Are you ready to finally learn how to hit a 3 wood so you can play better golf?
Here’s the thing, if you can hit a three metal off the tee and off the deck, you have a massive advantage in your long game over most amateur players. If things are going sideways with your driver, having a backup is a great way to save your score.
Not to mention, striking woods with consistency can help you reach par 5s in two and allow you to save more shots around the course. Not only will it help save you strokes, but it can also give you an enormous amount of confidence as it’s not always the easiest shot to hit. But an ideal fairway metal shot has a piercing sound to it and if hit correctly, can land as soft as a mid-iron on the green.
While most people love seeing the ball soar into the sky, it also leads to the biggest mistake most amateurs make with their woods. The number one reason most golfers don’t hit these woods consistently is that they try to help the ball up. This usually ends up topping the ball, thinning or missing big!
Does this sound familiar?
Luckily, with a few simple tweaks to your setup and with the drills below, you can learn to strike them with ultimate consistency.
Why You Need to Love Your Fairway Woods
Before diving into any techniques, let’s talk about your mindset. The attitude when you pull out any weapon out of the bag can have a massive impact on your swing. If you pull out a driver or certain iron and have zero confidence with it, your swing will probably match. The same goes for your woods.
So first, let’s reframe how you think about these clubs in the first place. Instead, I challenge you to think differently about these clubs so you can swing with Tiger-like confidence.
They can help you get near par 5’s in two shots and give you more birdie opportunities. Plus, they can help you find more fairways if your driver swing isn’t working or the fairways are extra tight.
According to Golf.com, “The best Par-5 players get inside 40 yards of the hole in two 63% of the time.” Unsurprisingly, most of the top 10 players in the world are on this list. If PGA players have a chance to get within 40 yards of the green, they are taking it.
You should do the same once you finish reading this post. In general, get as close as you can to the green so you can chip and pitch closer to the hole!
While sometimes you need to lay back to 80 or 100 yards, usually, the closer you can get to the green in two shots the better chances for a lower score. When you lay back to a full lob wedge or sand wedge, sometimes you can still miss the green and get into trouble.
How to Hit Fairway Woods Consistently
If you’re having trouble hitting fairway woods, let’s start with the fundamentals. Once you master these golf swing basics, this shot will become a lot easier.
Adjust Your Setup
One of the most important pieces of any swing is your setup. Without a good foundation, it’s easy to make some mistakes by not having the right balance to pull off the shot.
To hit woods pure, you need to have a big shoulder turn and this can only happen if you have a wide enough stance. If you start off with too narrow of a stance, it will be very hard to fully complete your backswing and throw off your timing.
For the most part, your stance should be slightly less wide than a driver. Along with stance, make sure your chin is raised slightly so your left shoulder has room to turn underneath it instead of swaying back.
And your weight distribution should have a 50/50 split between your right and left leg. One of the biggest mistakes amateurs make is having too much weight on their right side in an effort to try and help the ball get airborne. Make sure to distribute your weight evenly and trust the club’s loft to do the trick.
The last thing to check in your setup is to make sure that your arms are relaxed at the address position. Too many players try to grip it too hard in hopes that they will get more distance. But the more grip pressure you apply to the club, the more tension that you have in your arms.
By having a death grip, it can screw up your timing, backswing, and downswing. Make it your goal to feel free, relaxed, and confident at setup.
Check Your Ball Position
Ball position is another huge component of striking woods consistently. Most amateurs place the ball way too far forward in their stance as they think it will help get the ball in the air easier. But in reality, the opposite is true and having the ball too far forward leads to thinning it or even a dropkick where you strike the ground way behind it.
The ideal 3 wood ball position is to have it directly below the logo of your shirt. This ball should be in the front-center of your stance, approximately one to two inches behind where you place your driver.
How to Hit a 3-Wood Off the Tee
Let’s face it, somedays, your driver swing just isn’t there. Even if you’re doing all the things right, somedays the big stick just doesn’t cooperate. If that happens, having a backup on Par 4s and Par 5s is a massive advantage.
Even though you will lose some distance, finding the short grass and still pumping 230 or more yards is a great way to salvage a poor driving day. Not to mention, using woods instead of driver is sometimes the smart move.
Hitting your trusty three-metal off a peg is a lot easier for most golfers than off the turf. To use a three metal off a tee, make the following adjustments:
- Keep the ball low. You don’t want it teed up high or you risk getting underneath it and leaving a sky mark on your beautiful club. (Here are some tees that are the right size for fairway woods.)
- Front center is the ideal ball position for 3 wood off the tee.
- Adjust your shoulders during setup. As the ball is teed up, you want to adjust your shoulders by slightly lowering your back shoulder so that you swing slightly up on the ball (see Reverse K Setup). Remember, this is a very subtle move don’t drop it as low as you would with your driver as the ball is teed up only a fraction of the height.
Use these tips so you can learn how to use a 3 wood off the tee and always find the short grass when you need it most.
How to Hit a Fairway Wood Off the Ground
Now that you know the best strategies for playing it off the tee, let’s talk about hitting a 3 wood off the fairway.
Evaluate The Lie
Now that you have the proper setup for your woods, it’s time to evaluate the lie. The lie greatly determines whether you should even use a wood or switch to a long iron or hybrid instead. If your ball is sitting in thick cabbage, a three probably isn’t the best choice of shots.
An easy rule to think of is, the worse the lie, the more loft you will need. Don’t try to be a hero and use a three metal from the deep rough. Instead, switch to a 5 or 7 wood or even hybrid to help get the ball up quickly and advance the ball closer to the green.
Even pros can make huge mistakes when trying to use too much club from deep rough. The grass or fescue can easily twist the hosel and make for some embarrassing misses.
The ball position for fairway woods off the deck is different than when its teed up. You want it a little bit more in the middle front as you need to hit down instead of up (as it’s not teed up).
The final thing to remember with hitting them off the turf is to focus on your tempo. If you get quick during the transition, it’s easy to catch it thin. Give yourself plenty of time at the top to shift your weight and uncoil with your lower body.
How to Hit Fairway Woods Like a Pro
Now that you have a proper setup you’re 70% of the way there! Here are a few tips and drills to take your long game to the next level.
1. Check Your Equipment
To give yourself the best odds for hitting it off the short stuff, begin by checking your equipment. Depending on your handicap, you should have 2-4 woods or hybrids in your golf bag.
Usually, the lower your handicap, the fewer woods you will need but ultimately, it’s whatever you feel the most confident with.
Here are the lofts you should have for each weapon in the golf bag:
- 3wood (14-16*): Stronger three woods with 13 or 14 degrees of loft are much more difficult to use off the deck for most amateur players. But if you’re someone who doesn’t carry a driver, you can carry a stronger lofted weapon to help increase distance and only use off the tee.
- 5wood (16.5-20*): Ideally, you want to have each one spaced out with 3-4 degrees difference. This will ensure you don’t have huge gaps and give you the best chances to find par 5 greens in two.
- 7wood (22-23*): A great replacement for a long iron that you don’t feel confident with. These are much easier when you’re in the rough and great for long par 3s.
- 3/4 hybrid (24-27*): Another replacement for long irons and awesome for all ages and skill level golfers.
Also, if the clubhead is adjustable, make sure it’s set to neutral or draw setting. As 3 & 5 woods are nearly as long as your driver, it can be easy to miss with a big slice as well.
If you are hitting an old model, quit making golf harder on yourself than you should. Modern woods are easier to strike consistently and get the ball in the air.
If you are an intermediate to high handicapper, head over to our review of the best woods for beginners after you finish this article. For more accomplished players, our review of the best fairway woods is geared more for you.
Remember, always make sure your equipment is helping, not hurting your golf game!
2. Swing Down and Through The Ball
The biggest error that most amateur players suffer from is a topped or thin shot. Not only is this embarrassing but it can crush your confidence as you see it go a very short distance.
Like any shot where the ball is on the ground, you need to make contact down and through it. You should still have a very small divot when you strike a great fairway wood shot. The low point of the swing is AFTER the golf ball, not behind it.
Use this drill to nail your fundamentals and start swinging like Henrik Stenson.
Two Tees Drill
- On the range, place two tees directly in front of your golf ball in the ground with only a half-inch sticking up.
- Hit down and through the ball. Ideally, you should be swinging through the ball and it should pop up and out of the ground.
- Do this 5-10x times to get the feeling of swinging down and through the golf shot.
3. Transfer Your Weight To The Left Side
The other big miss is a thin shot with woods of the deck.
Players are trying to help the ball up and by keeping weight on the backside. Like any long iron or hybrid, you need to fully transfer your weight to the left side so you can use your lower body to create power. Don’t try to help the golf ball up, instead, let the clubs loft do the job for you!
Fairway Woods Drill (Proper Weight Transfer)
- On the range, put two tees 2 inches behind your ball
- With your chosen wood, make your normal swing and make sure you miss the tees.
- Remember, you need to hit down so the ball can go up!
FAQs on Fairway Woods
Why is it hard to hit a 3 wood off the deck?
If you’ve struggled with consistency in the past, know that you aren’t alone. Three metals are tough to find the sweet spot for a few reasons.
First off, the clubs themselves are long. Most clubs are over 40″ long which makes them very comparable to a driver. The longer the stick, the longer the swing which means the more that could go wrong.
The second reason is the center of gravity. It has the deepest face and a higher center of gravity which makes it more difficult to get into the air. This is why it’s so much easier to strike it off a peg than off the turf.
Finally, it could be your golf club itself. Maybe it’s not forgiving enough, the settings don’t match your swing or the shaft is too stiff. All of these can factor into the difficulty of hitting them well on a consistent basis.
Hitting pop ups with the 3 wood off the deck is a common problem. Read our full article on how to stop hitting pop ups if this issue plagues you.
What am I hitting behind the ball with fairway woods?
If you get turf behind the ball with your woods, it could happen for a few reasons. One reason is that your back shoulder dips which drops the shaft and thus, find the turf before the ball.
Another reason is your swing path. If you’re too inside to inside, it’s easy to drop-kick it. These balls tend to produce a ton of overspin and produce a huge draw.
Hopefully, you now know the basics of the three metal so you can strike it as pure as Henrik Stenson. In all seriousness, if you can learn these simple tips, I promise you will have more consistent shots and improve your golf game.
Remember, this shot is a huge advantage to have over your fellow competitors and can give you so much confidence by having a short grass finder. Plus, sometimes using 3 wood instead of driver is the best way to score low!
Don’t forget, let the club do the work once you have made the necessary adjustments at setup. The loft is meant to help get the ball airborne, don’t try to help it with a front ball position or staying behind it.
Position the ball in the front center part of your stance and swing through the ball. Instead of trying to “guide” the ball think about chasing down and through it.
If you can get close to the green in two shots, take advantage of your drive. Statistically, you will be rewarded! This will give you more chips and pitches to get up and down for birdies or par saves instead of striking 100-yard full shots.
Now that you know how to hit a fairway wood off the tee and deck, it’s time to head to the range and work on them!