Robert Kent, CEO of House of Forged golf shafts recently stated that spin control is the number one consideration in fitting for players who want to hit longer drives.
Kent’s equipment has been tested at the highest levels of power golf and showed dominance. Justin James, the reigning world champion, and two other top 8 finalists used his products in 2017.
James used a tipped 5x xtra stiff 65 gram Ninja shaft to go over 430 yards in the finals. Swinging at speeds of nearly 150 mph, this is sometimes the strength necessary to keep the spin rate down. But this is not by any means the only factor.
For the average golfer, the location on the clubface you make contact with will overwhelm anything you do with equipment or technique. Contact point has a high correlation with handicap. In otherwords, the better the player, the more centered they tend to strike the ball.
Two spots on the clubface tend to spin higher – the bottom of the club, and the heel. Check out this Trackman report by Gary Woodland, one of the fastest swingers on the PGA Tour:
With a spin rate of almost 2700 rpms and a launch of only 9.5 degrees despite hitting up, this ball was clearly hit a bit low on the face. With say 11 or 12 launch, and 1900 spin, this drive would have gone over 340.
Toe hits, especially high toe, tend to have really low spin and roll out a long way – sometimes 50 or 60 yards!
Your swing technique can also affect your backspin. Golfers who block or slice the ball will hit with an open face which adds spin loft. I’ve seen spin get cut IN HALF when a block or slice is corrected.
And your equipment has a big say in how much backspin you put on a drive. Both shafts and clubheads vary greatly in the way they are designed and engineered – so you’ll have to do your homework on which shaft and head combination is good for your swing speed and other variables.
Kent believes that most golfers who start swinging faster than the 92 mph average spin the ball too much. It climbs to a high apex, and drops steeply down, causing the ball to roll very little. He says at the this point they should seek out custom fit shafts, especially higher quality models.
So how much spin is the right amount? This is an unanswerable question without knowing more about your launch conditions. If you launch it higher, you will need less. If you hit down on the ball with your driver, you will need more backspin to keep the ball aloft a bit longer.
The killer combination for great distance is high launch low spin. The difference in yardage for all swing speeds in simply astounding. I had a student go 178 yards this week with only 72 mph clubhead speed. This is quite efficient!
The best way to know if you have the right spin is either having a great eye for the right ball flight, or getting on a Trackman launch monitor near you and hitting some drives. One session could lead to 30 more yards off the tee for you.