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Golf ball spin direction vs distance

  1. Sep 17, 2004 #1
    I've heard it repeated over and again by various golfers that a "draw" will go further than a "fade" (other things being equal). I can think of no reason why this is true. Does anyone know of any hard research on this question?

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 17, 2004 #2
    This is what I think :

    With a fade (or slice), the contact between the ball and the club face is a bit nearer to the shaft, causing less torque to it (along the shaft axis).

    With a draw (or hook), the contact is further from the shaft, causing more torque. The extra energy wasted on the club rotation along its shaft axis results in less kinetic energy to the ball.
  4. Sep 17, 2004 #3


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    Just speaking ex posteriori; I think that in order to hit a draw, one must strike the ball at point later in the swing, where more power is delivered.
  5. Sep 17, 2004 #4
    That's possible. I don't actually fade or draw myself (yet...). I answered taking "other things being equal" very strictly.
  6. Sep 17, 2004 #5


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    What's a "draw", and what's a "fade", in terms of spin?

    In tennis, "topspin", achieved by hitting "up" on the ball from low to high
    (arrows show the spin on the ball)

    ^ | ----------> direction of travel of ball

    causes the ball to curve down and stay in the court (the topspin generates a downwards force, a negative lift). This is due to the magnus effect.


    shows the lift generated on a spinning cylinder with "backspin", the opposite of the "topspin".

    The URL above also has a nice java applet that visually shows the spin, flowlines, and the sign of the lift.
  7. Sep 17, 2004 #6
    A draw is a trajectory curving from the right to the left (for a right-handed golfer) and a fade is the opposite.

    A fade results when the swing comes "from outside in" -- ie, across the ball from southeast to northwest, so to speak (for a right handed golfer, and the intended direction of the ball being north).

    Some people have told me they think a fade has more backspin. This causes it to go on a steeper climb then descend more steeply, resulting in less forward motion once it bounces on the ground (exacerbated, perhaps, by residual backspin). However, I can't see any reason why a fade should have more backspin. I should add that the proponents of the "long draw" are counting total distance, including distance after the ball hits the ground.

    And, yes, by "other things being equal" I meant the ball is hit with equal force in either case.
  8. Sep 18, 2004 #7


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    For me, its mostly a matter of timing and swing speed: if my hands and arms are ahead of my body, I tend to pull/draw and if my hands and arms are behind my body, I tend too push/fade. Getting my arms ahead of my body means swinging harder and so I get more distance with it.
  9. Sep 18, 2004 #8
    If the ball is struck by the club head that is perpendicular to the target line, the ball’s rotational axis will be horizontal to the ground. The top of the ball will rotate towards the golfer (back spin). The ball will have maximum lift and reach the highest elevation, but drop steeply as kinetic energy is spent. The steeper drop and the maximal backspin means less roll on the ground. If the club is not square at impact the spin axis will tip to the left (draw) or to the right (fade). Either condition would provide less backspin so each would yield an equally greater distance. A draw, however, is known to provide the greater distance. The fade is usually occurs due to the ball being struck prior to the club head reaching maximum speed, before complete pronation of the wrists (open club head) occurs. The draw occurs at or after wrist pronation (closed club head) generating maximum club head velocity.
  10. Dec 12, 2009 #9
    In order for a golf ball to fade or slice the ball must be stuck with a clubface that is open to the swingpath. By contrast a draw or hook is struck with a clubface which is closed to the path.
    A clubface which is open to the swingpath will result in more backspin being imparted at impact whereas a clubface which is closed to the swingpath essentially means the clubface is delofted, resulting in less backspin being applied
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