Fairway Wood Buying Guide (2022)
If you’re familiar with golf, there’s no way that you haven’t heard about fairway woods. They‘re like the luxury cars on one’s bucket list. It’s not necessary but very nice to have. If you’ve been thinking about adding one to your set, you’re at the right place.
This is post is designed to work as your fairway wood buying guide. There are many aspects that you have to consider before buying one. So, without proper guidance, it will be a challenge to hit the bull’s eye in one go.
Without keeping you waiting anymore, let’s get on with how to choose the right fairway wood for you.
What is a Fairway Wood?
Before you make an impulse purchase, it’s important that understand the purpose of having a fairway wood. It falls between the driver and long irons. As the name suggests, most players use this golf club from the fairway.
A fairway wood may not be an essential part of an average golfer’s bag, but it can introduce new dynamics to your gameplay. Taking shots with a fairway wood always feels good, thanks to its forgiveness.
You can even replace your driver with a fairway wood! The lower loft angles make them a great choice for 3-par holes! Although most players may use the long irons from the fairway, you can try hitting the ball with a golf fairway wood to get closer to your target easily.
You can hit the golf ball from the rough or even the fairway bunkers with this type of club if you want.
The bottom line is, a golf fairway wood is a very versatile piece of club you can put in your bag. It will come in handy more often than you would imagine.
Let’s get into a detailed discussion about how to choose the right fairway wood for yourself.
When to Use a Fairway Wood?
Despite owning a variety of woods, many beginners don’t understand the exact purpose of a fairway wood. So, we’ve stepped out to mark the exact areas where you need the wood.
From the Tee
Tee shots are mostly taken with drivers. It’s the conventional way. But did you know that you can use a 3-wood to replace your driver easily? While it’s mostly true for 3-par holes, a low handicapper can do wonders with a fairway wood even in a 5-par hole!
From the Fairway
The justification for the name. Fairway woods were primarily designed to replace long irons. Long irons are generally the instinctive choice for players to take a fairway shot. But for players who struggle with long irons, a fairway wood is a spectacular alternative.
If you’re not sure about the relation between woods and irons, keep in mind that a 4-wood can replace a 2-iron, a 5-wood will replace the 3-iron and a 9-wood is good instead of a 5-iron.
Also, keep in mind that the combinations may change from manufacturer to manufacturer. The loft tends to vary as well which changes the overall replacement equation.
5-Par in 2 Strikes
With a shallow fairway wood, you can complete a 5-par hole in just 2 strikes, achieving an ultimate double eagle!
5-par holes are quite long and it’s hard to achieve the distance with a driver and a long iron. You can use your wood instead to take on the challenge!
Some Characteristics to Identify a Fairway Wood
As this post is destined to be the ultimate beginner’s guide to golf fairway woods, let’s add some things that you can look for to identify them.
The first noticeable characteristic would be the medium-sized club heads. Fairway woods have smaller club heads than drivers, but larger ones than long irons. The volume is somewhere around 140-180cc.
Next, you’ll notice that the club face is quite shallow. It helps to keep the center of gravity lower for straighter and easier shots.
Different Club Head Material for Fairway Woods
The club head material makes all the difference when it comes to the feel of a fairway wood. Just like with irons or hybrids, the material used to make your fairway will impact your gameplay in more ways than you can anticipate.
Steel Club Heads
There might be ‘wood’ in the name, but the majority of the fairway woods don’t have wood in the construction. Steel is generally the way to go for most manufacturers because it’s easier to produce, costs less, and lasts a very long time.
Also, steel club heads are great for beginners because they produce consistent shots. Steel is a very strong metal, helping the players to get the ball off the tee or the fairway fairly easily. However, clubs with stele heads are generally heavier which lowers the swing speed.
Composite Club Heads
When it comes to fairway woods, composite head materials are quite popular. It can be different mixes of metals such as steel-carbon, titanium-steel, aluminum-steel, and so on. The composite materials are usually very affordable and offer greater overall durability.
Moreover, when multiple materials are used to create a club head, the weight drops dramatically. The ultra-lightweight nature of these clubs helps golfers to create amazing club head speeds.
Titanium Club Heads
Roughly, titanium weighs half of what steel does. You can only imagine how fast you’ll be able to swing the club to send the ball all the way closer to the hole. Also, manufacturers can make larger heads to add even more forgiveness to the clubs.
Another reason to go for titanium golf clubs is the center of gravity. The lightweight nature of titanium allows the center of gravity to be pushed back further which helps the players to achieve greater ball flight.
Which One Should You Choose?
As you can clearly understand from the aforementioned information, titanium fairway woods will cost the most. And the steel club head designs are usually the cheapest. So, it depends on how much you are willing to spend.
If you can spare the top dollar needed to buy a titanium head fairway wood, you should go for it. The playing experience will be far superior to the other types. When you’re buying your first fairway wood, you should know that titanium club heads may not last as long as the steel or composite material.
Head Designs on Your Fairway Woods
A common aspect that many rookie golfers often overlook. The ultimate goal of fairway woods is to introduce more forgiveness to your shots. Manufacturers offer different features like Offset, Neutral, or Draw in the specification that determines the final forgiveness factor.
Unfortunately, many new golfers still struggle to hit straight shots with a fairway wood. In most of the cases, the wrong choice of head design is the culprit.
In general, the most club faces on fairway woods are open. In laymen’s terms, it means the club faces are angled more toward the outside. Ideally, a golfer’s hands should be ahead of the ball when the face hits the ball. But when that’s not the case, scenarios like shanking, duck hooking, and slicing occur.
To compensate for the curved shot, manufacturers add more weight to the club head, known as perimeter weighting. The common choice of metal is tungsten because it’s quite dense. The weight helps the club face to be square when you hit the ball.
A Draw means the ball will swing from right to left when it’s hit. Having a Draw on your club face is helpful if your target is to fix slicing.
Another solution to slicing is the offset. The offset weight goes behind the shaft and helps keep the club face square at impact.
‘Neutral’ is just another word choice for standard versions. It doesn’t have any draw or offset to the club. Keep in mind that the majority of the fairway woods you’ll find on your local golf supply store’s shelves are going to be the standard version. In most cases, you can get the enhanced woods only by asking the store manager for them.
So, don’t get too deep in these choices. Having an enhancement may make the shots easier, but it will slow down the process of you becoming a better player. Whenever you have the option, go for standard fairway woods.
Many experts say that if you slice the ball even with lower swing speeds, your action is at fault. No amount of offset or draw can help you fix the problem. Your instinct should be to visit your local instructor and getting your swing fixed.
Shaft Materials Buying Guide on Fairway Woods
For all types of golf clubs, the shaft is a very important piece of the equation. You hold the club by the shaft and it carries the feedback after each of your shots. Due to the specialized designs of fairway woods, the shaft designs play an even more important role.
There are shafts made from all kinds of materials available on the market. Here are the most commonly found ones.
Just like the club head material, steel shafts are the instinctive choice for both golfers and manufacturers. The flex is at the minimum when you play with a steel shaft. They last a long time and are usually paired with budget-friendly fairway woods.
There are two major types of steep shafts. One is stepped steel shafts and the other one is rifle steel shafts.
Stepped shafts are the thickest at the grip and gradually thins out along the way. The tip gets thin enough to be merged with the club head effortlessly. The manufacturing process involves rolling a steel strip into a tube. Then, the tube is machined to change the diameter.
Rifle steel shafts, on the other hand, are consistent in diameter from the butt to the tip. These are generally stiffer than stepped shafts thanks to more mass of steel. They produce more consistent shots. However, rifle steel shafts weigh more.
If you’re familiar with other golf irons, you may know that many players like the graphite shafts on their golf clubs. It’s true for fairway woods as well. As a result, we couldn’t help but include them in our buying guide to choose the perfect fairway wood for you.
Graphite shafts are lighter than steel and can help you generate more swing speed. But due to the complex construction of the shafts, they have more flex. The flex may even change depending on the force you apply. So, the shots won’t be nearly as consistent as a steel shaft.
Graphite shafts are mostly popular because of the unique aesthetic they offer. Many players like the shiny and vibrant look of the graphite shafts over the plain old boring look of a steel shaft.
You read that right. Just as there are titanium club heads on fairway woods, there are titanium shafts as well. You may already imagine how lightweight these shafts will be. The great thing about titanium is that it has an amazing weight to strength ratio. It means even with the lighter shafts, you can expect consistent shots.
In recent years, fairway wood shafts made from multi-material have become popular. They usually utilize a mix of steel, graphite to cut costs and improve forgiveness.
The larger sections of the shafts are made from steel while the tip that connects to the club heads are made from graphite. It helps to produce consistent strokes but doesn’t compromise the swing speed with added weight.
Which One to Go for?
Again, it comes down to your preference. If you like superior feedback for your shots, sticking to steel will be ideal. Keeping the same thought in mind, if you have the budget, go for titanium shafts by all means.
Graphite shafts, on the other hand, look amazing and offer greater flexibility for shaping the shots. But the added flex and torque may be a bit more chew for a beginner.
The Length of the Woods
You can also think of it as the numbering system on your golf irons. However, instead of changing the loft, the length of the wood changes with the number. The lower the number, the longer the shaft tends to be.
For example, a 3-wood is usually the longest fairway wood. It has a shaft length of around 42-43 inches. Similarly, a 5-wood is 41-42 inches long.
If you have a basic understanding of physics, you may be able to guess what the length does. More length mean more leverage. And the more leverage you get on any mechanical movement, the greater the force you can generate.
Translating the principle into plain English, longer woods achieve greater distance. A 3-wood may very well work as a driver for you. Shorter woods with a higher loft are used on the fairway, the rough, or even in the bunkers.
Adjustability Feature to Look for in a Fairway Wood
One of the greatest advantages of using fairway woods is its adjustability. Different tiered woods will come with different adjustability features. Let’s take a look at what matters the most to a golfer.
The loft of a golf club refers to the vertical angle between the club face and the shaft. In most fairway woods by reputed manufacturers, you can adjust the loft as you need it. It’s done with an adjustable hosel that allows you to change the degree of the loft by up to 5 degrees.
This feature makes fairway woods a prime choice for both off the tee shots and approach shots from the fairway. You can dial the loft all the way down to get the maximum distance. And tweak it up to get more ball flight on the go.
Another innovative feature introduced by the fairway wood makers. Movable weights allow you to shift the center of gravity as you want. It’s not a universal feature, however. You can only find it in the best quality woods.
There are usually weight screws or physically movable weights on the club head. Although, messing with the weight by yourself is not recommended. If you’re paying the premium for this feature, let an expert decide the placement of the weight as part of the custom fitment.
Adjustable Face Angle
The face angle is the horizontal angle created between the club face and the shaft. Faces that sit perpendicular to the shaft are known as a square face. It’s generally the starting point for the majority of the golfers.
On good-quality fairway woods, you can either open the face or close it. Opening a club face means moving it away from the player to the right side. And closing the face refers to the act of bringing the club face inwards.
An adjustable face angle will allow you to achieve greater mastery over the shape of your shot. Depending on how you swing the club from top to bottom, you may need to open or close the face by a few degrees. Taking help from a designated professional is always recommended.
The Fight Between Hybrids and Fairway Woods
We get plenty of questions from new golfers about whether to get hybrids or fairway woods. As a newbie, the distinction might be subtle to you.
Generally, fairway woods have a larger club head with more loft. It makes them perfect for hitting off the tee or from the fairway. You can use them to get out of roughs as well.
Hybrids, on the other hand, have smaller club heads. They give the ball more flight but not necessarily cover as much distance as a driver or a fairway wood. Hybrids are quite good for approach shots or getting your ball out of bad lies.
A rule of thumb to remember is that a 19-degree wood will always go further than a 19-degree hybrid. The larger club heads on the fairway woods help get more speed.
The best way to go is creating a combination of hybrid and woods. This way, you are prepared for all terrains no matter which golf course you play at.
Handy Fairway Wood Buying Guide for High Handicappers
Let’s be honest. You’re looking to get a fairway wood is because you are a high handicapper. There’s nothing wrong with being one. Almost all golfers struggle with lowering their scores before getting good at the sport.
If that’s the case with you, here are a few tips to help you choose the perfect wood for yourself.
Get a Lofted Wood with Lower Center of Gravity
If controlling your shots from the fairway is your primary issue, a club with a high loft and low center of gravity will help you tremendously. It will allow you to hit the ball higher without creating too much spin. As a result, your shots will be straighter but will not travel a great distance.
Focus on Sole Design
The sole design of a fairway wood may not be as influential as an iron, but it’s still an important feature to consider. Wider soles mean more weight on the club head. And more weight means more moment of inertia. As a result, you get a more stable swing, eliminating the possibility of twisting the club midway.
Always Do a Test Run
The variations between different manufacturer’s fairway woods are huge. So, you should always spend enough time while buying your first fairway wood. Consider the thickness of the club head as well as the thickness of the shaft to see what feels more natural and comfortable for you.
Go for Custom Fitment When You Can
As fairway woods offer more flexibility, it also means there are more ways you can go wrong. Your best bet will always be to custom fit your wood if you have the option. You may need to pay a higher price for the fitment, but it will be worth it.
Last Words on Our Golf Fairway Buying Guide
Purchasing a fairway wood can quickly become a nightmare if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s why read our take on how to choose the right wood. We’ve compiled all the necessary information you’re going to need to make your purchase decision a walk in the park.