Swing Path - I'm still learning

At the beginning of my season, my swing coach saw me practicing, said something and for some reason I interpreted it as him telling me I had gotten my swing on too much of an inside path… I don’t remember exactly the conversation, but I ended up hitting a controlled fade (that rarely sliced) and I was actually playing decent golf, as my path was consistent.

Finally got around to taking a lesson, and he said he had told me the opposite, we worked on getting my swing less over the top, and I started hitting less of a fade, and playing better overall… I can still hit a draw on demand, and the feel was always me closing my hands at impact to “draw” through the ball…

Then I listened to the “Accuracy Podcast” by Jon… and realized I was completely incompetent when it came to understanding path, and how to hit a draw and a fade.

My new basic understanding (and please correct me if I’m wrong) is the ONLY thing that determines a draw or a fade is your club path (and some gear effect). If you swing on an outside to in path, the ball will fade. If you swing inside to out, the ball will draw… Your hands and wrists can work to manipulate the angle of the club face to get the ball started on the correct line, but the spin is determine by the path of the club.

Maybe this is basic to others, but it was eye opening for me… both how much swing path can impact your accuracy and how spin actually works during the swing… One of my goals this offseason is going to be to gain a better physical understanding of my path… I’m hoping we will have a golf simulator, and I want to focus on finding my “0 path swing”… not to play a straight shot on the golf course, but to find the balance point of my swing, so I can feel when I’m swinging it too much out to in or in to out… My hope is I can build a more consistent path for myself, and reduce variability on the golf course.

Also, if I can master a 0 degree swing, I can better see the impact of different hand positions, shaft lean, grips and stances…

I’m not sure if any of this will functionally work, but I’m interested to try it… it also requires my club actually install GCQuads in the bays we built (and assumes GCQuads measure swing path, which I’m not sure they do)

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You gotta read the Practice Manual by @Adamyounggolf. Explains the ball flight laws in enough detail. Fade = face is open to the swing path. Draw = face is closed to the path. Shape is face + path combo. Adam explains it much better. I’m sure @jon also has a decent article on Practical Golf


I’m hoping Adam will join on here soon. He is really the master of the face/path conversation.

As I mentioned in the podcast, I believe controlling where your face is pointing at impact is the most important part of the equation. I have a very in-to-out swing path, and it only works if I can keep that face pointing open somewhere between the path of the club, and my target. This can be a can of worms so I’ll stop here!


I want the can of worms!

I have read a ton of Adams stuff, need to buy his book… I’d love to hear what he has to say.

I think the most important part is finding what you can do consistently. I don’t think I’m going to take a 0 degree path to the golf course, and if I tried, I think I’d be sacrificing consistency to do so.

But, I think I’d gain a lot of knowledge by understanding what a 0 degree swing felt like and where my misses went.

Similar but different to Adams drills on hitting the heel and the toe… finding that middle ground allows me to adjust my swing better. This is all hypothetical as I haven’t been able to swing a club recently, so this is where my mind went…

I’m also the guy chasing scratch name checks when they abandon Adam way (also, you can’t have a -8 swing path and be hammering a nail, Eli. Also, the blue album is great)


Are you the real Craigers???

To hit a fade, the path MUST be left, and the face needs to be open to it (but not more open than the target line).

To hit a draw, the path MUST be right and the face needs to be closed to it (but not more closed than the target line).

All of this is true with irons. When we have a driver, gear effect can come into play.

I could go into much more depth about numbers, how they vary with diff clubs, how different lies play a role etc. But the above should be enough to chew on for now.


I’m not the real craigers, sadly… my name isn’t even Craig!

I found practical golf through you, and I found you through chasing scratch… so I figured craigers would be a fun name… mainly so I could get a “kudos to you craigers!” On occasion.

On the path stuff, I’m truly just starting to understand it. The last podcast on accuracy made me realize how little I understood it… i started to read your site and want to start building a better understanding and figure out how to use it practically in my every day game.

I’m currently dealing with a bulging disc, so I have too much time on my hands and no ability to practice… I’ve been thinking about how I want to spend my winter practicing. I’ve mostly got my plan for short game mapped out…

My plan for path and full swing work is to figure out what a neutral path feels like… and then figure out what path feels natural to me… that way I’ll have two fundamental paths that I’m confident on and can get back on path easier (theoretically).

My last path was fairly neutral, slightly positive… so I’m hoping I can build something consistent to play with in 2021.

I also plan on getting to scratch before mike and Eli… and do so with the blue album playing.

Sounds like a good plan.

I have all the conceptual information (path, face, gear effect, specific numbers etc), as well as drills to change it from a technical perspective (swing motion) and feel perspective in my “Next Level Golf” program.

I like your idea of finding a left path and finding a right path. It certainly does help in the calibration of a more neutral path - although you may find that a neutral path doesn’t perform as well for you. I did an N=1 test today, varying path between -9 and plus 9.

Neutral path = 20ft average proximity
Small fade = 15ft
Small draw = 15ft
Large fade = 20 ft
Large draw = 23ft

It’s fun having your own GCquad


Yeah, I’ll be signing up for nlg when I get cleared to practice golf again… I’ve enjoyed the stuff on your site, so I look forward to digging in deeper.

I’m also hoping to have full access to a gcquad this winter… but it’s not in at my club yet.

To a certain extent, I think figuring out a neutral path will help me understand positive and negative paths moving forward.

Just going to come down to having enough time to practice.

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Saw a video recently (can’t remember who or I’d give credit) that talked about “envisioning the blur” that the club head makes through impact to work on path. I like this concept as it employs envisioning as well as an external focus (to reproduce the blur you see, whether it is neutral, in to out, or out to in), as opposed to an internal focus (e.g. “close your hands”).

Also, probably the best tool ever to get a neutral path would be just to set a club box or 2”x4” or just alignment stick parallel to your target line just a few inches from the ball and practice not hitting it before or after impact. If I had to start all over again or teach someone, that’s all I’d do: lay that club box down and tel them to figure it out from there!

FWIW my path was EXTREMELY in to out for the first, most formative years of my golfing life. Has taken twenty years to neutralize it out so I can play a (relatively) straight ball rather than a sniping, snapping “draw”.

Good luck and have fun!

Love the Practice Manual. One of the best golf books in years.


Craigers, what podcast are you referring to?

Chasing scratch… it’s two guys who start as 11 handicaps and are trying to get to scratch… along the way they meet and ignore some wonderful golf instructors like Adam.

It’s a truly wonderful podcast if you are a 35-45 year old man trying to play golf with a wife and family… if you are interested, listen to the first episode… if you like it, the rest are basically the same type of humor. If you don’t like it, just stop there.

My name, and what Adam was asking about, is an homage to a one off guy one of the hosts played with at Tobacco Road… kudos to you, craigers is sort of an inside joke for the podcast. Also, if you know a golfer name Craig who golfs with a guy named Ramsey, I can get you a free t shirt.


Thanks. I will definitely try the podcast, if for no other reason than to figure out what Craigers means.

Haha, prepare for that mystery to be a little disappointing. It’s a very enjoyable podcast, they are on season three now, so plenty of content to dig into.

I asked you this on Twitter, but feel like it’s a better topic here…

Does swing path have an impact on launch and backspin? Does a fade really spin more and launch higher? Or is it a factor of how you naturally present the club face when you swing out to in?

If anyone is interested, Adam responded on Twitter.

This is something I want to learn more about… I’m not sure it will be particularly actionable as I don’t think I’ll actively work on changing my path…

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When you play a fade, you have to open the face to path. This produces a higher spin loft (difference between AOA and dynamic loft).

Even if you putt he ball back in the stance, it lowers the loft, but also steepens the AOA an equal amount, so you almost can’t get away with it.

So I would say that, intra-player, a draw goes longer than a fade. However, inter-player, many players can fade it longer than drawers for many reasons.

I “can” get my fade to go as long as my draw, but I have to change more variables consciously in my swing. For example, I would have to try and Len the shaft forwards more while shallowing the angle of attack out with a fade (and those two foci are counter to each other).


Awesome! This makes a ton of sense and is very helpful…

Good luck with your new student! I’m excited to see how season 4 of Chasing Scratch goes.

Kudos to you!

I have worked out how to hit a powerful fade. I have my in to out swing path and open the face. Aim down the left and hit a straight shot that falls to the right at the end. Have the face a little less open and hit a draw.

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If I understand path correctly, you can’t hit a fade and be in to out… it sounds like your path is just barely off neutral, and you come in slightly out to in on your stock shot…

I’ve always felt the same way with my swing… stock shot I leave the face open, draw I close the face… that’s what prompted this thread!

I’m really looking forward to getting some time in a simulator.