A 3-wood can be a golfer’s best friend from the tee, like on a narrow par 4. It can also be a weapon on the fairway, giving you more distance than a hybrid or iron and setting up a short approach to a par 5.
Here are a few do’s and don’ts to follow when hitting a 3-wood off the turf.
The Basics of Fairway Wood Play
For the most part, hitting a fairway wood is not significantly different from hitting a driver. Fairway woods are designed similarly to drivers, only with smaller club heads. Therefore the flatter swing that you use with your driver as compared to your irons will apply nicely to your fairway woods as well. However, despite these similarities, there are a couple of changes to your technique that you will want to be aware of.
To start, your ball position needs to be adjusted back in your stance by a couple of inches. The distance that you move the ball back in your stance depends on the specific fairway wood that you are hitting. For example, you would only need to move the ball back an inch or two when hitting a golf 3 wood, but the proper ball position for a golf 11 wood should be close to the middle of your stance. For any club between a 3 wood and a golf 11 wood, you will want to find the right position that allows you to stay balanced and make solid contact at impact. Locating a comfortable ball position for you with all of your fairway woods is a job that will take a little time, but it is certainly worth the effort to get it right.
One of the main elements of a good driver swing is an upward angle of attack at impact – or at least one that is parallel to the ground. This is because you have the advantage of teeing the ball high in the air and using the size of the club head to your advantage. When hitting a fairway wood, even off the tee, you don’t want to hit up on the ball like you might with the driver. Instead, your goal should be to ‘sweep’ the ball off the ground or the tee with your angle of attack being as parallel to the ground as possible. Making impact while the club is moving parallel to the ground will help you to use the loft of the fairway woods to get the ball high up into the air and maximize the distance you are able to achieve.
As far as ball flight is concerned, you should make it your aim to imitate the ball flight of your driver with your fairway woods. So, if you hit a nice little draw with your driver off the tee, try to replicate that draw with your fairway woods whenever possible. You want to be making as few adjustments as possible between your driver swing and your fairway woods, so copying the ball flight only makes sense. With that said, it is helpful to be able to hit the opposite ball flight when you need to just to get out of trouble. So if you are a player who likes to hit a draw, spend a little time working on a fade just in case.
Remember that your fairway woods should be more focused on accuracy and control than sheer distance. When you want to hit a long drive off the tee, you are going to reach for your driver to maximize yardage. When you reach for a fairway wood, it is because you want to make sure you put the ball in the fairway. The swings you make with your fairway woods should have that goal in mind – forget about trying to hit these clubs as far as possible and focus your attention on balance, tempo, and accuracy.