Wedge Backspin – Create Backspin with Micro-Groove Wedge
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 chiefly because of their swing technique. From a slight downward angle of attack with the face dead square to the swing path with a very late wrist-cock angle that is unhinged very late to allow the clubface to contact 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 friction and from it, more backspin, even in the hands of a less skilled golfer. But what actually enhances backspin from the standpoint of the clubhead?
First and foremost, any feature 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 the roughness of 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 less aggressive face blast 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 in the normal course of their manufacture. Since then the industry changed to silicon glass bead blasting because it looks cleaner and cosmetically more appealing. Glass 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 investment cast stainless wedges and you have a friend with sand blast equipment, mask off the areas of the head not to be blasted with vinyl tape 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, especially from hitting shots from a sand bunker.
Second to the roughness of the flat area between grooves is the sharpness of the top scoreline edge coupled with the number of scorelines on the face. To combat this, 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 was changed in 2010 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 to design a wedge with more scorelines on the face. What that can mean is the top edges of more scorelines can be in contact with the surface of the ball to add to the major friction of the flat areas between grooves to enhance spin.
This is precisely the design concept behind the Micro-Groove™ scorelines on various Wishon Golf wedges created over the years. Normal scorelines are 0.8mm to 0.035” wide and most commonly separated by a dimension of either 2.6mm or 2.8mm (0.10” to 0.11”). With such common scoreline specs the top edges of 3 scorelines will be in contact with the surface of the ball at impact. But the rules of golf allow us to design each scoreline to be more narrow than the traditional 0.8mm to 0.035”. In addition, the rules say the spacing between lines cannot be less than 3 times the width of the lines.
The Micro-Groove scorelines are 0.6mm (0.024”) wide and spaced 2.1mm (0.083”) apart. The more narrow closer together Micro-Groove scorelines puts the edges of 5 lines in contact with the surface of the ball at impact. That increase in top edge line contact with the surface of the ball 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, first consider using milled face wedges. Second, use aluminum oxide sand blasting on the face, and third, use a more narrow, closer spaced scoreline design such as our Micro-Groove scorelines. Do that and you will spin the ball to the maximum extent your swing technique will allow.
Thanks- I was asking if you thought that the rules from the usga allowed a greater number of dots and therefore a larger percentage of top edge component than it does for grooves? And it seems it allows the dots to be deeper.. It also seems to me that from a physics standpoint, the strike to the ball is not directly horizontal or sirectly vertical and that the channel of water on the face would be more efficient if they we at an oblique angle. It even seems that one time a company made such a groove pattern- weird looking… Read more »
RICHARD Sorry for the delay in responding. I’m the only person here who handles these questions to our website and I was gone from Oct 17-24. No, the actual area of the dots that could be an edge to create friction with the ball is quite small because of the USGA restriction on the dot diameter. And with there being spaces between dots, it is much more possible to hit a shot in which the dot edges are just not in contact with the surface of the ball anywhere near as surely as with a continuous line groove. But so… Read more »
Thanks for the information. What size aluminum oxide is optimum for sandblasting of the face as you suggested.
Second- although the dot pattern as performed creates less surface area of top edge – as I read the rule- technically there could be more that the grooves if one was to manufacture it that way– do I read it correctly?
RICHARD There are a ton of different grits of AL OX sand for blasting. Typical would be 180 grit shot at 90-100psi. Then see how you like the reaction of the shots hit with the club. On your second point, I am sorry but I don’t think I really understand what you are asking about – by dot are you asking about scoring patterns that use dots in the face? Or are you talking about the pattern of the sand blasting on the face? If you are asking about dot patterns on the face, there are most certainly USGA rules… Read more »
what wedge do i buy (60 degrees) to enjoy this back spin, do you make one?
JAMES All of our custom designs are available as custom fit for each golfer through certain custom clubmakers around the country and internationally as well. To find a clubmaker near you with whom you can work to be fit into any of our designs, go to our home page at wishongolf.com and right in the middle of the home page, click on the FIND A CLUBFITTER search tool. Input your location there and if we have any clubmakers in your immediate area, they will come up from the search. The clubmakers are all independent businessmen so you can contact them… Read more »
Hi all, Firstly can I say I have used the PCF micro tour wedges for the past 6 months and they are incredible. I play in alot of nation R&A events and this sparked me to check if these wedges conformed to R&A standards. I am sharing the reply i received from the R&A as is may be of use to future buyers. Thanks Dear Ross Thanks for sending through this image – which looks as if it is copied from the catalogue. Can I ask if you already have these wedges in hand? Or, is your query pre-purchase? Basically,… Read more »
What do milling marks left on the face actually do? I recently demoed a set of Taylor Made irons that had visible face milling left on. After purchasing and receiving the production irons do not have the visible milling marks anymore. They are claiming to have polished off the milling marks for a cleaner look. Does this make sense to you and will I notice any affect of NOT having the mill marks left on the face?
JAY Face milling is done to increase the friction between the flat areas between grooves and the surface of the ball. Spin is all about friction between the face and ball. The more friction between the face and ball, the higher the spin rpms will be for any golfer. The top edge of the grooves themselves do contribute a little to this but not nearly as much as aggressive face milling because the area in between the grooves is so much wider than the top edges of the grooves. That means more friction which means more spin. But today there… Read more »
Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I will certainly return.
Thanks very much for your kind comments. Much appreciated. Whether through our books, website or blog, we try very hard to share what I have learned in the 35+ yrs of research and experience in clubhead design, shaft design and fitting research because we believe it to be very important to offer the facts of what we have learned and know in this field.
Interesting topic! Thanks for sharing this information! “Wedge Backspin – Create Backspin with Micro-Groove Wedge” – interesting title Tom. Nice work Tom.
Thank you much for the kind words. We’re simply committed to trying to get the most truthful and helpful information about golf club performance out there to combat the loads of misinformation that abounds.
Thank you for this great article.
What do you think about dot pattern?
Theoretically, a dot only face scoring pattern could open the door to a tiny bit more spin than a line pattern, but you’d want to be a very straight hitter off the tee to take advantage of it. First of all, with dots, you leave a greater surface area of the face in a flat condition. On a dot pattern face, if you made all the flat face area with a strong milling and heavy sand blast, you’d have a little more flat surface area to contact the surface of the ball. More friction between face and ball means more… Read more »
Glad you brought it up. It has been maintained by some that all the spin from a wedge comes from the direct contact by the ball with the flat surface of the club, and not from the effect of “grooves” or scorelines. This theory maintains that the function of the grooves is to provide spaces for moisture and grass to be channeled away from the club face to increase the quality of contact between the ball and the club face. Your article contradicts that theory. Can you elaborate more on the purpose and effect of the grooves.
Dale: It was the USGA’s exhaustive study on scorelines in 2007-2009 that it was found that the TOP EDGE of the scorelines had an effect on spin, to contribute to the majority of the spin coming from the roughness of the flat area between the lines. While I definitely did disagree with the outcome of the USGA’s study, that being the new groove rule of 2010, their study itself was well done from a scientific study standpoint. So the data I saw from their study did to me verify that the sharpness of the top edge of the scorelines in… Read more »