Almost all beginner golfers shy away from trying to hit a fade because they think it is amateurish, or not what the pros do.
The truth is that the fade is as useful and can be equally powerful to the draw provided it is executed correctly and controlled sufficiently. The great news is that for most golfers, hitting a fade seems to be naturally easier than pulling off its elusive counterpart – the draw.
Reasons for this are numerous but are mainly centred around the fact that most golfers have a steep swing that moves on an out-to-in line.
I would even go as far to say that any golfer at any level can hit a ball that moves left to right, but not many can control it and place it effectively on target. To achieve that level of skill, we first need to understand the principles behind a good fade shot as well as what a fade shot does not entail.
The most common perception of how to hit a fade is to aim left of the target, open the clubface and swing normally through the ball – like a flop shot.
While this is effective with wedges, it is far from consistent when you get to irons and woods because there is simply no way of controlling the movement and consistency of the shot.
Before you hit any shot, you need to have a clear idea of what you want the ball to do and you need to be able to visualise this shot shape from where it starts to where it ends.
As you would imagine, the setup and swing for a shot that needs to fade 20m around trees will be very different to a shot that needs to fade 2m. Once you have the shot in mind, you need to progress to your setup – the next integral part of hitting a consistent fade.
How To Hit A Fade
Setting Up To Hit A Fade
Once again, the easiest way to understand how to fade the ball is to picture a clock face with 12 o’clock pointing towards the target line. From here you want to set up the clubface so that it is aimed slightly left of the target (where you want the ball to start) such as 11 o’clock.
To get the ball moving left-to-right, you need the path of the club to be more to the left than where the clubface is pointing.
To try and feel this, visualise the club moving through 10 o’clock as it is this out-to-in path, relative to the clubface that generate the fade spin that will move your ball.
Using the clock face technique is great because it allows you to replicate your swing and find consistency in your ball flight.
Trying out different combinations of ‘times’ to see which generates the desired ball flight and then start practicing these combinations more and more on the course to groove the shot into your game.
The 10 – 11 combination on the clock face is obviously an extreme and is just there so that you can get the feeling of swinging the club leftwards through the ball in order to induce a fade.
When you’re on the golf course you will only really be looking to hit 5m fades in which case you will set up so that your clubface is aimed 5m left of the target and then swing so that the path of the club moves 10m left of the target.
These, more subtle alignment changes, will help ensure greater consistency in shot shape and will go a long way to helping you hit a fade that doesn’t lose any of its distance.
Most people don’t have much of an issue with alignment and set up, but still don’t see the results they want in terms of shot shape and consistency.
These issues can stem from a swing plane that is not favouring a fade or that is not allowing the club to move laterally from right to left so that the path of the club is left of where the clubface is aimed.
To promote this path, you need to rotate your hips and torso a little quicker and harder through the downswing as this clears your body out of the way and gives your arms and the club room to travel on the desired path (left of the target).
You’ll see a lot of pros turn their lower bodies aggressively in order to achieve this and to minimise the possibility of getting stuck and hooking the ball left.
While you should be focusing on getting that out-to-in club path, do not try to throw your hands over the top to achieve it as this essentially results in a weak fade, where the clubface just wipes across the ball and the shot sort of balloons from left to right.
Just as with a draw, you should feel all your muscles engaged and moving in sync towards the target, the only difference being that you hold the clubface open during the fade instead of rolling your hands and closing it during a draw.
That is why the fade is very popular and is a go-to shot for many pros when they need some consistent striking and ball shape. It is essentially an all body shot, not much concentration needs to go into the hands or wrists and this can help a lot of beginner golfers out there.
As long as you’re not achieving your fade by ‘coming out of the shot’ you should be able to hit is as far and as consistently as any good draw.
If you feel as though you may have a natural tendency to hit a fade, you should listen to what your body is telling you and perfect your fade before you start looking at mastering a draw.
Frequently Asked Questions
When I try hit a fade with my driver, I never strike it in the centre of the face – why is this?
A great tip when trying to fade a driver is to tee the ball a touch lower than you normally would. What this does is it minimises the amount of the room the club head has when attacking the ball. It tightens up your swing and helps you rotate through and generate more consistent strikes.
This article forms part of our golf lesson series in our Golf for Beginners guide.