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How to Shape Golf Shots




Shot Shaping

Shot shaping is an important skill in golf.  Being able to fade or draw the golf ball can be a huge advantage when you are faced with various scenarios on the golf course or simulator.

The concept to shape the ball in either direction is the same for any club.  It relies on the club path, the club face angle, and the club face angle relative to the path.

Shot Shapes

From a right hander’s perspective, a Draw is a shot that moves from right to left and a Fade is a shot that moves from left to right.  These shapes can be further categorized into a push, pull, or straight draw or slice.  It is all based on the golfer’s preference of whether they like to aim at the target and start the ball on a specific start line, or hit a straight shot at secondary target and turn the ball over towards the flag.  Today, we will only discuss the two shots and what launch conditions allow them to move in either direction.

How to Shape the Ball

The trick to shaping the ball is to understand how to impart a left or right spin on the ball.  Please keep in mind, a golf shot doesn’t ever spin purely sideways.  When we say sidespin, we are talking about the side spin component of a ball that is spinning on a spin axis.

The factors that matter when you are trying to shape a shot are:

  • Club Path – This is the direction the club is traveling.
  • Club Face Angle – This is the alignment of the club face relative to the startline of the target.
  • Club Face to Path – This is the difference between the club path and the club face angle.  This data point will determine the amount of total side spin that can be generated.

For a right hander, if the Club Face to Path is positive (+), meaning the club face is moving more in to out than the Club Face Angle’s orientation at impact, the ball will draw, or move from right to left.

If the Club Face to Path is negative (-), meaning the club face is moving more out to in than the Club Face Angle’s orientation at impact, the ball will fade, or move from left to right, as shown in the image below:

Acceptable Side Spin “Rule of Thumb”

Per world renowned Coach, Ted Oh, there are simple calculations you can do to determine the optimal amount of side spin you want to generate for any given club.

The ideal amount of backspin is determined by multiplying the iron number, times 1,000.  So for example, an 8 iron should have 8 x 1,000 RPM of backspin.  This will vary based on the types of irons you have, your preferred ball flight, and your club speed.

From here, the ideal amount of sidespin you want is:

  • 0-2% of backspin – This is essentially a straight shot with no visible / meaningful movement.
  • 2-5% of backspin – This can be called a “baby” fade or draw.  This is the range where the shots movement is more predictable and therefore, controllable.
  • 5-9% - These shots will have a more visible movement in either direction.  Overall, with this much spin, you will see a few yards of right to left movement.  Higher club speed swingers will see the total left or right movement magnified.
  • 10%+ - In this range, you are starting to lose control of the golf ball or stuck in a situation where severe movement is necessary.  Although it is good to know how to execute this type of shot, they are extremely difficult to be precise with, even if the overall direction is predictable.


All things are possible with a little bit of practice.  When practicing shot shaping, determine if you prefer aiming at the target and pushing or pulling the ball a little, or if you prefer aiming at your secondary target and letting the ball drift toward the primary target.

Identifying this preference is important so that you know which shot data points you need to focus on and to avoid any unnecessary frustration and confusion as you work these shots into your repertoire.

If you’re looking to take your game to the next level, consider building some shot movement into your bag!

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