Long, long ago, I could hit my fairway woods better than anyone I know. Sadly, that was a long, long time ago! Back then, if I could get around 200 yards from the green, I was deadly. I had distance and accuracy with my fairways, and more than a few people asked me for help improving theirs. Sadly, as we get older, we lose a little (or a lot!) distance, and we may not be able to hit it as straight as we used to. Even though I’m no longer Mr. Long & Accurate with my woods on the fairway, I will still go to them any day before I attempt a shot with my lower irons (2, 3, 4).
Let’s start off by explaining which woods are considered “fairway woods”, and then we will focus a little on each one. Along the way we can explore what each one is intended to do, and how you may be able to hit your a little longer and straighter than mine.
A wood is a golf club, but unlike your putter, wedges and irons, a wood has a longer shaft and the head of it is larger and rounded.A fairway wood is any wood other than the driver. The head of a wood club was traditionally made out of actual wood. With today’s advancements in club technology, they are normally made out of exotic metals such as titanium or composite metals. The fairways are intended to be hit off of the grass, but (as with every club) they can be used with a tee. The higher the number of the club, the higher its degree of loft is. The lowest numbered fairway wood is the 2, which has the lowest degree of loft. Three and five woods are the most common, but some players do use two and four woods as well.
Since technology has risen so dramatically in recent years, the use of metal in creating the “wood” heads has enabled the heads to become much larger than they were in the past. This increase in size has made them much easier to hit, as there is now a larger “sweet spot” on the club. The USGA responded to these advancements in 2004 by limiting the size of the head on a wood to a displacement of no more than 460 cc.
While the most common fairway woods are the 3 and 5, as mentioned some players also include a 2 and 4 wood. It’s also possible to completely replace all of your clubs (other than the putter) with woods. Some major golf club manufacturers make fairways that go all the way up to a 9. You can even get one to replace your sand wedge, as it’s effectively a 25 wood with a 55 degree loft!
The reason that fairways are used to hit the ball off of the grass, instead of a driver, is that they have a higher degree of loft. That’s needed to get the ball out of the turf and into the air quickly. Another factor is that they have a shallower head, compared to a driver. That shallow head allows you to hit the ball with the middle of the club head. This will greatly increase your accuracy and distance.
Generally speaking, the higher the number is on your wood, the greater the accuracy and loft will be. That greater loft and accuracy is the benefit, but the negative is that you will get less distance with the higher number woods. The following explains the degree of loft and the distance you can expect with each fairway wood:
- Two Wood- 11 to 13 degrees of loft, distance of 220 to 240 yards
- Three Wood- 13 to 15 degrees of loft, distance of 210 to 230 yards
- Four Wood- 14 to 16 degrees of loft, distance of 200 to 220 yards
- Five Wood- 17 to 18 degrees of loft, distance of 190 to 210 yards
Of course the above distances are based on you being a good golfer. For most of us old farts, we’re happy if we can hit a 3 for anything over 150 yards!
There are numerous brands and manufacturers of fairway woods that we will cover in other articles. We will also share some reviews and give you some suggestions on where to buy them for the lowest prices.