When an average golfer is taught how to hit a 3-wood from the fairway by Butch Harmon, you take note. Instead he recommends they opt for a 5-wood with more loft which makes it easier to get airborne.
In this post, we’ll examine the difference between fairway woods and irons. One of the main differences is that because they come in varying degrees of loft, head sizes, and weight (depending on who you are), it’s best to become a more consistent striker with these woods in your hands.
What Does It Take To Crush A Fairway Wood?
Before you can crush an approach shot, you need to set up your club appropriately. Most average golfers don’t have a setup that is different for tee shots and fairway shots. The common mistake amateurs make is that their setup doesn’t change based on the kind of shot they are hitting and often leads to fat or topped shots.
When you are teeing off, your goal should be to get the ball in the air. Hitting it on the up will make this easier and will ensure that a fairway wood is airborne.
Hitting a ball on the fairway is much different than hitting one off the tee. The first difference you’ll notice, as Rick Shiels points out in this video, is that your club head will hit the ground before it meets the ball when you hit an upswing shot.
There are some important factors to consider when placing the ball off the tee and fairway. Consistent practice is a key factor in getting good at hitting solid shots with maximum results.
Types of Fairway Woods
A fairway wood is a type of golf club with three different types: 3-wood, 4-wood, and 5-wood. The degree of loft starts out at 14 degrees for the 3-wood and progresses all the way to 23 degrees for the 7-wood.
The typical fairway woods in most golfers’ bags are a 3-wood and a 5-wood. Most people these days will also play with either a hybrid or an iron, but some prefer to use 7-woods or 4-woods instead. While 2-woods used to be quite popular for greater accuracy, they are now hard to find.
I’ve provided a chart with the loft standard for each type of wood and iron below. Keep in mind that these are based on an average golfer, so players’ clubs may have stronger lofts than what’s listed here.
|Club||Degree of Loft||Iron Comparison|
|2-wood||12||Similar to a driver with a weakened loft.|
|4-wood||17||1-iron with weakened loft|
How to Hit a Fairway Wood Consistently Well?
To hit a fairway consistently well, you need to know where to place the ball in your stance in different conditions. If you want to be able to maneuver much more easily on the course when it comes time for a par 3 or iron shot, don’t always hit off of the tee with that type of wood – choose other clubs instead.
Let’s examine how you can improve your performance with fairway woods off the tee and in the fairway.
Off The Tee
Fairway woods offer an easy alternative to driving off the tee. These woods have a weaker loft, which is great for getting up in the air and achieving consistent carry. But if you are not set-up correctly, this will be counterproductive.
Step 1 – Tee The Ball Up
I’ve seen many amateurs go wrong at this point, which is setting yourself up for failure. Many will tee the ball up for a fairway wood to the same height they would use with a driver. Agreeably you should follow Annika Sorenstam’s tips and make sure “half of the ball” is above the
The heads of your fairway woods are thinner and more compact than those of your driver, meaning you need to tee the ball down.
Step 2 – Place The Ball Forward In Your Stance
Before you take your backswing, make sure the ball is in line with your front heel. The best thing for most players to do is put their feet squarely on the ground and position their body weight evenly from side to side.
Step 3 – Shift Weight Onto Your Trailing Shoulder
When shooting a tee shot with a fairway wood, it is important to position your weight on the trailing shoulder. This will help you hit up towards the ball when you swing up.
Step 4 – Catch The Ball On The Centre Line
Now that you have set up for your fairway wood tee shot, all that is left is to swing in the direction of the ball and slightly upward, so as to make contact with the ball. The desired result would be striking the ball on its center line with just enough force such that it bounces off vigorously yet not too high.
Off The Deck
Your 3-wood is the club with the longest shaft in your bag that you will use off the fairway. Unless there are roughs and trees, where you need a driver because of its loft or to get power over an obstacle. The length of the shaft is what makes it such a difficult club to play off dry grass.
To optimize your performance with your fairway wood off the green, you need to set it up differently.
Step 1 – Place the Ball Towards The Middle of Your Stance
Replace the first sentence with: The ball should be placed towards the middle of your stance, rather than as close to you as possible. This is because the ball will not go up in the air on contact but instead it needs to be struck like an iron.
Step 2 – Keep Your Shoulders Square
The ball should be positioned towards the middle of your position on the ground. This will allow you to swing from shoulder down and through, as opposed to hitting a tee shot which causes your arm to move back behind you.
Step 3 – Hit Down on the Ball
To hit a clean fairway wood strike, you need to make contact with the ball first. That should leave you with a small divot in front of where the ball lay. You may find that this technique will result in no divot at all. To achieve this you should aim to be hitting down on the ball on your downswing.
Step 4 – Shift Your Body Weight To Your Leading Leg
When hitting a fairway wood on the ground, you need to move with your swing so that the majority of your weight is put onto your front leg on the downswing. This tactic will result in less contact than an upswing, as opposed to a tee-shot where one’s weight should be placed onto their back leg.
Step 5 – Make Contact With The Ball First
Following these steps will help you strike more pure fairway wood shots. And with one last step to remember, this will be much easier. Make contact with the ball first and then the ground, as drivers don’t typically have a tee on the fairway like other clubs do.
If you hit behind the ball it will either go fat (farther back from the direction of your swing) or when you make contact with the top of the clubhead it could ricochet over and miss to the low side.
Understanding how to hit a fairway wood can change the way you play golf. Hitting one off of the tee can give you better opportunity for birdie on Par 5s and is more forgiving than hitting a driver. Placing the ball forward in your stance and following through will allow you to hit up when using this club. Alternatively, leaving the ball in the middle of your stance and not following through will allow you to hit down on it.