Which fairway wood is best?
Fairway woods are a category of golf clubs that fit in the space between your driver and your irons. They’re made to hit second shots on longer holes like par fives and difficult par fours. Fairway woods are not made of wood, nor are irons made of iron; the names are holdovers from the early days of golf. Nowadays, fairway woods and irons are made of steel, lightweight metal alloys or composite materials.
If you want a graphite-shafted, titanium-headed fairway wood with 15 degrees of loft, a great choice is the TaylorMade SiM 2 Max Fairway Wood.
What to know before you buy a fairway wood
Each fairway wood is identified by a number. A part of golf’s quirky charm is that the lowest numbered clubs are made to travel the longest distances. Common fairway woods include the 3-wood and 5-wood. Bigger club heads are easier to hit. All manufacturers want the club heads on their fairway woods to be as aerodynamic and stylish as possible.
When applied to golf clubs, the term “loft” refers to the angle of the club face. The higher the number, the greater the loft and the higher the ball will fly. A typical 3-wood has a loft of 13-15 degrees, and the loft of most 5-woods is from 17-19 degrees.
Fairway woods are designed for distance, so they have longer shafts than hybrids or irons. A 3-wood has the longest shaft of all the fairway woods. The 5-wood has a shaft that’s an inch shorter, the standard increment in measuring shaft lengths.
Flex is the measure of how whippy or stiff a club shaft is. The softest shafts have the most flex and the stiffest shafts have the least.
- Ladies shafts (L) are for swing speeds under 60 mph.
- Amateur shafts (A) are for swing speeds from 60-75 mph.
- Senior shafts (S) are for swing speeds from 75-85 mph.
- Regular shafts (R) are for swing speeds from 85-95 mph.
- Stiff shafts (S) are for swing speeds from 95-110 mph.
- Extra-stiff shafts (XS) are for swing speeds over 110 mph.
Traditional fairway woods are made with steel shafts, the material favored by better golfers because of its greater control. All golfers with slower swing speeds (seniors, ladies, amateurs) like graphite shafts because they’re lighter in weight and easier to swing faster. Graphite shafts are more expensive than steel and not as durable.
What to look for in a quality fairway wood
Fairway wood shafts may be steel or graphite, and club heads may be made of steel, steel alloys, titanium or carbon fiber. Generally speaking, the more exotic the material, the lighter the club and the farther the ball goes.
The “sweet spot” is the area in the exact center of the clubface that is the most effective place to hit the ball. Amateurs are less able to hit the sweet spot consistently. They benefit from clubs that distribute the weight around the perimeter in such a way as to increase the size of the sweet spot.
Golfers that like the look of their clubs are more confident and play better. It’s important to choose a fairway wood that looks good to you.
How much you can expect to spend on a fairway wood
The price ranges for men’s, women’s and seniors’ fairway woods are the same. Simple fairway woods with steel shafts are available from $30-$100. Well-made fairway woods from reliable manufacturers cost from $100-$200. High-end fairway woods made of the finest materials with the biggest sweet spots cost anywhere from $250 to more than $500.
Fairway wood FAQ
Why are they called fairway woods?
A. Early golfers discovered they needed a long-shafted club that was built like a smaller version of the driver. They would be used from lies in the fairway to hit the ball long distances toward the green.
Should all my fairway woods be the same brand and model?
A. You want a club that’s built for your swing speed and that has the sweet spot you want, all wrapped in a package that looks good to you. A matched set that looks and feels good will produce more good shots.
What’s the best fairway wood to buy?
Top fairway wood
What you need to know: This graphite-shafted, titanium-headed fairway wood has 15 degrees of loft.
What you’ll love: The 190cc head design uses precision weighting to expand the sweet spot for greater distance on off-center hits. Twist Face technology reduces the negative effects of mishits and the ball flies straighter. The club’s sole is designed to minimize the footprint and make it easier to hit off the fairway and out of the rough.
What you should consider: All this technology is expensive.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top fairway wood for the money
What you need to know: This series of golf clubs create a low center of gravity, helping you to elevate your game.
What you’ll love: This set is made of graphite. The driver has 10.5 degrees of loft, the 3-wood has 15 degrees and the 5-wood has 18 degrees.
What you should consider: Many golfers are taller or shorter than average.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This lightweight 20-degree HeavenWood uses FlashFace technology to deliver greater clubhead speed and feel.
What you’ll love: Made of forged 455 Carpenter steel, this club delivers fast ball speed across the face for increased distance on off-center hits. Jailbreak technology stiffens the clubhead for greater speed. The shaft is made of graphite and is rated as a gender-neutral Light Flex.
What you should consider: This is labeled a woman’s club, but more importantly, it’s a lightweight club that also appeals to seniors, kids and anyone with slower swing speeds.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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