Should You Use a 3-Wood and a 5-Wood?

Fairway woods are some of the most versatile clubs in your bag.  You can hit them off the tee for extra accuracy, out of the fairway on long approach shots, and even out of the rough as a trouble club to advance the ball forward and get it back in play. 

But what’s better, a 3-wood or a 5-wood?  The answer’s a little more complex than you might think.

Let’s dig a little deeper and see if we can help you decide which one is best for your game.

Mystic Creek Golf Club

How Fast Do You Swing the Club?

Your swing speed is the first factor you should consider when deciding between a 3-wood and 5-wood.  Even though these clubs have more loft than your driver, they still require some clubhead speed to get the ball in the air. 

If your swing speed is on the slower side, chances are you’ll realize the benefits of a 5-wood more than a 3-wood.  You’ll be able to hit your 5-wood higher and farther than your 3-wood. 

Conversely, if you swing the club at a reasonable rate of speed, you’ll be able to realize the added distance a 3-wood gives you.

Do You Have a Gap in Your Yardages?

Both 3-woods and 5-woods are designed to fill in the yardage gap between your driver and longest iron or hybrid. 

When you’re deciding between a 3-wood and a 5-wood, try them both out and see how far you hit each one on average.  If your 3-wood goes almost as far as your driver, you’re probably better off with a 5-wood.  If the 5-wood goes almost as far as your longest iron or hybrid, a 3-wood is probably a better choice.

Is it easier to hit a 3-wood or a 5-wood?

A 3-wood is typically harder to hit than a 5-wood.  That’s because 3-woods have longer shafts and less loft than 5-woods. 

As a general rule, the shorter a club is in length, and the more loft it has, the easier it is to hit.

What Kind of Shaft Should You Choose for your 3-wood or 5-wood?

Modern 3-woods and 5-woods almost exclusively come with graphite shafts.  Older fairway woods had steel shafts, but graphite has become the material of choice for a couple reasons.  First, graphite is lighter than steel and allows golfers to swing the club faster (faster swing speeds create more distance).  Secondly, graphite shafts also have a lot more flexibility than steel shafts.  This makes it easier for golfers to get the ball in the air and carry it farther.

The real question about 3-wood and 5-wood shafts lies in what flex you should choose.  There are a lot of different shaft flexes to choose from.

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Junior Flex Shafts

Junior flex is ultra-flexible.  These shafts are best for young kids that don’t swing the club very fast.

Ladies’ Flex Shafts

As their name suggests, ladies’ flex shafts are meant for ladies.  They’re a little bit stiffer than junior flex shafts, but still have plenty of flexibility.

Senior Flex Shafts

Senior flex shafts are slightly stiffer and meant for older men that might not swing the club as fast as they used to.

Regular Flex Shafts

Regular flex is the most commonly used shaft.  Regular flex is perfect for men with average swing speeds.  Ladies and juniors with faster than average swing speeds can benefit from regular flex shafts too.

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Stiff Flex Shafts

Stiff flex shafts are for golfers (usually men) with faster than average swing speeds.  The added stiffness in these shafts gives players with fast swing speeds the added stability to keep shots online.

Extra Stiff Shafts

Extra stiff shafts are for the small subset of golfers with the fastest swing speeds.  These shafts don’t have much flexibility and give golfers ultimate stability. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to choosing between a 3-wood and 5-wood, there are certainly some different factors you need to consider.

At the end of the day, however, you should choose the club that you’re the most comfortable with and performs the best for your game.  It’s as simple as that.

Paul Liberatore
Paul Liberatore

As the Founder of Golfers Authority Paul Liberatore Esq. has spent the last 7+ years writing about the best golf equipment or instruction from the top golf instructors in the world. He has been a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated Golf and GolfWRX. After graduating with honors from Purdue University, he realized that he had a passion for the golf business and the law. When he's not practicing law, or creating golf content on YouTube, he can be found on his syndicated Behind the Golf Brand podcast both on Apple and Spotify talking with the most prolific leaders in the golf industry. 

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