Modern launch monitors have taught us exactly what makes the ball go where it goes, but most golfers would be smart not to get too caught up in technicalities. Decades ago, Jack Nicklaus described a simple way to shape shots, and it's every bit as valid today.
Jack said to hit a fade—his preferred shot—aim the clubface where you want the ball to come down, and align your body to the left (for right-handers). To hit a draw, do the opposite: Aim the face where you want the ball to finish and align your body to the right. For both ball flights, swing the club where your body is aimed.
Here's the procedure, starting with the fade (above). After sighting your target from behind the ball, step in and aim the face at the target. Next, set your feet, making sure your stance line is well to the left. (Remember, a square stance is parallel-left of the target line, so you have to be farther left than that.) Your body lines—knees, hips and shoulders—should point where your feet point. Then swing where your body is aimed. The ball will start left and curve right.
“TO SHAPE A SHOT, BETTER TO CHANGE YOUR SETUP THAN YOUR SWING.”
Now, take the draw. Aim the clubface at the target, then arrange your stance and your other body lines to the right. Swing where your body is aimed, and the ball will start right and curve to the left.
What I really like about this method is, you get most of it done at address. I see golfers trying to roll the face closed for a draw or hold it open for a fade. Jack's way is better.
Photo by Dom Furore
GOLF'S NO. 1 MISTAKE
People ask me all the time, What's the biggest fault you see with amateur golfers? My answer: They don't take enough club. They take the club that requires a career shot to get to the target.
Optimistic? No, more like unrealistic. You should base your club selections on the average distance you get out of your clubs. Take one more than you think you need, and then swing within yourself. Trust me, you'll make better contact and hit your target a lot more often.
Butch Harmon is based at Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson, Nev.