Fairway woods are very important clubs. Why? Because for many average players they are the easiest clubs to hit. Golf club woods offer the best balance of ease of use and distance. The extra loft on a fairway wood and the shortened length, makes these clubs very forgiving compared to the driver.
Fairway woods easy to hit? What’s this guy talking about?
When golfers think fairway woods most think of the 3 wood and the 5 wood because they are the “standard” that have been included in the sets you buy off the rack. Don’t forget about the 7 and 9 woods. If you haven’t hit them you may be missing an important game improvement opportunity.
Annika Sorentam, one of the most accurate ball strikers in the history of the women’s game includes a 7 wood in her bag. Many male pros carry one too – especially for courses that require a high, soft landing shot.
What makes a fairway wood so forgiving?
- Well first it’s shorter than a driver. The standard length used to be 1 inch shorter than the driver for the 3 wood, 2 inches shorter for the 5 wood, and so on. The manufacturers have been increasing the length of the fairway woods to give them more length over the last 10 years, so those “standards” may have changed. Remember, you CAN have the length changed to meet your needs.
- The loft is greater which also makes it easier to get the ball up in the air and makes it go straighter. Straighter because more loft increases backspin and thus reduces the effect of sidespin.
- Today’s fairway woods also have a shallower face which keeps the center of gravity low, which also helps get the ball up a little higher. More backspin once again.
So what should the lofts be on your fairway woods. The standard used to be 16 or 17 degrees for a 3 wood, and the 5 wood was 22 degrees. Today 13-15 degrees is common.
And every manufactuer is different. Some companies change the loft between clubs by only 2 degrees, while others will space them 3 degrees apart. Some companies 3 wood is 12-13 while anothers is 14-15 degrees.
But let’s face it. The only standard is the one that’s right for you…YOUR standard. Don’t let anyone else tell you what your standard should be. You may have to do some trial and error, but luckily golf is a game for a lifetime so you have lots of time to experiment. The point is… use the clubs that are right for you. We’ll talk more about this issue in our set makeup section. I recommend at least 15 degrees for your 3 wood with 3 degree increments up from there.
Another factor that effects why woods are easier to hit… the long flat sole of woods make it smoother through the grass, rough and sand than an iron. The leading edge is less “sharp” so it tends to glide through the ground rather than digging in. This helps
Back to fairway wood contruction
Most fairway woods are made out of steel because using titanium would make the clubs too expensive. Although that’s true, there are fairways that have titanium faces. However, with the smaller faces it’s hard to get any real spring like affect to be a big factor. Still they may have their advantages.
A more common face material is maraging steel. Maraging metal is a stainless steel put through a very special hardening process that makes it very, very hard. This makes it ideal for high quality fairway woods. The added hardness makes the ball go a little further.
What kind of shaft should you put in a fairway wood. The standard rule is… steel for accuracy and graphite for distance. So this is up to you. I think soon we will be seeing graphite shafts that are very accurate… perhaps just as accurate as steel. See the shaft section in golf components for more detail on this subject.
I think we will be seeing quite a bit of change in the fairway wood category in the coming years. Much of what was learned from drivers will soon be applied to fairway woods (Well perhaps not the jumbo size part). But we will be seeing optimization of the spring like effect (Coefficient of Restitution), shaft technology, and center of gravity in the near future.
All the major manufactuers offer good fairway woods. In fact there are fairway wood versions of all the drivers mentioned in the driver section. Golf Digest’s Hot List tests the best and although TaylorMade, Nike and Ping are all rated highly. A surprise pick is the Bobby Jones Players Series. It gets very high marks. So don’t just depend on the major name brands for quality and value.