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Draw vs Fade in Golf: The Complete Guide

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draw vs fade in golf

I remember recently when out on the course, being faced with a shot from the fairway that had a tree in the middle. The first thing I thought was “What fool put a tree in the middle of a fairway!?” My next thought was, “shall I curve my ball from left to right or right to left to avoid that tree?” As an amateur golfer that normally fades the ball, I decided to curve the ball from left to right. What actually happened was that I chunked the ball about 60 yards, landing it beneath the tree. The joys of being an amateur golfer!

A lot of golfers don’t know the difference between a draw vs fade in golf, the scenarios where one is better than the other, or how to properly execute a fade or a draw.

This article will change that. It will give you the correct knowledge so that you understand the difference. It will teach you which shot to take for many different on-course scenarios. And it will show you how to execute a fade or a draw shot. So read on and become the expert on the age-old battle of the draw vs fade in golf.

What is the Difference Between a Draw and Fade in Golf?

A draw or a fade is a type of golf shot that applies a small amount of side spin to the ball. This will make the ball start in one direction but curve back in the opposite.

A draw is a shot that starts right (for a right-handed golfer) of the target line and then curves back towards the left. Whereas a fade is a shot that starts left (for a right-handed golfer) of the target line and then curves back towards the right.

If a player requires extra distance a draw tends to be better at gaining distance. While golfers who hit the ball far anyway, find more control with a fade.

The Benefits of Being Able to Draw or Fade a Golf Ball

Shot shaping is the ability to intentionally shape the trajectory and curve of a golf shot. There are several benefits to developing this skill, including:

  • Better course management – being able to shape shots allows golfers to adjust to course conditions and avoid obstacles such as bunkers, trees, and water hazards. Golfers who can shape shots can more easily play to their strengths and avoid their weaknesses.
  • Increased shot versatility – by developing the ability to shape shots, golfers can hit a wider range of shots and make more creative shot choices. This can be especially useful in tricky situations, such as when the ball is in a difficult lie or the golfer needs to hit a high, soft shot into a tight green.
  • Improved accuracy and distance control – golfers who can shape shots have greater control over the ball and can adjust their trajectory and distance with greater precision. This can help them to hit more accurate shots and reduce the risk of hitting the ball out of bounds or into hazards.
  • Mental challenge – shaping shots can be a mentally challenging aspect of the game, which can help golfers stay engaged and focused. By having to think creatively and make strategic shot choices, golfers can stay mentally sharp and avoid becoming complacent on the course.

For more information on golf club distances and how far you should hit each club, see our guide here

When Should You Hit a Draw vs Fade in Golf?

Golfers may choose to hit a draw or a fade shot for a variety of reasons and in different situations. Here are a few examples of when either shot might be a useful choice:

  • To avoid obstacles – when there is a hazard or obstacle such as trees or a water hazard on the left side of the fairway. A golfer may choose to hit a draw shot to steer the ball to the right initially, and back to the left avoiding danger. Similarly, if there are hazards on the right side of the fairway, a golfer can hit a fade shot which will start left and come back towards the center, avoiding the hazard or obstacle.
  • To play with the contours of the course – on a course with sloping fairways or greens that slope from left to right, a fade shot may be a good choice to play with the slope and have the ball come to rest in a favorable position. If the opposite is true where the slope is right to left, a draw shot would be a good choice as the ball will roll out more left once it lands.
  • To manage the wind – If there is a crosswind blowing from left to right, a fade shot can be used to help counteract the wind and keep the ball on a straighter path toward the target. Likewise, a draw shot will counter a right-to-left crosswind.
  • To set up approach shots – if the pin placement on the green is on the right side, a fade shot can be used to set up a better angle for the approach shot. Similarly, a draw shot would be ideal if the pin is on the left side of the green.

What is a Fade in Golf?

Let’s look at fade-type shots, what they are, and how to hit one. A fade golf shot is a shot that curves slightly from left to right (for a right-handed golfer) and is intentionally played by some golfers to shape their shots. During the swing, the clubhead approaches the ball with an out-to-in path. The clubface is slightly open at impact, imparting clockwise spin onto the ball. This spin causes the ball to curve to the right in the air before landing.

The amount of curve on a fade shot can vary depending on the golfer’s swing and the conditions on the course. Some golfers may be able to hit a pronounced fade, while others may only be able to generate a slight curve.

A fade is the best way to control your shot. This is because a fade usually has a higher trajectory than a draw. Because of the slight out-to-in path needed for a fade, fade shots also have less side and forward spin. This means that they will stop quicker when hitting into a green from the fairway.

draw vs fade in golf

How to Hit a Fade

It can be very easy, especially as an amateur, to hit a nasty old slice when setting up for a fade. Eliminating the slice and hitting a nice power fade can easily be done using the following steps:

  1. Align your body – to hit a fade shot, you will need to aim slightly to the left of your target. Align your body and feet to the left of your target to create an open stance.
  1. Open the clubface – at address, rotate the clubface slightly to the right (for a right-handed golfer) to open the clubface. The clubface should be pointing slightly to the right of your target.
  1. Swing along an out-to-in path – to hit a fade, you will need to swing along an out-to-in path, with the clubhead approaching the ball from the outside. This will create a swing path that is across the target line.
  1. Keep your grip pressure light – to help promote an open clubface, it can be helpful to use a lighter grip pressure than you would for a normal shot.
  1. Contact the ball – at impact, the clubface should be slightly open, which will impart clockwise spin on the ball and cause it to curve to the right in the air.

What is a Draw Golf Shot?

Now let’s have a look at the fabled draw shot. A draw golf shot is a shot that intentionally curves from right to left (for a right-handed golfer). During the downswing, the clubhead approaches the ball with an in-to-out path, and the clubface is slightly closed at impact. This imparts counterclockwise spin onto the ball. This spin causes the ball to curve to the left in the air before landing.

The amount of curve on a draw shot can vary depending on the golfer’s swing and the conditions on the course. Some golfers may be able to hit a pronounced draw, while others may only be able to generate a slight curve.

Because of lower amounts of back spin, draw shots will usually travel further than a fade. They are hit with a lower trajectory so will roll out more as well.

draw vs fade in golf

How to Hit a Draw

So how exactly do we hit a draw? The steps you need to take to hit a draw shot are essentially the opposite of the steps to hit a fade:

  1. Align your body – to hit a draw shot, you will need to aim slightly to the right of your target. Align your body and feet to the right of your target to create a closed stance.
  1. Close the clubface – at address, rotate the clubface slightly to the left (for a right-handed golfer) to close the clubface. The clubface should be pointing slightly to the left of your target.
  1. Swing along an in-to-out path – to hit a draw, you will need to swing along an in-to-out path, with the clubhead approaching the ball from the inside. This will create a swing path that is to the right of the target line.
  1. Keep your grip pressure light – to help promote a closed clubface, it can be helpful to use a lighter grip pressure than you would for a normal shot.
  1. Contact the ball – at impact, the clubface should be slightly closed, which will impart counterclockwise spin on the ball and cause it to curve to the left in the air.

Drills to Hit a Fade or Draw

A brilliant drill to help you learn to hit a fade or draw is the “Flamingo” or one-legged drill. This drill helps with your balance and stability but the main reason it helps with fades and draws is to do with weight distribution. 

Amateur golfers usually fade the ball, this is because their weight is more on the trail foot at impact. Low to mid-handicappers tend to hit more draws because their weight is more on the lead foot at impact. 

Here’s how to execute it:

  1. Stand on one leg – start by taking your usual setup but pull your lead foot behind you. All your weight should be on your trail foot.
  2. Hold your position – hold this position for a few seconds, focusing on maintaining your balance and stability.
  3. Take a practice swing – ingrain this unusual feeling by taking a few practice swings but keeping your lead foot behind you
  4. Hit a shot – hit a half-swing shot. You should notice that the ball flight starts left and curves to the right
  5. Repeat on the other leg – switch legs so that your trail foot is pulled behind you and repeat steps 2-4. You should notice that your ball flight starts right and curves left.

Remember, you can draw or fade the ball with every club in your bag, including your chipper – if you have one!

FAQ

Is it Easier to Hit a Fade or Draw?

For amateurs, the fade is generally easier to hit than a draw. This is due to the fact that fade shots require a steeper approach to the ball. Amateurs and beginners tend to have an “over the top” downswing which promotes a steeper downswing with an out-to-in swing path.  This then applies more spin to the ball. Draw shots require an in-to-out swing path which is more difficult to achieve for beginners. Amateurs often end up flipping the club at impact which will cause a nasty hook rather than a nice draw.

At What Point Does a Fade Become a Slice?

We’ve all hit a shot that looks at first to be a lovely fade. We then look on in horror to see the ball continue to curve right and end up in the trees or the water.

A fade is a controlled shot that curves gently from left to right (for a right-handed golfer) and is typically hit intentionally by golfers. Whereas a slice is an unintentional shot that curves severely to the right (for a right-handed golfer) and can end up well off the intended line of play. It is often the result of a swing fault or incorrect technique. A slice can be a frustrating and challenging problem for golfers to correct, as it can result in lost distance, accuracy, and confidence on the course.

At What Point Does a Draw Become a Hook?

Whereas a draw shot is usually intentional and can help a golfer navigate around an obstacle or hazard, a hook is usually unintentional and the result of a swing fault or incorrect technique. A draw curves gently from right to left, but a hook shot is one that curves severely to the left.

Is a Fade More Consistent Than a Draw?

One advantage of a fade is that it requires less wrist action and timing in the swing, making it a simpler motion that is more consistent and easier to hit on the course. Additionally, fades have less side spin, which makes them more controllable and less likely to result in a major miss.

However, a fade shot might not be as long in terms of total distance, since they don’t have as much forward spin and won’t release as much once they hit the ground. This can be a disadvantage for golfers who need to hit long drives or approach shots into greens from a distance.

Your choice of shot should depend on the individual golfer’s playing style, the specific situation on the course, and their goals for the shot. Golfers who are able to intentionally shape their shots can use fades and draws to navigate around obstacles on the course, set up approach shots, and improve their accuracy and control. Ultimately this leads to more birdie chances and lowering your scores

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AUTHOR

Tommy is a confirmed golf fanatic. He's been playing golf for 20 years and just loves everything about the game. His dad used to play golf a lot and watch the PGA and European Tours, so Tommy started watching too. Now he knows a lot about golf and loves to coach people and help them play better.

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