How To Choose The Right Fairway Woods
Fairway woods are like the middle child, getting forgotten between the older sibling (the driver), and the younger sibling (the hybrid). However, they remain an important part of every player’s set. All of them are designed for distance, but with the rise in popularity of the hybrid, deciding which fairway wood to select has become more difficult, in part because the line between a fairway wood and a hybrid is often blurred. Allow us to provide some clarity.
Loft:Loft is the angle of the clubface that controls trajectory and affects distance. The more loft a club has, the higher the trajectory of the ball and the shorter the ball will travel. Fairway woods have a higher loft than drivers. A 3 wood has a loft between 15 and 18°, and a 5 wood has a loft between 20 and 22°. The higher the golf club number, the higher the loft. Higher lofted woods (7, 9, 11, and so on) are commonly referred to as utility woods.
Length:The higher the golf club number, the shorter the club shaft length. A 3 wood is the longest fairway wood (usually 43”-42”), the 5 wood (42”-41”) and the 7 wood (41”-40”), although length will vary depending on the manufacturer.
Materials & Size:Fairway woods are usually made from one of three different materials, the most common being stainless steel. It’s not too expensive and it’s strong. Larger fairway woods predominantly used for hitting from the tee are often made from titanium. Its light weight allows manufacturers to push the center of gravity back in the clubhead which helps get the ball airborne easily. A thin titanium face also provides maximum distance. Lastly, fairway woods can be made from multi-material composite, which combines modern materials such as carbon with steel or titanium to create ultra-lightweight clubs. The light weight enables manufacturers to place weights around the inside perimeter of the head to help reduce twisting on off-center hits. As you might expect, premium clubs like these are more expensive.
Tour Versus Standard:Fairway woods are usually made from one of three different materials, the most common being stainless steel. It’s not too expensive and it’s strong. Larger fairway woods predominantly used for hitting from the tee are often made from titanium. Its light weight allows manufacturers to push the center of gravity back in the clubhead which helps get the ball airborne easily. A thin titanium face also provides maximum distance.
Five Questions To Ask Yourself:
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to find the right fairway wood for you. As you shop on tgw.com, here are some other questions to keep in mind.
- Do you want the fairway wood to hit off the tee?
- Do you want fairway woods to replace long irons?
- Do you want to reach par 5s in two?
- Do you want an adjustable or Tour Preferred fairway wood?
- How much do I want to spend?
Having more loft, fairway woods are easier to hit than drivers. They don’t travel as far, but a well-struck ball hit off the tee with a fairway wood can still travel over 220 yards. A 2-, 3-, or 4-wood is an easy-hitting alternative to a driver.
Many golfers prefer hitting a high-lofted wood into a green than a hard-to-hit long iron. The larger clubhead of a fairway wood compared to an iron makes it easier to achieve more distance without over-swinging. As a general rule of thumb, a 5-wood would replace a 2-iron a 7-wood the 3- or 4-iron, a 9-wood the 5-iron.
If you’re looking to wow the crowd and enjoy the thrill of doing something few have done, some holes are simply too long to reach with a drive and a long iron. The only way to cover that kind of distance is a drive and a fairway wood, probably a 3- or 4-wood. If you expect to use this club primarily from the fairway, look for one with a head that’s fairly shallow. You’ll still be able to use it from the tee, but a lower profile head will be better for hitting from tighter lies.
Adjustability isn’t just for drivers anymore. Adjustable fairway woods give golfers the ability to change the face angle, loft, and lie angle without the help of their local club fitter. If you don’t feel like you need this much control, TGW.com has many non-adjustable fairway woods to suit your needs: draw fairways that help cure a slice, or fairway woods with slightly closed faces or internal weighting that helps keep the clubface square at impact. You may also run across “tour” fairways on our site, but these clubs are designed for pros or amateurs with exceptional ball-striking ability who can effectively shape their shots using clubs that are set dead square (or slightly open or closed), and are equipped with shafts that help keep the ball lower. The average golfer will be better served using standard fairways with larger sweetspots for more forgiveness, more closed faces (to combat slices) and shafts that help get the ball airborne. The idea of playing a tour club might be appealing, but unless you’re an exceptional golfer, the results won’t be.
Your budget plays a part in dictating the club you choose. The most expensive club may or may not be the right one for you. Very few golfers can fill their bags entirely with premium clubs. The goal should be finding clubs that feel the best and enable you to perform at the highest level. Remember, tgw.com extends a 30-Day Playability Guarantee on many of our clubs, so if you buy one you’re unhappy with, you can return it and select one that works for you.
Since fairway woods are designed for distance, they’re often equipped with lightweight graphite shafts that increase swing speed; this can only help add yardage to your shot. If steel shafts are favored at all in fairway woods, it tends to be by better players who are looking for slightly more accuracy and by those not worried about distance. If you’re unsure, go with graphite. It’s a safer choice and there are many types to choose from. As far as choosing the right flex, a good rule of thumb is the faster your clubhead speed, the stiffer the flex should be. If you’re swinging the club between 80 and 95 mph, try regular flex first and go up if necessary.