When To Hit A Fade in Golf (3 Situations)

Sometimes golfers can associate a fade shaped shot as a bad thing.

I believe this is due to the fact that many amateur golfers struggle with the slice and spend many years trying to correct their slice.

This can often lead to years of frustration and sometimes players even giving up on the game.

However, the more advanced a player becomes, the more he or she will often seek to actually play a fade.  

While there is a major difference between a fade and a slice, the ball does move in the same direction which is left to the right for the right handed golfer and right to left for the left handed golfer.

Many of the top players in the world have turned to a fade especially with the driver.  I think back to Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson as the two most recent US Open and PGA Championship winners who play the power fade with the driver.

As golfers advance in their golf journey, the ability to hit a power fade allows the golfer to swing hard at the ball without worrying about the dreaded hook shot with the driver.  Thinking back to some of the great golfers of the past both Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino were known for their power fades and and could dominate golf courses.

When Tiger Woods was playing his best, he often hit the power fade with both the driver and the irons to maximize his speed and control and hit lasers at the pins and control his ball flight.

When Should I Hit A Fade in Golf?

There are three key situations when a golfer will want to hit a fade.  When a hole is shaped left to right off the tee, the pin is sitting on the right side of the green or when a player reaches the level of seeking the power fade for control with the driver.

Below, I will dive further into the specifics around each of these three situations:

  • The hole is shaped left to right off the tee
  • The pin is located on the right side of the green
  • When a player is seeking control with a power fade

At the end I provide a drill and a tip to help you hit the fade on command. This drill and the tip, which is based on visualization have made a big difference in my game and believe it will help you as well!

Before we dive in, let’s first talk about whether a golfer should work the ball both ways.

There are two different camps in the golfing world on whether a golfer should work the ball both ways or settle in on a stock shot and stick with that shaped shot.  I find myself playing golf both ways depending on the day.  

I naturally draw the ball on a normal swing, but there are days when the power fade feels wonderful.  On those days, I will shape the ball both ways.  These are days when my swing feels in tune and I can send the ball curving in either direction.  

On the days when I am struggling, I will stick with my stock draw shot and play the course.  When I am able to work the ball both ways, more pins become accessible and I am able to place my tee shots and maximize the distance due to being able to work the ball.

Fred Couples hit a power fade for most of his career! His swing is one that many would love to have!

Situation #1: The hole is shaped left to right

Rarely do we find a golf hole that is perfectly straight.  More golf holes will have a slight bend left to right or right to left depending on how the course architect designed the course.  Jack Nicklaus is known for setting up his courses that favor a fade while Augusta is known to favor the player who can hit the draw and work the ball right to left.

You will often hear the better golfers talk about this hole being a fade hole or a hole being a draw hole.  Typically, I would define a fade hole if a golfer is able to aim straight down the left side and if the ball flies straight he or she is in fine shape, if the ball fades the ball is now in the middle of the fairway.   This would be the opposite for the draw holes.

At the end of the day, we must focus on hitting one shot at a time and when you walk onto a tee, there will be holes that fit the eye to hit a fade and times when it fits the eye to hit a draw.

When I think of my home course of the holes a golfer will hit a driver, it is an even split.  6 holes the golfer would want to hit a draw and 6 holes the golfer will want to hit a fade.  However, if the golfer only works the ball one way, he or she can still play the course just fine.

The ability to work the ball will allow the golfer to cut the corners a bit and allows the golfer to play a safer round of golf and not have to hit it over trees to cut angles or take dangerous routes to get to the final destination.

This appears to be a fade hole because of the tree on the right. You can start the ball down the left side and let it leak back towards the middle!

Situation #2: The pin is located on the right side of the green

On the PGA Tour, you will often see pins located pretty close to one of the edges, sometimes as close as only 3 paces from the edge.

The best golfers will want to aim towards the middle of the green and work the ball towards the pins.  This gives the golfer two quality options: if he or she hits the ball straight, they are in the middle of the green, if the ball fades or draws towards the pin, they are close to the pin, assuming they hit the ball the correct distance.

The best iron player of all time in my opinion is Tiger Woods.  His ability to hit all shaped shots and have it work towards pins was amazing.  Now did the ball always curve as much as ideal?  No, but when it didn’t he still had a 20-30 footer in a safe spot on the green.  

When the pin is tucked on the right side, this is when the golfer will want to hit a fade.  Aim towards the center of the green and hit a slight fade towards the pin.  The key to all of this is to not over-fade or over draw the ball and you will play golf all day on greens in regulation, leaving you plenty of birdie opportunities.

If you are unable to work the ball both ways and let’s say you can only fade the ball, if the pin is on the left side there are still options.  Go ahead and aim right at the pin.  If the ball flies straight you are fine, if it fades a bit, you have 20-30 feet left for your putt.  You can manage your stock shot, regardless of shape as long as you can control the amount of curve and that your shot patterns are consistent.

A famous fade hole, especially when the pin is on the right side. Play over the middle of the front bunker and let it fade towards the pin!

Situation #3: When a player is seeking control with a power fade

As golfers get closer to the scratch level and beyond, they might start to struggle with the occasional hook shot with the driver, which can devastate a round of golf.  The draw, for some reason, is more difficult to hit consistently with the driver than the fade with the driver.  Many golfers will resort to hitting the power fade with the driver, which may lose 3-5 yards, but is often found more frequently in the fairway.

Below sort of sums up why many elite players turn to the fade at key times.

You can talk to a fade but a hook won’t listen.

Lee Trevino

Recently, I have been playing the power fade on these 6 holes on my home course, instead of forcing the draw on the hole.  I have found myself to become more and more comfortable with the power fade and in my most recent round hit 11 out 12 fairways working the ball both ways.

I found that by hitting both shapes, it keeps my swing more balanced and keeps me from getting too dumped under on the draw swing or too much over on the fade swing.  When I am working the ball both ways, I always think back to the Shawn Clement approach for curving the ball in the direction that you need.

It is a thing of beauty to watch the world’s best golfers hit that power fade time and time again and split the fairways.  Dustin Johnson became a major champion once he converted from the draw with the driver to the fade.  Maybe it is time to take your game to your next level?

Here is a great video by Shawn Clement on hitting both a draw and a fade:

BONUS DRILL: Stock Shot Drill

If you are someone that only wants to work the ball one way, you can work on this excellent stock shot drill.  If you are someone that wants to work the ball both ways, just simply adjust the one alignment stick in this drill and work on both the fade and the draw.

  • At the driving range, set up an alignment stick about 6-8 yards in front of you, straight down your target line.
  • If you have a second alignment stick, set the stick 1-2 yards right of the first stick (for a draw) or left of the first stick (for a fade).
  • Complete your initial assessment see how many times out of 10 you can start the ball to the right or left of your target.  Pick one side and measure your game at this point.
  • The goal is to eventually get 7 out of 10 shots to start to the correct side and draw back towards the target.
Here is the drill being explained by Kyle Morris:

My Favorite Tip For Working the Golf Ball Both Ways

Use Your Vision and A Target Off in the Distance!

Have you ever played a certain hole where you just can’t seem to find the fairway?  Golf can be a strange game and we often can get lost in the visualizations and the difficulties of the hole.

Maybe it is the fear of hitting one out of bounds, or hitting it into a hazard or the trees on a specific hole.  Whatever it might be for each specific golfer, there are some simple steps to take to maximize your visualizations and ensure you are aimed properly for the stock shot you are trying to hit.  Here are some simple steps:

  • Determine the stock shot starting point and ending point.
  • Pick a target off in the distance (it might be a tree 350 yards away).
  • Draw an imaginary line from that target starting point all the way back to your ball.
  • Along this line, about 1-4 feet in front of your ball, pick an intermediate target.
  • Commit to the shot.
  • Send the ball flying down that target line, keeping the ball flight laws in mind if you are struggling and consider what adjustments are needed.

Sticking with this routine will give you the best chance to hitting the shot you need.  Oftentimes on these difficult holes, we can get lost in all of the danger or we try to steer the ball out into the fairway.  The key is to stay relaxed, commit to the shot and make your best swing possible.

Assess Your Game: Work on These Drills

I use my own portable launch monitor to check for spin axize the amont I am curving the ball and to ensure I am maximizing my distance and controlling my start lines and curve.  

While many won’t want to spend the money on a Trackman, there are some viable options in the 500 to 2000 dollars range that provide the following data after every shot:

  • Ball Speed
  • Spin Rate
  • Spin Axis
  • Launch Angle
  • Carry and Total Distance

What I find most helpful is the shot tracer and the spin axis information.  I am visually able to check the flight of my ball as I work to build my stock shot and have the reliable shot I can count on in any situation.

Here are the top 3 options to check out:

This technology is a game changer as the golfer can build a stock shot using the information while expanding a golf season where the golfer can practice 365 days a year. 

Whether the golfer goes all out and builds a home simulator or simply sets up a net and mat in their garage, the possibility of improving the swing and being able to practice or play 365 days a year is a game changer!

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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