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). 

The 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 open.
  • Have a neutral grip. If your grip is too weak, it can result in a slice that kills your distance and accuracy. 
  • 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, which 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. 

Additional 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.

For example, that’s 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.

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. 

Can you hit a fade with a closed clubface?

No, to hit a fade the face must be 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 path will then dictate if it starts left, right, or straight toward your target.

Which is better, a fade or draw?

Why not learn how to hit both shots?

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.

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

Do you prefer to play a draw vs. fade?  

Let us know in the comments below! 

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, national sales 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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