When Does a Golf Slice and Hook Become a Professional Golf Fade?

Golf never ceases to amaze and enlighten me. Whether it is watching professionals expertly dissect a course that mere mortal golfers would struggle to get round in under three figures, learning about aspects of the game, or reading quotations from the great and good, it always hits home how golf is a game of endless fascination. I am always reminded on such occasions that this is a game that no matter how hard I try to understand and control it, it will always eventually get the better of me.

It is not just in terms of playing a round that this is the case, but also in considering other aspects of the game. A good example of this is in the teaching and observation of lower ability amateur golf players, when compared to seasoned professionals and low-handicappers.



For example, if a poor amateur attempts to hit a powerful drive, one of three things invariably happens should they connect fully with the ball (an air shot, or topped tee shot is always a possibility). They will either hit the ball nice and straight (which, being honest, is a rarity), or they will either ‘hook’ the ball or ‘slice’ the ball either side of the fairway.

The dreaded hook and slice are the nemesis of many amateur golfer and the pages of every golfing magazine ever conceived are filled with advice, letters, gadgets and gizmos of all kinds offering potential solutions to these dreaded faults.

Angry-golfer on a golf course


Yet at the upper levels of the game, there is seemingly no such thing as a slice or hook. Occasionally you may here a professional complain about a ‘dreaded snap-hook’, but usually when a professional sees their ball curve in the air after a shot, we are informed that they have ‘drawn’ or ‘faded’ the ball.

So, what is the difference?

Initially, it seems obvious. Control must be the simple answer. Professionals can control the amount of fade or draw they put on a ball, hence it becomes an enhancement to their game. Unskilled amateurs, like myself, do not exercise such a degree of control, therefore it is of detriment to their game and gets tagged with the epithet of a slice or a hook.
But in assuming this, we are assuming that a professional fades or draws the ball perfectly every time, and you only need to look at any golf tournament showing on television at any time, to know that this is indubitably not the case. Conversely, there are many times when an amateur golfer has ‘sliced’ the ball advantageously to circumnavigate a potential hazard on the course, or to put their ball in a perfect position on the fairway or green.


So, if control isn’t the only element in this equation, is the amount of deviation from the centre of the fairway key? Again, this seems plausible, a hook or slice usually sends the errant golf ball whittling through the trees and perhaps even onto a neighbouring fairway (or if you are really poor, the golf club car park or into the next post code). A professionals errant fade or slice may nestle into the second cut of rough, or come to rest amongst the cart paths and walkways; they seldom require to hail a cab to go and retrieve their ball.
But again, where is the cut off point where a fade becomes a slice? Is there a marker in the trees that states; “all balls hit beyond this point are deemed slices or hooks of the unworthy amateur golfer”?

Golf-trolleys on a Swiss golf course

The more you think about it, the more blurred the lines become. An amateur golfer may have a swing with a tendency to slice, but what if they can compensate for this by aiming left and ensure that their ball, mostly, lands on the fairway? Is that still a slice, or a clever fade? He is exerting some control over where the ball lands in the same way a professional attempts to, even if they cannot control their swing to eliminate the ‘slice’.

So after consideration, I think that a slice becomes a fade and a hook becomes a draw at a point where you feel the need to admit some level of competence at the game. After all, who wants to lose face in a competitive fourball by admitting that last shot was a “lucky slice”, rather than a “majestic fade”, as your ball bounces and settles in the middle of the fairway?


The relationship is quite complicated: The better you perceive yourself to be at golf, then the more fades and draws you will hit, compared to slices and hooks. Importantly, this bears no relation to actual golfing ability, merely the belief that you are a fantastic player. Amateur hackers can convince themselves they are fading and drawing the ball with outstanding levels of success, even if the ball tends to end up in a field of scurrying, bemused cows, rather than the fairway, most of the time. All that is required is a dogged insistence that you can play this game very well, despite the evidence to the contrary.

Golf-course-lost golf ball

So next time you are at the range, remember, that last shot was not a slice, it was a fade. The next may not be a hook; it’s a draw.

Repeat it often enough and perhaps soon, you will start to believe it.

It’s just trying to convince other golfers that’s the problem.

Images by Gorilla Golf Blog

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Tom March 20, 2012


Interesting article. I look at it this way. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it’s a duck:)

In other words if you can hit a straight shot and use the fade or draw (and control the severity)when you need it then you are not slicing or hooking.

Does that make sense?


Tommy Priest March 21, 2012

If you can control your shot with a high degree of accuracy, we agree completely – it is not a slice or hook. As you said, the severity of the hook or slice determines whether it is one or not!


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