Shaping a shot to a target just how you imagined is one of the greatest feelings in golf, and having this ability also gives you a real advantage over your competition. In the video and article below, PGA pro Trey Niven explains the theory and demonstrates how to hit draws and fades like the pros.
Thanks to the shot-tracing technology that has become such a pivotal aspect of the TV coverage, fans can now get a real sense of how the world's best shape the ball. Even with the current crop of the best premium golf balls that are harder to curve than those used by previous generations, there are still some shots that leave us viewers awestruck.
So, how can you learn to hit draws and fades and add another dimension to your game? The theory, at least, is actually quite straightforward.
A lot of it comes down to the set-up. By making small alterations to your address position, you'll find it easier to move the ball left and right at will - something Tiger Woods did better than anyone else in his heyday.
Ultimately, it all comes down to the correlation of the face and path. Where the ball starts is dictated largely by where the clubface is pointing at impact, and the swing path relative to that will control the curvature.
And not only does it look great, but it'll help you hit more greens and lower your handicap. Arccos data shows that scratch players hit just 5% of shots from 150 yards outside of 90ft, whereas that number increases to 26% for 15-handicappers. Learning to shape your iron shots more effectively will help you hit the ball closer and score better.
How to hit a fade
It's a shot that's becoming more and more popular among the world's best, who are happy to sacrifice a few yards for the added control. Even Rory McIlroy, who ascended to the top of the game by overpowering courses with his delightful draw, has added it to his locker in recent years.
For right-handed golfers, this means starting the ball left of target with an out-to-in swing path which is 'more left' than the clubface. To achieve this, you'll want to get your feet, knees, hips and shoulders aligned left at address. The club should also be aiming left of target but you want it to be open relative to the rest of your body.
When practising, use an alignment stick like I have in the video above to make this process easier, placing it between your feet and the ball to help you line up. From there, move the ball position further forward in your stance and swing down the line of your feet to create the out-to-in path required. It'll take some practice to get right but will come in very handy and could even become your go-to shot.
If you need some extra assistance, make a gate with two tees like below and place the ball in the middle. This will create an excellent visual for you to swing through which will further encourage the cut shape.
How to hit a draw
In order to hit a draw, the opposite applies. To get the ball moving right-to-left through the air, you want the club to be working from the inside with a face that is open to the target but closed to the path.
Use your alignment stick again to get your body aiming right, which will encourage an in-to-out swing direction and nudge the ball back in your stance to near the centre. With the face pointing right of your target but left of your body, the ball should draw nicely if you swing down the line of your feet once again. For slicers, this will help you learn how to stop cutting across the golf ball.
As with the fade, it's not something you should take to the course until you've spent some time at the range. The gate drill will help you master this shot and develop a feel you can rely on under pressure.
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After enjoying a successful men’s amateur career, during which time he played for Shropshire and Herefordshire’s first team, Trey turned professional in 2018, and he now teaches from a number of locations in the Midlands. He enjoys coaching players of all abilities, from county players, to club golfers and beginners.
Trey’s teaching has been influenced by Mike Granato and Shaun Webb, two coaches who have worked with a whole host of Tour professionals. The way that they are able to explain the swing and use data to help the average golfer is something that Trey brings to his own teaching.
Whilst Trey is enthusiastic about every aspect of the game, he’s particularly interested in what happens at impact to cause a certain ball flight. This may not always be a perfect looking golf swing, but one that that functions well and is repeatable. He’s always watching and learning from the best players in the world, identifying trends and looking at how that might help the players he teaches.
Trey is a strong believer in making your bad shot better. "Golf," he says, "is a game of misses as opposed to how good is your good shot." He’s also keen to see his students think for themselves and take ownership, and believes players who are successful own their own golf swing and make it work.
One of Trey’s goals is to increase participation in the game and to make the game more diverse. Trey runs initiatives as part of the Black British Golfers to showcase talent from and increase participation from unrepresented groups.
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