Who isn’t amazed at the ability of the men and women tour players to stop the ball on the green? Without question, elite players can generate more backspin first, because of their swing technique. When a slight downward angle of attack, when the face is dead square to the swing path, when the wrist cock angle is unhinged very late and when the clubface able to contacts the ball first before driving into the turf, more friction is generated between the ball and the clubface and more backspin will occur.
Unfortunately, not all of us can master these very precise, simultaneous swing movements to get more spin from our swing technique.
From an equipment standpoint, there most definitely are wedges which are manufactured with differences in the surface of the clubface and differences in the scorelines which can generate more backspin, even in the hands of a less skilled golfer. What actually causes backspin form the standpoint of the clubhead?
First and foremost, anything done to the face of the club that increases the friction between the clubface and the surface of the ball will increase backspin, no matter what your swing technique.
Number one is how rough is the flat area on the clubface in between the scorelines? Wedges made with a milled face create more friction than wedges without face milling. Wedges which are heavily sand blasted will create more friction than wedges with a smoother face treatment or wedges which are old, worn and used. Before 1990, the faces of most irons and wedges were sand blasted with aluminum oxide sand. Since then the industry changed to silicon glass bead blasting because it looked cleaner and more “pretty”. Bead blast faces simply are not as rough as were the old aluminum oxide sand blasted faces. So unless the face is milled, modern irons and wedges with glass bead blasted faces will not spin the ball as much as will wedges blasted with aluminum oxide sand.
If you have cast stainless wedges and you have a friend with sand blast equipment, tape off the areas of the head not to be blasted and have your friend do a fresh blast with aluminum oxide sand. You won’t believe the difference you’ll experience in spin. If you play a lot of golf, get him to re-blast the faces every 4 months because face blasting wears down quickly from hitting balls.
Second to the roughness of the flat area between grooves is the sharpness of the top scoreline edge as well as the number of scorelines on the face. Unfortunately, the USGA/R&A have a rule which limits how sharp the edges of scorelines can be. And clever that they are, this limit for groove edge sharpness has been changed to be very, well, UN sharp. Much more rounded in other words.
But it still is legal in the rules to change the width and the spacing of scorelines so that you can design a wedge with more scorelines on the face. What that can mean is more top edges of more lines in contact with the surface of the ball.
This is precisely why I designed the Micro-Groove™ scorelines for my company’s wedges. Normal scorelines are 0.8mm wide and spaced apart by either 2.6mm or 2.8mm. Do that and you get the edges of 3 scorelines on the surface of the ball at impact. But the rules allow us to make each line more narrow. In addition, the rules say the spacing between lines cannot be less than 3 times the width of the lines.
The Micro-Groove scorelines I designed are 0.6mm wide and spaced 2.1mm apart. What that does is put the edges of 5 lines in contact with the surface of the ball at impact. And that slightly increases the friction between the face and the ball, which in turn means a little more spin.
Bottom line – if you want more spin, use milled face wedges first. Use heavily SAND blasting on the face second, and third, use a more narrow, closer spaced scoreline design. Do that and you will spin the ball to the maximum extent your swing technique will allow.