Draw vs Fade – 2 Ways To Shape Your Golf Shots

Introduction

Draw vs Fade. Which is better? How do you hit these shots on demand?

Most beginners probably strive to hit the ball perfectly straight. In reality, this is probably the hardest thing to do. Learning to deliberately shape your golf shots should improve your scores significantly.

If you’ve already read about the ball flight laws then much of what follows will come as no surprise.

Draw vs fade

What Is A Fade Shot In Golf

A fade shot is one that moves from left to right in the air. When you are trying to produce this shot deliberately then you would start the ball slightly to the left so that it moves back towards the target at the end of its flight.

For left-handers the opposite is true. An intentional fade would start to the right of the target and then drift back to the left.

Pros

I think the following quote sums up the main benefit of hitting a fade shape shot.

You can talk to a fade but a hook won’t listen.

Lee Trevino

He has also been quoted as saying:

“Fades don’t go as far, but majors are all about keeping the ball on the short grass. If you want to win majors, a fade is the shot.”

What the six-time former major champion was pointing out is that if a fade shot goes wrong the consequences are generally going to be less bad than if a draw shot goes wrong.

Of course, it depends on the hole that you are playing to an extent but a fade shot that slices a bit too much will land a little short and right of the intended target and should stop pretty quickly.

On the other hand, if your draw becomes a hook then it’s also likely you will have delofted the face causing the ball to travel further and due to its lower spin and lower angle of descent, it will almost certainly run out more on landing, often into trouble.

In an ideal world, you would have the ability to move the ball in both directions and pick and choose the most appropriate shape for the shot in front of you. However, even tour professionals will tend to have a stock shot shape that they fall back on. The majority of amateurs simply don’t practice often enough to become proficient at moving the ball both ways and would be better off sticking to either fade or draw.

Cons

For the majority of amateurs, a fade will travel slightly shorter distances than a draw. Depending on how far you currently hit the ball this may or may not be a problem. This is due to the fact there will be a tendency to deloft the club producing less spin. Most amateurs will tend to spin their driver shots too much so this reduction in spin is likely to give slightly better launch conditions and therefore produce more carry. The lower ball flight and reduced backspin also mean greater run out on landing.

What Is A Draw Shot In Golf

The draw is the opposite of a fade and moves from right to left in the air. It is a less severe version of a hook. The ball will tend to move from right to left when the clubface is closed relative to the swing path at impact.

For a left-hander, you need to reverse that. The ball would move from left to right when struck with a closed clubface.

Pros

It feels like a more solid shot and will usually offer a more penetrating flight in windy conditions as it has lower spin rates and will be launched slightly lower by most people as they attempt to close the face they will usually deloft the club as well.

For the same reasons, a large number of amateurs will tend to hit a draw slightly further than a fade. Surprisingly there is no difference in carry if you managed to have the same launch conditions for both shot shapes.

Cons

Has a tendency to run out a little more on landing which can be a problem if you are playing a golf course in firm conditions. A draw will tend to run into trouble more often while a fade will tend to stop more quickly when hit off-line.

setup for draw and fade
Setup for draw and fade

How To Hit A Fade

If you think back to the ball flight laws then you know that curving the ball from left to right means you need to have an open clubface relative to your swing path. You also want the ball to start to the left of the target (for a right-hander). This means the clubface will need to be pointing a little left of the target since it accounts for as much as 80% of the starting direction for your shot.

Take your stance so that you are lined up to the left of your target and have your clubface pointing at the target or even a little left of target.

Try to swing along your bodyline keeping the clubface a little open to your swing path.

The amount of curve you produce will depend on the difference between your swing path and clubface. So to produce more curve you would need to aim and swing further left.

You may also find playing the ball a little further forward in your stance or weakening your grip will help you achieve a left-to-right flight.

A left-handed player would do the opposite. Aim their body to the right of the target and then their clubface a little right of the target also. Swinging along their bodyline and connecting with an open clubface would then produce the right-to-left spin that is a fade for a left-hander.

How To Hit A Draw

Just reverse the instructions for hitting a fade.

Aim your body to the right of the target and your clubface slightly less to the right or at the target. Swing along the line of your body making sure that the clubface impacts the ball closed relative to your swing path. 

You may also find that strengthening your grip slightly or moving the ball back in your stance will help you to hit that draw shape.

If you do this correctly the ball will set off a little to the right of target and curve to the left in the air hopefully finishing close to your target. To get a more pronounced right-to-left shape you need to increase the difference between the clubface angle and the swing path. So you would need to aim further to the right and make sure that the face was more closed relative to the swing path and impact.

Why Not Just Hit It Straight?

Simply because hitting the ball straight is actually the most difficult option. Aside from golf robots, there isn’t any player on the planet that can consistently hit straight shots all the time. The top professionals will have a particular shape of shot that they favor even if they are capable of hitting the ball both ways.

Benefits Of Shot Shaping

The big benefit of shot shaping is giving you a greater margin for error. If your stock shot is a fade then you would aim slightly left of your target. If you hit the ball dead straight then you would finish just left. Hit the fade the way you want and you’ll be on the target or end up hitting a slice and you’ll finish to the right. The only really bad outcome is going to come from a draw or hook.

Another reason to shape your shots is to help you on dogleg holes. Being able to shape your ball around the corner of a dogleg will give you easier access to the green. Having the wrong shape for the hole means you may have to lay up to avoid running through the fairway into trouble.

Being able to move the ball through the air allows you to maneuver past obstacles such as trees between you and the green.

The final advantage is that you can shape the ball towards the flag when it is placed in a more awkward position. For example, a flag tucked behind a bunker. You could aim to start the ball at the middle of the green and shape it towards the flag. This way a straight shot doesn’t hurt you since you will be putting from the middle of the green but a well-executed shot leaves you with a shorter putt.

What Do The Professionals Do?

In the past, good players would probably aspire to hit a draw since that was the opposite of what most beginners were able to achieve. It was also clearly a more powerful flight, particularly on windy days.

These days many players on tour are quite happy moving the ball both ways when required but plenty like to hit a fade from the tee as they feel it gives them more control. Dustin Johnson changed his swing from a draw to a fade for this reason.

Given the prodigious distances that top players can achieve they are not really worried about scraping a few extra yards with a draw.

Martin Kaymer famously tried changing his natural fade shape into a draw partly at least because he felt it would help him at the Masters. His game has never really recovered to its previous heights.

Bubba Watson is one of the few players that shape the ball a significant amount even in relatively straightforward situations.

Conclusion

Trying to hit intentional draws and fades shows you are in control of your golf game. Unfortunately, the majority of golfers don’t have that level of control. My advice would be to take your current natural shot shape and try to work on it to minimize the curvature and maximize your launch conditions.

Try to turn your slice into a fade or your hook into a draw. Having confidence that you can consistently produce a particular shape of shot is the most important thing whilst minimizing large errors.

If you get to the point where you can consistently hit the ball one way then you can start learning how to hit it the other way on demand.

Golf is not about the quality of your good shots, it is about the quality of your bad shots.

Sir Nick Faldo

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

Is a draw better than a fade?

Both shapes of shot are useful depending upon the situation at hand. For example, if the wind is blowing from the left then hitting a draw will help keep the ball on target. Trying to hit a fade in a left-to-right wind means having to aim much further left possibly even having to aim into trouble, which is never a great idea.

What is the difference between fade and draw?

For a right-handed golfer, a fade shot moves from left to right in the air while a draw shot moves from right to left. For a left-hander the opposite is true.

Is a draw or fade easier?

Most amateurs would probably find it easier to hit a fade rather than a draw. The majority of amateurs tend to pick up the game develop a slice. A fade is essentially a more controlled version of a slice.

What is a trap draw?

A trap draw is a low-flying shot that moves from right to left. To perfect the shot you need to learn how to deloft your club at impact to reduce the launch angle. I find swinging smoother helps as the faster you swing the more spin you will usually apply to the ball and more spin usually means more height. You can also try to swing more around your body rather than up and down.

Do draw bias drivers lose distance?

In general, they do not. The point of a draw bias driver is to help the player square the clubface at impact or to mitigate when they don’t. Slicers will tend to have too much spin and therefore a draw bias driver that reduces spin should result in more distance overall.

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