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Tip #52 - Fades And Draws
When you cut across the ball, either from out to in or from in to out, you impart sidespin along with the backspin. It is this sidespin that causes the ball to curve to the right or left.
An open stance encourages an outside takeaway and a cut across the ball at impact.
Clockwise sidespin makes the ball move from left to right. In basic terms, you impart this spin whenever the face of the golf club is open in relation to the angle of your swing path at impact. Please recall that "open," in the case of the clubface, means pointing to the right of the swing path. This should not be confused with an open stance in which your body is aligned to the left of the target line.
It's important also to understand that this open clubface is the only root cause of fades and slices. You can make a perfectly square, on-plane swing, but if at impact the face of your club is pointing to the right of your target line, you'll curve the ball from left to right.
Conversely, you can have your club pointed perfectly down the target line, but if you hit the ball with a glancing blow from out to in, that straight-forward clubface will actually be open in relation to the path of your swing. This also will produce a slice.
The more open your clubface is in relation to your swing path, the more clockwise sidespin you'll put on the ball. Slightly open faces produce fades, wide-open faces produce slices.
Draws and hooks come from the opposite situation, where the clubface is closed in relation to the path of the swing at impact. This imparts counterclockwise spin which makes the ball turn from right to left.
As with slice spin, it doesn't matter whether your swing path is from out to in, in to out, or straight into the back of the ball; if your clubface is pointed farther left than the line on which that club is moving, you're going to curve the ball from right to left. A little spin produces a draw, a lot of spin means a hook.
Instructional advice abounds when it comes to playing intentional fades and draws. Many teachers advocate the stronger grip, with the hands rotated to the right on the club. Others recommend finagling with your weight distribution or swing speed. Still others recommend stiff-armed swings for a slice, more wrist for a hook.
I avoid these methods completely. For one thing, they're complicated. As I've said before, golf should be kept as simple as possible. Secondly, it's silly to believe you can regulate the curve of a golf ball by regulating your wrist cock or weight shift. Finally, I distrust such methods because they don't relate to the root causes of sidespin that I've just discussed.
A closed stance sets up an inward takeaway and an inside to outside path at impact.
In my mind, there's only one good way to play intentional fades and draws, and that's by pre-setting them with your alignment at address. The alterations I make are minor, and once I set them, I'm through. My grip and swing remain the same, without any manipulation or conscious change of any kind.
For a left-to-right shot, I begin my address as usual, by setting my club behind the ball and aiming the clubface straight down the target line. Then I make a change. Instead of aligning my body parallel to the direction in which I've aimed the clubface, I set up in an open stance, with my feet, knees, hips, and shoulders aligned several degrees to the left of the target line.
This setup will cause me to take the club back on a line that is outside that of a straight-back takeaway. That will result in a swing that returns the club to the ball along that same outside path. At impact, the clubface will be aimed straight down the target line but will be swinging across that target line, thus imparting clockwise spin. The ball will start out to the left of the target and then, as the spin takes over, it will drift back toward the target.
It's as simple as that. The more drift I want, the more open I stand while keeping the clubface aimed straight down the target line.
For the draw, it's naturally just the opposite. I set the clubface straight at the ball, then align my body several degrees to the right. This promotes a takeaway that will be more to the inside than usual, resulting in an impact that is from inside to out and imparts counterclockwise spin. The ball starts out to the right, then draws back in toward the target at which I aimed my clubface. The more curve I want, the more I aim myself to the right.
It's that easy. Just set up correctly and then trust your swing. In fact, if there's one key to the swing, it's a mental one. Forget about where you want the ball to finish, and concentrate instead on where you want it to start.
Go back to the idea of visualizing the apex of your shot, and in this case think of hitting the ball to the farthest sideward point of the fade or draw. If you set up properly and direct your ball to that crest of the arc, it will turn on its path from that point to the target.