The ability to shape the golf ball is very handy for a golfer to have in their arsenal, but for most amateur golfers being able to draw or fade the golf ball on demand consistently is an uphill battle. Shaping the golf ball requires an understanding of your golf swing and it also requires practice and fine-tuning on the driving range.
Below we are going to help you to understand what it means to fade the golf ball and the technicalities involved when hitting a fade. Additionally, we are also going to take a closer look at some of the best drills that will help with hitting a fade. Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee that you will be able to hit a perfect fade after reading this, but what we can do is to give you all of the relevant information required to hit a fade out on the golf course.
Golf Ball Flight Laws
There are 9 golf ball flight laws that every golfer should know regardless of their skill level. Having an understanding of these ball flight laws will go a long way in helping you to get a grasp of what is happening out on the golf course based on the flight of your golf ball.
Thanks to launch monitors such as Trackman and Flightscope new revelations have been made regarding why the golf ball flies the way it does. The initial direction of the shot is determined by the angle of the clubface and the curvature (draw or fade) is determined by the path that the club is swung on. Historically the opposite was thought to be true but thanks to technology and data the truth has been revealed. To understand each of the 9 ball flight laws take a closer look at the image below.
According to golf’s ball flight laws, a fade is actually a pull slice. With a fade, the ball starts left of the target and fades towards the target. It is very important to understand what a fade is, amateur golfers tend to get confused between a fade and a straight or push slice where the ball starts at or right of the target and moves away from it.
Technicalities of How To Hit a Fade
Alignment is arguably the most important factor when it comes to hitting a fade. Your swing path and clubface can be perfect, but if your alignment is off hitting a fade that starts to the left of your target with a ball flight that moves towards your target will be impossible.
If anything, standing slightly too open to your start line will still result in a fade that finishes close to your target, but with a closed stance your slub path will be affected and that can lead to all sorts of issues.
If you are working on hitting a fade on the driving range always practice using an alignment stick or club to ensure consistent alignment.
Club path is defined as the direction that the clubhead is moving through impact. If the clubhead is moving to the left your swing path is out to in, and if your clubhead is moving to the right your club path is in to out.
Club path determines the curvature of the ball. To hit a fade an out-to-in-club path is needed to ensure a fade ball flight. When using a launch monitor an out to in club path will be reflected as a negative number.
Using a launch monitor is the easiest and most accurate way to determine your club path, but unfortunately, only a select number of golfers have access to one. Most swing coaches own a launch monitor and a lesson with a qualified instructor will be very informative to learn more about your swing path, alternatively, some simple hacks will give you a general idea of your club path.
If your divots are pointing to the left of your target that is an indication of an out to in swing path and vice versa if your divots are pointing to the right of your target. Furthermore, if your natural shape is a draw with a start line that’s right of your target your club path is more than likely to be out-to-in.
Once your club path is sorted out and you are swinging the club out to in having the correct face angle is needed to ensure a consistent fade ball flight. Face angle is measured relative to your target line and it indicates if your face angle is either open (right) or closed (left).
Clubface angle determines the start line of your ball and when hitting a fade the ball needs to start towards the left of your target. With that said to hit a fade, your face angle at impact needs to be slightly closed to your target line.
To produce the perfect fade ball flight clubface angle and club path needs to match up and the relationship between these two factors needs to be balanced. A swing path or face angle that’s either open or closed to the other will lead to inconsistencies in terms of ball flight.
Best Drills for a Fade
Club Path Alignment Stick Drill
As explained above an out-to-in club path is a must when hitting a fade. To practice an out-to-in club path a great drill to do is the alignment stick club path drill. For this drill, you will need at least two alignment sticks and a club to place on the ground for aiming.
Start by placing a club on the ground that’s aimed at your target. Once the club is in place take the first alignment stick and stick it into the ground at an angle about 3 feet behind the ball between the line of the ball and the club on the ground as illustrated in the image below. Now take the second alignment stick and stick it into the ground in front of the ball slightly outside the line of the ball to the target as illustrated below.
Once in place go ahead and hit a few shots without hitting either of the sticks either on the way back or on the way through. At first, this drill might be very intimidating and if that’s the case give yourself space when placing the sticks in the ground, as your swing path improves move the sticks closer to make the drill slightly more challenging.
Single Hand Clubface Control Drill
To start the ball left of the target when hitting a fade a closed face angle is required at impact. However, if the clubface continues to turn over through impact the ratio will be incorrect in combination with the club path which will result in a shot that either goes straight left or that starts left and moves more left. This is also commonly known amongst golfers as double-crossing yourself.
A great drill to help with clubface control is the single-handed swing drill. Simply take a wedge or short iron and grip the club only with your left hand (right hand for left-handed players) and hit the ball. Tee the ball up at first to make it a little bit easier. To avoid the clubface from turning over a strong left hand is key and this drill will help you do just that because without a strong left-hand swinging and controlling the club will be impossible as soon as the other hand is taken off of the grip.
What are the benefits of hitting a fade?
The world’s best players opt to hit a fade as their shape of choice and with good reason. A fade is an easy-to-control ball flight and it also ensures maximum stopping power on the greens with approach shots.
Will I lose distance when hitting a fade?
Many amateur golfers believe that they will lose distance when hitting a fade and yes this is true to some extent. With a fade, the ball has cut spin on it which in return will limit the amount of roll that one gets. With a driver, you might lose some distance as a result of less roll but with your approach shots, limited distance will be lost.
What is the difference between a fade and a slice?
More often than not amateur golfers get confused between a slice and a fade. Technically according to the ball flight laws, a fade is a pull slice but in reality, a fade is when your ball starts to the left of your target and works its way to the target and a slice is when the curve on the golf ball is uncontrollable.
With a slice, the start line can be either left, straight, or right of your target but regardless your ball will always slice away and finish right of your target.
A fade is the preferred shot shape for most professional golfers and with good reason. A fade offers exceptional control and maximum stopping power on iron and wedge shots. The biggest challenge for amateur golfers is consistency and even though a fade might be their ideal ball flight, fading the ball consistently will be difficult if your natural shape is a draw.
If you are serious about learning how to hit a controlled fade make sure to understand the golf swing technicalities that allow you to hit a fade and be willing to put in the time on the range because at the end of the day results come from the dirt.
This article was last updated on April 29, 2021 .