October 14, 2014

Hit It Straighter

Stripe it down every fairway with the tour-pro fade

I've been a professional golfer since 2005. I've got more than 220 PGA Tour starts, 45 top-10 finishes and three wins. Want to know how many swing changes I've made during that time? Zero. I turned pro playing a fade, and I'm still playing one now. My message to you is that hitting a draw might get you extra distance—when you execute it correctly—but when it comes to accuracy and reliability, you're much better off fading the ball. Why? It requires a simpler, more-intuitive motion to execute than what's needed to hit a draw. Lee Trevino made a Hall of Fame career out of this shot. So if you struggle to put it in play off the tee, I'm going to show you how to fade it tour-pro style in three simple steps. Let's get to work.

__1. SETUP

Align yourself slightly left__

To maximize distance with this left-to-right shot shape and put some reliability back into your drives, think of this as a baby fade. It will curve, just not much. Set your feet, hips and shoulders so they are aligned a hair left of your target, like I'm doing here. Your club's path should be parallel to this open alignment during the downswing and follow-through. Also, address the ball a little farther forward in your stance. This will help you come into the ball with the clubface pointing slightly left of the target at impact. This clubface position might seem counterintuitive because you want the ball to curve back to the right of where you're aligned, but I'll explain why this matters later.

__2. BACKSWING

Rotate with your core__

Slicers take the club back with their hands and arms and very little body rotation. But to hit a tour-pro fade, you should do the opposite. Take the club back with your core muscles, and make a big shoulder turn while keeping your hands and arms relatively passive—as if they're just coming along for the ride. When you do this, the clubhead will track straight back for the first few feet, and you'll be in a much better position to swing down into the ball in the same direction you set your body lines at address. If you whip the clubhead to the inside as you start back, the tendency is to loop it way outside the target line in the downswing and slice the ball.

__3. THROUGH-SWING

Keep your body moving__

Think of the downswing as a race. Your goal is to keep your body rotation ahead of the clubhead for as long as you can. If you use your legs for leverage and keep everything rotating aggressively, you'll have plenty of time for the clubface to close to the target before it strikes the ball. Remember earlier when I said the face should be pointing slightly left of the target at impact? This is the secret to the tour-pro fade. With a swing path that's slightly more to the left than the clubface's position—in other words, an out-to-in path—you'll hit the ball solidly with a little left-to-right spin. That's what makes the shot curve back to the middle. The clubface is still slightly open (facing right) in relation to the direction of the path.

__STILL CROOKED?

Pick a target, and commit to the swing__

Here are two more tips to help:

(1) Widen your stance a little.

You can generate more clubhead speed from a stable base, and this also will help shallow your swing path to reduce backspin on the ball. Less spin means better control.

(2) Finish with your chest pointing well left of your target, as I'm showing here. If you start hitting pulls, or worse, hooks, it's probably because you stopped turning your body but your arms kept going and shut the face too much. This shot requires a full body turn.

Ryan Moore ranks ninth on the PGA Tour in hitting fairways.