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Key to Winning: Switch to a Fade?


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You may have seen recently that Rory McIlroy hired renowned swing coach, Pete Cowen, to help him work on his game. Yes, this was the first new swing coach he has had since childhood, but what has come out of the new coach is more notable. Rory, for the first time, is going to change his game from his natural draw to a fade. Is it working? Well, he just won the Well’s Fargo Championship last week, so I’d say yeah, it’s working.

He’s not the first player to do this either. Most notably in my mind is the incredible change Dustin Johnson made in 2016 on the morning of the U.S. Open where he won his first Major. He played his natural draw his entire life, but it wasn’t working during the warmup of the Major, so he played a fade that day and never looked back as the story goes! There's an incredible Golf Digest article on that moment. Another famous example of this is Tiger woods moving to a fade in the early 2000s when he was frankly unstoppable.

Trying to find a thesis to this rambling is hard, but it centers around these questions: Is a fade the perfect ball flight? Should we all change from our natural ball flight to the opposite? Is it worth reconsidering that slight draw you worked so hard to get?

Every person on this forum has likely fought a slice or hook at some point in their amateur golfing career. If you’re not fighting it anymore, my guess is you straightened it out but probably still play your natural ball flight. So the question is, should you change your swing path and face angle to play the opposite of your natural flight?

A few quotes that confuse the hell out of me:

  • “You can talk to a fade, but a hook won’t listen.”
  • “When you are teaching a beginner to play golf, teach them how to hook the ball first, then straighten out their swing.”

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Driver: Sim 8* turned down to 6* X-Stiff Aldila Rogue Silver 110

3 Wood: Sim 14* X-Stiff Aldila Rogue Silver

2 Hybrid/2 Iron: 2019 Apex/2019 P790 both X-Stiff

4-PW: '21 Apex Pros S+ KBS C-Taper 1* flat

Wedges: P770 Gap Wedge 50*, Cleveland RDX 56*

My Putter: Hates Me (Cleveland Huntington Beach Soft 4 Putter)

7.0 Handicapped Right Hander from Salt Lake City, Utah

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I am following the DECADE recommendation and playing a single ball flight with my driver which is a fade.  I never try to draw the ball with my driver. 

  • Like 6

Driver:  :ping-small: G400 Max 9* w/ KBS Tour Driven
Fairway: :titelist-small: TS3 15* set  to 16.5* w/Project X Hzardous Smoke
Hybrids:  :titelist-small: 816H1 19* set at 18* w/KBS Tour Graphite Hybrid Prototype
                :titelist-small: 915H  21*  w/KBS Tour Graphite Hybrid Prototype
               :titelist-small: 915H 24*  w/KBS Tour Graphite Hybrid Prototype
Irons:      :honma:TR20V 6-11 w/Vizard TR20-85 Graphite
Wedge:  :callaway-small: 54-10S   :cleveland-small: 588  58-12
Putter:  :seemore-small: mFGP2

Backups:  :bobby-grace-1: 6330, :taylormade-small:TM-180, Bellum Winmore 787

 

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3 minutes ago, cnosil said:

I am following the DECADE recommendation and playing a single ball flight with my driver which is a fade.  I never try to draw the ball with my driver. 

For the driver, I would definitely focus on a single ball flight, but the draw/fade play extends beyond just the driver. DJ exclusively hits a cut now with all clubs (save the putter). For a driver scenario, how about pulling a Phil Mickelson and carrying two drivers in the bag; one fade bias and one draw bias? TXG covered this concept really well HERE. Mattie shows the temptation of dropping a wedge to play two drivers on a very long course. Obviously, not everyone can play both shot shapes, myself included. 

Have you ever thought of trying to switch from your natural tendency and play a draw with the driver, @cnosil? There's potential you could get a boost in distance. Just food for thought!

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Driver: Sim 8* turned down to 6* X-Stiff Aldila Rogue Silver 110

3 Wood: Sim 14* X-Stiff Aldila Rogue Silver

2 Hybrid/2 Iron: 2019 Apex/2019 P790 both X-Stiff

4-PW: '21 Apex Pros S+ KBS C-Taper 1* flat

Wedges: P770 Gap Wedge 50*, Cleveland RDX 56*

My Putter: Hates Me (Cleveland Huntington Beach Soft 4 Putter)

7.0 Handicapped Right Hander from Salt Lake City, Utah

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The equipment today is made to hit the ball straight so it takes a little more work to get the ball to move in either direction. Look at how wide open bubba stands. so I see where rory is coming from.

Imo from learning golf, having a stock shot to go to is key especially when things are going bad on the course and then you learn to hit other shots.

A fade is going to be more controllable than a draw and the miss with a fade is going to be less penal.

Not side there’s a perfect ball flight. It’s what is more predictable for the golfer and use that

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Driver: PXG 0811 X+ Proto w/UST Helium 5F4

Wood: TaylorMade M5 5W w/Accra TZ5 +1/2”, TaylorMade Sim 3W w/Aldila rogue white

Hybrid: PXG Gen2 22* w/AD hybrid

Irons: PXG Gen3 0311T w/Nippon modus 120

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 50*, Tiger grind 56/60

Putter: Scotty Caemeron Super Rat1

Ball: Titleist Prov1

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Per Rory last week:

McIlroy’s bread-and-butter shot for so many years was hitting a big swinging draw with his driver. But for a couple years now, McIlroy said, he’s committed to hitting a fade.

One big reason for the change, he said, have been technological improvements in the modern driver, which he said makes it more difficult for him to draw the ball.

“So I’ve had to adjust,” he said. “That’s how I’ve played most of my life, so it’s committing to seeing a different way to hit tee shots and it’s just, it’s taking a while to get used to it.”

 

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(D) G410 LST | (3) SpeedZone Big Tour | (5) TM Sim Max | (H) Titleist 818 H2 | (I) Z785 | (W) ZipCore | (P) Cleveland Premier HB 11

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I've seen players win with both draws and fades.  The winner has confidence in whatever shot shape they play.  The more confidence, the better chance of winning.

I fought a slice for many years.  Fixed it. Now I play my shots straight.  If it draws or fades a little, I don't get into too much trouble.

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We don’t stop playing the game because we get old; we get old because we stop playing the game.”

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4 minutes ago, Kenny B said:

I've seen players win with both draws and fades.  The winner has confidence in whatever shot shape they play.  The more confidence, the better chance of winning.

I fought a slice for many years.  Fixed it. Now I play my shots straight.  If it draws or fades a little, I don't get into too much trouble.

ZJ only hits a draw and he’s done pretty good

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Driver: PXG 0811 X+ Proto w/UST Helium 5F4

Wood: TaylorMade M5 5W w/Accra TZ5 +1/2”, TaylorMade Sim 3W w/Aldila rogue white

Hybrid: PXG Gen2 22* w/AD hybrid

Irons: PXG Gen3 0311T w/Nippon modus 120

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 50*, Tiger grind 56/60

Putter: Scotty Caemeron Super Rat1

Ball: Titleist Prov1

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24 minutes ago, thechrisgibbs said:

For the driver, I would definitely focus on a single ball flight, but the draw/fade play extends beyond just the driver. DJ exclusively hits a cut now with all clubs (save the putter). For a driver scenario, how about pulling a Phil Mickelson and carrying two drivers in the bag; one fade bias and one draw bias? TXG covered this concept really well HERE. Mattie shows the temptation of dropping a wedge to play two drivers on a very long course. Obviously, not everyone can play both shot shapes, myself included. 

Have you ever thought of trying to switch from your natural tendency and play a draw with the driver, @cnosil? There's potential you could get a boost in distance. Just food for thought!

I can hit a draw with my other clubs;  3 wood and hybrids tend to draw,  irons are tend to fade.   In the rare cases I need to hit a draw off the tee I’ll drop back a club. I only intentionally change my typical ball flight if there is an obstacle to go around, but never with a driver.  
yes,  I used to try and draw the driver but was never successful at being able to make it repeatable.  

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Driver:  :ping-small: G400 Max 9* w/ KBS Tour Driven
Fairway: :titelist-small: TS3 15* set  to 16.5* w/Project X Hzardous Smoke
Hybrids:  :titelist-small: 816H1 19* set at 18* w/KBS Tour Graphite Hybrid Prototype
                :titelist-small: 915H  21*  w/KBS Tour Graphite Hybrid Prototype
               :titelist-small: 915H 24*  w/KBS Tour Graphite Hybrid Prototype
Irons:      :honma:TR20V 6-11 w/Vizard TR20-85 Graphite
Wedge:  :callaway-small: 54-10S   :cleveland-small: 588  58-12
Putter:  :seemore-small: mFGP2

Backups:  :bobby-grace-1: 6330, :taylormade-small:TM-180, Bellum Winmore 787

 

Member:  MGS Hitsquad since 2017697979773_DSCN2368(Custom).JPG.a1a25f5e430d9eebae93c5d652cbd4b9.JPG

 

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3 minutes ago, cnosil said:

I can hit a draw with my other clubs;  3 wood and hybrids tend to draw,  irons are tend to fade.   In the rare cases I need to hit a draw off the tee I’ll drop back a club. I only intentionally change my typical ball flight if there is an obstacle to go around, but never with a driver.  
yes,  I used to try and draw the driver but was never successful at being able to make it repeatable.  

I actually have this set up in my "safe off the tee" clubs. I have a 2 Iron Taylormade P790 with an X-Stiff Hazardous Smoke shaft that goes around 250 yds with a 'heavy' draw, and I have a 2 Hybrid Callaway Apex with an X-Stiff Project X Catalyst shaft that is just a perfect cut at about 240 yds. Both are very penetrating, but I love the dynamic of having two "safe off the tee" shots that can cut or fade.

I only play a 56* wedge though because I carry a 2 iron and a 2 hybrid. Some people freak out when I tell them I don't have a lob wedge, but I get a lot of action from my 56* on the green and hit my 60* fat every time I've tried to use it. Plus, I can open the face of the 56* to basically 70* with the grind! Should I? No. Do I? Yes haha.

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Driver: Sim 8* turned down to 6* X-Stiff Aldila Rogue Silver 110

3 Wood: Sim 14* X-Stiff Aldila Rogue Silver

2 Hybrid/2 Iron: 2019 Apex/2019 P790 both X-Stiff

4-PW: '21 Apex Pros S+ KBS C-Taper 1* flat

Wedges: P770 Gap Wedge 50*, Cleveland RDX 56*

My Putter: Hates Me (Cleveland Huntington Beach Soft 4 Putter)

7.0 Handicapped Right Hander from Salt Lake City, Utah

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For high speed players, a fade is more controllable than a draw. Most of the best players in history were comfortable hitting a fade. It was the stock shot of Hogan and Nicklaus and a host of others. A fade stops more quickly on the fairway and on the green, meaning they can better predict where the ball ends up. If you hit it far enough to be able to give up a few yards, then a fade is a plus for your game. I hit a draw and am only comfortable hitting a fade with a teed up iron on a par 3. When I do, I almost always get a better result. 

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Callaway Big Bertha Heavenwood

Cobra F9 Speedback 7/8 wood set at 23.5 degrees

Taylormade M4 5 hybrid

Callaway Mavrik Max 6-GW

PXG 0211 5-GW

PXG 0211 sand wedge bent to 53 degrees

Maltby M Series+ 54 degree

Ping Glide 3.0 Eye2 58 degree

Ping Sigma 2 Anser

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3 hours ago, thechrisgibbs said:

A few quotes that confuse the hell out of me:

  • “You can talk to a fade, but a hook won’t listen.”
  • “When you are teaching a beginner to play golf, teach them how to hook the ball first, then straighten out their swing.”

Some of those old quotes are amusing and slightly interesting.  I have no idea where they came from, but it seems to me "you can talk to a fade but a hook won't listen" maybe has a hint of wisdom...if you're hooking it you've likely shut the face down and you're going long and left, whereas a fade is likely an open face and quite possibly shorter...less of an "off the planet" miss.  Just what the saying means to me I guess.

Now that whole "teach them how to hook the ball first" thing actually makes a lot of sense if you ask me.  Most beginners and high-handicappers slice the ball.  Butch Harmon often said the way he'd fix a slice is to make them hook it...close the stance, ball back, flatter swing, etc.

And like fellow DECADEr @cnosil, it's exclusively a cut for me with the driver.   I think hitting a draw is/was a desired shot shape for so many because they struggle with slices...it's easy to get enamored with the controlled version of the opposite flight.  3 wood on down I tend to hit a slight draw, but with the big stick, fade fade fade.

The only thing I don't like about playing a fade is getting paired randomly, hitting my 5-10 yard cut, and being told "man, you've really learned how to play your slice."  Happened to me once and I'll never forget it...I nearly turned green and tripled in size just hearing someone call my ball flight a slice.  😂

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Driver: TR20 460, Vizard 60g Stiff

FW:  CBX 119 3w, 15,  Project X Evenflow Blue 75g Stiff

Hybrids:  SIM DHY 3 & 4H, Diamana Limited Hybrid 75g Stiff

Iron: JPX 919 Forged 5-GW, Aerotech Steelfiber i95 Stiff

Wedges:SM8 54 S Grind, 60 M Grind

Putter:  ER7B 

 

Tested the Honma TR20 460 driver

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After watching this video 

 I doubled down on the fade for driver. I tried to draw my driver when first getting out of beginner slice. Was relatively successful at first, but when started to speed up the swing, duck hooks were close by. The ball position being forward and teed up tends to cause the path go left, making the fade a simple thing with a squared up stance. I don’t think a fade goes shorter, because I can pivot faster and release more without worrying about closing down the face and hooking OB. YMMV

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G400 10.5 

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Vokey SM7 54 degrees 

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1) Find a shape of your shot and stick with it. Only play that shape.

2) Don't go against natural shape. Work at controlling your shape better.

3) As @RickyBobby_PR said the fade is less penal for a miss. (see 1 & 2)

 

I play a fade with driver but the other 12 are all draws. I don't fight either one I just try to improve control with each. 

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:titelist-small:                     Vokey SM8 55 08 M (KBS 610)

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1 hour ago, Rchang said:

After watching this video 

 I doubled down on the fade for driver. I tried to draw my driver when first getting out of beginner slice. Was relatively successful at first, but when started to speed up the swing, duck hooks were close by. The ball position being forward and teed up tends to cause the path go left, making the fade a simple thing with a squared up stance. I don’t think a fade goes shorter, because I can pivot faster and release more without worrying about closing down the face and hooking OB. YMMV

Absolutely love this. I was a slicer for a long time. Now I try to draw or straight shot balls but suffer from pulling it a lot. Might spend a few range sessions with the Mevo to see if hitting the bomb fade is a reality.

Driver: Sim 8* turned down to 6* X-Stiff Aldila Rogue Silver 110

3 Wood: Sim 14* X-Stiff Aldila Rogue Silver

2 Hybrid/2 Iron: 2019 Apex/2019 P790 both X-Stiff

4-PW: '21 Apex Pros S+ KBS C-Taper 1* flat

Wedges: P770 Gap Wedge 50*, Cleveland RDX 56*

My Putter: Hates Me (Cleveland Huntington Beach Soft 4 Putter)

7.0 Handicapped Right Hander from Salt Lake City, Utah

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I fought a slice for most of my life, then about 10 years ago I took some lessons through Golf Tec. My instructor said then that to get more distance I needed to play a draw, so the whole lesson set focused on teaching me to hit a draw..the crazy thing is I can’t seem to fade the ball at all now, everything is a draw or a hook.

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I fight a slice so I'm always working to get that to straight or a draw, but am happy with a slight fade as that usually keeps me out of trouble.  

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 I would love to be able to fade the ball off the tee.  My tee shots are a draw.  If I try to hit a fade, I wind up blocking the ball straight out to the right and missing the fairway by a lot for some reason.

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I honestly miss my massive banana slice. This hook, pull hook, isn't fun, and I've had it for over 20 years. I'm happy slapping my 10 year old driver out there 250-260 with a fade...when it works out that way.

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When my wife asked if I wanted to leave Maine and move to where she grew up, I couldn't say no to Pinehurst, NC. I honestly don't spend much money on golf equipment, but I'm constantly reading reviews in case I ever get ready to buy

I swing left handed and have been the State of Maine Left Hander's champion since 1997, the last year they held the tournament. I'm currently a 6.3 handicap. Trying to get lower, but my gut gets in the way.

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Driver: :taylormade-small: R11 9 degree turned 1 degree lower (Bought since it was on sale at Dick's)

Irons: :titelist-small: 990's S300 Stiff shafts bought when I was in college. (Received a personal use discount, otherwise would've stuck with my Hogan Edge's)

3 Wood: :callaway-small: GBB Epic 15 degree (only club newer than 5 years in the bag)

52/56/60 :taylormade-small: Z Spin wedges (heck of a deal $100 for all 3 at Dick's in 2013)

Putter: :odyssey-small: White Hot XG SRT (bought because I won credit for a long drive in 2010)

 

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On 5/13/2021 at 5:36 PM, TBT said:

I fought a slice for most of my life, then about 10 years ago I took some lessons through Golf Tec. My instructor said then that to get more distance I needed to play a draw, so the whole lesson set focused on teaching me to hit a draw..the crazy thing is I can’t seem to fade the ball at all now, everything is a draw or a hook.

The whole “a draw goes farther” stuff is both true and misleading... a closed face has less loft and will give you less spin loft... so the ball launches lower and with less backspin... so, yes, it goes farther... but you can play a fade with a lower degree driver and get less loft and spin and all the sudden you aren’t losing any distance.

I generically hit a fade... I want to hit a draw, but it kills my dispersion. Thus I play a fade... it’s a perfectly acceptable ball flight. Draws are ok too! I think they are harder to hit unless you are naturally way inside... 

 

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Does anyone have any data, like Gears averages for tour pros, that shows how the majority that play a fade go about accomplishing the shot?

Specifically, are they opening the stance, playing a specific ball location, altering the clubs to fade (grip size, face angle, weighting), etc. 

On average, my path is close to zero, but I miss both directions. I’m just curious if I should attempt to turn my stock shot into a consistent fade. 

Sun Mountain 4.5 LS 14-way / Cobra F9 PX HZRDUS Black 75 6.5 45.25”/ Srixon Z F85 PX HZRDUS Black 75 6.5 43” / Srixon Z H85 19* MCA Tensei CK Pro White 90 TX 40.25”/ New Level 902 Forged 4-PW DG TI X100 Stock Lengths/Lies / Cleveland RTX-4 50,54,60 DG TI S400 / ?

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