Raise Hands to Hit a Fade - Golf Tip

Raise your hand if you'd like to hit a reliable fade. Actually, raise both hands. Yep, it's as simple as that.

Golfers who naturally draw the ball often have a hard time playing a left-to-right shot when needed. They struggle off the tee on dogleg-right holes, and must aim away from the flag when it's tucked on the green's right side. And woe is them when a high fade over or around a tree is called for.

In fact, golfers who favor a draw often find double trouble when setting up for a fade. They do everything right at address – align feet and body left of target, aim clubface at the target – and make their normal swing. The ball starts on line, but turns left and low instead of right and high.

Sound familiar? If so, there's an easy fix. Just follow these steps:

  • Take your normal setup over the ball, aligning body and club for a fade.
  • Move your hands slightly higher, i.e., away from your body. This reduces the angle between the arms and shaft.
  • This will raise the level of your shoulders, putting you in a “taller” address position.
  • Make your normal swing.

Higher hands lead to a more upright swing plane and decrease the “whip” in your release. Your angle of attack will be more down the line, rather than inside-to-out, and the clubface won't shut so severely on impact.

Now, raise your hands if you're ready to get your fade on.

A fade is an incredibly useful shot.

Raise Hands to Hit a Fade?

For a right-handed golfer, this is a shot which moves slightly from left to right as it flies. Unlike a slice, which flies out of control – and usually into trouble – a fade is an intentional shot that is used to move the ball in toward the target. While many amateur golfers aspire to play a draw on most of their shots, the fade should not be forgotten. Plenty of professional golfers use the fade as their shot of choice, and for good reason. When executed correctly, the fade can help you control the flight of your shots beautifully, and those shots will often settle down quickly after they land.

In this article, we are going to talk about the adjustments you can make to hit a fade on demand. Of course, if you already hit a fade naturally, you don't need to make any changes – you just need to keep doing what you are doing. However, if you are a player who generally hits a draw, or even a relatively straight ball, learning how to hit a fade is a valuable skill. Even if it is only used a few times during the typical round, those few uses may be able to save you strokes. Think about it this way – the more shots you have available in your 'toolbox', the most situations you will be able to handle on the course.

As you work on learning how to hit a fade, it is important to remember that you don't want to lose track of your ability to produce your natural trajectory. The changes you make here should be subtle; just enough to allow your ball to turn slightly to the right as it flies. If you feel like you are having to make dramatic swing changes just to hit a fade, you need to keep working until you can find a better way. Making major changes on the fly during the course of a round is asking for trouble. Even if you do manage to hit a quality fade or two, it will be hard to get back to your usual swing for the next shot.

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.

A Single Requirement

A Single Requirement

It is easy to make golf more complicated than it needs to be. Yes, this is a hard game, but it is still relatively simple when you boil it down. The goal is to move the ball into the hole is as few strokes as possible. To do so, you need to control your shots and keep your ball on the manicured parts of the course. So, how do you control your shots? To a large degree, that comes down to controlling spin. When you control the spin you place on the ball, you will have a great chance to find your targets.

As it relates to hitting a fade, you are going to need to spin the ball from left to right. If the ball is spinning from left to right when it leaves your club face, it is going to turn to the right while flying through the air (unless there is a powerful wind which stops it from doing so). When you manage to produce a modest amount of left to right spin at impact, you will have done the job of hitting a fade. Once the ball leaves the club, all you can do is stand there are watch it head toward the target.

So, we now know that the only job you have when trying to hit a fade is to produce a reasonable amount of left to right spin. But how do you accomplish that goal? This is where it can get tricky. For a player who typically hits a draw, turning things around to create a fade is not going to be easy. Your natural swing is creating right to left spin, so causing the ball to spin in the other direction is a serious challenge. Obviously, you are going to need to change your swing technique in some way in order to make that happen.

Before we start talking about mechanical changes, let's walk through how the relationship between the club and the ball at impact determines what path your shots take in the air.

  • As you swing down, your club head will be moving along a specific path. This is known as your swing path, and it is going to play a major role in determining what happens when the ball leaves the club face. If you are swinging directly toward the target, you are said to be swinging 'down the line'. A swing which is moving from outside-in is often known as swinging 'across the line', or 'across the ball'. This is a common move, particularly in the amateur game, and it is the type of swing which is usually to blame when a slice occurs.
  • In addition to your swing path, the other big element at play here is the angle of the face at impact. When the face is pointed directly at the target, you are said to be in a 'square' position. If the face is pointed to the left of the target at impact, it is 'closed', and having the face pointing to the right of the target at impact is known as an 'open' position.
  • It the combination of these two factors which will determine whether you are left with a hook, draw, fade, slice, or straight shot when all is said and done. A fade is usually the result of a swing that travels relatively straight down the target line with a slightly open face. If you start to swing across the line while maintaining that open position, you will drift into slice territory, rather than the fade that you hope to hit.

As you should already know, the swing happens far too quickly for you to actually monitor these points as you swing through the ball. You are going to have to make adjustments in advance of starting your swing if you hope to alter your swing path or club face angle in some way. Throughout the rest of this article, we are going to attempt to help you modify your swing in a way that will leave you with a reliable fade.

Three Possible Adjustments

Three Possible Adjustments

You should now have a clear understanding of what a fade is and how one is produced. But how do you go from hitting a draw – or even a relatively straight shot – to hitting a fade? This is where it gets tricky. In this section, we are going to present you with three options that you can try in the hopes of mastering a useful fade ball flight.

The three possible adjustments are listed below. It should be noted that you won't necessarily need to, or want to, use all three of these at the same time. It is very much possible that only one of these three adjustments will be needed in order to set you on the right path.

  • Raise your hands at address. This is the adjustment mentioned in the title of this article, so it only makes sense that we start here. When you are setting up over a shot, and you know you want to hit a fade, consider raising the position of your hands at address. In doing so, you are going to make it more likely that you'll swing the club back slightly to the outside of the target line. An outside takeaway will usually result in an outside-in swing path on the way through the ball, and a fade may be the final outcome. Of course, it all sounds pretty easy when you read it – it might not necessarily play out that easy in practice. It's possible that your takeaway won't go quite as planned, and it's also possible that some other part of your swing will interfere with your ability to hit a fade. However, as a starting point, simply raising your hands at address is a great way to get going.
  • Open your stance slightly. This is perhaps the most popular adjustment use by golfers who hope to hit a fade. By opening your stance to the target line, you can again promote the outside-in swing path that we mentioned in the point above. All you will need to do is open your stance a bit and swing along your foot line as the club comes down through impact. If you execute the swing properly, there is a good chance that you will hit a little fade. Again here, this is something that sounds easier than it is in real life. Sure, it's easy enough to open your stance in relation to your normal positioning, but that doesn't mean that you will swing along your foot line successfully. This is an adjustment that will take plenty of practice if it is going to pay off on the course.
  • Weaken your grip. The last adjustment on our list may be the most difficult to use, but it is also likely to be the most effective. By having you weaken your grip, we are not trying to adjust your swing path so much as your face angle at impact. A weaker grip is going to make it harder to release the club through the hitting area, and as a result, the face will be more likely to hang open. So, if you swing through the ball on a straight line toward the target, and you manage to keep the face just a bit open, you should wind up with a fade. The problem here, of course, is that making a change to your grip can cause the swing to feel quite uncomfortable. You are going to need to have a lot of confidence in your ability to pull this off, and you'll have to practice it quite a bit, as well. This is probably not an option that will yield good results for a golfer who is just getting started in the game, but a more experienced player may find it quite helpful.

In the end, it is only trial and error that is going to help you produce a fade. You will need to get out on the driving range to try out some different options before you can see what works – and what doesn't. For instance, you might find that the best way for you to produce a fade is to raise your hands at address and use a slightly weaker grip. Or, it may be that you need to do nothing more than open your stance and swing away. Test out a variety of options on the range and evaluate your progress as you move along.

Put Yourself to the Test

Put Yourself to the Test

Once you have done a little bit of work on the range, you may begin to feel pretty good about your ability to fade the golf ball. That's great – but it doesn't mean you are necessarily ready to use this skill on the course. You want to make sure you know exactly what to expect from your fade before you actually try it during a round of golf. In this section, we are going to offer some tips on how you can test yourself on the range to make sure your fade is ready for action.

  • Switch back and forth. One of the best things you can do on the range to work on your fade is to alternate between fade and draw shots. Using the same club, and aiming at the same target, draw one shot into the target and then fade the next. Developing the ability to go back and forth is important, because this is exactly what you will be doing on the course. It's one thing to be able to create a fade after trying for 10 or 15 swings in a row, but that isn't practical in terms of a round of golf. You only get one try to hit the fade that you need to hit in a given situation, so replicate that kind of pressure on the range. Once you can successfully move back and forth between a draw and a fade, you will know that you are on the right track.
  • Alter the height of your trajectory. This isn't a necessary step, but it is a good one to take. While you are working on your fade, also work on hitting the ball higher or lower on command. If you can manage to pull this off, you will know that you are getting comfortable with what it takes to produce left to right shots. Since hitting the ball higher or lower takes some of your attention during the swing, you won't be able to focus solely on hitting your fade. If you can prove to yourself that this is a task you can handle, you'll have every reason to believe that your fade is going to be effective on the course.
  • Fade a variety of clubs. One other thing to work on during your practice sessions is to produce a fade with a number of different clubs. Instead of just hitting something like a seven iron over and over again, try moving up and down your set to prove to yourself that you can trust this shot no matter what the situation looks like on the course. Can you fade your driver comfortably? What about your long irons? Take note of which clubs fade effectively and which need more work. You might not be able to turn the ball left to right with all of your clubs, and that's okay. Simply figure out which clubs are capable of this pattern and then only attempt your fade on the course when one of those clubs is in hand.

Golf is a game that requires plenty of practice is real improvement is to be achieved. That is certainly the case when it comes to learning how to hit a fade. You aren't going to come into this easily, especially if your natural shot is a draw. Spend a portion of your practice time during each range session working on your fade so you can trust this shot when the pressure is on.

Using Your New Fade

Using Your New Fade

To wrap up this article, we are going to assume that you have done the hard work and you now have a reliable fade in your repertoire. Congratulations! It is great to add new shots to your game, as those new shots have the potential to take you to a higher level of performance. With that said, the higher level of performance is not going to happen automatically. You need to think carefully about how you are going to use your new shot before it will actually pay off in the form of lower scores.

Let's take a look at a few tips on how you can use your new fade to maximum effect. Note: for this section, we are going to assume that your default ball flight is a draw, and that you are adding a fade as an alternative ball flight when needed.

  • Don't force it. The first rule of thumb you need to understand is that you always want to stick with your default shot pattern whenever possible. In this case, that means using your draw most of the time, and only opting for the fade when the draw really doesn't make any sense. While you might be improving with regard to your ability to hit a fade, that shot will almost certainly never be as reliable as the one that comes naturally in your game. In other words, don't fall in love with your new fade so much that you start to force it into situations where it doesn't belong.
  • Assume you'll lose a bit of yardage. In most cases, a fade is not going to fly quite as far as a draw. That means you'll want to adjust your club selection appropriately on the course. It may be as simple as just using one extra club when you decide to hit a fade, but you'll have to experiment for yourself to figure this out exactly. Remember, distances that you see on the range are mostly useless, as the range balls you are hitting properly don't perform anything like the golf balls you use on the course. So, to gauge how much distance is going to be lost when you hit a fade, you'll need to actually get out on the course to test it.
  • Be careful in the wind. A fade is almost always going to have more backspin than a draw, meaning this type of shot is far more likely to get caught up in the breeze. If you are playing on a rather windy day, be careful about going to your fade too often. You can probably get away with it from time to time – particularly on downwind shots – but using a fade into the wind too often is a recipe for trouble. Again, this is another point that will become easier to judge as you gain some experience. You will start to understand how your ball is going to be affected in the wind, and you will be able to pick the right shot as a result.

Countless golfers are only able to turn the ball in one direction. If you can manage to turn the ball in the opposite direction, you will be at a big advantage over much of your competition at the local club. Of course, that advantage is only going to pay off if you actually use your fade effectively on the course. Think carefully about how you are going to deploy this shot, and practice enough on the range to have plenty of confidence each time you decide to put it into action. Good luck!