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Friday, January 15, 2016

Another Approach to Hitting a Controlled Fade

Here's a YouTube video from instructor Brady Riggs on how to hit a controlled fade. While it initially sounds like just another rehash of how fades work -- and you should expect that, since a fade is always created by the same techniques -- Brady is giving you a very different approach that doesn't require a perfect swing plane to get results.

That's a novel concept, isn't it? Watch the video and then I'll explain.

First, here are the standard instructions that a instructor would give you. Brady is giving them as well.
The face of the club is open relative to the swing path. For a rightie, that means your swing path must go farther left than the clubface is aimed. If you're a leftie, your swing path must go farther right than the clubface is aimed.
Standard explanation, right? But note that Brady adds to that explanation:
  • While the clubface must be open relative to the swing path, that doesn't mean that it's open relative to your target line. 
That's big, folks. Let me put that in rightie's terms; I'm sure you lefties will follow.

A rightie trying to play a fade typically aims the clubface to the right of the flag. It would make more sense to aim to the LEFT of the flag -- remember, the ball is going to curve to the right and you want it to curve toward the flag. So when you open the face to start with, the ball is going to move away from the flag, even farther right... and then you'll swing to the left, and that creates that banana ball.

So Brady suggests that you set up SQUARE to the target -- you aim the clubface at the flag AND you aim your foot line to hit a straight ball. He's basically recommending that you swing a bit out-to-in, which you already do if you have an over-the-top swing! If you happen to close the face a bit when you're aimed like this, the ball will still fade if your swing plane swings farther left than the clubface is aimed.

This is actually a very old method for hitting a fade, one that was used back before Hogan got everybody obsessed over their alignment. It was based on the recognition that most people didn't have a perfect swing, no matter how much they practiced, and that an out-to-in swing was more common for most people. (It has to do with a difference in the mechanics of a swing when your hands swing higher than your shoulders versus when they stay below your shoulders, as they do when you swing a tennis racket or baseball bat. I'll do a post on that sometime; recognizing that difference was a key to straightening out my own swing.)

And it might surprise you to hear that this is the way Bubba Watson creates a fade. Just think about it: How many times have you heard analysts and players say that you can't tell what shot shape Bubba plans to hit by looking at his address position? That's because he doesn't swing along his foot line most of the time, regardless of whether he's fading or drawing the ball... and it works just fine for him.

So why would this be a good method for some of you? Well, it eliminates most of the variables in getting the shot shape you want, especially when you struggle with a slice. With this method, all you really have to do is focus on where the clubface is aimed. If the ball slices too much, instead of adjusting your stance or your swing plane, all you do is close the clubface enough to get the ball headed where you want it to go.

As you close the clubface, the ball will go from a slice to a fade to a relatively straight pull to a pull hook. Just adjust the aim of the clubface until you've got a shot between a fade and a straight pull.

Think of this as a goto shot. Since most of us tend to get off-plane when we're under pressure, this lets you control the direction of that off-plane shot.

Remember, golf isn't a game of perfect. As long as you can predict where the ball is going with some confidence, you can learn to post better scores. And for a lot of you, especially those without a lot of time to practice, this is a great solution to an uncontrollable slice.

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