Draw vs. Fade: What’s the Difference?

May 31, 2022
5 min

Draw vs. Fade: What’s the Difference?

Hitting a golf ball straight is one of the most difficult things to do in all sports.

Jack Nicklaus, arguably the greatest golfer of all-time, almost exclusively played a fade golf shot, which is a ball flight that moves left to right in the air.

Similarly, Rory McIlroy a four-time major winner almost exclusively plays a draw, which is a ball flight that moves right to left.

There are a number of ways to swing a golf club and the best players in the world can hit both draws and fades with a variety of ball flights and trajectories.

So, what’s the difference between a draw and a fade? Let’s find out.

For a right-handed golfer, a draw is a ball flight that moves to the right off the clubface and draws left back to the target line.

To hit a draw, your swing path needs to be open to the target and your clubface needs to be closed slightly to that path at impact. This swing shape will produce a ball flight that is a draw that will start out to the right and drawback to the left.

According to Trackman data, a swing that can produce a draw has a 6.6-degree swing path to the right and a face angle of 4.2 degrees closed to that swing path. A swing arc and clubface like this at impact will produce a consistent draw.

One tip to hit a draw is to angle your feet and body to the right of the target and swing along with your foot path. Another tip is to take two clubs, say a 7-iron and an 8-iron, and lay them on the ground parallel to each other and out to the right. Place a ball between both clubs and swing along the path you have created avoiding the clubs on the ground.

For a right-handed golfer, a fade is a ball flight that starts left of the target line and moves back right to the target line.

Collin Morikawa, one of the best ball strikers on tour, plays a fade as his go-to shot and the consistency of the fade is why many PGA Tour players rely on a fade as their go-to shot.T his is because a fade is a much easier shot to control because the clubface stays open to the club path and swing arc.

To hit a fade the club path needs to be closed to the target and the clubface needs to be open to the club path, thus producing the left to right ball flight.

The data points required to hit a fade would be to swing on a path that is 4-5% degrees to the left/closed to the target and a clubface that is 2-3% degrees open to that club path.

 Like the tips for hitting a draw, a tip for hitting a fade would be to angle your feet and body to the left and swing along your body to produce that sweet baby fade like Collin Morikawa.

A golf shot that hooks is one where the ball starts out to the right but finishes very far left of the intended target.

Nine-time major winner Ben Hogan famously struggled with the hooks as a professional golfer because he was chasing more distance.

A draw/hook ball flight will produce greater distances due to the face being closed at impact, allowing for a lower ball flight. To close the clubface the golfer must release his or her hands for maximum power and distance.

Some data points to reference for a hooking ball flight would be a swing path that is 4-5 degrees to the outside, but the clubface is 10 degrees closed to the swing path. This will produce a nasty hook due to the clubface being significantly closed to the path. The ball will come off the face with a low trajectory moving far left, which will result in a loss of carry distance and a missed fairway or green.

The dreaded double cross hook is a golf shot where both the swing path and the clubface are closed to the target line, producing a shot that starts left and continues going further left. 

Ben Hogan cured his hooks and began to exclusively play a fade. A hook is a shot that is sometimes necessary, but it's not one you can consistently play with.

Most golfers that pick up a golf club will have a severe left to right ball flight for right-handed golfers and a right to left ball flight for left-handed golfers. This ball flight is called a slice.

A slice, or banana cut as I like to call it, is the worst shot in golf. The ball flight is ugly, you lose distance, and you cannot shoot lower scores playing a slice. So, why does it happen?

A slice occurs when the clubpath is closed to the target, but the clubface is way too far open to the club path.

Some example data points include a club path that is 4-5 degrees closed to the target with a clubface that is 10-15 degrees open to that swing path. This will produce a slice where the ball will launch high with a lot of sidespin, which will result in a loss of distance and a missed fairway or green.

Many golfers who slice the ball might have a few of the following swing faults. The first is the grip. Many golfers grip the golf club incorrectly leaving the clubface open at impact. The second could be the lack of a shoulder turn in the backswing. A short backswing with no shoulder turn encourages a swing path across the body instead of hitting the ball from the inside.

Check your grip and extend your shoulder turn if you are someone who struggles with a slice.

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