What's the worst thing you can do when playing into the wind? Hit a high left-to-right shot (a fade). For a lefty, it would be a right-to-left ball flight. A headwind exaggerates any spin your ball carries, so a fade gets pushed far off line and flies a very short distance. The ball appears to balloon up and sideways as the wind kills its progress. A right-to-left shot, or draw, is less affected because it flies with less backspin and tends to penetrate the wind. If you're capable of hitting a draw, use it whenever possible in windy conditions. If a draw's not in your arsenal, you can still survive windy days playing your fade – the great Lee Trevino made a career of it. The first trick is to keep the ball low, which can be difficult since the fade is hit with an open clubface. The second key is to make sure the ball starts left of your target.

To play a fade into the wind:

  • With the driver, tee the ball slightly lower than normal, with only a small portion of the ball above the club's top line.
  • With every club, play the ball back in your stance. A couple of inches inside the left (lead) heel for the driver, mid-stance for irons.
  • Aim the clubface a little left of your intended target, with the feet and body aligned with the club or just slightly left. You're looking for a minimal fade.
  • On the takeaway, be sure to swing the club back along the line of your body while keeping the clubhead low to the ground.
  • Swinging through, fire your right side through the shot. This will prevent the ball from squirting right while starting it on target and delivering the solid contact necessary to minimize the wind's effect.

Follow the same steps for shots with irons or woods from the fairway, playing the ball slightly back in your stance.

How to Play a Fade into the Wind

How to Play a Fade into the Wind

It is never easy to play golf in the wind. Even the best players would rather play in calm conditions as opposed to having to deal with a breeze, as the wind is always unpredictable and difficult to judge. Golf is a game with numerous variables involved in each shot, so the last thing you need is to add another one to the mix. However, there is nothing you can do to prevent the wind from coming up while on the course, so you need to learn how to deal with it properly. With the right plan, you can get your ball around the course without too much interference from the breeze sweeping across the course.

When you think about playing golf in the wind, you probably picture yourself hitting a bunch of low draws around the course. After all, a draw is usually the shot that most players turn to in the breeze, since it offers a lower spin rate and typically a lower flight than a fade. But is it necessary to use a draw when the wind comes up? Not necessarily. In this article, we are going to look at the unique idea of playing a fade into the wind. You may do this by choice, or you may play a fade into the breeze simply because you aren't capable of producing any other ball flight. Whatever the case, the article below will attempt to outline how you can hit this kind of shot with success. Even if you don't have a draw in your playbook at the moment, you still may be able to create quality scores on windy days.

Before we get into the specifics of how to play your fade in these conditions, we should talk first about the basics of playing in the wind. Playing in the wind is difficult, of course, but it is not impossible. And, since no one has yet invented an entirely indoor golf course, this is a challenge that is not going away anytime soon. To make sure you are on the right track with regard to playing your best on a windy day, keep the following basic tips in mind.

  • Play with plenty of margin. One of the first things to do when playing in the wind is to pick safer targets for all of your shots. Instead of aiming at a flag cut on the side of the green, for example, consider aiming for the middle of the putting surface. You simply aren't going to have as much control over your ball in the wind, so don't be too aggressive with your targets. Pick shots that give you as much margin for error as possible, and then execute confident swings in order to keep the ball out of trouble.
  • Take what the wind gives you. This is the point which trips up most amateur golfers. There is nothing you can do about the wind, so you need to accept it as a reality and play within the constraints that it puts on your game. What does that mean? Think about it this way – you are playing a different golf course on a windy day as compared to a calm day. Where you might be able to reach the green on a given par four in two shots on a calm day, that same green might be out of reach in the wind. And that's okay – rather than trying to force your ball there in two shots, play it as a three shot hole and hope to make your putt for par. Forcing the action in the wind is only going to lead you into trouble. It takes patience to play this way, but your score will benefit from a patient and level-headed approach in the breeze.
  • Focus on your short game. The wind will have very little, if any, effect on your short game. With that in mind, you should do your best to focus on executing your short game shots perfectly on a windy day. Your approach shots aren't going to be as accurate as they would be in calm weather, so there is a good chance you will need to chip more than normal. Spend a few extra minutes on your chipping and putting before the round starts, and plan on doing great work on and around the greens. With a strong short game performance, you just might be able to make up for the strokes that the wind tried to take away.
  • Have a good attitude. The game you play between your ears on a windy day is nearly as important as the swings you make. If you take a good attitude with you onto the course, you will stand a far better chance to post a good score. Don't head to the first tee feeling frustrated about the wind – instead, look at it as an opportunity to play a great round in spite of the conditions. If you embrace the challenge which comes along with a windy day, your patience will improve, as will your performance.

As we move on in this article, we are going to shift our attention specifically to using your fade into the wind. However, keep the general tips above in mind while playing on a windy day and you will begin to perform well even in these challenging conditions.

All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

Making It Work

Making It Work

On the surface, it is true that it doesn't make much sense to hit a fade when playing into the wind. After all, a fade is going to fly higher than a draw in most cases, and you certainly don't want to hit the ball high when hitting a shot into the breeze. Also, a fade will usually have a higher backspin rate than a draw, which is another strike against you. Keeping your spin rate down in windy conditions is always advised, and going with the left-to-right shot will not help you toward that end.

The first thing you need to understand about fading the ball into the wind is that you cannot swing hard at these kinds of shots. If you were to swing hard, the spin rate on the ball would increase, and the shot would climb high into the sky. Once up in the air, the wind will kill the forward momentum of the shot, and you will almost certainly wind up short of the target. Anytime you are trying to fade the ball into the breeze, you need to make a soft swing while using plenty of club to cover the target. By avoiding the mistake of an aggressive swing, you can reduce your spin rate successfully and you should be able to keep the ball much closer to the ground as it flies.

Of course, as is the case with any shot played into the wind, you need to plan on losing yardage off of your usual number with a given club. For some reason, this is a tough lesson for some amateur golfers to accept. Many players stubbornly continue to hit the same club they would use from a given yardage, even if the wind is blowing in their face. Or, at the most, they will take one extra club. It is common for a shot affected by the wind to require two or three extra clubs, depending on the situation, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. Don't try to impress your friends by how hard you can hit the ball into the wind – that approach will only lead to disappointing results. Especially when hitting the ball into the wind with a fade, you need to understand that at least one extra club will be needed, if not two or more.

Another piece of this puzzle is determining how far to the left to aim your shot in order to allow it to turn back toward the target. Since you are hitting into the wind, you should expect the ball to curve more as it flies. Many players make the mistake of thinking that only a cross wind will cause the ball to move to the right or left, but that is actually not the case. When hitting into the wind, you should expect any curve on your ball to be amplified, whether it is a draw or a fade. Likewise, when hitting downwind, you will see your shots straighten out. There is no exact way to determine how much your shots will be affected by the breeze, so you are going to have to learn this point by experience. As you hit more and more shots into the wind as time goes by, you will get better at predicting the path of the ball. As long as you are aware of this concern, you can keep it in mind while picking a target line.

Is a fade the ideal shot to hit when playing into the wind? No – not really. However, it certainly can work, as long as you understand the limitations of the shot and what you need to watch out for as you go. By making a relatively soft swing and giving the ball plenty of room to turn back to the right, you can fade the ball in to the target even when the breeze is blowing in your face.

Picking the Right Time

Picking the Right Time

If you are also capable of hitting a draw on command, you will need to pick the right time to use the fade into the wind. After all, the draw would be the more conventional shot, so you will likely want to go that way the majority of the time. The list below highlights some situations when you will be better served to cut the ball into the breeze.

  • Need to stop the ball quickly. Few shots in golf will stop as quickly as a$ fade which is played into the breeze. If you move the ball from left to right while the wind blows in your face, you can expect the ball to stop almost immediately when it lands. Even in firm conditions, this is the kind of shot that shouldn't really go anywhere when it hits the turf. If you need to stop the ball quickly, such as would be the case when playing to a front hole location, think about turning to the fade for help. As long as you pick the right club in this situation, you may be able to drop the ball right next to the cup for an easy birdie putt.
  • Don't have to carry a dangerous hazard. When you opt to go with the fade into the wind, there will always be the risk of having the ball balloon and come up short of the target. You will work to avoid that outcome by making a soft swing, but it is a possibility nonetheless. With that in mind, it would be wise to avoid this shot when you absolutely need to carry the ball the full distance to the target. For instance, if there is a water hazard short of the green, playing your fade may be taking on too much risk. In this situation, play a draw (if you can) or even a punch shot to avoid the wind and get the ball over the hazard. One of the biggest keys to posting low scores is simply staying away from penalty strokes – don't make a costly mistake by letting the wind drop your ball into a bad position short of a target.
  • Facing a shot of more than 100 yards. Distance plays a role in this decision making process as well. If you are playing in from more than 100 yards, feel free to think about the idea of using a fade. From closer than 100 yards, however, leave the fade in the bag and just hit a relatively straight, low wedge shot in toward the target. Trying to fade the ball from such a short distance is going to send the ball way too high into the air, letting the wind dramatically affect your distance control. Learn how to play the ball under the wind from these short distances and you will find yourself with short putts more often.

With practice, you will get more and more comfortable with the task of picking the right time for this shot. In addition to the points above, trust your own instincts as well. If the shot doesn't look right to you for some reason, think about going in another direction. You always have to believe in the shot you are trying to hit, so never start your swing until you are fully committed to the choice you have made.

Use Care in Soft Conditions

Use Care in Soft Conditions

Usually, soft conditions make the game of golf easier. When the ground is soft, the ball doesn't bounce or roll much after it lands – meaning you can control your shots far more precisely than you can on hard ground. You will be able to aim directly at most of your targets, expecting the ball to land and settle down quickly. Professional golfers usually shot low scores in soft conditions, and it is common to see rounds in the low 60s when rain falls on the best players in the world.

With all of that said, you need to be careful when playing on soft conditions to avoid spinning your ball back off the green. This is true of every short approach shot you hit, but it is particularly true when hitting a fade into the wind. Playing into the wind is going to cause your ball to fly extremely high, so it will be coming down on a steep angle when it returns to earth. When you combine that steep angle with a high spin rate, the ball can easily zip back off the green. Or, at the very least, it can spin back far enough to take you away from your intended target.

Many amateur golfers think it's 'cool' to spin the ball back on the green, as this looks like a shot that the pros would hit. Don't get caught up in that line of thinking. The shot might look cool, but it is actually quite difficult to use effectively. Rather than spinning the ball back, your goal should be to have the ball sit still once it lands. It is far easier to leave the ball next to the hole when it sits in place than trying to judge a significant amount of backspin.

So what can you do to avoid excessive backspin? For one thing, you need to swing soft on into the wind shots, as we mentioned previously. Also, it is important to make sure that you are playing the right ball. While it is often against the rules (if you are in a competition) to switch golf balls during a round, you can certainly pick the type of ball you are going to play before the round begins. So, if you know you will be facing soft conditions, use a ball which offers a slightly lower spin rate. This adjustment will automatically take backspin off of your approach shots, and it should make it easier to hold the putting surface.

Learn a Draw

Learn a Draw

In golf, you always want to have options. As we have explained in this article, it is possible to hit some quality shots by using your fade into the wind. However, that is not always going to be the right play. If the only shot you can hit is a fade, you will struggle to post consistently good scores on windy days. It would be ideal to have a draw at your disposal, even if you only use it from time to time. To learn how to play a helpful right to left shot, review the points below.

  • Move the ball slightly back in your stance. Many golfers think that moving the ball back in the stance will cause them to hit shots out to the right, but the opposite is usually true. With the ball farther back, you will contact the shot while the club is still moving away from your body – creating the right to left spin that you need. Don't move the ball too far back, however, as doing so will make it difficult to strike solid shots.
  • Use a strong left hand grip. If you usually play a fade, you might be able to turn that fade into a draw simply by turning your left hand slightly to the right on the top of the grip. This will put your hands in a stronger position, meaning they will have an easier time releasing the club head through impact. An improved release will lead to a closed club face, which is going to produce a draw when all is said and done.
  • Take your time. One of the keys to hitting a draw is simply taking your time at the top of the swing. If you rush through the transition from backswing to downswing, you won't be able to stay behind the ball properly – and a fade (or slice) is the likely outcome. Take your time throughout the swing, and especially at the top, to make sure you are well positioned to strike a clean draw.

There is no such thing as a perfect golf shot which works in all situations. The nature of this game demands that you be creative as you go around the course, coming up with different shots to match the situation at hand. This is certainly true when it comes to the fade into the wind. While unconventional, this shot can be the perfect play from time to time. Learn how to hit this shot effectively, and learn how to turn over a draw as well, and you will be able to rise to the occasion when the wind comes up. Good luck!