Hitting Fairway Woods

Turn your 3 Wood Into a Secret Weapon

If you can hit a 3 wood off the deck you have a serious advantage over most amateur players.  

Hitting fairway woods with consistency can help you reach par 5’s in two and allow you to save more shots around the course. Not only will it help save you strokes, it can give you an enormous amount of confidence as it’s not the easiest shot to hit.  

An ideal fairway wood shot has a piercing sound to it and if hit right, 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 fairway woods. The number one reason most golfers don’t hit fairway woods consistently well is that they try to help the ball up. This usually ends up topping the ball, thinning or missing big! 

Sound familiar? 

Luckily, with a few simple tweaks to your setup and the drills below you can learn how to hit your 3 wood and other fairway woods with ultimate consistency. 

Why You Need to Love Your Fairway Woods 

You need to love practicing with your fairway woods because the ability to hit them off the ground is a huge advantage for your game. If you miss a drive big they can help get you back in the hole. They can help you get near par 5’s in two shots and give you more birdie opportunities. Plus, they can help you hit 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 too! 

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, you can still get into trouble. Whether you hit a fat or thin shot, put one in the bunker, or short side yourself, big numbers can happen within 100 yards. 

If you can get close to the green in two shots, take it. 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 hitting 100-yard full shots.  

How to Hit a 3 Wood Consistently 

To hit a 3 wood or other fairway wood consistently, on the tee or on the ground, it all starts with having the proper setup. 

Here’s what you should look for: 

Adjust Your Setup

To hit a fairway wood pure you need to have a big shoulder turn. You can only get that from a wide enough stance. If you start off with too narrow of a stance it will be hard to fully complete your backswing and throw off your timing. Along with stance, make sure your chin is raised slightly so your left shoulder can turn underneath it instead of swaying back. 

Your stance should be slightly less wide than a driver. 

And your weight distribution should have a 50/50 split between your right and left legs. One of the biggest mistakes amateurs make is having too much weight on their right side 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 for your setup is to make sure your arms are relaxed at address.Too many players try to grip the club hard in hopes of hitting it further. But the more grip pressure the more tension in your arms. The more tension the worse swing you will make. You want to be free, relaxed, and confident at address. 

Lastly, if the ball is teed up, you can drop your right shoulder slightly as you are hitting up on the ball from the tee and need to swing accordingly. 

Check Your Ball Position 

Ball position is another huge key to hitting fairway woods consistently. Most amateurs place the ball way too far forward in their stance. They think it will help get the ball in the air sooner. But this leads to thinning them or even a drop kick. 

The ideal ball position to hit a fairway wood off the ground is to have it directly below the logo of your shirt. This ball should be in the front-center of your stance and 2-3 inches behind where you place your driver.

Bad Lie

Evaluate The Lie 

Now that you have the proper setup for your fairway woods it’s time to evaluate the lie. The lie greatly determines whether you should even hit a fairway wood or switch to an iron or hybrid instead.

An easy rule to think of is, the worse the lie, the higher loft you will need. Don’t try to be a hero and hit a 3 wood from deep rough. Instead, switch to a 5 wood, 7 wood or hybrid to help get the ball up quickly. 

Even pros can make huge mistakes when trying to hit too much club from deep rough. The grass or fescue can easily twist the club and make for some embarrassing misses. 

Now that you have a proper setup you’re 70% of the way there! Here are a few tips and drills to take your fairway woods to the next level.  

3 Ways to Hit Consistent Fairway Woods 

#1: Check Your Equipment

To give yourself the best odds for hitting it off the fairway start by checking your equipment. Depending on your handicap, you should have 2-4 fairway woods and/or hybrids. 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 wood:

  • 3 wood (15-16*) -- Stronger 3 woods with 13 or 14 degrees of loft are much more difficult to hit off the deck for most amateur players. 
  • 5 wood (19-20*) -- Try to have each wood spaced out 3-4 degrees
  • 7 wood (22-23*)
  • 3/4 hybrid (24-27*)

If the clubhead is adjustable, make sure it’s set to neutral or draw setting. As fairway woods are nearly as long as your driver it can be easy to miss with a big slice. Always make sure your equipment is helping your game!    

If you are hitting an old Fairway Wood, quit making it harder on yourself than you should.  Modern fairway woods are easier to hit and get the ball in the air.  If you are an intermediate to high handicapper, head over to our review of the best fairway woods for beginners after you finish this article.  For more accomplished players, our review of the best fairway woods is geared more for you.

#2: Hit Down and Through The Ball 

The biggest fairway wood miss that most amateur players suffer from is a topped shot. Not only is this embarrassing but it can crush your confidence. 

Like any shot where the ball is on the ground, you need to hit down and through it. You should still have a very small divot when you hit a great fairway wood shot. The low point of the swing is AFTER the golf ball, not behind it.

To help you hit down and through it check out this drill.  

Fairway Wood Tee Drill

  • On the range, place one tee directly in front of your golf ball in the ground with only a half inch sticking up. 
  • With a 3 or 5 wood, hit down and through the ball. Ideally, you should be swinging through the ball and tee should pop out of the ground.  
  • Do this 5-10x times to get the feeling of swinging through the golf ball. 

#3 Transfer Your Weight To The Left Side

The other big miss is a thin shot with fairway woods of the deck. The reason? 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. Don’t help the ball up, let the clubs loft do the job for you!

Fairway Wood Drill (Proper Weight Transfer)  

  • On the range, put two tees 2 inches behind your ball
  • With your fairway wood, make your normal swing and make sure you miss the tees. You need to hit down so the ball can go up! 

Start Crushing Your Fairway Woods 

If you can learn these simple tips I promise you will hit more consistent fairway wood shots. This shot is a huge advantage to have over your fellow competitors. Whether you’re playing with your buddies for fun or playing a member-guest tournament, they will admire how well you can hit it off the deck!

Remember that you need to let the club do the work. 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. 

Now, start reaching those part 5’s in two and start lowering your scores today!  

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