How I Turned A Low Fade Into A High Draw With Camilo Vilegas


When I first arrived on Tour, if you’d asked me to hit a high draw then it wouldn’t have been a comfortable shot for me. I tended to hit the ball very low and, although I could move it both ways in the air, my natural shape was definitely a fade.

Now, I’m not a very technical player, I don’t like to get too bogged down in the complexities of the swing, so I said to my coach that each time I saw him, I just wanted one small thing that would make me better.

For me, a swing change is something that has to happen very gradually. It would have been too much of a risk for me to tear up what I was doing and start again from scratch. If you do that, it can hurt your confidence and you may never be able to repair that damage.

Kevin Smeltz (Coach):
Camilo wanted to be able to hit the high draw, but he was never going to achieve that with the way he swung the club – his weight was back at address, his hands moved away from his body on the downswing and exited to the left after impact. When he said he could hit a draw, it was more of a pull draw with the club coming from outside the target line. I knew what we had to do but we set about changing his move one step at a time.

1. It Began With Posture

I’ve worked on ‘tilting’ my pelvis a little more at address so that the belt buckle is now fractionally below the tail bone. This angle means that I can take the club away on a steeper arc, which was the first key move for me to hit that draw.

It Began With Posture
I used to have my weight too much on the heels, which encouraged a poor takeaway that would be too low and around my body. I’m trying all the time to stand as tall as I can to the ball with my weight more on the balls of my feet and my chin a bit higher. It’s actually a much more athletic feel to the overall posture.

It Began With Posture

Kevin Smeltz (Coach):
Camilo’s hip turn was too level, which meant he would take the club away on a plane that was too flat. Consequently, his hands were getting thrown away from the body on the downswing – to put it simply, he was unable to stay on the inside before impact, something you have to do if you want to play a proper draw.

2. Left Side Low

Here you can see how an improved posture has led to a much better takeaway. The left shoulder and the left hip are lower than they used to be and this means that I’m now able to keep the club closer to the body through the swing.

Left Side Low

Left Side Low - Correct

Left Side Low - Wrong

Kevin Smeltz (Coach):
The only swing thought Camilo had when he was younger was ‘keep the back of the left hand to the target’ which led to him getting his hands too much ahead of the ball at impact.

3. Higher Hands At The Top

I have a higher hand position at the top now and the plane of the swing is such that the path of the downswing is going to be much more where I need it to be.

Higher Hands At The Top
My hands are now higher at the top − and I'm primed in a position to swing down to impact in exactly the way I want.

Kevin Smeltz (Coach):
What I like about the top of Camilo’s backswing is the way that he really stores the power with a huge coil in the body, but keeps his arm swing quite short. With his flexibility, the arms could go much further, but that might be at the expense of control.

4. Keeping The Hands Close

Rather than working away from my body on the downswing, my hands are now in a far better position. This means that I can attack the ball more from the inside and get a much more solid strike.

Keeping The Hands Close
My hands are closer to my body than they used to be and I’m now ready to attack the ball on the necessary inside path to produce a draw.

Kevin Smeltz (Coach):
I think a lot of players can learn from Camilo’s approach mentally. By that I mean that he very rarely blames his swing for anything. If he hasn’t played well then he’ll just tell me that his attitude was wrong. He won’t make comments like, “I can’t hit that shot” or “My swing was rubbish”. He knows that such thoughts can only harm his confidence. He’ll put things down to lapses in concentration maybe, which is a good policy. He knows how well he can swing the club and that it doesn’t help to be too hard on yourself.

5. At Impact

I now have great stability in my legs at impact. I used to have a flatter turn and too much leg slide to the target, so I got ahead of myself. This caused a move across the ball at impact. Now my left leg is much straighter and I can hit up against that side. It’s more solid, allowing me to release the club more.

At Impact - Correct
My hands are now not leading the club into the ball quite so much. I’m keeping the natural loft on the club much more, which is giving me that higher flight that I’m looking for.

At Impact - Wrong
Look at the difference here between the left leg positions. Keeping tall in the posture at the start has helped me to stay tall through impact, keeping that left leg straigher and much more stable.

6. Hands Exit High

You just have to look at the position of the club shaft as I release into the followthrough to see that I’m now able to exit much straighter and higher through impact, rather than dragging the club round my body to the left.

Hands Exit High - Correct

Hands Exit High - Wrong 

Kevin Smeltz (Coach):
I remember talking to Camilo after The Players and hearing the excitement in his voice when he told me how high he was able to hit the ball. His flight and trajectory have changed considerably this season, making him a more complete player, capable of playing all the shots that he needs.