Playing a Draw or Fade in Golf

Hitting Straight is a miracle.

What is your natural ball flight?

My natural trajectory of a golf ball is straight or a very slight fade. Hitting the ball straight 80% of the time might seem like a gift from heaven, but I can tell you that sometimes I wish could shape the ball. I do work at shaping the ball on the range, but it is not something that comes natural.

If you are wondering about the other 20% of the time, my ball will fade or draw, but it is not controlled. I am not sure why this ball flight randomly decides to show up, but when it does, funky things happen to my game. The 20% randomness is a subject for another blog, for now I want to focus on the 80%!

As stated earlier, I hit the ball straight 80% of the time. Let’s not confuse the issue by thinking I hit my ball down the center of the fairway that often, I do have my fair share of misses. I will admit that I do hit the short grass more often than not, but this success does not always equate into low golf scores.

The challenge I have is that I hit the ball straight, either left, right or on the fairway. Generally, I am trying to cut a corner or hit over a hazard because I cannot intentionally draw or fade the ball. When standing on the tee, being able to shape the ball would go a long way to improving my course management and lower my scores…..let me explain.

220 YardsAt Roundel Glen Golf Course, my home course, the fourth hole is a real challenge for me. It has a 60 degree dog-leg left that starts at about 210 yards from the white tees and 220 yards from the blue tees. There is a lane about 30 yards wide at the 190 yard mark. Trees to the left and right, that are about 70 feet high, guard the shoot and to the right is a bail out area that is thick rough. The green is postage stamp size, flat, and is very hard to hold. There is a small bunker guarding the left front of the green. Of course this hole looks easy, but let me assure you that when the wind picks up from left to right (in the picture as well) all the potential hazards come into play.

The smart play on this hole, which I use most of the time, is to hit a 3 hybrid or 4 iron to the landing area at about 210 yards off the tee. It is important not to over-club and end up in the trees on the far side of the fairway. Then a 52 degree wedge into the green. This sounds simple, however the wind and other conditions make it difficult to always execute this shot. If I miss, I am generally short and the trees on the left side of the shoot come into play.

If I want to play closer to the green or if the wind is really blowing, I have to hit over the trees and since I do not carry a 5-wood, I must hit a high 3-wood over the trees. This flight path has all kinds of trouble, yet I must try it about 25% of the time to keep the ball in play. Using this club brings in all kinds of hazards and because I hit the ball straight most of the time, the trees across the fairway are definitely in play.

The best shot on this hole would be a draw off the tee to about 60 yards from the green. The landing area is large and the approach avenues are wide open. If a player can hit a controlled draw, driving the green definitely comes into play; although the risk/reward is not in their favour.  On a side note, we try to drive the green during 4-person scrambles. It is fun to try, however I have only hit the green once and that is because I pulled my shot further left than intended.

The fourth hole at Roundel Glen Golf Course is a perfect hole to shape the ball off the tee. Being able to intentionally draw the ball on this particular hole offers many successful options for a birdie. As I hit the ball straight most of the time, my options become limited and more challenges are in play off the tee. If you are wondering, play this hole to par over 10 attempts (3 birdies, 4 pars, 3 bogeys)

One of my goals this year will be to learn how to play a controlled draw or fade. It will take some practice, but I think that adding these shots to my game will help lower my scores and help me reach my overall goal of being a scratch golfer.

Can you control the ball off the tee? Do you have a good reference video that might help?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!



23 thoughts on “Playing a Draw or Fade in Golf

  1. My advice Jim is don’t change your swing, Like I did to the downfall of my striking, used to draw the ball as it was natural and played to 1 h/c then was advised to learn the fade as it would lead to more control of the ball , after 3 winter’s practice and now in my 10th year off the change I’m 4 shots worse, simply because I’m not as confident with the fade,
    Best advice I could give you would be if you want to draw the ball is pull your back foot in an inch so your alignment is slightly right of target then aim the face at the target and swing away! For a fade pull your left foot in an inch or so that you’re aligned slightly left of target then square your face to target and swing away, wish I’d of done this 10 years ago 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Jim. This is one reason I love practice. It gives me a chance to try new shots. I like trying to hit 9 different shot shapes. Some I’m more comfortable using in play. My general rule is don’t try it unless you trust it. Shaping the ball requires its own aspects of control which I continue to work on. I love it. But your example is a prefect one and I’d still be trying to – as you wrote – hit a 210 straight hybrid and then a gap wedge. I’ll keep working on shaping the ball this year in hope I can develop that trust.

    Here’s to a great 2016 season!


      • I hear you Jim where the weather is concerned. After a relatively light winter, spring seems late in arriving for us golfers. Still, the chance to play in 2-3 weeks is out of the realm of possibility. And I can guess you and I will be most grateful to tee it up after months off the course!
        Cheers, Mike

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Jim
    I get your point that in some cases you need to curve the ball. Bubba did it very well to win a green jacket. But heck Bubba can do a lot of things I can’t do. But your point is well taken. Having it in the bag for special use cases makes sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is my impression that “curving” the ball is a highly desired skill. But the equipment and the ball in particular is meant to fly straight. I would say that hitting the ball straight will keep you in less trouble. Most people can’t control the draw or the fade – especially at the amateur level.


    • Linley

      You make some very good points. The new technology appears to help hit the ball straight and I guess I am trying to fight against that. However, having that shot in my bag would be a benefit for sure! Believe me I am not complaining….I just want more out of my game!


      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jim,

    Like you, I am looking to gain more control in my shot shapes. My natural tendency is a little draw, but I would love to play a little buttery fade on the course when a shot calls for it. I can usually do it on the range, but doing it on the course comes with less consistency. I guess the answer for us is more practice and a commitment to it!


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jim, you could hit a lot of practice balls until that fade becomes predictable and then play it. I can shape it both ways but never know by how much so I often do not try. Would have to practice much more full swing than I do to comfortably take it to the course.

    Play well!


    Liked by 1 person

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