Being able to hit a 3 wood well off the fairway is a really valuable skill to possess as a lady golfer.
Hitting a 3 wood well produces shots of much greater distance and the longer that you can hit your golf shots, the easier you are making the holes that you are playing because you will be able to reach the green in fewer shots and shoot lower scores.
To play a 3 wood effectively from the fairway initially needs you to aim the club face correctly at your target. Stand back behind the golf ball and look directly from the golf ball to the target. Pick a small, specific target to hit towards, such as a particular branch on a tree. Doing this will help you to become more accurate and focused on the target. Draw a line in your mind back from this specific target to the golf ball and select a mark on this line about one to two inches in front of the golf ball. This could be a divot or a twig. Aim the club face so that the ball will be struck from the face and over the mark that you selected. The club face needs to be at a right angle to the mark on the floor to do this correctly.
Now you have the club face aimed correctly, you need to set your stance up correctly. Place your feet together so that they are aiming at the golf ball and are parallel to the correctly aimed club face. Split your feet so that you move your left foot to place the ball one inch inside your left heel and then place your right foot so that your feet are shoulder width apart (for a right handed golfer). You need to set your stance shoulder width apart so that the base that you are creating with your feet is wide enough to allow you to balance with the speed you are going to swing the club head at.
Setting the golf ball one inch inside your left heel has also placed the golf ball in the correct position for you to play an effective shot from. This position will allow you to strike the ball cleanly off the turf with the club face aiming at the target so you will achieve a high and straight golf shot. A 3 wood only has 13-15 degrees of loft available to launch the golf ball into the air with so it is crucial to place the ball in a position that will allow the club head to strike it from the bottom of its swing arc with optimum loft.
Create a straight line down your back and tilt forward from your hips to create a good posture to make your swing from. Slightly flex your knees and keep your weight even between your left and right foot.
You want to make a swing that creates a sweeping action through impact, where the club head can clip the golf ball off the turf cleanly. Your swing should have a U shape to it so that the club head can approach the golf ball at a gentle, shallow angle to allow the sweep across the turf. To achieve this, work on making a good upper body rotation, so that your shoulders rotate 90 degrees to the right of their start position.
As the club head travels away from the golf ball, at hip high with your hands, the shaft of the golf club should be parallel to the target line and pointing to the right and also the club head should be as high as your hands. At chest high with your hands, your left arm should be straight and creating an L shape with the club shaft. Your shoulders should have rotated about 45 degrees at this point and you should have maintained your head position and balance.
At the top of your golf swing, you should have rotated your shoulders 90 degrees to the right and have maintained a straight left arm, kept your head position and your balance. If your head sways over to the right of its start position during your backswing, the swing arc of the club head will also sway to the right and this will result in the lowest point that the club head achieves being too much to the right of the golf ball. This will result in you either striking the ground before the golf ball or you will strike only the top of it.
To initiate your downswing, rotate your lower body towards the target and then swing the golf club down to strike the golf ball. Keep turning your body towards the target and allow your right foot to rotate up from the floor and towards the target so that your shoelaces finish facing the target. The club should swing around your left shoulder and finish wrapped around the back of your neck. Ensure you maintain your balance throughout the movement.
This will get you hitting powerful and accurate shots with your 3 wood off the fairway and get you shooting your lowest ever golf scores.
How to Hit a 3 Wood Off the Fairway
The three wood just might be the most underutilized club in the golf bag of the average amateur player. There is a lot you can do with a three wood, from hitting controlled tee shots to playing bump and runs from around the green. A player who is adept at using his or her three wood in a variety of situations will quickly learn just how valuable this club can be. With that in mind, you should first make sure that you are comfortable putting your three wood to use in the application that it was originally intended for – shots from the fairway. Playing your three wood from a fairway lie is a shot that can come in handy over and over again, whether on a long par four or when going for the green in two on a par five.
As you already know, hitting the ball from the fairway is always going to be more difficult than hitting it from the tee, so your technique is going to have to be spot on if you want to strike quality three wood shots directly off the turf. When the ball is up on a tee, you have a little bit of margin for error since there is space between the ground and the ball itself. That is not the case from the fairway – if you are a little steep coming into contact, or if you shallow out the swing slightly before the ball, you are going to hit the shot fat. Likewise, if you hit slightly too high on the ball, it will simply roll along the ground and never get into the air at all. Hitting good three wood shots from the fairway is something that is certainly within reach for the average golfer, but it does require sound fundamentals and good execution.
It is important to remember that not all fairway lies are created equal. When your ball is sitting in a flat portion of the fairway that is relatively dry, you should be in good shape to hit a three wood. However, if the ball is sitting on a severe slope, or of the turf is particularly wet, you might be better off using less club and playing a safer shot. It can be difficult to make the long swing that is required by the three wood while staying on balance if you are playing from an uneven lie. Specifically, hitting a three wood from a dramatic downslope is a very challenging shot – one that most amateur should pass on in favor of a lay up. Reading the lie of your ball on the ground is important with every club in your bag, but it is especially crucial when you are thinking about hitting a long shot such as one that would be struck with a three wood.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play the game left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
So what is it about your golf swing that will allow you to strike a three wood cleanly from a fairway lie? There are a few basic points that need to be in place in order to have success with this shot. If you can hit on each of the points on the list below, you should be well on your way to a beautiful ball flight.
- Balance, balance, balance. When you are trying to hit the ball cleanly from the fairway – with any club – the number one key is always going to be balance. Your club is going to bottom out wherever your center of gravity happens to be, so you need to keep that point right over the ball. If you are moving all around from side to side during your swing, there will be almost no chance of clean contact at impact. Focus on keeping your weight in the middle of your stance while you rotate back and through the shot. With good balance in place, the rest of the swing should come together relatively easily.
- Sweep, not steep. As you come down into impact with your three wood, you want to be sweeping the ball off of the top of the turf. This is a different approach than you would take with most of your iron shots, where you are going to want to hit down aggressively through the ball. You shouldn't be taking a divot out of the fairway when you hit your three wood – or if you do, it should be a very small and shallow one. If you can get the club head to move flat across the top of the grass through the hitting area you will be well on your way to striking good shots.
- Forward ball position. To encourage the sweeping action that is detailed in the previous point, you should be playing the ball up near the front of your stance. As a good rule of thumb, you should move the ball back in your stance about two or three inches from its position when you are playing a driver. So, if you line up the ball with the inside of your left foot with the driver (as many players do), you will want to move the ball to the right a couple of inches for a three wood shot. If you were to allow the ball to move too far back toward the middle of your stance, it would be difficult to avoid the steep angle of attack that can lead to fat and miss-hit shots.
- Favor a fade. You don't have to play a fade when you are hitting the ball from the fairway with a three wood, but favoring a left to right shot sure can make things quite a bit easier. In order to hit a draw, you have to be attacking the ball from the inside – which requires you to take the club head dangerously close to the ground. Instead, consider coming in to impact slightly from the outside, which is likely to create a small fade once the ball leaves the club face. The fade should be relatively easy to control, and you should find that you are more consistent with your ball striking as well. Of course you can go with a draw if you prefer, but you should at least give the fade a chance on the driving range to see if it can work for you.
- Keep everything moving toward the target. The most common mistake that is made when trying to hit a three wood from the fairway is hitting the ball fat – and that usually occurs when the body stops turning toward the target in the downswing. To make sure that you can catch the ball cleanly time after time, focus on maintaining the speed of your rotation all the way through the shot. Turn hard to the left from the transition all the way through to the finish and you will be likely to strike the ball solidly at the bottom.
The five points on the list above will take you a long way toward your goal of hitting great shots from the fairway with your three wood (or, really, with any of your fairway woods). You don't need to dramatically change your swing in order to hit good shots from a fairway lie, but you do need to pay attention to the details that will give you the best chance for success. Work on this checklist during your next range visit and better ball striking should be soon to follow.
Selecting a Target
Picking a target is an important component of any golf shot. Many amateur golfers stand up over the ball without any real idea of what they are trying to do – they just aim down the hole and swing away. You can, and should, do much better than that. If you are willing to take a moment to think about the shot you are trying to hit, you will be surprised at just how much the outcomes can improve. Golf is a target game, so you should never swing the club without having a very specific target in mind.
When playing from the fairway with a three wood, your target is often going to be the green. However, just aiming at the green is too general, since many greens are rather large in size. Also, since you are playing from a long way away from the target when hitting a three wood, you have to also consider the possibility that you might miss your target by some distance. If so, where would you like to miss? Is one side of the hole going to be better than the other in terms of a miss? As you can see, there is a lot to think about. Use the tips below to help guide your game planning as you select a target for your three wood shots.
- Are there hazards near the green? The first thing you need to consider is whether or not there are hazards that you will have to contend with near the green. If you are facing something like a water hazard or even a deep bunker, you will have to be careful to pick a smart target. Aiming directly at the flag even though there is water nearby is usually a mistake, as even quality players will have trouble being extremely accurate with a three wood. Always give yourself some margin for error when there are hazards around – meaning you should be aiming safely to the wide side in case you don't strike the shot perfectly.
- Do you have to carry the full distance? You are unlikely to hit your three wood from the fairway way up into the air, so you might need to plan on some of your distance coming in the form of roll. That means you will need to check the layout of the course short of the green to ensure that you have room to roll the ball. If not, you might need to consider clubbing down and laying up to position your ball nicely for a wedge approach onto the green. There is no point in going for it with a three wood if you can't actually carry the ball far enough to hit a successful shot.
- How firm is the putting surface? Depending on weather and course conditions, you can find yourself playing on greens that run anywhere from extremely soft and wet to extremely hard and dry. This is a point that you need to consider when hitting a three wood. Your three wood shot is likely to come in on a relatively low trajectory, and it will have almost no backspin to speak of when it lands – meaning you probably aren't going to be able to stop the ball quickly without some help from the course. On a soft golf course, you can plan on the conditions bringing your ball to a quick halt. However, if the course is dry and fast, you will have to leave yourself plenty of room between where the ball lands and where you need it to stop. This is an especially important point if there happens to be trouble waiting over the back of the green. Remember, you can always club down from a three wood for safety, so don't ever feel obligated to go for the green if the situation just isn't right.
As you gain experience in picking targets for your three wood shots, you will get better and better about making smart choices. There is logical thinking to be done here, but you also need to listen to your 'gut' as well. Some shots will just look right to your eye, while others will scare you for some reason. Trust what you are feeling inside, as that feeling is going to say a lot about how confident you are while swinging the club. With a combination of gut feeling and logical thinking, you should be able to pick out a smart target just about every time.
Getting Off Track
While it would be great to get to play all of your shots from a fairway lie as you approach that green, that simply isn't the way it goes in golf. Instead, you are going to have to play some of your shots from tricky situations and bad lies after hitting a poor drive. The good news is this – your three wood can actually help you get out of trouble and back into position. Your three wood isn't always going to be the right choice to get out of a tight spot, but it can come in handy from time to time, assuming you know how to use it properly.
So, when you find your ball in the trees or in another bad spot, how do you know if the three wood is the right choice to get back in play? Ask yourself the following questions –
- Do you need to keep the ball low? If the shot that is going to get you safely out of trouble is a low one, then your three wood may be the right option. Hitting a soft 'punch' shot with your three wood will certainly result in a low flight, as you will normally get something of a line drive that runs out for quite a distance after it lands. Of course, if you need to hit the ball high in order to get out of trouble, the three wood should not even be under consideration.
- Do you have a clean lie? The three wood is not going to be a viable option when your ball is sitting down in some deep grass. You need the cutting ability of the leading edge on one of your irons to get down through the rough, so leave your three wood in the bag if the ball is sitting down deep. However, if you have a clean lie under the trees and you can get the club to the back of the ball without a problem, you just might be able to use the three wood for the shot.
- Do you have room to swing? Your three wood is likely the second-longest club in your bag – meaning you need to have some room with which to make a swing. If you are cramped by trees, bushes, or anything else, there might not be enough room to use your three wood for this shot.
- How far do you need to hit the ball? This is where carefully planning your shot becomes an important step. If you are only trying to hit the ball 50 or 60 yards, you should probably just handle the shot with a long iron punch. However, if you are trying to get 150 yards or more out of this punch shot under the trees, you might want to give your three wood a try. Since the three wood isn't going to put much backspin on the ball, you can hit it rather hard while still getting the low flight that you need.
If you are happy with all of the answers to the questions above, you can go ahead with a three wood shot to put your ball back in play. Of course, just as with any other shot you attempt, you should practice hitting some punch shots with your three wood on the driving range before giving it a go during a round.
Bump in the Short Game
Believe it or not, your three wood can even be useful from around the green as a club that can generate a handy little bump and run. Every player can benefit from an improved short game, and one of the best ways to improve your short game is simply to add shots to it. The more options that you have at your disposal, the more situations you will be able to handle successfully. Rather than just having one short game shot that you turn to time and time again, make it a goal to have several different options at your disposal.
To play a bump and run with your three wood from a fairway lie around the green, the first thing you will want to do is choke down on the grip of the club. By moving your hands just an inch or two down the shaft, you will have greater control over the club head and the ball won't jump off the club quite as quickly. Next, practice making a 'putting motion' by rocking the club back and forth using your shoulders. You don't want to use your hands very actively in this shot or you will risk sending the ball quickly across the green. Keep your hands quiet and steady while letting the weight of the club swing through the ball.
This is actually a very easy shot to hit, but it does require practice in order to gain confidence in your ability to hit the ball the right distance. Spend a couple of minutes during each of your practice sessions working on the three wood bump and you will quickly get better at nailing the distance just right. Since you are basically using a putting stroke to hit this shot, you won't need to learn a whole new technique to pull this one off – you already know how to hit the shot thanks to your experience on the putting green. Once you learn how to control speed with this helpful short game shot, you will be good to go.
When used correctly, the three wood can be one of the most useful clubs in your bag. In addition to putting it to use in the fairway as described above, you can also make it work for you off the tee on shorter holes that don't require a driver. Use the content above to dial in both your mechanics and your game plan for using the three wood from the fairway and look forward to greatly improved results in rounds to come.