When selecting what fairway woods to have in the bag a senior golfer has a multitude of options.
The choice of loft, shaft flex, grip and design all come into play. As seniors advance in years and the amount of club head speed created through the ball diminishes, they need more help in achieving distance with the fairway woods. Many seniors are reluctant to trade in their 3 wood because of the theory a lower loft equals more distance. This sounds logical but unfortunately for most golfers it simply isn’t true.
Many seniors don’t realise they could have 10 to12 yards more distance by giving up a standard 15 degree 3 wood and using a 16 or 17 degree 4 wood. This is because a 3 wood hit with a lower swing speed will not have the sufficient launch angle to carry any meaningful distance. To achieve a higher launch angle, more loft will be needed.
Also many 3 woods brought out by manufacturers could have even less loft than 15 degrees. This coupled with a large club head design make the modern 3 wood difficult to lift into the air for the senior golfer, especially off the fairway. The senior golfer shouldn’t worry about losing distance or even credibility with their playing partners as some of the longest tour players have a 4 wood in their bag, Bubba Watson, for example.
If the senior golfer wants to clinch the matter one way or the other there are a number of ways to test out the fairway woods and see which one would be best. Either on a course or at a golf store with a driving range, the senior golfer should find a fairway wood which they feel comfortable with in the way of looks.
The senior golfer should start hitting balls using face tape which will give an indication of where on the club face the ball is being struck. Hitting 10 balls with each club and taking note of where the balls are flying and where out of the club face the ball is launching, the senior golfer should be able to get a sense of which loft, either 3 wood or 4 wood, is flying the highest, furthest and straightest. Hit another 10 balls off a low tee-peg and measure the difference again. The senior golfer should keep in mind what they are looking for. Are they looking for a fairway wood to be mostly hit from the tee-box or predominantly the fairway?
An even better way of measuring the difference is finding a local professional or golf shop with launch monitor technology which uses radar to track a balls progress through the air giving feedback on distance, flight, ball speed, spin and dispersion.
For many senior golfers the outcome may be a surprise with the 4 wood coming out on top.