For most amateur golfers, hitting straight shots consistently can be challenging enough. But shaping tee shots and approach shots intentionally is an advanced skill that can truly take your ball-striking and course management to the next level.
Learning how to fade and draw the ball – that is, make it curve slightly left-to-right or right-to-left during flight – gives you greater control and allows you to optimize your shots. However, it requires understanding the factors that influence shot shapes, especially clubface angle relative to swing path.
This article explains what makes a shot fade or draw, and provides tips for hitting intentional fades and draws to add a bit of strategy and flair to your game.
Table of Contents
Understanding Fade vs Draw Shot Shapes
First, what exactly are fade and draw shots?
A fade shot starts left of your target and curves slightly left-to-right during flight. For a right-handed golfer, this means the ball starts left of your intended target and spins back to the right.
Conversely, a draw shot begins right of the target and curves right-to-left. So for righties, it starts right and spins back left.
The curvature isn’t extreme – we’re talking 10-20 yards from start to finish. But these mini “slices” and “hooks” can be used intentionally to shape shots.
For example, fading or drawing a tee shot around a dogleg corner. Or curving an approach shot around a hazard or to a tucked pin.
Mastering fades and draws takes lots of practice, since only a few degrees of clubface angle and/or swing path alteration will curve the ball. But learning the basics of how they work is key to controlling shot shapes.
How Clubface Angle and Swing Path Create Fades and Draws
The clubface angle when you strike the ball determines the initial launch direction. The clubface directly impacts the initial ball flight.
At impact, if the clubface angle points left of your target, the ball launches left. If the face angle points right, it launches right.
But the swing path – the direction your club is traveling through impact – creates sidespin on the ball to fade or draw it. Comparing the angle of the clubface to the arc of the swing path determines if the ball curves right or left during flight.
Let’s break it down further:
To hit a fade, the clubface should be aimed at your target, while your body is aligned open and the swing path moves slightly left of target through impact. This open clubface relative to the leftward in-to-out path imparts right-to-left sidespin on the ball.
For a righty, this sidespin starts the ball left of target then curves it back to the right – a fade.
Conversely, hitting a draw requires the clubface aimed at target while the body alignment and swing path are closed, moving right of target through impact. Here, the closed clubface relative to the out-to-in path puts left-to-right sidespin on the shot.
So a righty’s ball starts right of target and draws back left.
The key is the clubface angle pointing at target, while the path differs to curve the shot either direction.
Benefits of Shaping Your Golf Shots
Intentionally fading and drawing shots, even just 10-20 yards worth, can provide several advantages:
Optimally play dogleg holes – A faded tee or approach shot hugs the corner around a left-turning hole. A draw shapes perfectly off a right dogleg.
Avoid fairway hazards – Fading or drawing around trees, bunkers or water that protrude into the fairway.
Control distance with spin – Increased spin from an angled clubface can allow for a higher approach shot that stops quickly on a green.
Account for wind or terrain – Curving the long way against a crosswind eases its influence. Utilize side slopes and contours.
Confuse your opponent – In match play, altering shot shapes can keep your opponent off guard as to your intentions.
The pros shape shots frequently for strategic reasons. Your local course likely demands fades or draws as well on certain holes.
Put in practice time to develop this vital skill for navigating courses optimally.
Simple Methods to Hit an Intentional Fade or Draw
Let’s outline some basic tips for hitting fades and draws purposefully:
Fading the Shot
Remember, a fade moves gently left-to-right, starting left of target and curving back.
Open your front foot, hips and shoulders just slightly – This gets your swing path moving left while the clubface remains square.
Grip down an inch – Choking down helps swing a touch steeper and encourage left-to-right spin.
Aim front foot at target – Your stance is open but your feet still aim downrange.
Weight slightly forward – Avoid swaying, maintain balance and keep chest over the ball.
Hold clubface square – Resist rolling hands over through impact, keep face square to target line.
Follow through to left – Finish high hands through and to the left to solidify the fade.
Drawing the Shot
A draw shot shapes right-to-left – right of target initially before curving left.
Close your stance – Rotate feet, hips and shoulders slightly closed to path.
Flatten the shaft – Shallowing swing plane induces right-to-left spin.
Play the ball back – Ball position in stance influences face angle through impact.
Weight slightly back – Limit sway, keep head still, right side leads backswing.
Hold clubface square – Again don’t roll hands over; neutral grip and release.
Follow through to right – Swing fully through impact out toward the right side.
Fade and draw shot shapes depend on lots of feel and practice. But with a few basic setup and swing keys, you can start maneuvering the ball subtly through the air.
Work on shot shaping at the driving range before relying on it on the course. Groove a repeatable fade and draw through impact drills and ball flights.
Summary – Master Fades and Draws to Shape Your Shots
The ability to curve tee shots and approach shots intentionally via fading or drawing is an immense asset for smart course management. You can optimally play holes, avoid hazards and control trajectories.
Remember that the clubface angle largely determines initial ball direction, while the relationship of clubface to swing path imparts sidespin to curve shots.
Match your body alignment and swing path to the desired shot shape, while keeping the clubface square to target. Then let your practice and feel take over!
Fade and draw shot shaping adds excitement and unpredictability. Do drill both on the range until you gain consistency. Then deploy fades and draws strategically on the course!
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