Beginners guide to Fairway Woods


When I started to play golf, I shuddered every time anyone mentioned fairway woods. I had the idea they were difficult clubs to play. Not onIy that, I didn’t even know if they were clubs I needed yet. I waited to buy and looking back, I wasted time and delayed my progress towards being a decent golfer. When I eventually I got my first fairway woods, I never looked back. I don’t want you to make this mistake, so I wrote this Beginners Guide to Fairway Woods just for you.

What are the advantages of fairway woods?

I want to start with the advantages of these clubs. They can be a bit of a challenge to use, so it is a good thing for you to know what their strengths are. That way, you will have the patience to persevere when you first use them. So here is my list of what is right about the fairway wood.

  • It is a very flexible club.
  • You can use it off the tee instead of a driver.
  • Useful to get out of the short rough.
  • You can get a lot of distance on the ball even before you become an expert player.
  • Forgiveness if you mis-hit the ball.

What does fairway wood do?

The clue is in the name. The fairway wood is perfect to hit the ball when it is on the fairway but still far from the hole. A good example would be the second shot on a par five hole. They have a high loft to lift the ball off the fairway turf.

The clubface is shallow to allow a lot of distance on the shots. They have a shorter shaft than a driver, which makes them more responsive and easier to handle.

Fairway woods sit in the middle of your bag of clubs and can do a lot of work. In fact, they are a useful driver replacement, and are also handy for your short game too.

Fairway woods or hybrids?

Hybrid clubs are a relatively new addition to golf sets and have proved to be very popular. Hybrids have a shorter shaft and a lower center of gravity than woods. Therefore, they are more forgiving, more responsive, and seem more comfortable to use. These characteristics make them ideal for a beginner. Some beginner golfers are told to go for hybrids rather than fairway woods, and this is understandable. Fairway woods can be harder to manipulate than hybrids. I am often asked by new golfers: “Why not just stick to hybrids? I can see the argument, but I would advise against this. As you get used to the whole golf set, you will find that fairway woods do have some distinct advantages over other clubs.

Here is my advice: as a beginner, it is best if you get used to using both hybrids and fairway woods in appropriate circumstances for the different clubs. You will find your fairway woods come into their own for distance, as they have a longer shaft and a more massive head. They are also well suited to getting out of short rough.

Does a fairway wood replace a driver?

Many beginners prefer to use woods rather than drivers. Drivers are demanding clubs which need a lot of skill. It can be tough to get to use a driver well. Many rookie golfers like to build up their skills first and get a driver later. And it can develop your confidence and your skills to use wood rather than a driver when you are still learning your necessary skills. If you are going to use a fairway wood to replace a driver, then you should think about a wood between fifteen and eighteen degrees of loft.

Look for a three wood. You will find there are hundreds on the market and the choice can be confusing. But if you are looking for a fairway wood to use in place of a driver go for these characteristics. Choose a club with a bigger club head and a deeper face. A club like this will give you maximum control at the point of hitting the ball. You can build up your skills to a reasonable level by using wood in this way. I know many golfers who have used a wood up to the point they have a respectable handicap. It can work very well.

You can use your fairway wood until you are ready to get your handicap down and feel confident around the golf course. You will also have a thorough idea of your game by then and will know your strengths and weaknesses and what you need to take your game to the next level. It is the perfect time to upgrade to a driver.

What loft should I get on my fairway wood?

Loft helps you get the ball in the air. Getting the ball in the sky is the one thing you have to do when you are a rookie golfer. If you don’t do this, you will never get distance on the ball, and you will never get that ball into the hole. So, this is essential.

When you start you should get a higher-lofted wood. That will help you get the ball into the air. Practice your swing with the wood until you get some accuracy and some distance. Quite soon, you will find yourself hitting a hundred and sixty yards. I remember that feeling, it can feel like a miracle. There is nothing like it. To get this great feeling, to make your first great golfing achievement, I would advise that you start with woods with a loft of more than seventeen degrees. That will get your ball flying.

Getting air

It’s worth explaining a bit why getting your ball in the air is so important. When you are starting, your swing speed will not yet be fast enough to gain distance near to the ground, as you would with a lower lofted club. You will not yet have built up the strength and the precision to make a perfect golf swing.

As you get better and that golf swing develops, you will be able to transfer the energy from your muscles to the club and then to the ball in a completely controlled way. Once you can do that, you can hit the ball lower, and it will go further, but to do this takes practice and skill. At the moment, as a beginner, height is your friend.

What number of wood should I start in the beginning?

The usual answer to this question is a seven wood or five wood. Try both and see which is most comfortable for you. When you get more practice, you can to try a three wood.

The three wood is the classic fairway wood. It is the one that can get the ball moving from the turf on the fairway. And it is the one which can best replace a driver. But it is a slightly more difficult club so you may want to build up your confidence with a five wood. Seven woods are especially popular with women golfers as they suit players who do not have quite as much strength.

Don’t forget your golf swing

You are going to be using your woods to get that ball flying down the fairway. To do this, you need to develop a good golf swing. Smooth and fast and hitting down on the ball. You might want to get some coaching to develop that swing. It will improve your game, and you will be able to use that fairway wood to the best advantage. You will also protect yourself from injury. Bad swing technique can damage your back, your elbows, and your knees. Proper swing technique can improve your flexibility and your strength.

Trust your fairway wood

One of the mistake beginners makes to fight against the club rather than working with it. Fairway woods are designed to make your game more natural and more enjoyable. The loft will get the ball into the air for you as long as you swing smoothly and hit down. 

What is forgiveness in a fairway wood?

Modern clubs are designed to compensate if you mis-hit the ball. Fairway woods are especially good at this. A good beginners fairway wood will have the weight low and far back to help the ball go high. They are designed to reduce spin on the ball. When you are a beginner, the danger is that too much spin makes the ball go out of control and in altogether the wrong direction.

The club head will also have a large sweet spot, which means that the club compensates when the ball hits the club face if you mis-hit the ball

Beginners guide to Fairway Woods conclusion

If you take one thing from this little tutorial, I hope it is ‘do not be afraid of the fairway wood.’ It can seem like a difficult club to use but persevere. It will pay off in a few months if you practice regularly.

Enjoy your golfing.