The Best Fairway Woods to Transform Your Game
Fairway woods may not be the flashiest clubs in your golf bag, but they are one of the most underrated tools a golfer can have in their arsenal. A wood stands out from ordinary golf clubs due to its longer shaft and over-size head. There are a series of woods available, designated by number and type, beginning with the driver, or -1 wood, which has the lowest loft and rising from there.
Fairway woods are higher on the wood scale and are specially crafted to deliver powerful long-range shots; if you’re taking a shot from the turf or the second shot of a par-5, a fairway wood can give you the strength and control you need to transform your game.
With the best fairway woods, the goal is to make the ball easier to hit by using the center of the club, the sweet spot that will allow the ball to get off the turf and clear any obstacles in its path.
Although the head on a fairway is smaller in size than a driver, a fairway wood has a higher loft and packs a serious punch; in addition to employing them to get out of tricky situations, some golfers will use a fairway wood right from the tee box to cover a wide distance in one swoop. A 3-wood can often cover over 200 yards, making a fairway wood an essential component in your golf bag.
What to Look For in a Fairway Wood
Choosing one of the best fairway woods is largely dependent on your golfing style, and how you plan to employ it during the game. If you hit hard and fast, you want a fairway wood that controls the spin of your ball to ensure it reaches its maximum distance; on the other hand, if you have a more deliberate and less forceful swing, a fairway wood that adds some spin will likely get you better results.
Below we’ve outlined a few factors to keep in mind when selecting the best fairway woods for your game.
The most impactful aspect of a fairway wood is its increased loft over a driver. That higher loft makes the golf ball easier to connect with and results in a higher trajectory for your shot. The 3 wood is the most common fairway woods you’ll spot while out on the course and has a loft of between 15-18 degrees. If you want to go higher, a 5 wood delivers anywhere between 20-22 degrees. Higher lofted fairway woods models are often easier to use for average players, so you may want to look for a 4 wood or higher if you want something more forgiving.
The general consensus regarding fairway woods shafts is that they should be a bit heavier than the shaft on your driver (70+ or 80+ should get you some serious force and distance from your shots). A softer shaft may be able to get the ball the greatest distance, but a standard shaft is guaranteed to give you increased speed, higher launch, better ball flight, and more force for your shots.
The head design of your fairway wood is a vital piece of the puzzle since it’s the piece that directly connects with your ball. Fairway woods have smaller heads than drivers and a lower center of gravity, which makes it easier for them to help you hit the ball with some serious power. The heads for most fairway woods are made from steel, with some models are now made from titanium. Titanium is lighter than steel, which allows you to pack some extra power into your swing as opposed to the heavier steel head design.
Some fairway woods heads also come complete with adjustable weights to add some extra heft and stability to your shots when you need it, which can be helpful for beginners unsure of which weight works the best for playing style.
In addition to adjustable weights, if you want your fairway woods to perform at its peak in a number of different scenarios, look for something with adjustable hosels. Adjustable hosels allow you to manually tweak the angle of the shaft, which in turn changes the angle and spin of your ball. This offers more flexibility in the distance and spin of your shots, and can also be rewarding for beginner players trying to determine the type and style of shots that work best for them.
Below are our recommendations for some of the best fairway woods on the market today.
The Best Fairway Woods in 2022
Best fairway wood for beginners: Tour Edge Exotics C721 Fairway Wood Golf Club
Fairway woods are more forgiving than most clubs, meaning you don’t have to be a PGA pro to get solid use out of one. The Exotics C721 Fairway Wood Tour Edge features “Ridgeback Technology,” a steel-lined interior in the head that adds some serious power to your swing, even if you’re new to using a fairway wood. This design also includes Diamond Face 2.0 Technology, a series of 61 diamond shapes of various sizes on the face that create a “trampoline effect,” boosting ball speed considerably. You’ll also get adjustable weights in the back of the sole which allows you to customize the force and pull of the wood to ensure it pairs best with your swinging style.
Best fairway wood for mid handicappers: Titleist TSi2 Fairway Wood Golf Club
The TSi2 Fairway Wood is a great option for mid handicappers who want the distance boost a fairway wood provides without sending their ball careening out of control. With high launch and moderate spin, this is a forgiving wood that delivers a powerful punch while still retaining a sense of control. Low-placed CG (center of gravity) and an aerodynamic construction help ensure an easier and stronger swing, and the eye-catching head design includes adjustable weights, allowing you to try out a number of combinations to help you land on the best set-up for your style and needs.
Best fairway wood for high handicappers: TaylorMade M4 Fairway Wood
For high handicappers, the M4 fairway wood from TaylorMade is a great option. This wood is both extremely forgiving while offering up the company’s Speed Pocket technology for increased ball speed. The M4 fairway is designed with split weights running throughout which help to focus your swing on the center part of the ball while ensuring a steady weight throughout for extra power and precision.
The thin Ni-Co 300 steel face allows for fast and powerful striking action, while the 5-layer carbon crown is lighter than the common steel models, allowing for both higher launch and reduced ball spin. To top it all off, TaylorMade’s geocoustic construction ensures a responsive feel that keeps the wood light and ergonomic without skimping on the power you need, making the M4 one of the best fairway woods for high handicappers on the market.
Best fairway wood for distance: Srixon ZX Fairway Wood Golf Club
When you need to clear a large distance in one fell swoop, you’ll want to have the Srixon ZX fairway wood club by your side. The carbon head ensures a lower mass and increases MOI (moment of inertia), which reduces the chance of a mishit. This model features a forward-leaning weight pad and a flexible sole, to help focus power from your swing where you need it most. Designed to literally go the distance, this fairway wood features a “Rebound Frame” to focus your swing’s energy into the golf ball, resulting in a longer shot with faster speed, all without adding to ball spin.
Most forgiving fairway wood: Callaway Epic Max
Golfers at all levels can always use a forgiving fairway woods in their pocket; not every shot turns out the way we hope, so a forgiving club (often known as “game improvement clubs”) will compensate for elements like your swing force and the angle you hit the ball. Callaway’s Epic Max is a great choice for a forgiving fairway woods. The large head on the Epic Max makes it easy to launch from the fairway, while the company’s Jailbreak A.I. Velocity Blades are designed to deliver high ball speed and distance. If you want to customize your game, this model includes adjustable weights that allow you to tweak your launch and spin, ensuring that you’ll be prepared for anything the course throws at you.
Best bargain: Pinemeadow PGX Offset Fairway Woods
If you’re a casual golfer or on the fence about whether to add a fairway woods to your bag, the affordable PGX Offset Fairway Woods is a great option. Running under $100, this fairway wood still offers a lot of bang for your buck; the offset head is designed to help you hit the ball squarely for a deeper and longer trajectory, and this wood is still as forgiving as the higher-end models we’ve detailed above. With added anti-slice technology, this bargain fairway woods will help improve your shots and your overall game without carving out too much of a dent in your credit card.
The best fairway woods are ones that are forgiving, while delivering the power and stability you need to clear great distances with one swing. In terms of distance, the Srixon ZX is the best bet, while the Callaway Epic Max is the most forgiving fairway woods on the market. Mid handicappers will get the best results from the Titleist TSi2m while high handicappers should look out for the TaylorMade M4.
A fairway wood is designed to connect with the ball forcefully, sending it a great distance without any undue spinning. To hit a fairway wood, square your shoulders, place the ball forward, and swing smoothly. Many players have a tendency when using a fairway wood to swing too hard and fast, which can send the ball into a tailspin. Let the fairway wood do the hard work for you and you should start clearing huge distances in no time.
You’ll want to pull out your fairway wood when you need to cover a long distance from a section of rough terrain. Shots from off the turf are perfect for your fairway woods, and some golfers even employ a fairway wood when shooting from the tee box, in order to cover a substantial distance right off the bat.
The 3 wood is the most common fairway woods you’ll spot while out on the course, and has a loft of between 15-18 degrees. If you want to go higher, a 5 wood delivers anywhere between 20-22 degrees. Higher lofted fairway woods models are often easier to use for most players, so you may want to look for a 4 wood or higher if you need something a bit more forgiving.
Fairway woods shafts should be a bit heavier than the shaft on your driver (70+ or 80+ should get you some serious force and distance from your shots). A softer shaft may be able to get the ball the greatest distance, but a standard shaft is guaranteed to give you increased speed, higher launch, better ball flight, and more force for your shots.