Editor’s Note: This article includes text and video instruction to teach you how to hit a fade in golf from Golf Instructor Nick Foy, founder of Foy Golf Academy.
As the years have passed in my golfing life, I have developed a very pronounced right-to-left ball flight with my swing. On the worst days, the swing gives way to ugly hook shots that leave me scrambling for the pockets of my golf bag, searching for replacement balls.
But on those days when the golfing gods are kind, I find myself hitting a very repeatable draw.
In the beginning, when my swing and score began to stabilize this was sufficient. But as time passed on, I became annoyed at my usual score in the low-to-mid 80s. I wanted more from my golf game. I wanted to challenge myself to break 80.
I knew that there were two areas I needed to improve upon.
The first was on the green and I’ll save that story for a future blog post. The second area, however, was reducing the size of my birdie putts.
I needed to get closer to pins.
But my usual draw was holding me back. For shots that needed the left-to-right flight, I was lost. I realized that I needed to become competent and capable in hitting a fade.
If you read my post on how to hit a draw shot, then you know that I began my work on the driving range.
To become fluent in a new way of shot making you have to be able to repeat the necessary fundamentals associated with that shot. That only happens on the range.
Resources: How to Break 80 Golf Training Plan
How to Hit a Fade – The Driving Range Set Up
First, you’ll need two clubs. One will be for our target line, the other club is what we’ll use to hit shots. I prefer a higher lofted club when beginning to learn a new shot, so I suggest something along the lines of an 8 or 9-iron.
Once on the range we will lay the extra club along the target line. This is where we want the ball to finish.
When picking a target on the range look for greens with flag sticks or yard markers. I recommend using those to easily judge the quality of your shots. Don’t get lost in fine detail when setting your line.
If you can hit your 8-iron 140 yards and the yard marker on the range is set for 150 yards, don’t go reaching for the 7-iron. We are only worried about the shape of the shot and finding the feel for the fade.
Place a ball on the other side of the target line club. Six inches away is a good rule of thumb.
How to Hit a Fade in Golf – The Address Position
Now address the ball. Take a normal stance as if you are hitting a straight shot.
The club face should be square to the target you have designated. Whether it be a green, flagstick or yard marker this is where your club face should be squared.
Remember this because when we alter our stance in the next step we should keep the club face the same as it is now.
Back off the ball and relax for a bit. Our next essential step is getting into the proper stance. The stance is always dictated by the target line.
Again this is the same line the club on the ground is setting for us.
For a draw we want a closed stance where we are essentially turning our back slightly to the target. The fade requires the opposite. We want to open ourselves to the target so when the club face strikes the ball, it lays open, creating the side spin that will allow a left-to-right flight path.
This is where it may become unnatural for you but to achieve an open stance you must take a line that lies left of the target. This line is as important as our target line because your body must commit to this new path.
Your shoulders, hips and feet must be squared along this line. For visual purposes see that the target line is north-south, your new line should be slightly to the west. Both lines should essentially create a “V” shape.
Now you may be asking yourself how far to face to the left. My suggestion is ten yards left of the target. This is simply a rule of thumb to begin. As you become more comfortable with the fade your stance will adjust accordingly.
So you’ve got your stance and you’ve addressed the ball with the same club face as before, squared along the target line. Now it’s time to swing.
How to Hit a Fade – The Swing Path
What we are looking to achieve is an outside-in swing path along the line our feet have set. With this style of swing our club face will strike the ball open, allowing for the side-spin necessary for a fade.
As I said before in my article on hitting the draw, your swing remains normal. Proper turn, good knee flex, etc. But your swing stays along the inside line your feet have set.
This is where most amateurs get in trouble. With this unnatural stance there will be a desire to try to alter the path of the downswing in an attempt to make the ball go straight at the target. Don’t make this mistake!
Trust in the process. Remember we are trying to impart side spin to the ball to make it fade to the target.
To do this we must bring the club back along the foot line and then finish the shot along the same path. This is where the “in” part comes in the swing equation. We want the swing to feel and exist inside the target line, but along the line our feet are providing.
If the ball is struck soundly then your ball should go well left of the target and fade back to the line the club along ground has established. Your divot should be a mirror image of your feet line, this shows you that you have the proper swing path.
My favorite tip is to spend several minutes without a golf ball simply working the swing path. Let the club hover slightly above the ground when swinging. Just visualize the swing path because again it is foreign to you.
After a few minutes lower the club and try to clip the grass with each swing. Once you get the feel for the swing, then incorporate the golf ball.
Common Errors When Trying to Hit a Fade in Golf
Briefly let’s talk about the most common error in attempting the fade.
One of the biggest mistakes I see from amateurs is using a weak grip with the dominant hand. For example, for the right handed golfer, the right hand constructs the bottom of the grip.
It has a significant impact on the fade shot.
If the right hand is too weak on the swing be prepared for a buffet of ugly banana slices to the right. This is a mental obstacle.
Your body is telling you that you are aimed way to too far to the left and you need to compensate. Again, fight this urge!
A proper grip with an outside-in swing are two essential details that have to be maintained for the fade.
After you feel comfortable making contact with this unorthodox stance I encourage you to work on making slight adjustments to your setup.
This experimentation will allow you more comfort and confidence along the way. By experimenting you will see that an adjusted setup will give the ball different flights, different spin and different trajectory. You need to have these tools in your arsenal when you are trying to break 80.