We all know how a trusty 3 wood can be a game changer. Off the tee on tight holes, or just dropping a bomb from the fairway going after a Par 5 in two a good 3 wood can be magical in a good players hands.
The best fairway woods for good players can be hard to find. When a golfer finds one that suits his game, he's unlikely to let go before time and advancements in technology make it necessary.
However, time marches on and golf manufacturers keep making better and better fairway woods. The best new fairway woods 2018 has to offer provide a wide array of options, both in function and form.
In this article, we're taking a deep dive into the best player's fairway woods, searching to uncover the best 3 wood on the market for your skill set and preference as well as the best 3 wood off the tee and off the fairway.
Don’t feel like reading and want to cut to the chase? Here are the best fairway woods for good players in 2018:
For more details, head straight to the Fairway Wood Comparison Table.
Not a great player but ended up here somehow? Instead of wasting your time here, you should head straight to our guide to the best fairway woods for beginners. You should also take a look at our article on blistering your 3 wood.
What should an average to good golfer look for when selecting a fairway wood?
Not to be a smart aleck, but it depends on what is important to you. There are many many options, but a versatile 3-wood should always be the goal.
And by versatile we mean one that performs well from the tee and off the fairway - and not just off perfect lies in the fairway but also when the turf is thin. Forgiveness should be fairly important to all of us (especially those of us who enjoy a lengthy tee time in the 19th hole each evening).
No, we mean on shots struck off-center on the clubface. But then again, workability might be your thing as you not only call your shots but occasionally even execute the low, rising draw that land softly on the green.
Everybody loves the long ball. Especially, well, you know, never mind.
What should a player look for who intends to use a fairway wood as a driver replacement?
Distance, baby. Lower spin rates, higher launch - to maximize distance and probably a 3-wood lower on the loft scale. Most 3-woods on the current market can be adjusted, some such as the Mizuno GT 180 can be dialed down to 13 degrees, which is really only 2.5 degrees weaker than many of the most popular drivers out there.
If you're not keen on staring down at a 460 cc driver clubhead that's roughly the same size as half a small cantaloupe, then by all means find a 'hot' 3-wood. They're out there.
What if my typical 3-wood shot is a waist-high knuckleball?
Then spin is your friend. And loft.
Toting a 3-wood is just a suggestion anyway. Perhaps you could ditch the traditional set up, use an 11 or 12 degree driver and then make your 16-19 degree fairway wood your primary distance club once you leave the tee box.
Just as you can reduce the lofts, you can also crank those babies up. Manufacturers are applying the low center of gravity, thin springlike face, high moment of inertia technology they've been applying to drivers for the last five years to their most recent fairway woods.
The Callaway Rogue Sub-Zero, for example, now features the Jailbreak Technology that made the company's Epic driver one of, if not the, hottest selling drivers of 2017.
What if I prefer to pound my Driver off the tee, but I need some help from the fairway?
You too are looking for loft which equals launch and could probably survive with a mid-spinning combination of shaft and clubhead. Don't get wrapped up in which 3-wood you can hit the farthest with your maximum swing and perfect strike.
Rather, focus on a club which matches your clubhead speed and allows you to produce a consistent ball trajectory and curve. As another bonus, more and more manufacturers are designing flatter soles on their fairway woods which make it easier to elevate your golf ball.
Some, such as the Cobra King F8 and F8+ have fancy little rails, creating the "Baffler" look that Cobra has been playing around with and improving for the better part of 30 years.
How many woods should I carry?
That's a great question. More than one, less than 14?
Just kidding, three is the right answer for most good golfers. Of course you need a driver, and a strong fairway wood - probably something in the 13 to 16 degree range. And then, you have two options - hybrid or fairway wood- and that club needs to be in the 19-to-21 degree range, depending on your trajectory (high-to-low) and your preference.
For example, if you prefer the look of a long iron, then you're likely best suited to a hybrid. If your swing is more of a sweeping motion and you love to crank your 3-wood, then why not toss a 5(ish) wood in your satchel.
Ping G400 / Ping G400 Stretch Fairway Woods Review
Ping has upgraded its G400 line in part by putting slightly larger turbulators on the top, compared to previous models, which makes the G400 and G400 Stretch easy to align, supplying loads of confidence as you attack the fairway.
Ping is so smart, it's constantly figuring out how to reduce weight and fiddle with the materials to create the utmost ball speed. This time, the industry titan opted to use Maraging Steel to create a thinner face, thus improving the Moment of Inertia (MOI) and Center of Gravity (CG).
The stainless steel crown measures a minuscule 0.48 mm, which makes it thinner still.
As a bonus, those looking to use their 3-wood as their primary club off the tee the Stretch 3-wood is 13 degrees and designed solely for that purpose. The Ping G400 Stretch 3 wood will be the best 3 wood to use off the tee for most good to better players.
TaylorMade M3 Fairway Woods
The M3s can go toe-to-toe with any of the clubs on our list today in both distance and forgiveness.
Compared to their predecessors, the M1s, a new lighter face, plus a thinner carbon composite crown and sole, let engineers push more weight back towards the rear perimeter, thus reducing sidespin and increasing ball speed.
The M3s also match up well in performance against the Rogues and offer more overall adjustability than anyone else in our group.
You should read our full review of the TaylorMade M3 Fairways to see the comparisons against the M4 fairways.
Callaway Rogue Sub Zero Fairway Woods
There's plenty to love about this gem from Callaway as on the recommendation of none other than Phil Mickelson, the company's crack research-and-development team devised a way to implement the revolutionary jailbreak technology - which first appeared in 2017 in the Epic driver - to its latest batch of fairway woods.
The 360 Face Cup increases ball speed while the Triaxial Carbon Crown saves weight and produces a higher MOI and in turn, exceptional ball speed. Something called the Boeing Speed Step improves aerodynamics and creates otherworldly swing speeds.
It has full width grooves and is available in lofts of 13.5 degrees, 15 degrees and 18 degrees. Offered in a wide variety of Aldila and Project X shafts in different weights.
For the right type of player, this will be the longest fairway woods on the market for 2018.
For more details on the Rogue fairways, your next stop should be our full review of the Callaway Rogue Sub Zero Fairway Woods.
Cobra King F8+ Fairway Woods Review
We are in love with the Cobra fairway woods. Seriously, these are surprisingly good fairway woods.
These are designed to make the clubs easier to launch from bad lies and to escape gnarly rough. The F8+ is lighter than the F7 as Cobra followed the industry trend and found materials - in this case Cast 17-4 Stainless Steel in the body and forged 475 stainless steel in the face - to produce a beautiful weapon geared toward better players.
If your handicap - the real one on the card, not the one you hope to achieve - isn't in the single digits, then it's best to move on to another aisle to fulfill your fairway wood needs.
Titleist 917 F3 Fairway Woods Review
For generations, Titleist has designed classic looking golf clubs intended to appeal to better golfers seeking a traditional looking pear-shaped golf club. Using high-strength steel that increases ball speed on misses, Titleist has landed on target yet again.
It's a versatile fairway wood with widespread appeal. The 13.5 degree head can be tweaked to 12.75 and 15 degrees.
Best Fairway Woods for Low to Mid Handicaps
Performance off the Fairway
Easiest to Hit from Fairway
Very Low Spin, Could be Longest Fairway for Players with Too Much Spin
Can be Tough if you don't naturally produce High Launch
Very Easy to Hit from Fairway
Tough from Tight Lies
Longest for Most Players
Can get a little wild
And the Survey Says....
The TaylorMade M3 Fairway Woods are the 2018 winner for better and intermediate players.
It offers the performance and versatility that better players seek, delivers a classic yet powerful club resting easily on the ground and able to easily launch the ball with ample spin and height from those uneven and scruffy lies we all must play from on occasion.
If you don't find the right fairway wood in this lineup, check out our review of the best fairway woods of 2018 for beginners. Although you probably will find some of the info pretty basic for you, it might be worth considering. Hitting cuts ands draws can be a lot of fun with a good 3 wood, but sometimes having a 3 wood that only offers high launch, distance & forgiveness might not be a bad thing either.