A useful club both off the tee and from the short grass, the fairway wood is a versatile tool for golfers of all skill levels. The most standard fairway wood head sizes and lofts are the #3 and #5 models, but many manufacturers make 4-woods, 7-woods, 9-woods, even 11-woods. Some golfers struggle hitting fairway woods off the deck without a tee and prefer to only add one or two to their golf bag, while others are drawn to the confidence inspiring larger head shape of the woods and opt for three or four different lofts. Modern advances in technology have made fairway woods more versatile and higher performing than ever before. Many fairway woods come with adjustability features not unlike those that were previously only available in drivers, and advancements in material construction and head shape have lead to hotter faces and greater distance for many. How you chose to utilize fairway woods in your bag is ultimately up to personal preference, but read on to better understand a handful of fairway wood specific features.
It used to be that only drivers came equipped with technology allowing for customization and adjustability, but fairway woods have followed suit. Many models come equipped with technology that will allow golfers the ability to open or close the clubface, adjust weighting for a desired ball flight, even make changes to the loft of the club. Club face and weighting adjustment are typically used to compensate for a natural hook/draw or slice/fade, or to give consistent swingers a desired flight path. Opening the clubface, or moving weight to the toe of the club will promote a left-to-right ball flight for right handed golfers. Closing the clubface, or moving weight to the heel of the club, closer to the shaft, will promote a right-to-left path. These adjustments are also helpful when trying to correct off-center shots and get them going straight. Adjustments can also be made in weighting towards the rear of the club head, changing the center of gravity and producing a lower or higher ball flight.
Some fairway woods also boast adjustable loft settings, a very new development in club technology. This gives golfers the option of changing the loft of their fairway wood, either to produce a desired trajectory or to add more versatility to their bag. If conditions are extremely dry or windy, golfers may opt to lower the loft of their fairway wood, in order to produce a lower ball flight and/or get more roll from shots off the tee. Golfers struggling with their driver may also do the same in order to make their fairway wood their primary club off the tee. Adjustments in loft can also be utilized if you play a particular course often and can anticipate specific holes or hazards that require dialed in distances or carry. Need to lay up to a perfect location to stick the green on your favorite hole? Have a specific hazard you can’t seem to carry? Adjusting the loft of your fairway wood will allow you to prepare for these challenges.
In regards to fairway woods, head size and loft go hand-in-hand. As fairway woods lessen in head size, the loft of the club will go up. A 3-wood will be larger and have a lower loft than a 7-wood with a smaller head size and higher loft. This allows fairway woods to produce consistent distances with reasonable gaps, giving golfers a wider range of options for any given scenario on the course. Most golfers carry a 3 and 5-wood in their bag, but there are also other head size and loft options available. It’s not uncommon for a given model to be available in a variety of sizes and lofts, such as 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, and sometimes even 11-wood.
Fairway woods come in two common material constrictions: steel and titanium, with steel being the most popular. Titanium, being the lighter of the two materials, allows clubmakers the ability to create a larger head shape without affecting the overall weight of the club. A larger head will provide a larger clubface and allow for greater manipulation of surrounding weight, increasing forgiveness for may golfers. Some golfer also experience a hotter, better feeling club at impact, although feel is a generally subjective property. Titanium is also a more expensive material, making titanium fairway woods higher priced than their steel counterparts. Steel, the less expensive and more popular of the two options, shows up in fairway woods with typically smaller, more compact head shapes, something that is pleasing to the eye of most golfers as they set up over the ball. Smaller head shapes also result in more versatility, with steel fairway woods generally performing better from tight lies, and even rough.