Are you one of those lucky golfers who naturally hit a fade ball flight? No? Well, don’t worry, you’re not alone; the vast majority of amateur and club-level golfers either draw their ball or slice it.
The fade is one of the most elusive ball flights in golf, but why? is learning to hit a fade really that challenging? Do you need to have the ball striking skill of Ben Hogan? or the creativity of a Tiger Woods?
Watching some of the world’s greatest players like Hogan, Woods and Nicklaus hit the fade should be enough incentive for you to get out on the range and start learning how to hit the fade. The fade literally has the power to transform your game and, most importantly, lower your handicap.
Here’s Why You Should Learn To Love The Fade
I’ve seen so many mid to high-handicappers playing the draw because they think it looks cool and they can gain more distance, but in fact, unless you’re a PGA Tour pro or a top amateur, learning to play a fade consistently is pretty challenging.
A couple of friends at my home club play a fade, and I’ve literally seen them shoot 72 one day, only to shoot 83 the next. Why? Because unless you have swing dynamics and rhythm and timing down to a tee, the draw ball flight can be highly erratic.
Now, if you’re one of the millions of amateur golfers who slice or hook the ball, learning to hit the fade at the other end of the spectrum can be tricky. A fade, or even better, a “power fade,” can keep you out of trouble, precisely what you want while out on the course or preparing for a tournament.
- Typically speaking, when you hit a fade, your golf ball starts its flight 10 to 15 feet left of the pin or target and slowly works its way back, landing softly.
- A draw also moves 10 to 15 feet, but with a draw, your ball can keep going and going, and when it hits the green or fairway, it seems to run forever; the last thing you want, especially if you’re playing on a course with plenty of water hazards.
- The amount of fade on your ball heavily depends on the type of club you’re hitting. As a rule of thumb, long irons will produce more fade than a mid or short iron. Now, that’s not to say you can’t fade a wedge or 9 iron; you can; it just won’t fade as much in ball flight as your longer 3 and 5 irons.
- The fade is also much easier to play consistently when compared to a draw because it requires less wrist action and is not as dependent on timing as the draw is. Simply put, the fade is more effective for your game and more efficient for your swing dynamics.
How To Set Up To Hit A Fade
Golf is incredibly technical and complex, but one of the best ways to avoid the water hazard is by ensuring your setup is correct. Your setup and address positions can quite literally negate many of the problems that club-level golfers constantly deal with, like, snap hooks, hitting it fat or thin, and even “whiffing”n it.
Let’s get the basics out of the way first. When you hit a fade, your club face should be slightly open at impact; it’s actually one of the only times when you don’t want your clubface square at impact. The more open your club face is, the more fade on your ball but be careful not to open your club face too much; otherwise, you’ll be hitting a slice.
Ok, let’s take a closer look at the fundamental steps you need to hit your fade consistently.
Correct Address Position To Hit A Fade
Learning and understanding the importance of correct setup or “addressing” the ball is fundamental when it comes to making clean and consistent contact. A proper setup and address position can literally transform your slice into a fade and, one day, a power fade.
- The first adjustment you need to make to your setup is getting closer to the ball, almost like you’re standing over it or “crowding” the ball.
- Once you’ve got yourself set up correctly, you need to ensure that you’re aligned to the left of the pin for a right-handed golfer. If you’re set up to the right, you’ll be missing more than your fair share of fairways and greens.
- Your ball should also be slightly forward in your stance. Having the ball forward in your stance means when you make contact, your clubface should be slightly open, further assisting the fading ball flight.
- Finally, you must double-check that your alignment is spot on and facing slightly left of your intended target. Golf is a game of millimeters; if you’re millimeters off, it can mean the difference between hitting the fairway or ending up in the water. If you are struggling with alignment,
I highly recommend purchasing an alignment tool to get your drives on the straight and narrow.
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What’s The Best Grip For a Fade?
Before you even step up to address your golf ball, there’s one technical aspect of the golf swing that can make or break your shot: your grip.
Golf is a great sport because there is no right or wrong to get things done; in short, there’s no “cookie-cutter” approach to playing golf; what works for some won’t work for others. But when it comes to grip, although there are slight variations, the fundamentals are basically the same.
The easiest grip for learning to hit a fade is to keep the one you have now. Instead of making drastic changes that can cause issues with your swing, slightly hold the club with a little bit more pressure in your left hand. The beauty of this grip is that it’s not a “grip change;” in essence, you’re using your normal grip with only a slight change in pressure.
Your next option is to actually go ahead and make a subtle change to your grip. Generally, the right palm of your hand should be facing towards the target. Now, barely rotate your right hand to the left, which in effect, weakens your grip. As with any grip change, though, I recommend starting by making minor adjustments to your grip on the practice range.
As I mentioned, there is no right or wrong way to play the fade, but these two grip variations are generally the easiest for amateur golfers. An old Chinese adage goes something like this, “you can throw a piece of paper on the floor 100 different ways, but it still lands on the floor.”
The same rings true for gripping the fade.
4 Simple Ways To Learn A Fade
Ok, so you’ve got your grip ready, and your address position to hit your new faded ball flight is set up and looking good. Now it’s time to take a look at four simple steps you need to check off before pulling the trigger on your first ever fade.
1. Checking Your Golf Clubs
This first tip is one that I was almost not going to include but on further thought, I have included it just because of its importance, and the sheer number of club-level golfers that fail to follow it amazes me.
Most golf clubs these days have different settings that allow you to set the club face in the best position to suit your type and style of swing. I’ve seen so many club-level golfers baffled as to why they can’t hit a fade, despite doing everything right; guess what? It all came down to the setting of their club face.
If your clubface is set to draw, then I don’t care if you’re Tiger Woods; you’re never going to hit a fade with a draw clubface; Ok, I take that back; Tiger probably could.
2. Finding The Correct Swing Path
Having an open clubface is one of the most critical components when it comes to hitting a fade, but you’d be amazed at just how many amateur golfers still think the swing path is king.
While swing path and swing plane are crucial, ensuring your clubface is open at impact reigns supreme. You can have the best swing path in the world and absolutely nail your swing plane, but if your clubface is closed at impact, you’ll never hit a fade.
If you swing on the right plane and have your clubface set up to hit a fade, you’ll give yourself the best chance to master the fade and lower your handicap.
As a professional coach, I’ve seen what the power of visualization can do for a player’s career but did you know that visualization also plays a critical role in each shot you hit?
Take the time to stand back behind your ball and visualize aspects of the shot like:
- Choosing your target
- Checking the wind
- Checking your lie
Taking a few practice swings will also go a long way in helping you recreate the shot you just visualized. Don’t just take any practice swing either; make sure you swing the club precisely how you want to play the shot.
4. Opening The Clubface
Opening your clubface is probably the easiest way to hit a fade, but in saying that, it’s also fraught with danger; open the face too much, and you risk hitting a colossal slice, don’t open it enough, and you could end up snap hooking it.
Learning to open the clubface just enough is a matter of hitting the practice range and experimenting with different variations of the open face. Set up on the far right side of the practice range and start by opening the face ever so slightly; watch carefully and note how far your ball fades in the air.
As you become more confident, you can experiment with how much you open your clubface. To be honest, this part of the practice is a lot of fun, and you can actually learn a bit about your swing and maybe even add some new shots to your long-game arsenal.
4 Bonus Tips On Hitting A Fade
During your round of golf, you can find yourself in trouble, big trouble, and sometimes you need to play the “hero” shot just to even get back on the fairway. If you know how to play the fade, you can open the face further and play the slice, which can be one of the best shots to help you get out of trouble.
Let’s take a look at four bonus tips and strategies that can help you play the fade successfully and consistently. Some you might have heard of and a few probably not; either way, they’ve been tried and tested by pro golfers for years.
Evaluate Your Lie
Before playing your fade shot, you need to take a look down and evaluate your lie: The lie can and will dictate the type of shot you can play and how well you can execute it. If your ball is sitting smack bang in the middle of a divot, it will make playing a fade much more challenging than if you had a mint lie.
Doing your homework is critical to the success of your shot, so check the wind, and any obstacles between you and the pin, for example, trees or a water hazard you may need to fly over.
Take An Extra Club
Taking an extra club is critical when playing a fade because the ball moves so much in the air your going to lose quite a bit of distance. To mitigate this, you will need to take an extra club or even two, depending on how far your shot is and how far you intend to fade the ball.
I’ve seen so many amateurs hit an excellent fade only for their shot to come up short because they failed to consider the distance they’ll lose because of the fading ball flight. If you’re not sure when hitting a fade, you’re always better off taking two extra clubs: remember; the fade lands softly on the green, so you won’t be penalized by going a bit long.
Choosing The Right Stance
When you play the fade, you need to figure out what kind of fade you will play. Are you going to play a high soft fade? Or a low “stinger” fade like Tiger Woods? Either way, the type of shot you play will be reflected by the stance you take at address.
If you’re playing a high fade, you will need to play the ball off your front foot, while a lower “stinger fade” will be played off the back of your stance; this helps keep the ball under any tree branches that may be obstructing your flight path to the pin.
Swing Path and Swing Plane
The swing path is also an essential component in hitting a fade. “Cutting across” the ball will produce much more movement from left to right for right-handed golfers, and you’ll also get a tremendous amount of spin, which can help you stop the ball on the green much quicker.
There’s nothing better than hitting a short iron fade and seeing it “bite” on the green and backspin viciously; not only is it a great shot to attack hard-to-get-to-pins, but it’ll impress your playing partners too.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which shot is easier; a fade or draw?
Hitting a fade is much easier than hitting a draw. When playing a draw, your swing needs to be timed perfectly, and if you’re off just a little bit, your draw can turn into a snap-hook in a heartbeat.
On the other hand, a fade is much more forgiving partly because it’s not as technically challenging but also because the fading ball flight is much softer and doesn’t run as far, meaning you’re much less likely to find trouble.
I’m struggling to hit a fade; why?
If you find yourself struggling to hit a fade, then more than likely, your setup and address position is incorrect. You must ensure that you’re set up to the left of your target and that your clubface is slightly open.
Remember, you can swing down the line perfectly, but if your setup is not aligned correctly, you’ve already set yourself up for disaster. One of the easiest ways to check your setup is to videotape yourself. Many great coaching apps allow you to analyze your swing in slow motion and even use split screens to compare past techniques.
The 18th Hole
So there you have it, everything you need to know about how to play a fade. It’s a much easier shot to play than most club-level golfers think, and to be honest, if more golfers gave it a try, their handicaps would drop drastically.
A fade is a much more consistent ball flight than a draw, and more importantly, it’s consistent. You can play with a fade day in day, but a draw largely depends on the timing of your golf swing.
- Check your address and set up
- Open your clubface
- Take an extra club or two
- Check your lie and
- Practice, practice, practice
Happy fading and happy golfing!!