Downswing Differences

How to hit draws and fades by making simple adjustments to the downswing

The hardest shot in golf is the one that flies in a straight line. It’s so difficult that even the best players in the world rarely try to hit it, mainly since this shot requires the utmost in timing and precision. Draws and fades are a lot easier to repeat, however, considering each has varying degrees from which one can produce a good result. Some fades and draws are more pronounced than others, but with the proper mechanics, any type of fade or draw can work to your benefit and can be much more repeatable than a shot that flies straight. The key is in knowing the difference between hitting a draw vs. a fade. And despite what you may have learned, the difference isn’t in how the club is taken back on the backswing, but instead how the club is initiated from the top of the swing, through the hitting area and into the finish. The backswing won’t be covered here; instead, we’re focusing on how the body initiates the downswing and what differences in positions and mechanics are made in hitting a fade and a draw with the driver. And although the differences may appear subtle, the effects on the golf ball actually are quite substantial. With these simple tips, you’ll never want to hit it straight again.

downswingFade: At the top of the backswing, the hands need to be high above my head, the gloved hand cupped and the left elbow flared out. All these positions indicate a steeper plane, which helps to hold the face slightly open at impact.

Draw: Hitting a draw means lower hands, a flat left wrist and a more rounded plane. As for the lower body, both swings should have the same turn and weight shift. The secret is the position of the upper body at the top.

downswingFade: If you’re in the right position at the top, it’s critical that you maintain a more upright plane midway through the downswing. Don’t get stuck dropping the club behind you or else snap hooks and big blocked shots will happen. In a mirror, the shaft should bisect your left arm, ensuring a steeper angle into the golf ball.

downswingDraw: Hitting a draw means swinging the club from the inside, so it’s important you get it there. Leave the clubhead behind you to produce a flat angle, and let the shaft bisect your right shoulder (as shown). This means you’ll swing from the inside and start the ball to the right and draw it back toward the fairway.

downswingFade: Now is when the body needs to rev up! Since the upright angle is what’s used to get to the ball, it’s critical that the body rotate fully to help square up the clubface. You can’t hit it left to right if you never get to your left first! A strong lower-body rotation is key to avoid hitting blocked shots and instead hit those beloved baby fades!

downswingDraw: Unlike the fade, the draw is an arms-driven swing, as long as you remember to swing from the inside. If so, the bottom of the arc is highlighted by less body movement and a more active rolling of the hands through impact. A draw never draws with an open clubface, so making sure that the face is square and the arms release is crucial.

downswingFade: A good swing thought to have when trying to hit a fade is to remember to keep the clubhead high through impact. Here, you can see my weight has transferred to my forward side and I’ve retained the same plane angle I had at the top of my backswing. As for my lower half, it’s in the same position for both swings.

downswingDraw: The strong overlap of my hands tells me I had no problem closing the face through impact. When this happens, the swing plane flattens, and like the fade, it mimics the position I was in at the top and midway through the backswing. Just remember that a draw is an arms-dominated swing and the fade is more of a body-rotational move.

downswingFade: The finish position for a fade is what you might expect. The hands are high, the torso is fully rotated and the head is facing the target. If you want to adjust the degree of fade that you put on the ball, all you need to do is make a few simple adjustments to the clubface position at address. For more fade, open the clubface more. Just remember not to overmanipulate the body. The last thing you want_Ê is to get too upright and too steep into the ball. That will cause slicing and eventually make it difficult to hit the golf ball with any consistency. Also, remember that fades typically don’t travel as far as draws due to the ball’s added backspin. Nevertheless, more backspin means it’s likely the ball will stay in the fairway rather than roll off it.

Draw: Check out my arms in the photo (above, right). They’re lower and my finish is more rounded. This is because my upper body outrotated my lower body through impact. Unlike a fade, where my whole body rotates, my arms have led the move. Now, look at my left elbow. It’s behind me, as opposed to at my side after I’ve hit a fade. This proves I’ve turned the club and my arms/hands have released and rotated through impact. If you want to adjust how much your ball draws, all you have to do is close the face more. Still, the key is that a draw must be executed from the inside-out. Any other way will produce pulls and severe hooks. Remember, draws go farther than fades, so be sure to expect some added roll to the left.

Derek Nannen, PGA, is the Director of Instruction at the Eagle Mountain Golf Academy in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Leave a Reply