As golfers, we are all trying to improve our games. Getting equipment that is right for our swings can have massive performance impacts beyond just our ball flights. A correctly fit fairway wood can have a lasting influence on our overall confidence and ability to hit great shots.
The following fairway woods are some of the best for helping golfers achieve their goals. Hitting shots from a variety of lies, including the tee box, make getting the right fairway wood a must for the improving golfer. Before we look at each of these clubs individually, we need to understand what components go into making the right fairway for each golfer.
Game Improvement Fairway Woods
- 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
- 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
- Weight saved by the ultra-light triaxle carbon crown
- Hyper speed face cup is more efficient at delivering fast ball speed across the face
- Direct Input from aerospace experts to improve aerodynamics
- Baffler rail System utilizes Shallower or steeper rails for improved versatility
- 5-ply carbon fiber crown saves discretionary weight
- Aero trips positioned around the perimeter of the club head improve drag reduction
- 6-layer carbon crown, 450 stainless steel body, and 455 stainless face
- Cone technology protects ball speed across the entire clubface to produce a bigger sweet spot
- Advanced shaping with a two-tiered sole design provides added playability from all lies
When Do You Use A Fairway Wood?
Deciding when to use your fairway wood can be difficult. Opting for a fairway instead of a driver can mean a more manageable tee shot and better lies from the fairways. Finding a fairway wood that has the proper sole characteristics can mean reaching long par-4s and par-5s in two and make scoring easier. Depending on your swing characteristics using your fairway from the tee and/or the ground is highly player specific. In general, on holes that put a premium on accuracy rather than distance, golfers should choose clubs with higher lofts than their drivers. Fairways should also be used when approaching greens from distances beyond the reach of golfer’s irons.
Finding the Best Fairway Wood for Your Golf Game
The best fairway wood for your game depends on when you intend to use these clubs. Lower lofted woods may provide golfers with a great driver alternative. Higher lofted woods, such as 5 or 7-woods may give golfers the added forgiveness when hitting shots from the fairways and rough. Knowing when you will most often use your fairway is the best place to begin when looking for your next wood.
Another consideration when selecting a fairway metal is budget. Unlike drivers when distance is a premium, fairways are designed to go a specific distance for golfers. Because we are not always looking to maximize distance gains, a great fairway can be found in models that are several years old and several hundred dollars cheaper than the newest models. Deciding to spend less does not mean you are sacrificing performance in the fairway wood category.
Top Fairway Wood Features
The best fairway woods help golfers marry their swing characteristics with their optimal launch and spin characteristics. Launch and spin is largely dictated by key features between different fairway models. Club head size and shape, the loft of the head and its center of gravity, and a club’s shaft all matter when considering which club is best for your game. Below we describe all of these in detail to help you make your buying selection.
Head Shape and Size
When choosing a fairway wood, it is important to feel comfortable with the club behind the golf ball. When choosing a game improvement metal, the best clubs have confidence inspiring shapes and soles designed with forgiveness in mind. Testing different models will help you decide what shapes and soles help you hit higher launching, longer fairway wood shots.
Loft and Center of Gravity
A game improvement fairway wood should have a loft that helps golfers launch and spin their golf balls in their optimal windows. Higher lofted woods consistently provide golfers with more stable ball flights and help reduce their big misses by reducing left or right curving golf shots. Woods with centers of gravities, CoG, pushed further back and lower with help increase the forgiveness of fairway woods by increasing a club’s resistance to twist from off center strikes. Whilst trying to improve your game, select a fairway wood with enough loft to help you launch your ball and a CoG that promotes higher, more stable ball flights.
Selecting the right shaft for your fairway wood involves choosing a weight, length, and flex that is best for your swing. Weights can range from 50 grams up to 90 grams and may help influence a golfer’s strike point when transitioning the club from backswing to downswing. Do not be afraid to try different weights when testing fairway woods as it may help you find more consistent strike patterns.
Another thing to consider when analyzing a club’s performance is the role shaft length can play on your ability to hit better shots. Longer shafts will provide golfers maximum leverage and take advantage of extra swing speeds. However, shorter shafts many allow golfers to strike the ball more consistently and give the better ball speed numbers through quality of strike. When testing different clubheads and lofts, remember to test shaft size if you find your consistency is underperforming.
Flex should also be considered when testing different shafts. Between various models of shafts flexes are not all the same, however each shaft will come is a designation of its flex. Marked (L) for Ladies, (A) for Amateur or Senior, (R) for Regular, (S) for Stiff, and (X) for Extra-Stiff, shafts come in a flex that best suits everyone. While shaft flex is loosely correlated with swing speeds, testing different shafts from different manufacturers is the best way to know which one is right for you. Golfers looking to improve their games should err on the side of softer flex shafts to help promote golf shots that are more manageable through 18 holes and beyond.
Frequently Asked Questions
Game improvement fairway woods come in an assortment of different options. Below, we have listed some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to finding a woods to help your game.
Q: Driver vs Woods: What is the Difference?
A: When comparing drivers and fairway woods, the largest differences arise in their clubhead designs and intended use. Drivers are designed with clubheads that make them most effective when striking a ball from a tee. Fairways are designed to interact with the ground and strike the ball from the fairways, rough, or from a small tee on the tee box. Although lofts may be the same in these two clubs, their clubheads will dictate how the golf ball flies depending on which club is used.
Q: What is the Difference Between a 3 Wood and a 5 Wood (3 Wood vs 5 Wood)?
A: 3-woods and 5-woods typically differ in their lofts and club lengths. 3-woods are produced with lofts between 13 and 16 degrees and 5-woods with lofts between 17 and 19 degrees. 3-woods can be 1.5 to 3 inches longer in shaft length when compared to 5-woods. While these are general attributes of the respective clubs, it is recommended that each golfer try a variety of lofts and length with both clubs to see what is best for them. Amateur golfers and even some pros, find that higher lofted, shorter fairway woods give them longer, straighter shots from more lies than their lower lofted counterparts.
Q: What is the Difference Between a Fairway Wood and a Hybrid? (Fairway Wood vs Hybrid)?
A: Hybrid golf clubs are designed to replace long irons that are difficult to hit for many golfers. These typically do not fly as far as lower lofted fairway woods and can be less forgiving to hit. Hybrid clubs are designed with narrower soles that help when hitting shots from deep rough or fairway bunkers. Amateur golfers may find a bag that combines fairway woods and hybrids to help them shoot their best scores.
Q: How Do I Hit a Fairway Wood?
A: Hitting a fairway wood for each player is different. However, some general rules are recommended to help you get the most from these more difficult shots. Due to their decreased lofts, fairway woods can be difficult for golfers to hit high enough. Increasing your club’s loft may be best for you to hit better shots. Next, try moving your ball position slightly forward of center and brushing the sole of the club along the ground when striking the ball. Lastly, remember to select a club that has a center of gravity positioned far enough back to promote your best shots coupled with your specific swing speed.
Game Improvement Fairway Woods
1. TaylorMade M4 Fairway Wood
The TaylorMade M4 Fairway Woodis the perfect club for golfers trying to improve their games. M4 gives premium ball speed with a center of gravity that is pushed all the way back and promotes maximum forgiveness. Given a Gold medal by Golf Digest for its forgiveness and playability, M4 is the best sounding wood on the market. TaylorMade’s integration of Geocoustic technology allows them the ability to combine modern performance with traditional sounds and feel.
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
2. Callaway Rogue Fairway Wood
The Callaway Rogue Fairway Woodis the best fairway wood on the market for balls struck low in the clubhead. If you are a golfer that has problems topping fairway wood shots, Callaway’s Jailbreak technology can be a game-changer. A member of Golf Digest’s Gold medal recipients, Rogue may be the best fairway ever constructed for golfer who tend to hit fairway woods with topped or thin golf shots. The same technology that put Epic as the #1 driver, is now available in a fairway wood and is helping golfers shoot lower scores from difficult to approach places.
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
3. Taylormade M3 Fairway Wood
The Taylormade M3 Fairway Woodis built for the golfer who struggles from shots leaking to the right or to the left. The use of a sliding weight track allows for the M3 fairway to help golfers reduce curvature and hit straighter golf shots. TaylorMade’s M3 earned a Gold medal from Golf Digests for providing golfers with maximum customization. M3 is unrivaled in its ability to alter loft, lie, and center of gravity for each golfer’s swing.
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
4. Cobra KING F8 Fairway Wood
The Cobra KING F8 Fairway Woodis well suited for golfers looking to use their fairway woods more from the turf than from the tee box. The Baffler Rail technology from Cobra is industry leading in its ability to help golfers get quickly out of the turf. If you are one of the many players who struggle with hitting fairway woods fat, the F8 can make drastic improvements in your performance. We believe in the game improvement category of fairway metals, if you are a golfer who is worried that you will be striking the golf ball heavily from behind, F8 is your best option. Echoed by Golf Digest who gave F8 a Gold medal, players looking for help should look to F8 in their bags.
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 great option for players looking to save money in the fairway wood section of their bag. If you are someone looking to get maximum performance from an older model club, Epic is as good as it gets. An obvious choice for Golf Digest’s Gold medal award, Epic utilizes a carbon crown to help golfers increase swing speeds and a rear center of gravity for ultimate forgiveness. Callaway engineered Epic for the player looking for high launching fairway wood shots with added distance.
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 Woodmay allow golfers with slower swing speed to take advantage of aerodynamics that help them get the most from a fairway wood. G400is the fasted fairway Ping has ever made. Turbulators on the club’s crown help golfers align the clubhead and help to decrease drag in the downswing. Another Gold medal award winner, improving golfers with slower swing speeds may see their distances increase thanks to Ping’s G400.
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. TaylorMade M1 3 Wood
The TaylorMade M1 3 Woodis for the golfer on a budget looking to help his or her left and right misses. Giving you the ability to slide its center of mass left and right, M1 offers golfers so much-needed relief from fairway wood shots that violently curve away from them. Even though it is over one year old, M1 offers golfers the ability to get a club that is truly suited to them at a great price.
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
8. TaylorMade M2 Golf Fairway Wood
The TaylorMade M2 Golf Fairway Wood in the hands of players looking for game improvement clubs was the longest fairway test in last years’ product release cycle. A previous brother to TaylorMade’s M4, M2 is a superior performing wood that golfers can get at a reduced price. Another Gold medal award winner, M2 is a terrific alternative for improving golfers wanting top of the line distance without paying full price.
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
9. Adams Tight Lies 2 Fairway Wood
The Adams Tight Lies 2 Fairway Wood was a member of Golf Digest’s 2015 award group and offers golfers a great product at a great price. Since being acquired by TaylorMade, Adam’s focus has been on producing clubs for the handicap golfer. Leaving the better players category to the flagship TaylorMade products, the tight Lies 2 fairway has been designed with only the improving golfer in mind. This design helps make it great for golfers looking to hit better fairway shots without breaking the bank.
Adams Tight Lies Fairway Wood
- Improved design from its predecessor, with a sleek shape and paint scheme
- Low profile allows players to hit the club from just about any lie
- Ball really jumps off the club face at impact
- With such a low profile, may make it prone to pop-ups off the tee
- No alignment markings may make it difficult to set square at the target
- Not as technologically advanced as newer models
10. Ping G30 Fairway Wood
Good design never goes out of style, and since its release in 2015, the Ping G30 Fairway Woodis for the tradionalist on a budget. Great looks and performance that is the hallmark of the Ping brand. G30 fairway offers an alternative to the higher-priced G400. While better players have shied away from Ping brands lately, Ping has largely been touted as the best brand in the game improvement category. Available at a reduced price, G30 offers golfers a chance to purchase a Gold medal winning product for a fraction of MSRP.
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
What Fairway Wood Should You Buy?
Deciding which fairway wood you should purchase is more art than science. While there is no fairway wood that is best for all golfers, we believe that many fairway woods can help each golfer improve. When making your purchase decision, remember the import and technical aspects we have discussed while holding your preferences for the clubs that look and feel the best for you.
An important consideration when choosing a fairway is how much money you will spend here. Choosing a budget fairway option and choosing to allocate more of your golf spending to other parts of your bag such as your wedges and putter may have larger impact for your score. Remember, hitting fairway woods is not a distance contest and prior generation models can provide improvement when properly fit for a golfer’s swing.
Before buying any piece of golf equipment, we think it is best you go and try it for yourself. There is no substitute for hitting the club and seeing how it performs in your hands. Cold weather and indoor launch monitors make a great excuse for golfers to use the offseason to their advantage when it comes to club buying. Remember that this game is about enjoying yourself in your leisure, when buying, choose clubs that help you do that by making the game easier. Happy shopping and thanks for sharing in this game we all love!