Note: A fade is a golf shot that starts to the left of your target (if you are right-handed) and swings back to the right.
As you may well know up to 85% of all golfers slice the ball. It must be easy to do, right? The answer is yes, it is, but fading or slicing the ball on call and with control can be a challenge. Think of a fade as a small curve whereas, with a slice, the ball swings much more dramatically. A fade is slight, a slice is extreme. For a right-handed player, the ball would start left of his or her target and move back to the right of the target with both shots.
The advantage of a fade is control. The disadvantage is a loss of distance as well as loss of control if you aren’t skilled at shaping the ball. With a fade, the ball has cut spin or backspin and will land softly. This is ideal for landing into a green and getting the ball to hold. Backspin is not ideal, however, when you are driving and wanting your ball to kick forward down the fairway to maximize distance. A lot of holes are shaped for fades off of the tee so if you can shape one, you actually won’t lose distance after all. You are working the ball down the fairway. A straight ball, in this case, can not only land you in trouble, but your ball can run through the fairway ending up further from the hole.
The Factors in Your Swing that Help Shape Shots
Here are the factors in your swing under your control that help shape shots. Let’s explore them individually and see how they can cause a fade/slice.
Clubface – A clubface that is open will make your ball fade if it is slightly open or slice if it is wide open.
Alignment – Setting your body aligned open to your target line will produce an outside/in cut swing that will fade or slice the ball depending on how open you are in relation to the target line.
Grip – A weak grip will cause the clubface to remain open and the ball will fade or slice.
Arm Rotation – If you don’t release your arms, you will hold the face open causing a fade or a slice.
Swing Path/Swing Plane – If you are swinging at the ball from outside/in relating to the target line you will fade or slice the ball.
Ball Position – Playing the ball too far forward in your stance will force you to catch it with an outside/in swing resulting in a fade or a slice.
You can see how all of these factors come in to play to help your ball spin. A true fade, however, is a shot that starts to the left of your target (if you are right-handed) and swings back to the right. So which of the above factors do you need to alter? In reality only one. Your alignment. With that being said, I am assuming that everything else in your swing is fairly neutral. A more skilled player may be able to alter their forearm rotation, their path, or play around with their grip. For the average player, that is too complicated. My goal is to make this as simple as possible for you to learn and repeat.
When you want to hit a controlled fade
Aim your clubface at your target (where you want the ball to end up). Aim your feet, knees, hips, and shoulders along the line that you want the ball to start out. The clubface will be open in relation to where you are aiming. The most difficult part is getting used to looking down at an open face. Swing along your body line. If this is not creating enough fade/slice for your swing, the next step is to try to weaken your grip a little bit. These are just a few simple moves to put you well on your way to shaping your fade/slice.
Remember that the greatest players can hit any shot on call and will play the shot that the situation demands. With practice, you too can learn to shape your shots. All you need to do is understand the basics that control spin and put some time in on the practice tee.