Ben Hogan once said, “You only hit a straight ball by accident.”
What did Hogan, one of history’s most accurate hitters, mean? Basically, that hitting a golf ball on an undeviating line was nearly impossible, on purpose or otherwise. The clubface is almost always closed or open at impact in relation to the swing path, imparting left or right sidespin.
Knowing that, Hogan never tried to hit the golf ball dead straight. Instead, he intentionally made the ball curve left or right depending on the demands of each shot.
How do you determine whether a given shot should move left to right (a fade for a right-hander) or right to left (a draw)? The major factors are the shape of the hole and the pin placement on the green.
Generally, the best bet for finding the fairway from the tee is a shot that mirrors the hole’s curvature (dogleg). For example, a golf ball fade is best on a dogleg right hole, a draw on a dogleg left.
Similar logic applies on approach shots to greens. If the flagstick is placed on the right of the green, a fade that starts left and moves toward the target is preferred, and vice versa.