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HOW TO hit a fade

How To Fade The Golf Ball

Hitting a fade allows you to hit the ball stop the ball quicker, navigate dog legs easier and stop slicing. In this video PGA Professional Jack Backhouse explains how to get the ball turning over from left to right.

 

Hitting a controlled fade to target is a shot we see top professionals play all the time, but not many club golfers know how to do it properly. Not only does it allow access to tighter pins and better routes around dog legs, but knowing how to fade the golf ball can actually help you eliminate that weak slice altogether. In the video below, PGA professional Jack Backhouse explains all.

What is a fade shot?

It is probably worth starting at the very beginning with the basic ball flight laws and definition of a fade shot so we can all start with the same understanding. For a right-handed player, a fade is a golf shot where the ball starts to the left of the target, curves to the right in the air, and finishes on target.

If the ball curves beyond the target and misses to the right, it is now a slice. If the ball starts left and doesn’t curve back to the target, it is a pull.

Why would you want to hit a fade?

Each and every shot we play out on the golf course asks a different question of our game. We play uphill, downhill, downwind, into the wind, over bunkers, under trees, to elevated greens and down hills, out of rough, off a tee, and so on. Instead of just practising a standard shot from a good lie on the driving range, a golfer would be better prepared to play golf if they knew how to manipulate the shot shape of the ball to match the situation in front of them.

A golfer might not want their stock shape to fade, but it is always useful to know how to do it on demand in case the opportunity presents itself and it is the only option.

There are plenty of times a golfer might want to hit the golf ball with a left-to-right curve:

  • To go around an obstacle in their way
  • When hitting on a left to right dogleg
  • When looking to stop the ball quicker with spin
  • To try to hit the ball close to a tucked pin
cut shot

What needs to change to hit a fade?

There are only two things that you must do to hit the golf ball with a fade:

  • Have a swing path that is angled to the left of the target line (right-handed golfer)
  • Have a club face angle that is open (pointing further right) to the swing path but closed to the target line (pointing to the left)

This is the usual sticking point for golfers. For a fade shot, we want to start out to the left of the target before it curves to the right, so the club face must be closed and point slightly left of the target. Then, in order to create the left-to-right spin that curves the ball, we must have a swing direction that is further left than the clubface and the target. And breathe.

Common faults here are a shot that starts too far right of the target and then curves further right (push slice) or a shot that starts to the left and stays out there (pull). These shots happen when the clubface gets too closed or too open to the target.

This can sound complicated, but it is actually much easier to hit a fade shot than it is a straight one. For a straight shot, a golfer must get both club path and face pointing exactly at a target at impact, which is extremely difficult. To hit a fade, all you need to do is get the path out to the left of the target and clubface open to it; you have a much bigger margin for error.

jon rahm fade data

Set up adjustments

We can do our best to pre-set a fade into our swing in the address position by doing the following things:

  • Aligning feet, hips, shoulders and forearms left whilst keeping the clubface square to target
  • Moving the ball forward in the stance

All things being equal, doing these two things will move the swing path further out to the left of the target whilst keeping the clubface open to the path.

In swing feels

There are really two different ways to hit a fade. One is employed by the best players in the world, like Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, and the GOAT Jack Nicklaus, and the other is the way most amateur golfers do it. Amateur golfers fade the ball by coming over the top, swinging steeply and across the ball, which does get the ball to move left to right but in a weak, reduced-distance way.

The best players in the world align their bodies significantly to the left of the target, swing on the neutral path they normally do, and hold the face open to create the left-to-right spin. This a more of a shallow fade, where the clubhead speed is still very fast.

The tour player’s method of hitting a fade is actually much simpler than trying to cut across the ball. You can just use the same swing you normally do, aiming left with the body approximately 15-20 yards in order to swing left and then making sure to hold the clubface slightly open in the downswing.

It will take some practice to understand what the right amount of open to the club face feels like. You will hit some that don’t curve enough and some that curve too much, but more reps will help you understand what the right feel is.

jack nicklaus fade

If you want to watch some more of our instruction videos, you can get to Hannah Holden’s YouTube Instruction series by clicking here. Please check out our other instruction articles if you liked this How to Fade the Golf Ball article!

If you are interested in seeking further information from Jack that is more specific to your golf game, you can book an in-person or online golf lesson by clicking here.

Jack Backhouse

Callaway Epic Max driver review

Jack is a PGA Golf Professional who specialises in coaching, teaching golf to beginners and top-level amateurs for 10+ years. He also loves his golf equipment and analysing the data of the latest clubs on the market using launch monitors, specialising in blade irons and low-spinning drivers despite having a chronically low ball flight.

Although Jack has no formal journalism training, He has been reading What's In The Bag articles since he started playing at 12 and studying golf swings since his dad first filmed his swing to reveal one of the worst over-the-top slice swings he reckons has ever been recorded, which set him off on the path to be a coach. His favourite club ever owned was a Ping G10 driver bought from a local top amateur with the hope that some of the quality golf shots would come with it (they didn't), and worst was a Nike SQ driver he only bought because Tiger was using it.

Jack is a member of Sand Moor Golf Club and regularly gets out on the golf course to prepare for tournaments. Jack uses a TaylorMade BRNR Mini driver, a half set of TaylorMade P7MB irons, MG4 wedges and a TaylorMade TP Reserve putter.

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