NCG's Golfing Glossary: What is a fade?

The Scoop

Don’t know your dormies from your doglegs? Or your stymies from your shanks? NCG’s Golf Glossary is here to help.

Here at NCG we pride ourselves on being the publication for the everyday player, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to delve into the wonderful world of the golfing lexicon.

Sometimes the most obvious terms have the most interesting story, so you might find yourself an interesting conversation starter…

What is a fade?

A shot which starts left and moves right through the air and ends on target. The spin on the ball is going in a clockwise direction. It is generally thought to be a safe stock shot and the ball will land softly. Famous faders of the ball included Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Colin Montgomerie and, these days, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.

How would you use it in a sentence?

“He/she then played a fade into the heart of the green.”

What are the origins?

It’s a Middle English word in the sense to ‘grow weak’ from the Old French fader, from fade ‘dull, insipid’. As to how this worked itself into golf I’ve no idea.

Any other business?

There are various rhyming slangs for a fade including a ‘Virginia Wade’ or, if you’re Andy Sullivan, “I’l just hit a little lemonade.”

Lee Trevino liked to work the ball from left to right so much so that he could never contend at Augusta. He always quipped that ‘you could talk to a fade but a hook won’t listen’.

As for Fowler his use of the shot has helped to change his game: “For many years, my left-to-right tee ball was basically a big slice. I’d wipe the clubface across the ball, and my timing had to be really on to get a predictable result. Then Butch [Harmon] taught me to hit a real fade. Transformed my game. Now I hit my little slider all the time, even when the design of the hole doesn’t demand it.”

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