What Is A Fade In Golf

We all hear this a lot that someone is a pro fader on the field. If you are just starting out on golf you must have pondered what is a fade in golf shots. Fade is a handy shot that can be very helpful under certain conditions. It is a shot in which the ball trajectory curls from left to right towards the hole for a right-handed golfer.

what is a fade shot

I have tried to illustrate the ball trajectory in the above diagram. The ball is in red and it curves from left to right towards the hole instead of the straight shots. It works just like football free kicks I will explain that a bit further in this post.

In the above case, you may think that someone trying to curve the ball in such a straight forward case is stupid. Actually, you are right, a straight shot is a much better option in the above scenario. But does that mean fade shot is useless? It is absolutely not. The fade shot comes in handy in a number of situations I try to explain some of them below.


situations to play fade shot in

Although the illustrations are self-explanatory but I will still try to explain each one of them.

On the top left, there is a bunker right in front of the straight shot. It might be tempting to hit the ball forcefully with a straight shot. However, slight misjudgment in power can make the ball go further than the green or lower power can make you land on the bunker. It would be disastrous. A fade shot can come in handy by avoiding the bunker but still gets closer to the hole.

On the top right, a pond can be more fatal and can seriously damage your score. I would curl more to avoid water and consider fairway more safer than to aim for the greens. The fade shot will be a day saver in such a case.

On the bottom left, it is probably more common to happen than the above two cases. This pretty much happens on the course for par 4 or par 5 holes. Trees can be distracting and a wrong driver shot can land you right in front of them. If you have practiced the fade shot enough you can manipulate the ball path and find a way around them.

Lastly, on the right bottom corner wind can be a nightmare. Golf courses are in an open area and windy conditions are quite common. Especially if you get a chance to play in the UK it would be freezing cold. If the wind is going from left to right I would play fade with a bigger curl and more force. This would get into the wind, cancel the fade on the ball trajectory and the extra force will allow the ball to actually go straight towards the hole.

These are just some of the cases I tried to make through the illustration. There are plenty more of them maybe you can share in the comments?


Consider that you play both the straight and fade shot with the same amount of force. Will the ball travel the same distance in both of them? The answer is No. Due to the curve in the trajectory, the air time of the ball remains the same but the more horizontal distance is covered than the required straight distance. So if you want to make sure that the ball travels the same distance as with the straight shot then the solution is to hit the ball with more power to compensate for the loss in distance.

How To Hit A Fade In Golf?

I see a lot of tutorial on the internet but I felt they are not layman friendly. I have decided to explain how to play a fade shot in the simplest possible manner. But before that, I think it is better to explain the physics by the help of an analogy.

If you have played soccer/football then you may have noticed that every time you take a freekick the ball curls in the air. It happens because the tip of your foot is small and it hits the ball off center and then spin gets induced on the ball. As the ball takes the flight it will curl in the air towards the induced spin. So as the ball is in the air there are two momentums, one is the linear while the other is angular. Ball curls because of the angular momentum. The red rectangle is the point of contact on the ball and the curve represent the curl in the ball trajectory.

how to hit a fade in golf

So it is comparatively quite easy to induce side spin on a big football with a small pointy foot. In the case of golf, it is the opposite and difficult. We have to hit a small ball with big faced iron.  You will need quite a lot of practice to hit a fade shot with an iron. If you can understand the concept it would be easier for you to adjust though.

The same concept applies to the golf ball. We have to hit it off center and towards the right to induce right side angular momentum. Our aim should be towards the left of the hole to give left side linear momentum. So if successfully hit the ball will have right angular momentum and left side straight linear momentum.


So from understanding what is a fade in golf, you can now follow these simple steps to translate the above process with iron to actually learn how to do a fade in golf.

  1. Stand in line with the hole, as if you are aiming for a straight shot or if the hole is at 12 o’clock.
  2. Now deviate your stance completely towards the left. You have to move your entire body as if you are now aiming a straight shot towards the left of the hole. In terms of offset consider that you are not aiming for the 11 o’clock.
  3. Now swing the club and try to hit the ball towards the 10 o clock with the same stance as you set for in step 2

For a lefty 12 o’clock would be the same. 11 o’clock be 1 o’clock and 10 would be 2 o’clock

If you read the concept above then there were two important things to achieve. One was to hit the ball towards the left and second was to induce the right side angular momentum. What actually happened here, is that in step 2 you have aimed to hit the ball towards the left. On step 3 right side spin is induced on the golf ball. The further you would aim i.e. at 9 o clock the more side spin you can induce on to the ball. But you will have to play the ball with more force so that it travels more distance towards the flag.

The logic behind the step 3 is that the point of contact between the ball and club face gets delayed. The contact happens after the midpoint of the club path, as a result, the iron hits the ball off center and thus the spin is induced onto the ball.

The key to the fade shot is a lot of practice with your irons. It may take you some months to get comfortable with this shot but if you understood the concept I tried to explain you can measure and improve your shot quicker.

WRAP UP: What Is A Fade In Golf

For a right-handed golfer, fade is shot which curls the ball from left to right and vice versa for a left-handed player. The implications are tremendous, someone who has a fade shot in his arsenal is no more a beginner. With practice, you can move from a high to a low handicapper. I would recommend not to learn other shots in parallel. It is better to focus on one shot for a drill. Let me know in the comments if my explanation was helpful.

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