Monday, April 12, 2010

I hear alot about ball spin as it relates to driver distance. What can be done in head design to lower spin?

FROM TOM WISHON: For the vast majority of golfers who have a higher swing speed and do fight excessive spin, the reason is more in the swing characteristics that bring about that higher spin than it is in the club - at least as long as the golfer is not using a shaft and ball that both really contribute to higher spin.

From the clubhead's standpoint, there is very little that can be done to exert a significant effect on spin AND STILL KEEP THE CLUBHEAD'S DESIGN SHAPE WITHIN A RANGE THAT A GOLFER COULD STAND TO PLAY WITH.

From the head's standpoint, the only things you can do to bring about a change in spin are loft and center of gravity position. You don't really want to mess much with loft beyond about a +/-1* range from the loft that is optimum for your launch angle. At 100mph swing speed, a change of 1* in loft only changes spin by about 260rpm anyway.

CG wise, if golfers could stand to see and play with a driver that was smaller than 460cc or chopped off to the point that the face to back dimension was in the area of 60-80mm instead of the normal 125mm or so, we could push the CG much closer to the face and from that, bring about a more significant reduction in spin. But I rather think few golfers would want to play with such a radically shaped head, so we designers are not going to create it.

That leaves the shaft and the ball. Starting with the shaft, a player can experience less spin using a stiffer flex or a significantly stiffer tip shaft. But here again, at the expense of what? Using a shaft that no longer fits, no longer feels right and no longer generates the optimum launch angle for distance? No higher swing speed golfer with a decent release would ever want to use a shaft like that, and that is what it would take for the shaft to become a significant way to reduce the spin.

Which brings us to the ball. Not being a ball designer and not having done much more than cursory research in ball technology, there is no question the ball is an important way to change spin for higher swing speed players. In our robot hit testing, just as one example, we see a spin difference of a little more than 400 rpms between the ProV1 and ProV1* at a clubhead speed of 100mph. That increases as the clubhead speed increases.

Swing wise, from a ton of data we've been privy to from the folks at Trackman, the official launch monitor of the PGA and Euro Tours, we see that almost every time we see a pro with higher spin, a downward angle of attack in their swing comes with it. So if the player can deal with the work involved to change their angle of attack to be less downward moving toward slightly upward, along with that comes an automatic reduction in driver spin because they are then able to use a lower loft to achieve what becomes their optimum launch angle for max distance. And from the lower loft then comes the significant change in spin reduction.

Furthermore, 1) reducing head size to 420cc from 460cc is not enough to allow for enough of a CG movement to do anything significant for spin capability, and 2) the market of golfers out there is estimated by the industry mavens who research this sort of thing to be 98-99% polarized toward a 460cc driver and will not buy anything smaller because marketing has "convinced" them that 'bigger is better'.

So any company today that designs a smaller driver will choke on the inventory, unfortunately.

And as mentioned above, to move the CG close enough to the face that a golfer with a late release will instantly see a significant drop in spin would require that the driver head be designed so the face to back dimension would have to be at least 30% less than is average in driver shape dimensions today. And I have serious doubts as to whether there would be very many golfers who would like to look down on something like that in the playing position.

Hope this helps a little,

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