This content is for subscribers only.
Join our club! Become a subscriber to get access to the latest issue of Australian Golf Digest, plus exclusive content and videos only available with a digital subscription.
Xander Schauffele: Launch it high, land it soft - Australian Golf Digest Xander Schauffele: Launch it high, land it soft - Australian Golf Digest

I’ll teach you the shot every golfer needs for scoring

Photographs by Dylan Coulter

Some of the amateur golfers I play with are happy just to hit the ball in the general direction of their target. But when you become skilled enough to start shaping shots based on the situation, the one you have to learn is the high fade. It’s really reliable for holding greens – especially from longer distances, which is where I use it a lot. I’m going to give you some tips for how to produce this ball flight, whether you’re swinging a middle or long iron, a hybrid or a fairway wood. You’re going to love how it launches high and lands soft.

Prepare to launch

There is more than one way to execute this shot, but for me, two keys happen at address. I play the ball farther forward in my stance than normal. I’m not talking off the lead heel like you might do for a driver, but definitely farther forward than centre in your stance. This can help shallow your approach into the ball, which raises the trajectory. The other thing I do is set up a little open in relation to my target. For righties like me, that means my feet and body are aligned a little open, to the left of my target [above]. This tweaks my swing path just enough so the clubface is open to it as I strike the ball. That combination creates the left-to-right spin you’re after.

Load up going back

When you play the ball farther forward, the tendency is to stay stacked and static – meaning your weight distribution in the backswing hardly changes from what it was at address. For the high-and-soft fade, you’ve got to make sure to get a good bit of your weight to the right side as you take the club back. It’s not like you’re going to hang back there during the downswing, but to set up the right angle of attack into the ball, I get 80 to 90 percent of my weight on my right side when I reach the top of the swing. You’ll notice that my body doesn’t sway outside my right foot [above middle]. You’ve got to move off the ball and feel like you’re loading up to throw a big punch, but don’t drift away from the target. See how far you can wind up without swaying. You can even flare your trail foot to get a deeper turn.

Shift, then sweep

You loaded up in the backswing, which is great, but you can’t hit this shot if you don’t get your weight moving forward as you start the through-swing. Push into your lead leg [far left] to make sure you’re not hitting this shot off your back foot – which would likely result in a low or topped shot. After you push into the lead leg, your goal is to sweep the ball off the turf [middle left]. That means no deep divots! Then keep swinging, letting your hands and club wrap around you nice and high [near left]. Combined with everything you did earlier in the setup and backswing, the ball will take off to your left with good height and then float down a little to the right. I’m telling you that if you get good at this shot, you’re going to have plenty of par and birdie opportunities.

Schauffele, winner of seven PGA Tour events and the gold medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, led the tour in proximity to the hole from the rough from 200 to 225 yards last year and this season ranks 22nd in approaches from greater than 200 yards (as of early July).