An often overlooked part of golfers’ bags is their choice of fairway woods. Many golfers simply match their fairway woods with their drivers. This simplistic approach overlooks the importance of a properly fit fairway wood. Fairway woods should be used to complement a golfer’s complete bag. Filling gaps between a golfer’s longest iron or hybrid and his or her driver of choice. Fairway woods can help golfers navigate the most complex golf courses by providing options off the tee in place of a driver, approaches into long par-4s, and an advantage for reachable par-5s.
The following list was curated to fit a wide range of golfers and swing types. These products should be viewed as integral parts of your golf game. Top fairway woods are designed with unique characteristics that make them versatile from the tee and from the deck, and it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each club. As important as the club, it is important to keep in mind what you are looking for in a fairway wood. Are you a golfer who loves to hit driver and only needs a fairway wood from the ground, or are you someone who needs help from the tee when their driver is unreliable? Let’s take a look at the most important aspects of the fairway woods and how they can help your game.
Top 5 Best 3-Woods of 2019
- Jailbreak Technology
- Easy to Launch on a Strong, Straight Flight
- Triaxial Carbon Crown for Distance and Forgiveness
- Speed pocket creates more ball speed across the clubface for more distance & forgiveness. Split-weight mass pads provide increased MOI & perimeter weight distribution
- Ultra-strong ni-co 300 steel face insert allows for optimized ball speed
- 5-Layer carbon crown creates a lower CG by saving 8 grams vs a steel crown, driving higher launch while reducing spin
- Weight saved by the ultra-light triaxle carbon crown (78% lighter than steel) is repositioned to increase MOI and lower the CG for easy launch and added power
- The latest generation of our hyper speed face cup is more efficient at delivering fast ball speed across the face, especially on mis-hits, for increased average distance
- Fast head speed from speed step technology - developed with Direct Input from aerospace experts to improve aerodynamics for fast swing speed and distance without extra effort
- Baffler rail System utilizes Shallower or steeper rails depending on loft and angle of attack for improved versatility and forgiveness from any lie
- Ultralight carbon fiber crown-a lighter 5-ply carbon fiber crown saves discretionary weight to move the CG lower and deeper, producing higher trajectories and increased forgiveness
- 360 aero-innovative polymer Aero trips positioned around the perimeter of the clubhead improve drag reduction face-on through the downswing to generate maximum clubhead speed
- New open-channel speed pocket generates distance and forgiveness - adds ball speed, lowers spin, and increases sweet spot size
- Redesigned sliding weight Track with single 25g tungsten weight; refined shape with more intuitive l-to-gear will adjustability
- Drop-step sole shaping; reduces drag through the turf to maintain clubhead speed
When Do You Use A Fairway Wood?
A great fairway wood can be used from a variety of lies. Lower-lofted fairway woods may be used in place of a driver on narrow holes or when drivers can carry too far. Long approach shots into par-4s and par-5s can be difficult to manage but a proper fairway wood can help golfers take advantage of these hard to reach greens. Fairway woods can also give golfers another option when hitting shots from just off the green from tight lies.
Finding the Best Fairway Wood for Your Golf Game
Choosing the right fairway wood goes far beyond simply choosing the one that flies the farthest. Unlike drivers, these clubs are used to achieve specific distances and need to be adaptable enough to hit from many different terrains. In order to understand which club is best for you, golfers need to consider their most common uses for fairway woods. Thankfully, with the advent of launch monitors, it has never been easier to find the right woods for your game.
As always, when deciding on which club to purchase, cost is an important consideration. The newest model of fairway woods may offer the latest technologies, but even pros tend to opt for older models for this area of their bag. Previous generation models can provide golfers with significant benefits without outrageous price tags..
Top Fairway Wood Features
Thorough customization of a golfer’s fairway wood can lead to increases in confidence and lower scores during rounds. Fairway woods come in a litany of lofts, head-sizes and shapes, and lengths. With any club purchase, the shaft and grip of choice should be considered as well. Here, you can find an in-depth analysis of each of these parameters aimed to help make your choice of woods simple.
Loft plays a critical role in the decision of which club to purchase. Most 3-woods are manufactured with 15 degrees of loft. The common 5-wood is standard at 18 degrees. Depending on swing speed and characteristics, golfers may find anything less than 16 degrees of loft to be too difficult to launch and provide less distance than woods with higher lofts. Trying a range of lofts can help golfers tease out their optimal launch condition and hit their ideal distances.
Head Shape and Size
Within fairway woods of similar lofts, most manufacturers provide head-shapes that offer different advantages and disadvantages. Head shapes and sizes can have significant influence on a golf ball’s trajectory. Fairway woods with larger head shapes may provide higher launching, more forgiving ball flights. Smaller headed woods can push the weight forward and yield more penetrating, longer shots, especially from the tee box. Your ultimate objective should be to choose a head shape and center of gravity that matches your swing to your ideal ball flight.
When deciding on which shaft to pair with your fairway wood, consider the following: length, weight, and flex. The standard length for fairway woods ranges from 40 inches to 45 inches, shafts can weigh between 50 grams to 90 grams, and shaft flex is designated (L) for Ladies, (A) for Senior, (R) for Regular, (S) for Stiff, and (X) for Extra-Stiff. Shaft weight andt flex is loosely correlated with swing speed; with slower-swing players preferring softer, lighter shafts, and faster-swing players opting for heavier, stiffer shafts. Importantly, this is simply a guide and should be used as a recommendation, not as a definitive answer.
Fairway wood shafts are made from a range range of multi-material compounds that vary in complexity and price. Modern fairway woods are offered with a matrix of shafts at no additional upcharge, while others can be custom ordered for an additional fee. After finding a loft and head shape that helps you reach your ball flight goals, the right shaft can help you hit these shots more consistently by improving timing and consistency in your golf swing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Fitting any golfer to a new club is coupled with several questions. We have listed some of the most common when it comes to fairway woods.
Q: Driver vs Woods: What is the Difference?
A: The major differences between drivers and fairway woods boil down to their engineering and design. Head size, head shapes, and center of gravity locations separate these two clubs. Drivers are designed with deeper faces and an increased surface area for striking the golf ball from a tee. Their center of mass is typically more forward and higher to promote lower spinning, longer drives. Drivers are typically beyond 44 inches in length and help golfers generate maximum swing speeds. Fairway woods are designed with shallow faces and centers of gravity that are low and back to help promote higher launching golf shots that are more versatile when coming from a small tee or landing on greens. Design differences in the soles of the two clubs also allow fairway woods to be hit from a variety of lies more easily than drivers.
Q: What is the Difference Between a 3-Wood and a 5-Wood (3-Wood vs 5-Wood)?
A: A 3-wood predictably has a loft between 14 and 16 degrees and a 5-wood has lofts between 17 and 19 degrees. Characteristically, 3-woods are longer in length to help promote increased swing speeds. Golfers should consider using a 3-wood, a 5-wood, or both in their golf bags as these club complement each other when fit correctly.
Q: What is the Difference Between a Fairway Wood and a Hybrid? (Fairway Wood vs Hybrid)?
A: Hybrid golf clubs are designed to mimic traditional long-irons, this gives rise to the name “hybrid.” Hybrids tend to have smaller head shapes and promote lower-launching, lower-spinning golf shots than fairway woods. Hybrids are also designed with narrower soles to help golfers get out of difficult lies either in the rough or in bunkers by reducing ground interaction when compared to woods.
Q: How Do I Hit a Fairway Wood?
A: Fairway woods are often billed as the “hardest golf clubs to hit well.” Because golfers are presented with so little loft and asked to strike the ball from a variety of lies, fairway wood engineering is a complicated problem. Luckily, modern fairway woods provide golfers with tons of help. To effectively use this technology, play the golf ball in a position that encourages a more neutral angle of attack, maybe slightly forward of center, and visualize brushing the top of the turf with the sole of the club. Taking a divot with a fairway wood is neither good nor bad and is different between golfers. The most effective golf shots are hit in the middle of the club’s face with a club that inspires confidence and helps you create consistent, predictable golf shots.
Top 10 Best 3-Woods
1. Callaway Rogue Fairway Wood
The Callaway Rogue Fairway Woodis the best fairway Callaway has ever designed. Callaway has a reputation of making easy-to-hit fairway woods that inspire excitement from pros all the way to high-handicap golfers. Given a Gold medal by Golf Digest, the Callaway Rogue fairway is a great addition to any golfer’s bag. Rogue is Callaway’s first attempt to add their groundbreaking Jailbreak technology to a fairway wood. After massive success in the GBB Epic driver, it was no surprise to see a rise in ball speeds and forgiveness with the introduction of this technology. If you are in the market for a new fairway wood, the Callaway Rogue should be at the top of your list.
Callaway Rogue Fairway Wood
- Jailbreak Technology makes the clubhead incredibly stable, resulting in one of the longest fairway woods on the market
- Triaxial Carbon Crown and fixed hosel provides for more forgiveness and higher launch
- Sleek design inspired confidence at address and just simply a beautifully designed club
- One of the priciest golf clubs on the market, which is not ideal for the casual golfer looking to upgrade their fairway wood
- Lighter swing weight can alter the feel during the swing which may be a turn off for some players
- Lack of customization features makes it less appealing to some players who like to tinker
2. Taylormade M3 Fairway Wood
The Taylormade M3 Fairway Woodis a continuation of TaylorMade’s legacy in metal woods. TaylorMade has an outstanding history of dominating in the category of metal woods. PGA professionals often opt for their clubs in place of branded clubs with whom they are under contract. Golf Digest took notice and gave M3 a Gold medal. Players such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Dustin Johnson have opted for the M3 straight away. The contrast of grey and black makes it easy to square the clubface behind the ball and the adjustable sliding weight make it a great choice for players looking to dial in their long game.
Taylormade M3 Fairway Wood
- Many options for adjustability allow you to fine-tune the club to your liking
- The light weight of the club allows you to maximize your overall clubhead speed
- The smaller clubhead gives a very clean profile
- The adjustability may be overwhelming if you’re looking for a simple club
- The cost of the club may be out of reach for some players with limited budgets
- The carbon crown may not suit everyone’s eye
3. TaylorMade M4 Fairway Wood
The TaylorMade M4 Fairway Woodis for golfers who love the look of TaylorMade but want to see a more confidence inspiring profile. With the introduction of Geocoustic technology and the use of a speed pocket, the TaylorMade M4 is the best sounding fairway in this year’s lineup. Another staple on Golf Digest’s Gold list, the M4 is great for anyone who wants a club that just works.
TaylorMade M4 Fairway Wood
- Lightweight crown increases center of gravity for optimal launch with minimal spin
- Thin clubface increases initial ball speed, even on off-center strikes
- Unmatched sound quality and incredible feel and versatility
- One of the more expensive fairway woods, making it unappealing for the value-seeking golfer
- Lack of adjustability options make it less optimal for some players
- Clubhead can feel a little light at the top of the backswing
4. Cobra KING F8 Fairway Wood
The Cobra KING F8 Fairway Wooduses baffler rail technology to help golfers get in and out of the turf quickly, turning those duffed or topped fairway shots into high-launching, soft-landing approaches. Another recipient of Golf Digest’s Gold medal award, F8 is quickly gaining popularity. Rickie Fowler, Bryson Dechambeau, and Lexi Thompson have already adopted the club as their fairway of choice. If you are someone who needs help with fairway wood golf shots, then Cobra F8’s playability through the ground is unrivaled.
Cobra King F8 Fairway Wood
- The MyFly loft technology brings 8 different loft settings to optimize launch for each individual player
- Perfect for players with high clubhead speeds seeking maximum distance and forgiveness
- Offers an excellent fairway wood for a pretty reasonable price point
- The 360 Aero Crown may be off-putting to some players looking for a more traditional looking design
- The back center of gravity may produce a ball flight that is a little too high for some players
- The lack of a set loft due to MyFly may be uninviting for some players
5. Callaway Epic Fairway Wood
The Callaway Epic Fairway Woodis another great option from Callaway. Also, gaining the honor of a Gold medal from Golf Digest, this club is a great option for golfers looking for a slightly higher-launching fairway. Without the added weight of Jailbreak, the Epic fairway launches high, giving golfers added distance through increased carry. Epic is as simple as it gets; and in golf simple can be the difference in finding the green or falling right into the hazard.
Callaway Epic Fairway Wood
- Very forgiving with the light weight, low CG, high MOI and new distribution of weight
- Easy to play with, providing maximum distance from any lie, regardless of skill level
- The look is clean and stylish, but also practical with the increased size of the club face
- Some beginners are overwhelmed by the price, even if the club is super high-quality
- The hollow sound when you hit the ball can be hard to get used to for some players
- Certain features, like the Jailbreak rod on other drivers and woods, are not included
6. Ping G400 Fairway Wood
The Ping G400 Fairway Woodis a direct extension of the G400 driver. G400 has been one of the most successful models that Ping has ever produced. That is noteworthy for a company with as rich of a history as Ping has. G400 utilizes Turbulators to help golfers increase swing speed and ball speeds. Golf Digest rated the G400 as Gold, and pros like Bubba Watson and Tony Finau have made G400 a household name. G400 is a great option for golfers looking to pick up clubhead speed with their fairway woods.
Ping G400 Fairway Wood
- The club has a very powerful look, especially with the Turbulators on the crown
- The light weight of the club offers excellent distance
- The forgiveness of the club is a massive benefit for players
- The club is fairly limited in adjustability which may be a turn off to some player
- There is only one stock shaft option unlike its competitors
- The black clubface and sole tend to wear away quickly
7. Ping G30 Fairway Wood
Good design never goes out of style, and since its release in 2015, the Ping G30 Fairway Woodis a great option for golfers looking for value in older products. A member of Golf Digest’s 2015 Gold list, G30 provides a simple yet, technologically packed club for golfers new to the game or on a budget. Still used by Louis Oosthuizen and Angel Cabrera, the G30 offers maximum value with a reduced price.
Ping G30 Fairway Wood
- The Flatter crown design helps to instill confidence for players at address
- A taller face leads to a more forgiving surface, even on off-center hits
- Neutral setup makes working the golf ball both ways easier than ever
- Adjustability may be tedious for players who are used to a fixed setup
- Turbulators may make alignment difficult if you’re used to a center-line
- No adjustability in the weights, which limits the overall versatility of the club
8. Titleist 917 F2 Fairway Wood
The Titleist 917 F2 Fairway Woodis exactly what you would expect from Titleist, and that is a great thing. Titleist is a name that golfers know and golfers trust. Nothing that comes out of the Titleist workshop isn’t meticulously crafted to be the best club on the market. The 917 F2 fairway wood is no exception. Gold, as determined by Golf Digest, has been a staple of Titleist fairway woods for decades. Jordan Speith and Justin Thomas headline a list of players lucky enough to play the F2 fairway wood. Using both the 3- and 5-wood models, Justin Thomas went on to capture 2017’s PGA Tour Player of the Year, the FedEx Cup, and a major Championship. If you want a fairway that tour pros love to play, then look no further than the F2 from Titleist.
Titleist 917 F2 Fairway Wood
- The extensive adjustability allows you to optimize the club to your individual swing
- The technology in the club produces tremendous forgiveness and ball speeds
- The larger profile induces confidence for players
- The adjustability may bring too many options to players looking for a simple golf club
- The higher ball flight may not be what every player is looking for in a fairway wood
- Some golfers may want a lower spinning model
9. TaylorMade M1 3-Wood
The TaylorMade M1 3-Woodis a departure from traditional. Taylormade made an outstanding fairway in the M1. M1 is the ultimate in customization and provides highly skilled golfers an option to save money and get a great product. Golf Digest gave the M1 Gold and it is easy to see why. With a drastic contrast of a white and black crown, M1 is easy to line up and easy to hit a long way. M1 is not the most forgiving option but, if you are a highly skilled player looking to go low by reaching par-5s from new places, then the M1 is for you.
TaylorMade M1 3 Wood
- Great for shots off the tee, as well as the fairway, rough, and fairway bunkers
- Ideal for all course conditions with its superior adjustability
- Has a sleek design, which inspires confidence at address
- Smaller club head may be a difficult adjustment for mid- to high-handicappers
- Loft and weight adjustability can be confusing to some
- Retails at the highest end of the market, which may limit its appeal
10. TaylorMade M2 Golf Fairway Wood
The TaylorMade M2 Golf Fairway Woodis another great option. If the M1 is for the ultimate in golf customization, M2 is for the golf enthusiast that loves to hear beautifully struck golf shots. Geocustic engineering ensures that this club sounds amazing and Golf Digest thought so too. They gave M2 the Gold for sound, feel, and ease of use. M2 simply just works; it is a pleasure to hit and provides enough forgiveness to help any golfer get better.
TaylorMade M2 Fairway Wood
- Sleek two-tone paint looks great and makes alignment a breeze
- Golf ball really pops off the club face, even on off-center hits
- One of the most forgiving golf clubs manufactured to date
- Lack of adjustability requires a custom fitting before purchase
- White paint near face can be off-putting in bright sunshine
- Not ideal for players with lower swing speeds
What Fairway Wood Should You Buy?
Choosing a fairway wood can be difficult; however, an educated decision can leave lasting impacts on your game. Finding out when you use your fairway and what you want from the club makes all the difference in which model is best for you. A properly fit fairway can make your bad shots obsolete and your good shots great.
Callaway Rogue, Taylormade M3, Cobra F8, Ping G400, and Titleist F2 provide the ultimate marriage of technology and beauty for golfers looking for the best in the world. Epic, G30, M1, and M2 provide golfers with a top of the line product at reduced prices to make affording your next club easy.
With any club buying it is best to test each model to see what fits your swing style and preferences. Testing outside or indoors, with a launch monitor, can provide real-time feedback that can illuminate your new club’s true value. Better golf clubs don’t just look nice in the bag, they provide confidence that helps you shoot your lowest rounds ever. Happy testing, and thanks for sharing in this game we all love!