December 2011

December 2011: Golf Tips from a Pro - Specialty Shots Part II: Draws and Fades

Author: Pete Popovich | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Last month we explained how to control the golf balls trajectory for high and low shots, including wind play. This month we will discuss how to control the balls left and right flight, i.e. shaping shots. By doing so, you will be able to reach those pins that have been tucked in corners of the greens as well as get out of trouble and back to the fairway.

In a world of larger club heads, longer and lighter shafts and balls that spin less, it is more difficult to maneuver your golf ball than in decades past. Manufacturers have made it easier to hit the ball straight, but as a result, golfers have lost the ability to move the ball left and right—to draw and fade it. Ask 100 people how to hit a draw or fade, and you will get 100 answers. Yet few if any go back to the fundamentals of proper setup, and even fewer are guaranteed to work for you. At the Golf Performance Academy, we have a proven, simple, yet effective way to shape shots and lower scores.

In our last article on how to control the trajectory/height of a straight shot, we stressed the importance of controlling ball spin. In shaping shots left and right, it is, again, controlling spin that brings success. (Please keep in mind that we are not discussing slices and hooks, which are the evil cousins of fades and draws. Fades and draws are subtle movements of the ball in a desired direction. Slices and hooks occur when subtle turns to drastic, exceeding the boundary of desire.)
The mechanics involved in hitting fades and draws are not as difficult as most believe. Actually, it is a simple change in the proper setup for hitting the ball straight. This proper setup is body lines (feet, knees, hips, shoulders, arms) parallel to the path on which you intend to hit the ball. In other words, you are squared up to your intended target line (pic #1). The clubface is square, i.e. perpendicular to the ball’s target line (pic #2). From here, if the swing is fundamentally sound, the golfer will produce a straight shot. (If this is not happening to you, schedule an appointment with us and we will show you how to hit it straight.) Now, assuming your setup is proper for hitting straight shots, fading or drawing the ball requires a simple adjustment to body alignment, and the results come almost automatically.

For example, if you want to hit a fade, adjust your stance open so that your body lines are left of the target line (the target line is always the line from ball to target) while the clubface stays aimed at the target. Now swing the club along the lines of your body the same way you would swing when hitting a straight shot. Swinging along your body lines and across the target line will start the ball on a path left of the intended target and, because the clubface is open in relation to the club head’s path, the ball has left to right spin causing it to move from left (where the body was aimed) to right (where the club face was aimed.)

If you would like the ball to curve more, align your body further left, but make sure to keep the clubface aimed at the target. To hit a draw, adjust your stance closed so your body lines are slightly to the right of the target line while maintaining the clubface’s position at the target. As you swing along your body lines, the clubface will come into the ball slightly closed, imparting right to left spin on the ball and curving it from right to left.

Some golfers claim that draws have over spin and go farther than straight shots or fades. There is no such thing as overspin on a ball in flight. The biggest reason a draw seems to go further is that hitting with a slightly closed clubface reduces the effective loft of the club, leading to less spin (read the November issue of CH2 & CB2 for further explanation on spin). Less spin, at times, allows the ball to roll more upon landing. Fades, which are hit with more effective loft due to the clubface being open, tend to fly higher and shorter with less roll. They also tend to drop and stop more than draws.

The most important thing to remember in shaping shots is that it all starts from a consistently proper setup. Then, any change to that setup will produce a desired change in ball flight, putting you in control of your game.

If you would like to better control your ball flight or any other part of your game, contact the Golf Performance Academy-Hilton Head at (843) 338-6737,, or on Facebook at Golf Performance Academy-Hilton Head.

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