How to choose the best fairway woods

Best Fairway Woods

Fairway woods are essential for gaining enough ball distance on the golf course. In particular, these golf clubs are handy for holes starting from par 4.

You should always have one or two of these clubs regardless of your handicap level. However, you cannot just get yourself any random fairway wood.  Here’s our list of the best fairway woods to help you make the right decision with your first purchase.

Factors to Consider in Buying Fairway Woods

1) Handicap Level

We mentioned earlier that fairway woods are necessary no matter your skill level.

However, this doesn’t mean players can all greatly benefit from the same club.

For one, golfers who are currently at a middle or low-level handicap should consider getting a fairway wood with a low loft degree. In contrast, beginners or high-handicappers are better off with a high-loft fairway wood.

 

2) Loft Setting

On a related note, you need to be aware of the loft setting. Getting the right loft enables you to achieve your desired ball trajectory. Likewise, it’s a significant factor in determining how far the ball can travel across the course. With a high trajectory, the overall distance is reduced.

Fairway woods notably have higher loft angles compared to drivers. Furthermore, the higher the number of a fairway wood, the higher its loft. For example, a 5-wood golf club has a loft angle ranging from 20 to 22 degrees. On the other hand, a 3-wood usually just has a 15 to 18-degree loft angle.

Thankfully, most golf clubs nowadays have adjustable loft settings, but you must still check clearly if a fairway wood has them. You don’t have to worry as long as there’s an adjustable hosel. Essentially, this feature allows you to increase or decrease the loft angle by up to five degrees.

Do note, however, that some adjustable hosels can change more than the angle. In particular, some are capable of adjusting the lie as well, which refers to the angle of the ground in relation to the shaft. Changes in the lie will determine the horizontal ball flight. Thus, a hosel can affect both ball flight and ball distance.

3) Club Head Material

One of the most popular materials used to construct fairway woods – and other types of golf clubs – is stainless steel. After all, steel is undeniably tough and adds formidable power to your swing. It also helps that steel is quite affordable and readily available. Then again, its weight can also be detrimental. Manufacturers can’t create a large club head using this material unless they’re willing to compromise on distance.

Apart from stainless steel, you can choose between titanium and multi-material composite. Titanium can lower the center of gravity (CG), which makes it easier to throw the ball up in the air. Moreover, titanium has two advantages over steel. For one, manufacturers can easily make large club heads using this material. The bigger the head is, the larger the clubface becomes. Therefore, accuracy is improved.  Second, titanium is lighter than steel. Despite this difference in weight, both are durable.

The third one is actually a mixture of various materials such as titanium, steel, and carbon. Instead of relying on just one material, these relatively expensive club heads take the advantages of several ones. Thus, composite material club heads can be significantly lighter than steel or titanium heads. Moreover, this feature of being incredibly light improves forgiveness since the CG is distributed around the inside perimeter. You get more forgiveness without losing performance.

Here’s a video of choosing a fairway wood:

4) Club Head Design

The overall design of the club head is just as important as its material. After all, the head is the part of the fairway wood that has direct contact with the golf ball. A club head with a broad-shaped face is designed for makings shots off the tee. On the other hand, a shallow-faced club face is better for swings on the fairway since it reduces spin and allows a higher ball launch. Furthermore, you’ll have a decent performance on tight lies if the face has a flat bottom edge.

5) Shaft Length

The shaft is the longest part of the golf club, and it comes in a variety of lengths. In contrast to woods and their loft range, the length of the shaft decreases as the number of the club increases. Thus, a 7-wood golf club has a shaft length ranging from 40 to 41 inches. A 5-wood will have one between 41 and 42 inches. Moreover, a 3-wood can reach a shaft length of about 43 inches.

A shaft that’s 42 or 43 inches long undoubtedly improves the ball distance. However, this increase in length drastically affects how well you can control your swing. Then again, the main objective of a fairway wood is to send your golf ball far from undesirable playing areas. But if you’re worried that you barely have any control to your swings, it might be best to start with a shorter shaft.

6) Shaft Material

When it comes to manufacturing the shaft, companies pick between two materials: graphite and steel. Golf players who are new to the sport or are still honing their skills are better off with a graphite shaft. A fairway wood with this lightweight shaft grants the player with flexibility and more ball distance – even if he has a rather slow swing speed.

On the other hand, the preferred fairway wood shaft material of professionals is steel. These golfers can readily produce fast and powerful swings even with the weight of steel. Plus, they simply like the feel of a steel shaft.

7) Moveable Weights

This isn’t an essential feature, but it can help you tweak your shots even further. Some manufacturers include moveable weights or weight screws. These parts make it possible for you to affect the ball flight by altering the weight in the club head. Even if the fairway wood you want doesn’t have these, chances are that you can have it customized with these features.

Best Fairway Woods

First, we’ve got a fairway wood from none other than Adams Golf. The golf club sports a good-looking modern design with a navy blue color and a minimalist logo at the front and center of the crown. Apart from adding an aesthetic appeal, this strategically positioned logo can also be used for aligning your shots.

The Adams Blue Fairway Wood includes the company’s popular Velocity Slot Technology. This single slot allows players to improve both speed and flex across a sizable portion of the club face. In other words, you can still have a decent ball speed even if you commit an off-center shot.

The Velocity Slot works by having the club face flex through the velocity slot as it comes in contact with the ball. You will still lose some ball distance during mishits, but it will no longer be drastic. The Blue Fairway Wood also utilizes a low and back CG to enable a higher ball spin and speed. Such a CG will help in attaining a high ball flight.

Another notable part of this golf club is the SlimTech Shaft, which makes it easier for you to launch the ball while giving a satisfying kick. Together, these three forgiving features—the Velocity Slot Technology, a low and back CG, and the SlimTech Shaft—form what Adams Golf refers to as their Easy Launch System.
Furthermore, the club head has an upside-down profile that allows the player to have a less difficult time hitting a wood off the deck. In particular, you might appreciate this when you’re about to hit a three wood without a tee. This club head design allows the Adams Golf Blue Fairway Wood to move smoothly through the grass and hit the ball.

 

You might notice a slight improvement in your shots when playing off a tee, especially with regards to the ball flight. The overall gain in ball distance may not be significant, but it’s pretty good in terms of ball flight and ease of use. Consequently, the sound upon impact is a bit muted than what is usually expected of an Adams golf club, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Adams Golf Men's Golf Fairway Wood, Right Hand, Stiff Flex, 5 Wood, 42

via Amazon

PROS

  • Low and back CG for a faster spin and a better speed
  • Minimalist logo along with the white lines help align shots
  • Ideal for high-handicappers who need help in achieving a high ball launch
  • Velocity Slot Technology adds flex for forgiveness
  • Good for both straight and draw shots

CONS

  • Some players feel that this is too light to generate enough swinging power
  • Color combination of the shaft and the club head might not suit the preferences of some people
  • No adjustable hosel for changing the loft angle and modifying the ball trajectory

Next on our list is the XR 16, a golf club designed by Callaway to be sizable and forgiving. For one, the aerodynamic club head is made to grant better speeds and to be larger than usual—giving you more room for hitting the ball. The side of the club head features contoured lines as well, but these are more for aesthetic purposes.

Likewise, this fairway wood comes with a low and back CG and a high moment of inertia (MOI). The former allows a higher ball flight and it is made possible through the R Moto face ribs, which also increase the power of each shot. The high MOI makes the XR 16 more forgiving. Even if you commit a mishit, the high MOI lessens the amount of ball distance lost.

Callaway made the club face cup with thinness and hotness in mind. Thus, you’ve got a forged Hyper Speed Face Cup that not only gives better speeds but also a bigger sweet spot. In other words, it improves on-center hits while reducing the chances of off-center ones. With an increase in ball speed, you get a long ball distance.

Furthermore, the Callaway Men’s XR 16 Fairway Wood has the company’s lightest crown to make it more forgiving. Likewise, the sole has a cambered shape. This is a noticeable curvature from both the heel to the toe and from the front to the back area. A cambered sole helps the XR 16 Fairway Wood to move over the ground with ease, thereby preventing the club from unintentionally digging into the soil. Similarly, it will have less contact with long turf due to the sole’s central point being positioned at the lower center.

The performance of the Callaway XR 16 is commendable and forgiving whether you are hitting the wood from the tee or from the fairway. Ball distance is of utmost importance for fairway woods, so it’s good that you lose fewer yards when the ball hits the heel or the toe instead of the sweet spot.

Moreover, the sound of impact and the feel of using this club are both impressive as long as it isn’t a mishit. The red Fujikura Speeder Evolution 565 shaft might not look natural in the golf course, but it is undoubtedly decent. Still, don’t expect the XR 16 to fare too well in the fade or draw shots.

Callaway XR 16 Fairway Wood (Men's, RH, 3 Wood, Speeder Evolution 565, Regular Flex)

via Amazon

PROS

  • Hyper Speed Face Cup provides faster ball speeds and more forgiveness
  • Straight shots are good whether you’re hitting on the fairway or the rough
  • Decent feel and sound upon impact
  • Designed with a matte finish to reduce glare
  • Cambered sole for better ground contact

CONS

  • Not everyone is a fan of the striking red color of the shaft
  • Fade or draw shots are a bit difficult to perform properly

This golf club looks good on the course thanks to its black-and-white color combination. With a lightweight carbon composite crown, the M2 Fairway Wood creates a low CG to improve both ball spin and ball flight. On a similar note, its shallow-faced club head design makes it playable in various lies. This club face shape allows it to have a reduced ball spin if you’d like to make the golf ball launch higher. Moreover, this durable steel face works with an aggressive Speed Pocket to increase the ball speed.

There’s a sizable sweet spot as well, which helps to maintain decent ball speeds even if the ball comes in contact with the lower section of the face—and the same goes for when you perform shots off the heel or the toe.  One feature the TaylorMade M2 Fairway Wood lacks is the adjustable weights, which was included in the earlier M1 Fairway Wood. However, this absence is compensated by how easily it can be used when you’re playing off the turf. In fact, it can be argued that the M2 doesn’t need the adjustable weights at all.

As for the feedback, you’ll be happy to know that the TaylorMade M2 Fairway Wood offers an exemplary feedback upon impact. Likewise, the resulting sound is satisfyingly solid and hot. Hitting the center of the sweet spot causes a crisp and muted click. All these are made possible through the effective management of pitch and vibration utilizing both internal acoustic engineering and a fluted hosel.

TaylorMade Men's M2 Fairway Wood (Men's, Right, Regular, #3 High Launch)

via Amazon

PROS

  • Large and steel club face
  • Fast swings lead to incredible distances even with off-center hits
  • Sidespin correction works well
  • Consistency in shaping shots
  • Performs well in a variety of lies

CONS

  • Not everyone likes the black-and-white design
  • Does not have adjustable weights

Our next entry is the KING F6 that’s packed with what Cobra refers to as a front-to-back CG technology. Instead of having just a low and back CG, this fairway wood manages to combine two positions. A back CG provides more forgiveness and a higher ball flight while the front CG could create a lower but more aggressive ball flight. Furthermore, a front CG position might increase the amount of roll a golf ball can have as it hits the ground.

Cobra also developed the Speed Channel, which is a trench built around the perimeter of the club face. This engineering innovation reduces the overall club face thickness. Second, the Speed Channel could increase the ball speed no matter where the ball comes in contact with the face. For golfers who need help in managing the ball trajectory, they can rely on the eight loft settings available through the adjustable hosel.

Achieving a medium ball flight with the Cobra King F6 Fairway Wood is easy. In addition, the golf ball will have a decent carry and roll even with an off-center hit. The feel of the F6 Fairway Wood can be either rewarding or punishing. If you give a hard swing, you’ll feel a firm feedback that could add confidence to your plays. However, you’ll definitely feel and hear if you had a mishit. On the bright side, the Cobra King F6 will always look appealing with its classic design.

Cobra KING F6 Golf Fairway Wood (Men's, 13.0-16.0, Graphite, Regular, Right, 3W4W), Black

via Amazon

PROS

  • Minimalist and metallic design
  • Front-to-back CG technology for better control of the ball flight
  • Feedback works well for determining hits and off-center shots
  • Adjustable hosel for choosing among eight loft settings

CONS

  • Takes time to get used to the two CG positions offered
  • Forgiveness might not be enough for some players

Finally, we have the Great Big Bertha Epic. This fairway wood comes in either a left-hand or a right-hand orientation. The club head looks refreshing since its mostly dark design is contrasted by bits of light green. To help you align your shots, there’s an arrow and a couple of lines included on the crown. Speaking of the crown, it’s similar to the TaylorMade M2 in that is uses one made of lightweight carbon as well.

Callaway’s triaxial carbon crown is 78 percent lighter than a steel crown. Plus, the lightness of the crown results in a low CG and a high MOI for more forgiveness and a higher ball flight. The Great Big Bertha Epic Fairway Wood gives a solid feel. The feedback is quite muted yet strong upon impact. You’ll know when you made a mishit, but the sound is not bad enough to lower your confidence.

The hyper speed face cup is essential in reducing the amount of speed and distance lost during mishit. Without it, your average distance could be significantly lessened if you commit several off-center shots. As for the shaft, you can pick among four models: Project X HZRDUS Green T800, Aldila Rogue Max, MRC Diamana Greenboard M+, and the Fujikura Pro Green. Some of the shafts focus on improving speed while others are intent on giving players better control and more powerful swings.

Callaway Golf 2017 Great Big Bertha Men's Epic Fairway, Right Hand, Aldila Rogue Max, 60G, 42

via Amazon

PROS

  • Straight shots can have a ball flight ranging from medium to high
  • Ball distance during off-center hits is decent
  • Good choice for shaping shots
  • Lightweight carbon crown for a low CG and a high MOI

CONS

  • Some players won’t like the muted sound upon impact
  • Green accents on the club head won’t be seen as appealing by all users

Conclusion

Overall, our favorite fairway wood is none other than the TaylorMade M2. This is a golf club sporting a classic and visually appealing black-and-white design. The crown is light enough to guarantee a low CG. Plus, you can use this in a variety of lies with confidence since it has a shallow face made out of steel.

Moreover, the TaylorMade M2 Fairway Wood has a Speed Pocket that easily improves the ball speed. Its forgiveness is further increased with a large sweet spot. Lastly, both the sound and feel are fantastic due to the hosel design and internal acoustic engineering. The M2 Fairway Wood doesn’t have adjustable weights, but it excels with its attractive design and its performance-enhancing features.

We hope that our guide on buying fairway woods will help you pick the right model. After all, having a decent fairway wood can quickly improve your game. If you have any questions, feel free to send us a comment.

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I manage this site because I am passionate about golf. I know that learning the sport seems difficult, so I’m here to help anyone that might be interested.

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About the Author James Briggs

I manage this site because I am passionate about golf. I know that learning the sport seems difficult, so I’m here to help anyone that might be interested.

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