The fade is one of the most useful shots in golf. It starts out slightly to the left of the target and curves gently back to the right, sitting down nicely where it lands. If you are able to hit the ball straight with reasonable frequency, a fade is an easy shot to acquire.
Whenever we hit different shot than normal, it is best to do it with minimal adjustments to what we normally do. In this case, we’ll hit the fade using our regular swing and our regular grip. All we are going to do is change some of the angles in our setup. That, and a little change in our mental focus, will give us the shot we’re looking for.
A fade is caused by the clubface coming into the ball slightly open to the path the clubhead is traveling. That creates a clockwise sidespin which curves the ball back to the right of where it started off. Pre-set that angle at address by doing just two things:
1. Align your stance to the left of the target. If the pin were in the center of the green, you would want to start off the ball toward the left edge. Set up as if you were actually going to hit the ball to the left edge of the green.
2. Spin the club clockwise in your hands so the clubface now points between your aim point and where you want the ball to land. In our example, the clubface would be spun so it faced the pin. Be sure to spin the club. Merely turning your hands clockwise won’t do. The adjustment required is slight–only a few degrees is enough.
All you need do now is swing the club, using your normal swing, toward where your body is aimed, the left side of the green, and the slight misalignment between the clubface and the club’s path will take care of everything else. Well, almost everything.
At first you might find yourself pulled back in your mind toward your real target, the pin, and swing along a line toward it instead of where your swing is truly aimed. Now, the geometry of the swing, which was subtly altered, is way out of whack, and the shot you’ll get can best be described as “ugly right.”
To prevent this from happening, you must truly believe you are trying to hit the ball onto the left side of the green — that that spot is your actual target. Just setting up for a fade can be done correctly the first time, but learning how to switch your mind from your target to your aim point, which are now different, might take a bit of getting used to.
This shot works best with your 7-iron and longer clubs. Short irons put so much backspin on the ball that the sidespin is overwhelmed and the ball doesn’t curve much at all.
A fade is handy shot to have in your skill set if you have to hit the ball around an obstacle with room on the left for starting the ball off. You can also use it to get to a pin that is tucked on the right side of the green. Once you get the hang of it, though, you might find you want to make a fade be your everyday, bread-and-butter shot because of the control and consistency it offers.