Golf is a game of precision, skill, and understanding. One of the most intricate aspects of the sport is the ability to shape shots. The two most common shot shapes that golfers talk about are the draw vs fade, but they end up hitting the hook and the slice =)
But both the draw and fade shots have their advantages and purposes on the golf course. In this article, we will delve into the nuances of the draw vs fade, their mechanics, and when to use them.
What is a Draw?
A draw is a type of golf shot that curves gently from right to left for a right-handed golfer. For a left-handed golfer, the curve goes from left to right. It’s one of the most sought-after ball flights for skilled players, as it often results in added distance and can be used strategically to navigate the golf course.
Characteristics of a Draw:
- The ball starts to the right of the target (for right-handers) and then curves back to the left to finish on or near the target line.
- It generally travels farther than a fade because of the topspin and reduced air resistance.
- Draws often have a penetrating ball flight.
What is a Fade?
A fade is the opposite of a draw. For a right-handed golfer, a fade curves from left to right, and for a left-handed player, it curves from right to left.
Characteristics of a Fade:
- For a right-handed golfer, the ball starts left of the target and gently curves back to the right, ideally finishing on or near the target line.
- Fades generally have a higher trajectory than draws.
- They tend to stop quicker on the greens due to their descending angle of attack and spin characteristics.
How To Hit A Draw Shot?
- Grip: Strengthen your grip slightly. This means turning both of your hands slightly to the right (for right-handed golfers) on the club handle.
- Stance: Aim your feet, hips, and shoulders slightly to the right of the target (this is called “closing” your stance).
- Clubface: While your body is aimed to the right, position the clubface so it’s aiming slightly to the right of the target, but left of your stance.
- Swing Path:
- Backswing: As you take the club back, try to keep the club on the inside of the target line.
- Downswing: When coming down, ensure that the clubhead approaches the ball from an inside-to-outside path relative to the target line.
- The clubface should be closed relative to the swing path but slightly open to the target line at the moment of impact. This combination will impart the right-to-left spin (for right-handed golfers) required for a draw.
- Visualizing the desired ball flight can be a big help. Imagine the ball starting to the right of your target and drawing back towards it.
How To Hit A Fade Shot?
- Grip: Consider a neutral or slightly weaker grip. This means turning both of your hands slightly to the left (for right-handed golfers) on the club handle.
- Stance: Open your stance by aiming your feet, hips, and shoulders slightly to the left of the target.
- Clubface: Position the clubface so it’s aiming between the line of your stance and the target line. This means the clubface should be slightly open relative to your stance but closed (or square) to the target.
- Swing Path:
- Backswing & Downswing: Your swing path should follow the direction your body is aligned (slightly left for right-handed golfers). This will generally produce an outside-to-inside swing path relative to the target line.
- At impact, the clubface should make contact with the ball while slightly open relative to the swing path but closed to the target line. This imparts the left-to-right spin required for a fade.
- Again visualizing the desired shot shape can aid execution. Imagine the ball starting left of your target and fading gently back towards it.
Draw vs Fade: Which Is Better?
Whether a fade or a draw is “better” largely depends on the situation, the golfer’s skill set, and personal preference. Both shot shapes have their advantages and can be beneficial in different scenarios.
Draw (right-to-left curve for a right-handed golfer):
- Distance: Draws often result in more roll, potentially leading to greater overall distance. This can be especially advantageous on longer holes or when playing into the wind.
- Trouble on the Right: If there’s a hazard on the right, a draw might be the preferred shot shape for right-handed players.
- Dogleg Left: On holes that bend from right to left, a draw can follow the shape of the hole, maximizing distance and setting up a favorable next shot.
- Hazards on the Right: If there’s trouble on the right side (e.g., bunkers, water, out-of-bounds), a draw can keep you away from those hazards.
What are the Cons of a Draw?
- HOOK Shot: An exaggerated draw with over-rotation can quickly turn into a hook, which can send the ball considerably left of the target and lead to potential trouble.
- Roll-out: While the added distance from the roll of a draw can be beneficial, it can also make the shot less predictable. On firm fairways or when the green is behind a hazard, this extra roll can lead to difficulties.
- Wind: A draw can be problematic in wind, as the wind can counteract or even exaggerate the ball’s right-to-left movement.
- Hazard Avoidance: On holes with significant hazards on the left, a draw brings those hazards into play.
Fade (left-to-right curve for a right-handed golfer):
- Control: Many golfers find the fade to be a more controlled shot. The spin often prevents the ball from rolling out excessively, allowing for more accurate positioning.
- Stopping Power: Fades typically have a steeper descent angle, which can help the ball stop more quickly on the greens.
- Trouble on the Left: If there’s water, out-of-bounds, or any hazard on the left, a fade can be a safer option for right-handed players.
- Dogleg Right: On holes that bend from left to right, a fade can help you navigate the shape of the hole, keeping you in the fairway and setting up an optimal approach.
What are the Cons of a Fade?
- Potential for SLICE: If not executed correctly, a mild fade can turn into a slice, sending the ball considerably right of the intended target.
- Loss of Distance: Fades generally carry a bit less distance than draws, especially if they are unintentional or the result of an inefficient swing path.
- Stopping Power: While a fade’s stopping power can be an advantage on approach shots to greens, it might be a disadvantage off the tee if a golfer needs maximum distance.
- Wind: Playing a fade in wind can be challenging. The wind can either reduce the fade, sending the ball straighter than intended or over-exaggerate the fade, pushing the ball further right.
- Consistency: For many amateur golfers, consistency is key. If a player tends to naturally hit one shot shape more reliably than the other, it might be advantageous to play that shot more often, even if the situation might slightly favor the opposite shape. This is what we call eliminating one side of the course because you know you’ll hit your shot shape consistently. And that’s a big help when playing a full 18 holes.
- Personal Comfort: Confidence plays a significant role in golf. If a golfer feels more comfortable or confident hitting one shape over the other, that can influence their choice.
- Course Design: Some courses might favor one shot shape over the other based on their design. Golfers who can hit both shapes will have a strategic advantage.
The draw and the fade are two of the fundamental shot shapes in golf. While each has its advantages and challenges, the key is understanding when and how to use each shot to your benefit. By mastering these shots, golfers can navigate the course with more strategy and skill. Whether it’s reaching that far away green or avoiding an intimidating hazard, knowing when to draw vs fade can be the game-changer in your golfing arsenal. OR being consistent and only hitting one of these shots can significantly help your golf score too!