at impact, and swing path.
The club speed and ball speed are crucial numbers to attain. They give you your smash factor, calculated by dividing ball speed by club speed. This is the amount of energy delivered from the club head at impact to the golf ball. A result around 1.50 is optimal on driver shots. This affects your spin rate.
As you can see, launch monitors have literally created a new way of optimizing the equipment used by golfers and the swing they apply. Just a few decades ago, we looked solely at what the ball did on impact - how far, in what direction, how high or low? It may be cliche to say that technology has changed the game of golf…but there’s no denying the truth in that statement.
Playing with the proper equipment is vital in taking the next step in your game. You need a shaft geared toward your swing speed. A shaft that is not stiff enough will either result in lag on the downswing or the clubhead getting ahead of your hands, both resulting in dispersion that will leave you in the left rough on one hole and the right side bunker on the next.
Too stiff a shaft will minimize this dispersion, while also greatly reducing the distance attained on your golf shots. Which side of the fence would you prefer? How about right in the middle? Getting a shaft that meets your swing speed will eliminate both of these issues from an equipment perspective and help deliver the optimal spin rate. From there, you can address that golf swing of yours.
A square face and swing path that goes to your target will result in a straight golf shot. That is very much easier said (or written) than done. You see them on the range all the time - slice, slice, slice. If this is you, your swing path is approaching the golf ball from the outside, cutting across it at impact, and imparting side spin that causes the all-too-familiar left-to-right ball flight for righties. Getting with a skilled PGA Professional coach will reduce this tendency, and considering the new, custom-fit equipment you’re now playing with, you should see better numbers from the launch monitor and better scores on the golf course.
If you’re a die-hard golfer, you owe it to yourself to experience a professional custom club fitting and see the capabilities of today’s launch monitors firsthand. You’ll discuss aspects of equipment you never even considered and numbers you didn’t know existed. This process and the data that launch monitors provide will open your eyes to just how intricate and precise this game can be.
Are you considering a launch monitor for your home or personal range sessions? The prices vary, as do many of the capabilities. Do your homework. Contact The Indoor Golf Shop’s sales and service professionals, who will help guide you through the process.
Ask your friends. After all, any golfer who’s gone all-in on technology will tell you that it’s changed the way they practice - more with a purpose than ever before. No more beating balls endlessly hoping for that perfect golf swing to magically “kick in.”