What Is the Difference Between a Draw & a Fade in Golf?

Draws and fades are shots featuring controlled movements of the golf ball. A draw curves from the player’s right to his left (for a right-handed golfer) while a fade moves in the opposite direction, from left to right.

Some players hit draw shots or fade shots naturally. Top professionals typically can hit draws or fades at will to gain the proper position on the fairway, or to land the ball at a desired spot on the green.

Hitting a Draw

Golf instructor Josh Zander says golfers who wish to hit a draw should visualize what a handball player does to curve the ball to the left. The handball player hitting such a shot strikes the ball with the palm of his hand square to the target, but rotates his hand down and to the left through the hitting zone.

Zander advises golfers to use the same motion with the right hand when trying to hit a draw.

To gain sufficient height on a draw off the tee, golf teacher Mike Lopuszynski says to line the ball up with your left armpit, then close your stance “about an inch,” which should create the ball’s right-to-left path. Take the club head back low and straight, then maintain a long sweeping arc for the remainder of your swing, including the follow through.

Hitting a Fade

LPGA standout Lorena Ochoa hits a fade by first pointing her body to the left of the target. She aims the club face at the spot where she wants the ball to land, then proceeds with her normal swing. From the tee, PGA pro Steve Bosdosh says, place the ball on the right side of the tee box, then aim at a spot on the left half of the fairway.

Tee the ball an inch or two farther forward than normal, with the ball’s center aligned with your club’s sweet spot at address.

Open your club face “a few degrees,” Bosdosh says, then take your normal swing. Golf instructor Mitchell Spearman adds that a faded tee shot “still carries far but has less roll, so it is more likely to stay in the fairway.”

Hitting a Fade or Draw Off the Tee

In general, use a fade off the tee on a dogleg hole in which the fairway bends to the right, and a draw if the fairway curves left.

Bosdosh recommends fading the ball off the tee if your natural drive curves too far to the left, or on fairways that bend to the right and contain hazards on the left. He says the fade is easier to pull off than "a dead-straight drive or one that draws.”

Approach Shots

Golf writer Steve Newell recommends hitting a draw on an approach shot when the flag is on the left part of the green.

This allows you to aim for the middle of the green, which is where the ball should land if you fail to curve it properly. If you draw it as planned, you have a good chance of landing it close to the hole.

The reverse logic applies on greens in which the flag is closer to the right edge, in which case a fade shot is the safer play. Remember that the more loft your club head has, the more difficult it will be to apply the side-spin necessary to draw or fade the ball.