Guide to Draw and Fade Golf Shots
The hardest shot to hit in golf is a straight ball. To produce a perfectly straight shot, the club must be swung exactly down the line of flight towards the target, and the club face must be perfectly square when it strikes the golf ball. That is a lot to ask a golfer to repeat time after time. That is why when a pro is asked what “type” of shot he or she prefers you rarely hear “straight shot” as the answer. Instead, professional golfers talk about which way they prefer to shape their shots.
Golf Draw vs. Fade
A fade is intentionally shaping the golf shot to move in a left-to-right direction. Players who favor a fade will aim to the left of the target and play for the ball to move back to center. A fade not properly controlled is a slice. A draw moves the ball from right to left, and when it draws too much, it is called a hook.
Top players usually prefer to shape their shots from left to right. As Lee Trevino once famously said, “You can talk to a fade, but a hook won’t listen.” He was referring to a fade being easier to control and more conducive to scoring. A poorly struck fade will typically fall short and right, catching the rough or a frontside bunker on most golf holes but is still playable. When a planned draw becomes a hook, however, the ball runs energetically off to the left, often into dire circumstances.
How to Hit a Fade
With all other things being equal in a golf swing, a player can generate a fade in one or two ways.
First, the swing path can be slightly from outside going back to inside coming through the golf ball. This is achieved through an “upright swing plane.” Often the easiest way for a golfer to produce this action is to stand closer to the golf ball at address. Standing “taller” to the ball forces the club back in a steeper plane. Taller players will often have a natural fade.
The second way to deliver a left-to-right shot is to strike the golf ball with an open club face. This is easily done by having the golf club face slightly open (the toe set back from the ball) at address. A properly executed swing will return the club head to the same position at impact and generate the needed left-to-right spin.
How to Hit a Draw
As one can imagine, hitting a draw involves doing things exactly opposite of planning for a fade.
Instead of a steep swing plane, the golfer wants to attack the ball on a shallow plane from inside and then swing out. For baseball players, it is the same feeling as trying to drive the ball to the opposite field.
To set up for a draw at address, stand further away from the ball. This produces a “flatter” swing plane making it easier to swing inside to out. Swinging “from the inside” will produce a more powerful strike of the golf ball which also tends to magnify poor results.
The shot will also draw if it is struck with a closed club face, or the toe is in front of the golf ball. A closed face produces a lower ball flight than the open face used for a fade so the shot will run more upon landing.
When setting up for a fade, the ball is placed further forward in the stance; with a draw, the ball is more towards the back foot. A riskier way to produce a draw is to get the ball to move right to left by using wrist action. This is a move again familiar to baseball players who try to pull the pitch by turning the right hand over the left at impact. When timed perfectly, this action generates powerful golf shots, but it is extremely hard to produce consistently shot after shot. In golf, the foul balls must be played.
Is It Better to Play a Draw or a Fade?
In general, players that need extra distance are better off playing a draw for the extra roll that such a shot produces. Players who hit the ball longer distances will often opt for the fade since it is the easier shot to control. A term often heard by long drivers of the golf ball is “power fade” – a tee ball that flies high, long, and drops down quickly to the right.
Often golfers will favor playing a draw or a fade simply by the way “it fits the eye.” Players who can shape the ball right or left will prefer the way one or the other looks in flight.
Regardless of skill level, a golfer will want to choose the ball flight that will be the go-to shot when needed. Having confidence in being able to hit your shot – be it a draw or a fade – will lead to more success on the golf course.
One way to help hit fades or draws is to have equipment suited for the job. Drivers and fairway woods can both be weighted in the heads to help produce draws or fades, and shafts and club heads can be customized to favor either ball. There is no need to make the game any harder than it already is by attempting to hit a straight shot every time.
We can talk about how to properly hit fades or draws all day but it’s better explained by an expert like Phil Mickelson: