When a golf club has a single purpose, say a putter, for example, it becomes a focussed task to find the one most suitable for your game.
Once you start asking more of that club, that’s when things really ramp up in difficulty.
Take the fairway club, for example, the three wood.
Most golfers ask a lot of their three wood. At times, they want it to be a safe and accurate club off the tee, while on other occasions they want to use it to advance up the fairway or help you hit the green on a par five. Or maybe even a long par four.
The issue is that in one shot the ball is normally on a tee while on the other the ball is on the ground. So, as a result, we need versatility from our three wood.
That can often be hard to find. Elusive, in fact.
You hear it time and time again when you survey better players, the ones normally very much in tune with their equipment. “The three wood is the hardest club to find.”
So, what are the key factors in looking for a three wood to add to your bag? With most of the top brands putting out a quality product, what can help you choose one over another? Some of the answers are objective while other factors are more personal in nature.
Fill The Gap
What exactly do you want the three wood to do for you? Do you want it to be a secondary driving option or a club for hitting high, floating shots into long par five holes?
Decide what the purpose is, what yardage you need to go (carry and overall distance), and how it fits into your set makeup.
All About Trajectory
Depending on the normal turf conditions you play on, and the shot you want to use the three wood for most often, you will need to determine with your fitter what you need to see for both launch and descent from your three wood. Does it need to stop quickly on a green, or roll out on a fairway? The clubs loft, centre of gravity location, and spin rate can factor into this.
Many of today’s fairway woods are adjustable, not only in weighting and face angle but, most conveniently, loft. This means one club can be converted to a different use to suit a different course setup or to reflect changes in your swing. The Cobra King F7 3-4 wood, for example, can be set with lofts of 13 through 16 degrees.
It’s Up To You
This is where things get interesting. Golfers are all very individual and even if a club performs well for you it may not be to your liking. Factors like feel, head shape, colour, use of alignment aids, sound, or even weight can take a three wood from being a stud to a dud.
Like all golf clubs work with a proper fitting professional to help you determine your needs and find the perfect three wood for you. It’s out there, I promise.
Some 2017 Fairway Wood Options
With a compact size (150cc) 4-degree adjustable sleeve,) and 25-gram weight in a L-R sliding track the M1 fairway there is a lot of features built into this new product for 2017. Using multiple materials, the designer squeezed to most out of the club head as far as weighting is concerned. The inclusion of a new speed pocket also enhances ball speeds, especially on ball strikes low on the face.
While lacking adjustability the M2 has been positioned as the ultimate distance fairway in the TaylorMade lineup. Plenty has been done (including a fluted hosel, geo-acoustic sole, and carbon composite crown) to make mass available for redistribution in the club head. An HL (16.5 degree) option is available along with the standard, 15 degree, three wood.
For the player seeking higher launch and more spin the F2 model is the club of choice with the 917 fairways. Multiple lofts are offered with fine tuning available through a 16-setting Sure-Fit hosel. The enhanced “Active Recoil Channel 2.0) lowers spin and helps maintain ball speed on lower face strikes. An elastomer fill now keeps dirt and grass from filling the channel.
The F3 has all the features of the Titleist 917F2 fairway in a more compact head shape. Providing a lower spin rate and trajectory is makes for a powerful package. Fine tuning of the centre of gravity through the new SureFit CG weighting helps you dial in shot shape and better match your ball striking patterns.
One thing many golfers struggle with n their fairway wood shots is proper contact with the ball. Many hit it low on the face leading to distance-robbing lower launching and higher spinning shots. In the PING G fairways, the leading edge was lowered to help golfers contact the ball higher on the face.
PING G Stretch
This is for golfers looking for a control club off the tee and a power club off the fairway. At 13 degrees in loft and with a forward centre of gravity it helps deliver a lower launching trajectory and reduced spin for maximum distance. The 184cc head also inspires confidence at address, especially off the tee.
PING G LE
This club is all about achieving optimum carry and distance for the slower swinging golfer. With 19 degrees of loft the three wood is much easier to get in the air, aided by a lower leading edge. The stock shaft (there are many fitting options) is super lightweight to aid control and the generation of more clubhead speed.
Callaway GBB Epic
Shape, shape, shape. That’s what set these fairways apart for us immediately. The sleek profile and no-nonsense crown appearance should make it appeal to many golfers. Blend in the solid feel and consistent delivery of high ball speeds and you have an intoxicating mix.
Callaway GBB EPIC SubZero
For players needing the power and performance from a lower spinning fairway wood the GBB EPIC SubZero easy fills the spot. Fitting can be tuned up to 250 RPMs through interchangeable weighting on the sole. The compact head shape and super thin club face also creates a club that instills confidence and provides a “hot” feel at impact.
Callaway Big Bertha Fusion
With a more triangular shape and larger profile the Big Berta Fusion tends to help the average player feel more confident that they will have a successful result from their swings. Using a multi-material design the club has a high moment of inertia, protecting ball speed on miss strikes.
Mizuno JPX 900
Testing this little beauty late last year, a few features stood out before we even struck it for the first time. The matte blue finish is colourful yet not distracting and at address it is easy align. Once we hit it, it impressed more with its solid feel and ease of use. The Fast Track in the sole allowed us to dial in the preferred spin rate and launch angle.
Cobra KING LTD Black Fairway
The stealthiest looking fairway on the market today. With a look that Darth Vader would approve of, this fairway is void of visual distractions. Under the dark look breathes a club with many adjustable features, a low profile for a 183cc head, and is easy to launch in the air. Three different draw settings help the golfer keep the ball in their preferred direction.
Cobra KING F7 Fairway
Cobra calls this their longest and most forgiving adjustable fairway and I must say we were amazing by its versatility. When we set this 170cc beauty at 13 degrees of loft it delivered a powerful and penetrating ball flight. It just took minutes to ramp it up to 16 degrees and turn it into a club ideal for high, floating approaches. Rails on the sole increased its usability out of poor lies.
Srixon Z F65 Fairway
With a simple look but plenty of embedded technology, Srixon has jumped in with both feet in the premium fairway wood market. Within the sleek black head is a stretched-out cup face that wraps around the sole and crown to help create a larger effective hitting area. The crown is highlighted by a subtle channel intended to increase the launch angle.
Tour Edge EX10 Fairway
Tour Edge once again outdoes themselves in the fairway wood category. A super-thin, high-speed face (with great feel) has been matched with a heavy steel body accented by tungsten weighting. The combination sounds and feels powerful and delivers golf shots that easily launch into the air, even off thin lies. Weights can be adjusted to create the preferred swingweight. One of the best fairway clubs on the market in 2017.
Wilson Staff D300 Fairway
Easily the most intriguing fairway wood we’ve seen this year. How can it not be with “spikes” on the crown of the club the company calls “micro vortex generators” designed to reduce drag for the club head. Outside of those it is simple, non-adjustable head design with a 455 maraging steel face that provides a nice feel at contact with the ball.