What Is A Fade In Golf? [And How To Hit One]

Golf is a complex sport. There’s lots of different ways of playing it and making a good score. A wide range of shots can be played with a wide choice of different clubs. There’s always a shot you can try and play for each scenario you’re in.

That’s why we love it, it’s a constant quest for perfection which is never actually achievable.

But with so many different shots at a player’s disposal, it can get a little confusing for beginners and experts alike to hit these shots.

With that said, here’s a quick look at one of the most common types of shots in golf – a fade. For a lot of golfers, this is their stock type of shot and get’s them into the fairway every time. But in golf what is a fade and how do you hit a fade in golf?

Let’s get into it and find out what is a fade in golf.

What Is A Fade In Golf?

What Is A Fade In Golf?

What Is A Fade In Golf?

A fade is a golf shot that moves slightly from left to right for right-handed golfers, or right to left for left-handed golfers. It is also sometimes referred to as a ‘cut shot’.

For example, if a fairway were to dog-leg around the right, a player could use a fade shot to move their ball left to right to match the shape of the hole.

A golf fade is not to be confused with a slice which also moves from left to right, but far more aggressively in the lateral direction.

Generally speaking, a fade shot is a much safer and more controllable shot shape compared to a draw or a hook. A fade usually has a higher trajectory than a draw, which means that is comes down a lot softer.

This is ideal for when hitting a long iron into a firmer green, as it will allow a player to stop the ball on the green quicker. A golf fade is also more likely to have a greater amount of backspin on it compared with a draw. Again this makes it easier to land a ball and stop it on a green much more quickly.

As a result of this, a fade also tends to go a shorter distance to a draw. A fade will get less run as it hits the ground because of the greater height and increased backspin.

Usually for a fade shot, you’re aiming for about 5 to 10 yards of movement from left to right (or vice versa for left-handed players). This is enough to see some movement on the golf ball but without the threat of a slice which veers wildly off target.

These days, with the vast improvements in golf club technology, many of the top professionals tend to favour a fade shot. Drivers go such a long distance nowadays that the pros don’t need to worry as much about distance and would much prefer the greater controlled ball flight of a fade.

A controlled fade shot in your golf game is a really wonderful shot to have in the locker. It can keep you in play, get you out of trouble and help you build a solid score. Done properly it can transform your golf game into a consistent ball-striking machine.

I’ve always been a big fan of a fade as it feels safer than a draw shot. Ideally, I’d love to hit the ball straight most of the time, but golf just isn’t that easy. A fade shot gives me a consistent flight and I know where the balls going to finish up most of the time.

What Is A Fade In Golf?

How To Hit A Fade In Golf?

So now we know how great a golf fade is to have in your golf game, how do you go about perfecting it and introducing it into your play on the course?

First up, it needs to be something that is honed on the practice range and not on the course straight away. Learning the basics of how to fade a golf ball and then practising those movements and techniques on the range is important before you start trying to do it out on the course.

As with anything in golf, it takes time to build the technique and requires dedication to hit plenty of balls on the range. Therefore this is key to learning the fade shot and shouldn’t be tried out on the links without the fundamentals.

Another point that should be mentioned is aiming left. It might seem obvious, but if you want the ball to move left to right towards the target, you need to pick an initial target to the left of your actual target. Otherwise, if you’re starting the ball at the flag and it’s fading, you will end up missing the ball to the right of the target.

When it comes to hitting a fade, there’s a couple of different techniques that you can use:

Open Stance, Ball Forward

The basic science behind a fade golf shot is that spin is placed on the ball, from a clubface that is slightly open compared to the club swing path. This can mean that a clubface is pointing at the flag or target but with the club swing path going to the left.

The simplest technique to do this is just to open your feet a little and move the ball forward in your stance. Bringing your left foot (for right-handed players) back a touch will open up your shoulders and body naturally. Keep the clubface pointing towards the target and then swing down the line of your body and feet. Provided all else stays the same in your swing, this will create the left-to-right spin on the ball which produces a fade shot.

The following diagram helps illustrate what happens when you hit a fade shot. The face of the club is pointing towards the target, yet the direction the club is travelling is from outside to in which creates the spin required.

What Is A Fade In Golf? [And How To Hit One]
An out-to-in club path is the easiest way of hitting a fade.

Swing Left

Sometimes the best way to hit a fade is just to swing left. Instead of aiming your feet and body left, just focus on bringing the club from out to in. By consciously swinging left, it helps to promote the sidespin and the left-to-right movement on the ball, without having to aim your body away from the target.

Although this sounds simple, just ‘swinging left’ can prove a little tricky, especially for a beginner player. This method will require a large amount of practice to ingrain the movement and also needs a certain amount of feel to control.

The danger of this approach is swinging too far to the left, which will result in a much more aggressive swing of the ball and most likely lead to a slice.

This method certainly is one you need to get to grips with on the range before out try it out on the golf course.

Open Clubface

Another method of hitting a fade is to open the clubface up. This means turning the toe of the club slightly away from the ball so that it isn’t totally square to the target. Then simply swing your swing on its normal path and the open face should allow for the fade spin to occur.

Although opening the clubface up is not essential for hitting a fade, it may feel a little more comfortable to some players as it doesn’t require changing your swing. The only change you have to make is that slightly opened club face.

Here’s a quick video of one of the world’s best golfers, Rory McIlroy, showing how he hits a fade:

Hold Off Clubface

Holding off the clubface through impact is also a method of hitting a fade. Normally for a classic golf shot that goes straight, your hands and arms should follow a rotation through the ball and past impact.

However, for a fade, holding the clubface off at impact will delay the release and add some sidespin to the ball. This is also usually coupled with a forward lean of the shaft and body turning through the ball much more quickly.

This technique is what you will see in a lot of good players and is one of the more difficult methods to pull off.

Have A Look At Your Equipment

This is usually just the case for your woods, but if you’re looking at incorporating a fade into your game you can always adjust your woods to a fade position.

With modern technology, you can change the loft, lie and face angles with just a twist of the tool. Set it to a position that is specific to a fade and see if it makes a difference to your game. Sometimes, just this small adjustment is all you need to get the ball moving softly from left to right.

Remember, however, you can only make these changes before a round and won’t be able to adjust clubs during play.

Adjust Your Grip

Another method and perhaps a slightly overlooked approach is to change your grip on the club. Changing your hand position to a weaker grip will naturally get you hitting more of a fade shot.

This basically means instead of seeing three knuckles on the top of your left hand (for right-handed golfers), you should only be seeing 2 knuckles.

Bear in mind that overdoing this movement will cause a slice and a big miss to the right. For me, I’d always avoid making any changes to a grip, especially if it’s for a one-off shot. I would always focus more on getting the feeling of swing going left, rather than messing around with your grip.

An incorrect grip can be very damaging to your golf game so is usually best left alone, once you’ve found the correct positioning.

Pros And Cons Of Hitting A Fade

So now we know what a fade is and how to play one – but what are the pros and cons of hitting a fade when you’re out on the golf course?

Pros Of Hitting A Fade

More Control

Golf is all about control. You’re hitting a ball 200 yards towards a tiny hole, so the more control you can have the better.

A fade is much softer compared to a draw. It tends to float a little higher and comes down much softer with more backspin. This means it’ll roll out less and you can trust that you’ll be able to stop the ball on the green or fairway.

Easier To Play

Now when I say easier, I don’t really mean it’s easier to play than a draw – it’s just the lesser of the two evils. Like the point on having more control, a fade is easier to play than a draw.

A poor fade is a slice. A poor draw is a hook. A low hook with loads of topspin is usually more destructive than a high slice. Of course, a slice can be just as damaging for your game, but it’s much more likely a high slice will finish up in play compared to a hook.

Cons Of Hitting A Fade

Doesn’t Go As Far

A fade will usually take some of the speed and distance off the ball, which means less distance. A draw is turning over with topspin, which means it will get more run out as it hits the ground. The fade on the other hand has more backspin, so won’t get the same amount of run.

Can Lead To A Slice

For a lot of amateur golfers, the slice is their bad shot. They could only dream of getting the club into a position that would produce a draw.

Therefore if they focus too heavily on trying to get that fade shot weighed off, it could go too far the wrong way and lead to a big slice.

Final Thoughts

So there we have it, a complete look at what a fade is in golf. For many golfers, a fade is the best option for their game. The most common bad shot is a slice, so being able to work that down to a more manageable fade should be the goal for most amateur players.

With that said, there’s plenty of ways to hit a little soft fade and it can really help your golf if you can pull it off consistently.

Try out a few of these tips the next time you’re at the range and start playing some better golf!

Fade Golf Shot FAQs

Is a fade a slice?

A fade is not a slice, although a slice will have the same shape as a fade. Both a fade and slice move from left to right for right-handers. However, a slice will have more sidespin on the ball and it will turn far far more aggressively to the right.

Why is a fade better than a draw?

Many professionals see a fade as better than a draw because it is a more controllable golf shot to play with. A fade goes higher and comes down softer than a draw, so it can stop at the intended target more quickly.

What’s the difference between a fade and a slice in golf?

A fade is different to a slice because it is usually intended, with players aiming slightly left of the target and bringing the ball back softly. A fade tends to only move up to about 10 yards, whereas a slice moves much further off the intended line.

Is a fade a hook or a slice?

A fade is neither a hook nor a slice. It is more closely linked to a slice because both shots move from left to right (for right-handed golfers), however, a slice will have far more spin on the ball and move much further to the right.

Does Tiger Woods play a draw or fade?

Tiger Woods plays both a draw and a fade. More recently he has favoured a fade because it helps to take the left side of the golf course out of play for him. Early on in his career, he struggled with a big miss to the left.

What is a golf fade?

A golf fade is a type of shot where the ball moves from left to right in the air. A fade is designed to start left of the target and then curve to the right and land next to the target.

Ed Welton

Founder, Editor

Ed is the founder and editor at EEE Golf. He’s been playing golf for over 20 years, competing in many top amateur events. He’s played courses all over the world and played with some of the best players in the game. His aim is to help educate people about the game of golf and give insights into the sport he loves most.

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