Only two things control the flight of the ball as far as hitting a fade or draw. Swing path and clubface angle. The angle of the clubface has a much more pronounced effect on the shot than does the swing path. So…
Assuming your swing path is perfect and you make perfect contact, an open face would send the ball to the right, and a closed face would send the ball to the left. Furthermore, assuming your clubface angle is perfect and you make perfect contact, an inside-out path will produce a draw and an outside-in path will produce a fade.
I taught myself to work the ball by first learning how to hit big hooks and big slices. Really exaggerate the path and clubface angle and experiment on the range. You’ll get a great feel for what it takes to produce those shots. Once you can hit a big hook or slice, you can start reducing the clubface angle and make the path of your swing return more to normal and start hitting fades and draws.
Also, pay attention to your misses and you will know what swing produced them. It’s really not too complicated. There are basically only 9 shot patterns and 9 causes for those shot patterns. You can tell what kind of swing you made by the type of shot you hit:
1. Pull Hook – Closed face and outside-in path
2. Pull – closed face and outside-in path
3. Pull slice – Square Face, outside-in path
4. Hook – closed face and straight path
5. Straight – Square Face and path
6. Fade – Open face and straight path
7. Push Hook – Square face and inside-out path
8. Push – Open face, inside-out path
9. Push-Slice – Open face and inside out path
For example, if you hit a shot that started left of your target and faded back towards it, you probably had a square face but had a slightly outside-in path. If the ball flight starts left and fades to the right of your target, your outside-in path was more exaggerated.
Understanding what it takes to produce a draw or a fade will help you on your way to becoming a better ball striker. Now we just have to work on making solid contact! Without a solid hit, the ball will seldom do that you want, and will never go the correct distance. But that issue is a subject for another column. Stay tuned!