Crushing your 3 wood off the deck cleanly down the fairway is a great feeling. Whether it be to rescue a poor drive or better yet, to follow up a drive and be sitting well on a par 5.
On the flip side of that coin, is duffing or shanking your 3 wood, only to have it dribble off 50 yards or cruise out of bounds. When you mis-hit a 3 wood, rarely do you have a chance at par, and this can ruin confidence. It also makes you susceptible to over hitting your next few shots in hopes of making up ground.
The easiest 3 wood for beginners is the Callaway Men’s Steelhead XR Fairway Wood. The higher loft availability (check out the 16-degree loft option) is conducive to a beginner’s swing speed, providing more distance and carry without the benefit of using a tee.
In this post, I’m going to discuss why you need a 3 wood, what features to look for, and when to break out your 3 wood.
For years I struggled with my 3 wood, and sometimes I still do, but the 3 wood can be a great club to have. It’s perfect for short par 4’s that have a narrow fairway and it can also be used off the tee when your driver isn’t spot on.
And if you’re like me when your drive is off in the rough, the 3 wood glides through that rough better than an iron, which can get caught up in long grass (this will vary depending on how buried it is). If you’re really in deep, punching out with an 8 or 9 iron might be your best bet. You sacrifice some yardage, but setting up your next shot might be in your best interest.
Additionally, some golfers like to hit and run with their 3 wood when overhead clearance is an issue. If there’s no risk of water or sand, it’s pretty common.
Why You Should Carry a 3 Wood
There’s no doubt that those who can hit their 3 woods have a great advantage in golf. Here are a few reasons why you should consider keeping a 3 wood in your bag.
3 Wood Distance
The carry with your 3 wood is comparable to your driver. With technology today, the 3 wood can be used off the tee and off the deck, and the distance off the tee is great when struck well. Some days the driver just doesn’t work well, and if it’s tight, a 3 wood can be a suitable replacement for the driver.
Would you rather hit your driver 300 yards but off in the rough, or a 3 wood 250, but down the middle. Most golfers will always choose accuracy over distance. When hit well, the 3 wood can put you in the right spot for a follow-up shot that you’re comfortable with. Maybe you stick your 100-yard chips or your 7-iron consistently. The 3 wood can place you in those spots, setting you up nicely.
Customization of 3 Wood
Again, technology has really advanced clubs, but the 3 wood seems to be moving forward by leaps and bounds. The advanced 3 wood of yesterday is now common, and new features have been included.
Things like moveable weights, loft changes, and launch angle make the 3 wood highly customizable to the user. Having a club designed just for your swing can be the difference between par and bogey.
3 Wood Price
It’s no secret that with some of the high-end drivers that can help you crush the ball down the fairway (at least hopefully), can leave a dent in the pocketbook. The 3 wood is a more reasonably priced club, which is always appealing. Affordability makes the 3 wood appealing to the price-conscious shopper. You’ll notice a lot of my recommendations tend to lean for the more affordable model. If the price isn’t a big concern, you might choose differently.
Best Features of 3 Wood to Consider
The most forgiving 3 woods will have a large clubhead, a bigger sweet spot, and an aerodynamic head. The larger clubhead and bigger sweet spot will help those off-center hits.
The aerodynamic head can help increase swing speed (How to Swing A Golf Club Faster), which could lead to greater ball speed and distance. The shaft will be important too, depending on your swing speed, as well as any customization that could help with your specific swing (best golf swing trainer for beginners).
When picking out a new 3 wood, take these features into consideration, as the number of options available on the market is only increasing. This is good for the end-user because you can basically have a customized 3 wood, off the shelf.
Most Forgiving 3 Woods Available
1) Cobra Men’s 2018 F-Max Fairway Wood – when the price is a driving factor in your decision making, this Cobra F-Max should rank high. Very affordable in the low to mid-range of pricing. It’s available in a few different shafts, and lofts to match your specific swing speed. The off-set design helps with mis-hits and the weight placed in the bottom back provides longer straighter drives for beginners. If you’re into looks I think this one is one of the sleeker-looking 3 woods available.
2) TaylorMade M4 Fairway Wood – TaylorMade has a variety of fairway woods, but I like the M4 over the RBZ for the extra loft. The M4 is 16.5 of loft compared to the lower 15 of the RBZ. It could be a personal preference, but the extra bit of carry seems to work for me. If you tend to have issues getting the ball up in the air, the 16.5 loft should help out. Aesthetically, I don’t find it to be the best looking 3 wood, but looks rank pretty low on my scale. I would rather have the best performing club than the prettiest. The combination of distance, forgiveness, and easy playability makes it ideal for all ability levels.
3) Callaway Epic Flash Fairway Wood – I had a difficult time figuring out which Callaway I would place in this category. The Epic Flash won me over with its 18-degree loft and much better price point compared to the Callaway Max line. Available in different shafts, and lofts offer a lot of customization. The Flash Face technology is designed to get more speed and distance from your 3 wood.
4) Cobra Golf 2019 F9 Men’s Speedback Fairway – this Cobra fairway wood has 8 different loft settings. In a sense, it’s kind of like having multiple fairway woods wrapped up in one wood. Meaning you can adjust the loft based on where your ball is at. No matter if you’re in deep rough, need to stay under tree limbs, or just in a second cut, you can adjust the loft accordingly, given you the shot you want. Current users are calling it a “secret weapon,” and very forgiving. Check it out.
Callaway (Editor’s Choice)
5) Callaway Men’s Steelhead XR Fairway Wood – the final option on this list is another Callaway. The Steelhead XR is one of the most popular fairway woods for several years. Callaway has improved that iconic shape, made the head more forgiving and easy to launch, and refined the sole to make it even more versatile and playable than the original Steelhead fairway. This fairway wood is great off the deck and the tee, making it a beginner’s choice.
Easiest 3 Wood to Hit Off The Deck
Some 3 woods are great for off the tee, and some are great for the fairway. The 3 wood with a large impact area lower on the face of the club makes it great for fairways. It’s also better to have a lower center of gravity to help launch the ball and get some loft.
A 3 wood with a wide sole and large impact area on the bottom of the club will prevent the club from digging in, if you’re coming in too low and the larger face will increase the sweet spot. A little forgiveness always plays well into the hands of a beginner, and that’s why I would recommend the Callaway Rogue 3 Wood.
If you’re comfortable with your driver, and are looking for more of a 3 wood for the fairway. This Callaway is arguably the easiest 3 wood to hit off the deck.
Conclusion of Best 3 Woods
The lower loft 3 woods of yesterday were flat out hard to hit well consistently. As clubs advance, the modifications have made the 3 wood a much easier club to hit well. Whether you intend on using it off the tee or off the turf, the aforementioned 3 woods can get the job done.
Which 3 wood is best for a high handicap?
The best fairway wood for a high handicap will be one that is forgiving, has a flex shaft, and a higher degree of loft. This should help your ball travel further and straighter.
Should I carry a 3 wood?
You’re allowed 14 clubs in your bag. Golfers who can hit the 3 wood would tell you it’s a must. For others, the 3 wood has been replaced by a hybrid, because that’s what works for them.
How much is a fairway wood?
Some of the more affordable 3 woods can be picked up for close to $150. They are limited in their customization and are usually used by beginners until they’ve mastered the 3 wood. The higher-end models can reach a few hundred dollars.
Should I use my 3 wood off the tee?
Absolutely. The distance in carry between the driver and 3 wood seems to be getting closer and closer as the clubs get more sophisticated. If you’re having a bad driver day, switch up to the 3 wood and see how you do. The 3 wood off the tee is quite common.