Ball Spin

By Casey BiererJanuary 29, 2008, 5:00 pm
Golf ball spin is so often misunderstood; and for good reason. It can be awfully complicated. Things like physics, geometry, applied science, aerodynamics, force creationholy smokes, my head is spinning. I thought it might be a good idea to talk to a couple of really smart guys who both know golf ball design and function inside and out.
 
Brandon Sowell is the golf ball marketing manager for Bridgestone Golf. I asked Brandon what makes a golf ball spin?
 
There are many different variables that come in to play, Brandon told me. For the most part ball spin occurs because of the club head hitting the ball, of course. Brandon continues, How a ball spins has a lot to do with the loft on the club and the swing path the clubs takes to impact the ball. Then there is the material used in the construction of the ball itself. Different covers affect spin and therefore flight.
 
OK, I get that and Im sure you do as well. Lets continue our conversation with Mike Pai, vice president of sales and marketing for Srixon. I asked Mike about what types of balls from a construction standpoint are out there and how construction affects spin.
 
There are two main types of golf balls. Multi-layer (3-piece and 4-piece balls) and 2-piece products, Mike says. The multi-layer urethane segment is favored by better players and tour players because it features a soft cover which is the primary driver of spin control with irons and around the green. Most distance only balls are 2-piece construction balls with firmer covers. Typically speaking, continues Mike, more layers offer more degrees of freedom to control performance. In other words, the ideal ball has low spin with the driver but good spin with the irons and around the greens. With more layers you are able to accomplish this by varying things like mantle layer hardness and thickness, core compression, core size, etc.
 
I asked Brandon about golf ball spin characteristics relative to too much spin or too little spin. We also talked about dimples.
 
The spin characteristics of a golf ball will greatly affect how that golf ball flies through the air, said Brandon. Too much spin will cause the ball to up-shoot and therefore fall out of the sky faster. Insufficient spin means that the ball wont get up in the air enough and so it wont fly as far either. This all ties in to the aerodynamics of the ball and the dimple design. Brandon continues, There is significant R&D that goes in to dimple design optimizing not only the shape but the depth and number of dimples as well. A lot of people believe, incorrectly, that the number of dimples equals how high or low the ball is going to fly.
 
But its really all the factors of golf ball design that determine flight. If you change one variable you can completely change the flight and spin characteristics. So you really have to look at a golf ball as a whole rather than its parts and judge performance and spin characteristics taking all the variables in to account.
 
How about firmer golf balls versus softer golf balls? Mike Pai told me, Harder ionomer covers will provide less spin off of all clubs which is why they are used primarily in distance products. Softer covers like urethane provide more spin particularly with the irons and the wedges. Because you are closer to the green, you do not compress the ball as much and therefore the material is the driving force behind how much spin you get.
 
Brandon is of the mind that angle-of-attack in to the greens should be considered carefully when choosing a golf ball. A lot of people believe they want the highest spinning ball they can find for shots hit in to the green. This is not necessarily always the case, says Brandon. You have to figure out your desired angle of approach to the green. A golf ball that has high spin characteristics can fly a little lower in to the green but just because another golf ball has a lot less spin doesnt mean it is going to have less stopping power on the greens. The ball could be coming in at a much higher angle so it can stop just as quickly as a higher spinning ball.

With a better understanding of spin, it makes sense that getting fitted for a golf ball is just as important as getting fitted properly for clubs. Getting ball fitted is one of the best things you can do these days to improve your game, says Mike Pai. Decide how much spin you need to play your greenside shots and go from there. If you play soft conditions and dont need a lot of greenside spin, then go for a lower spinning product that you are more apt to hit longer distances. If you play firmer greens or you play for spin in your short game, find a product that works for you around the greens that also gives you the distance you need off the tee.
 
Its most interesting for me to see, with our TOUR players, how testing goes and what we learn and what the players learn from testing, Brandon told me. Ill give you Charles Howell as an example. We recently signed Charles and we were testing the B330 against the B330S. To see the actual results of the testing ' to see he spun the B330 a good bit more than he spun the B330S off the tee because the B330 is a firmer compression ' to see the consistency of the results with Charles was quite amazing. His launch monitor numbers were almost identical for every swing he made. And he made a lot of swings during testing.
 
It turned out that Charles was a little surprised by the results. He had been told for some time information not really in line with what these new test results were clearly showing, Brandon said. Namely, a firmer golf ball would spin less than a softer ball. Charles was quite amazed to see the data for himself. That, in fact, a softer golf ball would spin less for him. He ended up choosing the B330S to play with and this optimized his driver performance while still giving him the feel he was looking for. The best of both worlds for a guy with his club head speed.
 
If Charles Howell III didnt have the information exactly right, what chance do we have? Well, fortunately, we have a great deal of chance. Launch monitors, like the one used to test young Master Howell, have become much more readily available to regular golfers like you and me. Many retail stores and golf courses now have sophisticated launch monitors. With a qualified fitter at the helm you can collect data that can help you choose the right type of ball for your game. By not being properly fitted ' in essence, not understanding how your ball is spinning ' could be robbing you of precious distance as well as control around the greens.
 
Finally, I asked Brandon to once and for all debunk the softer ball, harder ball spin confusion so even I could understand it. There is a tremendous amount of stress applied to the golf ball when hit by a driver swung at even medium swing speeds, Brandon told me. Most people have seen the super slow motion photography used to capture driver-on-ball impact. You see the golf ball flatten or deform. Heres the deal. The more the ball deforms, the less it is going to spin off the club face. The less it deforms, or the harder the ball is, the more spin it is going to have.
 
I think my head is spinning a little less now thanks to Brandon Sowell and Mike Pai.
 

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.