The fairway wood - not a gap filler

Published on   2022-01-31 by Kai

Anyone who has paid close attention to the previous texts on golf equipment, has become somewhat familiar with the types of clubs and their peculiarities, or of course plays golf themselves, will quickly realize: not all types of clubs can have been discussed here yet.

Briefly recapitulated: With the driver, you tee off (at least on long holes). Irons are used to drive the ball down the fairway. The wedges are used to approach the hole, i.e. to move the ball from the fairway to the green. The putter is used to finish the hole.

All of this sounds very logical and seems to build on each other perfectly. But wait a minute. What about the loft? What about the long irons, which are either very difficult to play or no longer found in today's club sets?

When driver or irons don't fit

So what do I do when I'm standing on a long fairway, have produced a mediocre tee shot, and still have to cover up to 200 yards to the hole? The driver is unsuitable for the fairway, and I'm nowhere near bridging the distance with a 5 iron.

That's why there is another type of club that is counted among the woods, i.e. it helps to achieve great distances on the fairway as well: The fairway wood.

This wood can perform several tasks, but unfortunately not every fairway wood can perform all of them at the same time. The range of use is varied, but depends - as with the various iron lengths - on the task to be accomplished.
You can:
- achieve a greater stroke height
- replace a 4 iron or even a 3 iron
- hit out of the rough
- replace the driver when hitting from the tee

In general, fairway woods have more loft than a driver, the angle of the clubface in relation to the vertical is greater. For comparison: a driver has - depending on the skill of the player - a loft of about 9 to 13 degrees. The fairway wood should have at least 6 degrees more loft on average, i.e. 15 to 19 degrees.

Those who generally have difficulty getting the ball well in the air can even resort to 21 degrees, which would correspond to a 7 wood and can be considered a substitute for the 4 iron.

The advantage is that the fairway woods are more forgiving than the irons as helpers for long distances, help with addressing the ball due to the club head shape which resembles a driver head (this is where psychology comes into play, as it often does in golf) and also with shot length. They also produce a higher trajectory due to more backspin.

Generally speaking, the larger the club head compared to the iron, the easier it is to hit the appropriate length. As a rough rule of thumb, a 4-wood replaces a 2-iron, a 5-wood replaces a 3-iron, a 7-wood replaces a 4-iron, and finally a 9-wood replaces a 5-iron.

However, if you want to use the wood less as a distance aid and more as an iron substitute for difficult positions, make sure the head is flat and the loft is higher. This means that the ball lands quickly and precisely and also stops more quickly than with an iron due to the backspin.

Of course, it's impossible to say from a distance which wood is right for your needs. The purchase decision is also complicated by the construction types and materials, which can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Steel, titanium or a mixture

Steel, titanium or a mixture of both are used for the club head. This means that the blades - which, by the way, are called that because they were actually made of wood in the past - can be made lighter or heavier, depending on preference and area of use.

What they all have in common is the fact that they have a low center of gravity, which is shifted as far back as possible, which makes the big difference to irons, which have to do without this forgiving construction purely due to their design.

With their range of use between driver and irons or also as a replacement for the long irons, the fairway woods are therefore by their advantages not a gap filler, certainly more than a pure gap filler. They are a useful addition to the equipment, which can often make the game easier and ensure a better result on the scorecard.

Previous article in the series: The irons - all in one sentence

Next article in the series: Hybrids - saviors from adversity

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