Golf fans love backspin…to a fault of their golf knowledge

During a round in a Nationwide Tour event in Mississippi several years ago, I had crowd reactions on consecutive holes really crack me up.

The first was on a very long and difficult par 5 that few were reaching in two. There were several hundred people behind the green when I was hitting my second shot. There was water near the green and I had about 240-250. I hit one of the best 2-irons of my life right at the pin. I saw the ball land on the green to a very modest smattering of applause. I squinted, looked at my caddy and asked him if it went just over the green.

We got up there and the ball was about 2 or 3 feet from the pin and I was greeted by another modest smattering of applause. I looked at the gallery and said, “Tough crowd. Did I need to hole this to get a cheer?” They laughed, I made the eagle putt and got a huge cheer, as per my previous request.

The next hole was a short par 4 where you lay up with an iron and have 100 or so yards into the green. Again, there was a few hundred people parked behind the green (different group of people). It was a very sloped green that went diagonally from front left to back right and the slope went from back right to front left. The pin was in the back right and the ball in the fairway was above my feet, so I was going to aim behind and right of the flag and let the spin bring it in.

Well, I hit a terrible shot. I pulled it and the ball landed about 10 feet left of the hole, with lots of hook spin and the ball spun back 40-50 feet all the way down to the left front part of the green.

The crowd went wild as if Tiger had just holed a 30 footer on the 72nd green at Bay Hill.

I laughed both before and after I 3-putted for bogey. The gallery from that green followed me to the next tee and I asked someone about what had transpired the previous two holes.’

Here is the answer I got…

“All of us have hit balls two feet from the hole before, none of us have ever spun a ball back 50 feet.”

There you have it…and this is applicable because golfers focus on the wrong thing being impressive.

The majority of golf fans and golf swing aficionados love Segio’s lag, but hate the “powerless” swing of Steve Stricker.

The irony is exactly ZERO fans of golf could copy Sergio’s lag and not shank or chunk the ball, while upwards of 90% would shoot par if they could copy Stricker’s swing.




  1. Calvin

    I guess everybody is different. I like to see them come in tight to the pin and stick right there whether they hop forward or spin back a little. I used to love watching Trevino bank shots off mounds left or right of the green that kicked back to the hole. He did that a lot and I always wondered if he got lucky a lot with missed shots.

  2. bobs34


    Different subject but I wanted to ask you what you think about effort/tension in the golf swing; How much is there & where is it focused to hit the long ball? Here’s why I ask, The last couple of range sessions, I’ve gone back to something you mentioned before about hacks hitting thier short irons almost as far as you do. I started working on just smoothing short irons for consistancy and accuracy and in doing so, I started hitting the ball much much further and more consistently. My 9 iron has gone from 135 to 155. I had a hard time trusting this becuase it feels effortless. I couldn’t reconcile effortless in my mind until I relaized effortless isn’t the right word to describe it for me. But what it really is, is absolutely tension free. Good posture at setup, no grip pressure & the movement to get the club back has no tension. It’s more of a move to get the club to the top than a back swing. I’m not trying to get into any hugely coiled position and the downswing is simply enough effort to cock my head down and then around as if I were going to turn and look up at the sun behind me. So having said all that, how would you describe your feelings of effort and / or tension? Thanks in advance.


    • Monte Scheinblum

      I call it excess tension. You need some tension, but not too much.

      Most people associate speed with gabbing it with the hands and arms, that shuts off rotation and forces you to slow down through the hitting zone.

      What people call smooth is usually hitting the ball with the rotation of the body.

      • woody

        Your REPLY is solid gold.

        So, for the first time in world history, I am going to unveil the B-Factor.

        I can see two ways to cause rotation. 1) your torso–that ignored vast wasteland between the hips & shoulders (your torso turns both, as well as your leg). 2) the B-Factor…Buns (which also turn shoulders because they’re on top, like riding a merry-go-round).

        The bun is the most massive muscle in the body, and it is a hip rotator, in conjunction with right leg (for a right-hander).

        Good golfers must be using the B-Factor–otherwise then wouldn’t ALL end up in Roger Frederick’s “Two Cheek Position.”

        Use the T-Factor and the B-Factor with some coordination (hopefully with a different swing-thought) and it might actually work.

      • bobs34

        Yeah, I guess that covers it. I have been using enough tension to swing a samll sledge hammer. That’s obviously too much. Another thing you helped with from a previous article although I implement it differently, is your thought on grip tension. If I remember right, you want constant grip pressure throughout the swing so you didn’t want people to grip too lightly to begin with. However, I form my hands around the club like I’m shaking hands with a woman. If I get to the top and all the sudden I’m shaking hands with a man, I’ve added too much tension. I like the idea of just continuing to shake the hand of the woman so I’m not shutting off any rotation 😉

      • Calvin

        Woody, what about Mickleson who doesn’t reach the two-cheek position?

  3. woody

    Ah, exactly what is it that Stricker is/isn’t doing…that Sergio does/doesn’t? (Stricker) (Sergio)

    Maybe it’s just me, but I see them doing the same thing. They’re simply different people, and maybe it’s like handwriting–it’s very diffifult to pin down what people do differently to make the same shape letter. In golf, a person’s type of build, relative length of arms…and other factors combine to make the same thing look different, and individualistic.

    Sergio’s average drive is 299, Stricker’s is 289. I don’t see Stricker being short. (Brian Gay is 269.)

    Quote from Moe Norman: “I don’t want backspin on any shot; nobody can judge backspin.” That might have held true for most shots, but I’m sure he could spin it when called for…he just didn’t want that as his go-to shot.

    I believe Nicklaus said virtually the same thing…and I can’t remember Jack putting “impressive” spin on approaches.

    • Monte Scheinblum

      We have a winner.

      People think they need to force the action in a golf swing…that is what modern golf teaching is all about.

    • Calvin

      I see what you mean. When you watch him live it seems like his hips stop on a diagonal.

      • woody

        I know what you mean, Calvin. And, that ain’t a bad thing. Check out Bobby Jones, hitting 280 with equipment that we would consider utter crap. (B. Jones, face-on)

        From that angle, his hips do seem to stop as the upper body is coming into impact. I’m guessing that there are perhaps 3 things involved. Since this is my Moe Norman year, I’ll quote him.

        1) Moe said, “They play on top of their legs; I play into my leg.” I think that means that the arms won’t fly out if the lower body is spinning.

        2) Moe also said, “I’m not spinning.” I think he meant that his hips weren’t spinning.

        3) And there’s probably some merit to the saying, “Don’t get all the way to the left side too soon.” Let the post-impact follow-through be responsible for some of the “weight-shift,” …and that way you can get some, uh, B-factor.

  4. woody

    Is two-cheek position a universal? I’m not a fan of Roger Fredericks, and don’t necessarily endorse anything else he says…but I think he’s got something. (But, he didn’t tell anyone why it happens.)
    #3 Roger Fredericks Two Cheek Position.

    I guessing that for a right-hander, the right leg-bun facilitates the rotation.


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