Here are a few pointers on how to hit your fairway woods more consistently. We are going to be talking about getting the right shaft, loft and model, not your swing technique. OK, maybe a little on swing technique.
From a fitting perspective, most fairway woods that we test that are purchased off-the-rack have very inconsistent lengths, shaft weights and shaft flexes from one manufacturer to the next.
Length: Fairway woods for male golfers range in length from 42.75″ to 43.5″ for a 3 wood. Each club gets progressively shorter by .5″ to 1″ as you go up in loft. If you are playing a 43″ 3 wood, a 5 wood should be no longer than 42.5″. Getting the right length can help you hit the ball more consistently in the middle of the face, not on the heel (too long) or toe (too short).
Shaft Weight: We see most stock shafts from manufacturers use the same weight of shaft in fairway woods as their driver models. Your fairway wood shafts should be slightly (5 to 15 grams) heavier than your driver shaft. So if you are playing a 65 gram driver shaft (noted by a numeral 6. 65, or some other designation on the shaft decal), your fairway woods should be 70 to 80 grams. This helps create a more consistent swing as the added weight creates a similar feel to your driver since the shaft in the fairway wood is 1″ to 3″ shorter than your driver shaft.
Shaft Flex: The shaft flex in fairway woods should be slightly softer than the driver shaft and slightly stiffer than a hybrid. From a fitting perspective, we believe in progressive shaft weights and flexes in order to create a more consistent set of clubs. Most off the rack stock shafts in fairway woods are the same flex as the driver but actually test very flexible compared to the markings on the shaft. It is not uncommon for an “R” (men’s regular) flex shaft to test as soft as Senior or below. This will cause very inconsistent shots left and right as well as thin or fat shots.
Head Loft: We are really seeing a trend of fitting to slightly higher lofts in our fairway woods these days. We fit more 4 woods (3 HL – high loft) than 3 woods for men and a lot of times go directly from a driver to a 5 wood for ladies and juniors. This added loft actually increases carry distance as well as roll, and is more consistent both in contact and direction.
So the bottom line is that if you are unhappy with the consistency of your fairway wood shots, get fit and make sure you have the correct length, shaft weight, shaft flex and head loft. You will quickly start playing Better Golf… Faster!