The 'draw' golf shot is one of the most desirable shots in golf. When watching good players and certainly professional golfers, a large percentage of these golfers tend to favour the draw shot (for a right handed golfer it is a shot that starts to the right of the target and turns back on to the target line, a left handed shot is where the ball would start left of the target and turn on to the target line).
The draw shot is very desirable and favoured because it is very consistent. It is a shot that the player knows will curve so it is easier to control. On miss hits, the golfer can limit the damage of the shot as they know it is going to curve to some degree and more likely than not from right to left as opposed to from left to right. Another major factor is that straight shots are very difficult to repeat over and over again, and therefore are not very reliable.
The main reason why a draw is useful comes down to the technical make up of the golf shot. To hit a draw, the swing must be attacking the golf ball from the inside with the club face open to the target, and closed to the swing path. The reason the ball starts to the right of the target is because the club face points to the right, the ball then curves back to the middle because of the swing path through the ball will be further to the right than the club face. With the club entering the impact zone from the inside the club face very early on (as long as it is fairly square to path) will start to point at the golf ball a good foot before impact.
As long as the club face and path continue on the same track, the ball has a much higher percentage of hitting the middle of the golf club with the designed inside path. If the club was entering the golf ball from the outside as it approached the impact zone the club face (as long as it is fairly straight to path) would not be facing the golf ball till the very last few inches before impact therefore relying on a certain degree of skill and correction work before impact takes place. This would and could lead to slightly less consistent strikes taking place on the golf ball.
Also, this correction work before impact can also lead to miss strikes along the club face resulting in lack of distance and lack of accuracy. That is one of the reason golf pros play the draw shot more often.
Why Do a Lot of Pros Draw the Golf Ball?
As a golfer, you likely spend at least a little bit of time watching the pros play on TV each weekend. There are a number of good reasons to watch professional golf tournaments on TV - in addition to simple entertainment, you can also pick up tips and tricks that you can use to improve your own game. Watching the best players in the world get around the course while making plenty of birdies and very few bogies should help you in the pursuit of lower scores. You aren't going to be able to go right out and replicate their success, but you should be able to make minor improvements at the very least.
One of the things you are likely to notice when watching pro golf is the fact that many pros prefer to use a draw as their ball flight of choice. For right handed professional golfers, using a right to left flight is the norm, as players who favor a draw outnumber those who favor a fade by a significant margin. Of course it is certainly possible to play great golf with a fade - there are plenty of golfers in that group as well - but it is the draw that remains the go-to shot for most on the PGA Tour. Why is that? What is it about a draw that is desirable? In this article, we will get into the various benefits of a draw, and why you should consider using one in your game.
While there are plenty of good arguments in favor of a draw - and we will get into those in a moment - the first point you should take away from this article is the fact that you need to have a go-to ball flight one way or another. Whether you decide that the draw or the fade is the right shot for you is going to be a matter of personal preference, but you do need to pick one. Having a go-to shot will simplify your life on the course, because you will walk up to each shot with a picture in mind of what you are going to do with the ball. You can always alter that pattern, of course, to match the hole that you are playing, but you will start out with an idea of what you want to do. For example, if you choose a draw, you will walk up picturing a right to left flight in your mind. If you decide that a draw isn't going to work, you can then decide to look at other options, but having one flight that you favor gives you a starting point for your decision making.
All of the instruction contained below is based on a right handed golfer. If you play golf left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as needed.
The Benefits of a Draw
Before making your choice as to what ball flight you are going to use on the majority of your shots, it makes sense to take a close look at what you would stand to gain from using a draw. Once you know what it is that makes a draw so attractive, you can decide if it is something that would benefit your game. Of course, if you currently play a fade, there would be a period of adjustment that would have to take place in order to go from a fade to a draw - so there needs to be a reward at the end of all that hard work. The following points are all benefits that you may enjoy if you decide to use a draw to make your way around the course.
- Added distance. This is the reason that most players start to use a draw in the first place. Simply put, a draw is going to go farther than a fade in most circumstances. If you were to use exactly the same swing speed to hit a draw and a fade, the ball that turned over from right to left would almost always travel farther in the end. A draw is a 'penetrating' ball flight, where a fade tends to stand up in the air due to added backspin. Of course there are players who are able to smash their fades way down the fairway, but most golfers are going to find added distance when hitting the draw. You shouldn't switch to a draw only to gain distance, but it certainly is a nice benefit if you decide to take your game in this direction. Not only will you hit the ball farther from the tee with your driver, but you should also find that your iron shots travel farther as well.
- Dealing with the wind. Most draw shots have less backspin than fades of a similar distance, meaning the wind will be less of a problem when hitting the draw. If you play your golf in an area that tends to be windy on a regular basis, turning the ball over from right to left should make it easier to deal with that wind while still keeping your ball in play. Hitting a low fade is a tough task, so some players who go to the fade as their main shot struggle when the wind really starts to blow. On the other hand, it is easy to hit a low draw, so you will always have that option in your bag when you are a draw player. Since professional golfers play all around the world in a variety of weather conditions, the ability to hit a low draw under the wind when it is blowing is a big advantage.
- Promotes good fundamentals. To hit a draw, you need to strike the ball from the inside on the way through impact. Doing so promotes good fundamentals, as you will need to delay the release and turn your body through the shot nicely to create the draw spin. When playing a fade, however, you might be able to get away with some less-than-ideal mechanics that could come back to bite you in the end. The pros who play a fade on a regular basis do so by using good technique to hit shots with a slightly open face, but amateurs often have habits that are dangerously close to creating a slice. If your fade is simply a miniature slice, you are going to have trouble improving your game because there are underlying problems in your swing. By sticking with a draw, you will have no choice but to get your body and the club into a good position in the downswing.
- Easier to go the other way. Versatility is always a good thing on the golf course. It is a tremendous advantage to be able to curve the ball both directions on command - although this is something that few amateur golfers can do consistently. If you would like to add that option to your game, you will likely be better off to use a draw as your standard shot. Most players find it easier to hit a fade from time to time when they are draw players rather than doing the opposite. If you normally hit a fade, you may find that your attempts at hitting a draw often turn into hooks. By starting from the solid fundamentals needed for a draw, you should be able to make a few little tweaks when a left to right shot is required.
The four points on the list above are some of the biggest advantages to using a draw as your standard shot. You may find that there are even more benefits that you enjoy once you start turning the ball from right to left, but these points may be more than enough to entice you to make a switch.
The Drawbacks of a Draw
Even though a majority of professional golfers choose to use a draw as their go-to shot, there are still a few drawbacks to be seen with this ball flight. It is only right to look as the 'cons' along with the 'pros' so that you can make the best possible decision for your own game. Weigh the points below against the points above before you decide which kind of ball flight pattern you would like to claim as your own.
- Less stopping power. The downside of a lower spin rate when playing a draw is that your shots will not stop as quickly when they land on the green. Players who hit a high fade are able to bring the ball down softly on the greens - keeping it within a short distance of where it landed, even on firm surfaces. If you play in an area where the greens are regularly quite firm, you may find that hitting a draw on your approach shots makes it harder to access some hole locations. In order to hit the ball close on a regular basis as a draw player, you will likely need to have a soft fade in your arsenal for times when the greens get hard or the hole is located on the right edge.
- Potential loss of carry distance. While it is true that most players will hit a draw farther than a fade overall, some of that distance gain is going to come on the ground. Draws run out farther than fades, so you need to separate out carry distance from overall distance. For example, imagine that you hit two drives, one with a draw and one with a fade. The draw tee shot winds up travelling a total of 260 yards, while the fade goes 250. The draw was the longer shot, right? Overall, yes, but it may not have travelled as far in the air. The draw may have consisted of 240 yards of carry and 20 yards roll, while the fade could have been 245 carry and just 5 yards of roll. What does this all mean? In the end, you need to know how far you can carry the ball, as some shots will need to stay in the air most of the way to the target. When there is a hazard or even just long grass that you need to carry, the shot that is going to stay in the air the longest is the one that you will want to hit.
- Possibility of a hook. When trying to turn the ball right to left, there is always the possibility that you draw is going to turn into a hook. Of course, anyone can hit a bad shot, so it isn't the end of the world if you hook one from time to time - but a hook can be far more damaging than a slice. When you miss with your fade, the ball will likely go too far right, but it should land soft due to all of that backspin. That is not the case with a hook. Once you get the ball turning hard left, it usually isn't going to stop until it hits something (such as a tree). As the old golf saying goes, 'you can talk to a fade, but a hook won't listen'. By playing a fade instead of a draw, you take away the worry about a hook, and you give yourself a better chance of keeping the ball on the course.
Overall, most golfers would agree that playing a draw offers more advantages than disadvantages, but it is important to have a clear picture of both sides. The only way to make a good decision is to have all of the information that is available - now that you have a good idea of both the good and bad that comes along with a draw, you should be able to make a smart choice for your own game.
Basics of Playing a Draw
If you decide that you want to use a draw as your primary shot shape, the next thing you need to do is actually learn how to hit one. Some players will find that a right to left shot comes somewhat naturally, while others will have to fight their swings in order to produce a consistent and reliable draw. No matter what shot comes naturally to your swing, you are going to need to spend plenty of practice time on the range if you want to dial in a reliable draw that serves you well hole after hole.
Below is a list of points that should be kept in mind when you are trying to produce a steady draw.
- Stay behind the ball. One of the big keys to creating a draw is staying behind the ball on the way down. You have to hit from the inside if you are going to turn the ball over, and you can only do that when you are behind the ball properly as you come into impact. Players who slide past the ball in the downswing - such as those who fight the slice - are never going to be able to consistently produce a solid draw. Work on rotating your lower body on the way down rather than sliding and you will be in a better position to create the draw you desire.
- Keep your hands moving. You need to take your hands past the ball on the way down in order to hit a good draw. This is also known as lagging the club - your hands get down into a position where they are over the ball while the club head is still lagging far behind. Once your hands are down over the ball, you then release the club and the club head rapidly accelerates into impact. Many amateur golfers struggle with the concept of lag, but it is critical if you wish to be a draw player. To work on your lag, hit some short shots from around the green while paying attention to the position of your hands at impact. By shortening the swing and slowing things down, you can get a better idea of the mechanics required. Then, as you gain confidence, you can gradually work your way up to a full swing.
- Make a full turn going back. This is probably the biggest single key that you need to work on when it comes to hitting a draw. If you don't make a great shoulder turn going back, you will never be in the right position to strike the draw coming through. At the top of the backswing you should have your left shoulder pointing at least at the golf ball, if not a little bit to the right. If you are coming up short of that point with your shoulder rotation, it is going to be difficult to turn the ball over properly. Often, a short backswing is as much an issue of rushing the tempo as it is anything else. Take your time going back, allow yourself to finish the turn, and only start the downswing when you feel gathered and balanced at the top.
In reality, it isn't all that complicated to hit a draw. You need to make a full backswing, you need to hold onto your lag angle, and you need to stay behind the ball coming down. If you can check off those three boxes successfully, you will most likely be able to turn the ball from right to left in the air. Of course, it can take considerable practice to master the moves required to hit those three points, so expect to need some range time before you are an accomplished draw player.
When it comes to the full swing, most professional golfers are trying to hit a draw with the majority of their shots. However, as they get closer to the green, that starts to change. In fact, when playing short game shots, most pros are using techniques that would carve the ball from left to right in a fade pattern. Of course, short shots don't stay in the air long enough to actually curve to the right, but the concept is the same - hit across the ball from outside in to produce backspin and bring the ball down softly on the green.
Why would pro golfers change their pattern of swinging from inside out when it comes to the short game? It all comes down to spin. On short shots, backspin is a great thing because it provides the player with control. When you have the ability to get the ball up into the air and stop it quick from around the green, you can get the ball closer to the hole and save more pars. The power that comes along with draw spin is exactly the opposite from what you want when chipping and pitching, so it makes a lot of sense to hit across the ball slightly with your short game shots.
As you are working on your short game, imagine that you are hitting little fades into the hole. The ball isn't going to have enough time in the air to actually fade, but that is the feel you should be looking for with your swing. That outside in motion will lead to a steep downswing that helps you make solid contact, and the ball may spin slightly to the right on the ground after it lands. Regardless of what kind of shots you decide to play with your full swing, use a fade technique around the greens and your short game will improve.
While most professional golfers choose to play a draw, you do not have to feel compelled to take your game in that direction. If you feel that you would be better served by sticking with a fade, it is still possible to play some great golf using that pattern. Take all of the information provided above and make a choice that you feel is a good fit for your game. Good luck!