We have tested a wide variety of fairway woods introduced in 2018-2019 and the results are not totally surprising. There are some new models that are making some statements, like PXG and Tour Edge.
How We Test
All of our club testing is done with shafts that have been determined to be the best fit for our testers. That way, the results are truly independent of the stock shaft a particular manufacturer may use. Our testers range from low to high handicappers and swing speeds from 80 to 110 with a driver.
Big Improvements in Performance
Well, the changes in the way the USGA measures the legality of drivers, fairway woods and hybrids have given some clubs a tremendous amount of added distance. I did an article on this a few years ago and the major manufacturers have jumped on the change from COR to CT measurements. I also had it confirmed by the senior product director at one of the major manufacturers. The best new fairway woods will show increases of 1-4 mph in ball speed, reduced spin and higher launch angles. The result is that now you can hit a higher lofted fairway wood, a 4 wood for example instead of a 3 wood and get the same or added distance.
Our Hot List:
You can check out the Golf Digest 2019 Equipment Hot List, and our list will be very similar. This is what we have found in our fittings and player testing:
Pure Distance: PXG 0341X Gen 2, Tour Edge EXS, TaylorMade M5, Mizuno ST 190
Distance and Accuracy: PXG 0341X Gen 2, Cobra F9 Speedback, Ping G410, TaylorMade M6, Titleist TS3, Tour Edge CBx 119,
Overall Performance: Mizuno ST 190, PXG 0341X Gen2, TaylorMade M6, Tour Edge CBx 119
Picking the Right Shaft
Of course, all of these fairway woods will perform much better with the right shaft fit to your swing. In general, fairway woods should have roughly a 1o gram heavier shaft than your driver. The flex should also be somewhat softer than your driver due to its length and heavier weight of the head. Our BGF Fitting system and True Fit Clubs Fitting Wizard automatically recommends these weight differentials based upon your swing dynamics, shaft length and strength. Most fairway woods you pick off-the-rack have shaft weights and flexes that are very similar to the weight of the corresponding driver which can cause the following issues:
What Happens With the Wrong Shaft
Misses are fat shots or thin shots: Shaft is too light and/or too flexible in the butt section.
Misses both left and right: Shaft too flexible in butt section (A flex when should be an R, for example).
Misses mostly right(push or slice): Shaft may be too stiff in the butt section (S flex when should be an R) or shaft is too heavy.
Misses mostly left(pull or pull hook): Shaft is too flexible in the butt section and/or shaft is too light.
Misses off the Top of the ClubFace: Too steep of swing (negative attack angle) or way too soft of butt section or tip section causing toe droop at impact.
Misses mostly low: Too much positive attack angle (swinging up on the ball) or shaft butt section and tip section are too stiff.
So, don’t let your fairway wood get in the way of your lowest scores in 2019.