What Is a Fade In Golf? (& How To Hit One)

Fade Golf Shot

If you’re new to the game, you might feel a little overwhelmed with the endless amount of golf jargon.

Terms like birdie, bogey, draw, fade, snowman, shank, skull, top, and about a million other things are thrown around in an average 18 holes of golf. Needless to say, it’s easy to get confused.

But one term you’ll hear a lot on the golf course is “fade.” This is a term that you want to get to know ASAP… so what is a fade in golf?

What is a Fade in Golf? 

A fade in golf is a way to describe a golf shot that has a ball flight that shapes from left to right (assuming you’re a right-handed player). A fade is also referred to as a “cut” shot as well.  

The opposite of a fade is known as a draw, which has a ball flight that is right to left (for right-handed players). A controlled fade is a great shot because it is extremely dependable and consistent. 

The ball starts off 3–5 yards left of your intended target and slowly makes its way back to it before landing. It’s why top players in the world like Dustin Johnson love to play a slight fade with most shots, especially with their driver. It keeps them out of trouble and gives them a good approach shot from the short grass.

But a fade that is out of control and travels too far from left to right is known as a slice. If it’s really moving to the right, you might even hear the term, banana slice as well. 

The slice shot is every golfer’s nightmare, but one that almost every player has struggled with in their golfing career. 

The slice is such a poor shot because:

  • You miss fairways and get into trouble. If there is trouble right of the fairway, look out because your ball will probably find it if you fade it too much. 
  • You lose distance (sometimes a lot of distance). As a fade turns into a slice, you lose out on tons of carry distance and forward spin with any club in the bag. 
  • It’s extremely frustrating and hard to figure out mid round. This usually leads to aiming further left to “play the fade” only to have it slice even more. Which is very frustrating for players!

But if you can shape a fade consistently, it’ll do wonders to your game. 

Here’s how… 

How Do You Fade a Golf Shot? 

So how do you hit a fade? 

Remember one thing above all else – to hit a fade, the face needs to be open at impact. The more open it is as the club hits the ball, the more it will shape from left to right.

Here are some tips to learn how to hit a power fade (and not a slice):

  • Aim to the left of your target by a few yards. 
  • Have an outside to inside swing path so you keep the face slightly open.
  • Have a neutral grip. If your grip is too weak, it can result in a slice that kills your distance and accuracy. While a grip that is too strong can make it hard to leave the club slightly open at impact. 
  • Open your shoulders slightly at address. This will help create a downswing that will make it easier to hit a fade. If your shoulders are closed, it’s nearly impossible as you’re set up to hit a draw. 

These tips will all help you hit a fade. But you can also try the method that worked so well for the great Jack Nicklaus.

To hit a fade, the Golden Bear would:

  • Align his feet, hips, and shoulders slightly left at the target. 
  • Aim the clubface at his intended target (not left with the rest of his body).
  • Then, he would swing on this body line and hit it with a ton of consistency. 

This simple alignment change would create a power fade that helped become the 18-time major champion!

I offer both types of advice because every golfer is different. Your swing and grip might already be set up for a fade, while others reading this might play a draw. 

The key is to hit the driving range extensively and see what method is easier for you to shape shots left to right. As you can do it on the range consistently, then you can take it to the golf course. 

Use Different Training Aids 

To improve your swing and learn how to shape shots, make sure to check out these training aids.

Eyeline Golf Speed Trap 2.0

If you want to fix a slice or hook fast, this is a great device at a great price. The Eyeline Golf Speed Trap is a path aid to easily feel a better downswing to hit a fade or a draw. 

As they said on Amazon, “The key to hitting consistent draws or fades is to have a consistent swing path. The removable red Speed Rods force an in-to-out swing path if you are trying to hit a draw, or an out-to-in swing path if you are trying to hit a fade.”

This practice aid (which is a big upgrade from the original) makes it easier to feel the correct path for your ideal shot shape. Simply remove the rods to favor a fade or draw and start hitting golf balls. You can use it indoors or outdoors and even with practice swings to learn how to hit different shots on command. 

Click here to learn more now on Amazon.

LagShot Golf

Swing Trainer
Lag Shot 7 Iron Golf Swing Trainer Aid

Lag Shot 7 Iron Golf Swing Trainer Aid

  • #1 golf swing trainer!
  • Super flexible shaft golf training aid promotes perfect tempo, timing and more clubhead speed!
  • 7 iron golf swing trainer aid is great for all golfers
  • Includes free video training

The Lag Shot Golf training aids (available in a wedge, 7-iron, and driver) make it easy to add lag and improve your swing. This golf swing trainer is great to use indoors, outdoors, and you can hit balls with it. It’s also a great warm up tool as well.

The whippy blue shaft lets you feel what it’s like to create more lag on the downswing for a more shallow swing plane. If your fade turns into a slice too often, this is a great gadget. 

They’re available in men and women’s sizes for both right and left-handed players.

Tweak Your Driver Settings 

Another thing to consider when hitting fades or draws are the settings of your driver. Since most drives are adjustable, this makes it much easier to favor one shot shape. 

Test out different settings at the driving range to see which one makes it easier to hit a more consistent shot shape. Don’t forget to try out different lofts too! 

Top Questions 

If you have more questions about fading the ball, hopefully we’ll answer them below.

What is the easiest club to fade?

The general rule is the longer the club, the easier it is to shape the ball. If you look at some of your past rounds, I’m sure it’ll be pretty easy to spot in your game too. 

This is why so many golfers hit a huge fade (aka slice) with their driver but not with a wedge or iron. Longer clubs have less loft, which means the ball can go right or left to a much larger degree as more spin is created at faster speed. 

That’s why if you need to hit a fairway late in the round, opt for a shorter club like a 3-wood or hybrid. Since it has more loft and is shorter, it’s easier to keep in the fairway and avoid deep rough, water, or out of bounds. 

Do most pros play a draw or a fade?

It depends on the golfer. Great players learn to “swing their swing” whether that means hitting a draw or a fade. In general, most PGA Tour pros only hit one shot shape (fade or draw) off the tee a majority of the time. Since it’s harder to shape shots with a driver – since you can’t change ball position – it can lead to some big misses.

When it comes to irons though, a lot more professionals shape shots in either direction. By simply adjusting their ball position and alignment it’s much easier to hit it right or left. Plus, they can alter the trajectory as well based on the green speed and course conditions. 

Can you hit a fade with a closed clubface?

No, to hit a fade the face must be slightly open at impact position. 

If the face is square at impact, it will lead to a straight shot and if it’s closed, it will result in a draw or hook shot. Your swing path will then dictate if it starts left, right, or straight toward your target.

For example, if you hit a pull (from an over the top downswing) with an open face, you’ll hit a pull-fade. This is why it’s important to understand the path and face relationship to groove a more consistent swing. 

Does Tiger Woods hit a draw or a fade?

Tiger is arguably the best iron player ever and has an uncanny ability to shape shots in their direction. He is known for his tic-tac-toe “9-ball” drill on the range. This drill requires you to hit three fades, three draws, and three straight shots – each with a different trajectory.

He’s mastered this drill as much as anyone and can play all types of shots. But in the later part of his career he favored a fade with his driver as it doesn’t require as much speed. Plus, with his consistent iron game and putting, he can give up some distance and still compete (when he’s healthy). 

What is the correct ball position for a fade?

If you want to hit a fade you’ll need to move the ball slightly up in your stance. If the ball is too far back this leads to a steeper motion that tends to favor a draw. 

Which is better, a fade or draw?

Both have their own pros and cons. A draw makes it easier to increase distance, especially the driver, but if it turns into a hook, it is hard to control. While a fade is more reliable but you tend to lose out on some distance.

But my question is, why not learn how to hit both shots? Because it’s hard to say that the fade or draw is “better” than the other. 

There are compelling cases for both shots depending on the hole, the shot a player is facing, conditions, and more. If you can learn how to hit both on command (or at least semi-consistently), your scores will drop quickly. 

Plus, when you work on hitting both shots on the driving range you will improve your clubface control. This makes it easier to fix your swing if you’re missing one way consistently.

For example, if you’re suffering from a consistent slice, hit a bunch of hooks on the driving range. By overcorrecting you can get back to a more neutral swing and hopefully straighter shots. Clubface awareness is one of the most important parts of becoming a consistent ball striker. 

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, you understand what a fade is in golf so you can talk like a savvy golfer, even if you’re just getting started. Plus, have the steps to learn how to start playing a fade today. 

Remember, this is one of the most important shots you can learn how to hit, so the sooner you can master it, the sooner you can start playing more consistent golf. Which is what we’re all after, right?

If you can shape a draw well, you will be well on your way to shooting lower scores more consistently. 

Do you hit a fade or a draw more often? Let us know in the comments below. 

Picture of Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard

Michael Leonard is a full-time writer, author, creator of Wicked Smart Golf and +1 handicap amateur golfer. He left his corporate career in 2017 to pursue entrepreneurship and professional golf; since then, he’s competed in 160+ tournament days and went to Q-school in 2019.

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