Golf is a game that combines distance and accuracy to achieve the lowest scores. A variety of clubs are available to provide either distance or accuracy. Woods provide distance while your short irons are aimed at accuracy.
Everyone understands the distinct function of a driver. However, when it comes to fairway woods such as a 5 wood and a 3 wood, amateur golfers find the distinction slightly murkier.
In this article, we will highlight the appropriate times to use the 5 wood or 3 wood according to your golfing style. We will break down key differences here.
Differences Between A 3 Wood and 5 Wood
Even though lofts have strengthened in irons over the last decade there is still a difference in the lofts of fairway woods making it easy to differentiate between a 5-wood and a 3-wood.
A stronger loft on the 3-wood enables you to hit it farther at a lower trajectory thus getting more roll out.
A 5-wood enables you to hit the ball at a higher trajectory leading to a loss in distance, but it is easier to stop on the green.
Similar to drivers, most fairway woods are designed for speed and distance hence they come with longer shafts.
3-wood shafts generally ranging between 42 inches and 43 inches while the 5-wood being 1-inch shorter ranging between 41 inches and 42 inches.
Length depends on your height, and it may vary between manufacturers.
The length of the shaft determines the lowest point in your swing therefore it determines the correct position of the golf ball.
A 3-wood requires a sweeping motion across the turf with impact at the bottom end of the arc. Few golfers take a divot using a 3-wood.
5-woods require a similar motion, but the impact should be at the bottom end of the downswing arc. Taking a small dicot with your 5-wood is not unheard of.
What Is A 3 Wood Used For?
A 3-wood is a good replacement for a drive off the tee when accuracy is crucial, and you still need to get the ball out there.
The required flight that you envisaged will assist you to decide when to use a 3 wood. Although the flight of a 3-wood is penetrating it still flies high enough to provide ample distance.
To provide more versatility than a driver, a 3-wood is much simpler to hit off the deck when you are a long distance from the green and you want to get the ball on or close to the green.
Some golfers even use the 3-wood to putt when off the green thus increasing its value.
What Is A 5 Wood Used For?
A 5-wood is simpler than the 3-wood to play off the deck and the design makes it slightly easier for those long-range shots out of the light or semi-rough.
Course conditions and distance will play a significant role in deciding when to use a 5 wood.
The extra height and spin provided by the 5-wood makes it easier to stop on the greens than a 3-wood.
Which Club Is Better For Beginners and High Handicappers?
The longer the shaft, the more speed you can generate. There is also a good reason for drivers not all using the maximum allowable 48-inch, soon to be 46-inch, shafts.
Longer shafts also lead to a loss of control and accuracy.
Choosing between a 3 wood or 5 wood for a high handicapper is a rather interesting dilemma.
Beginners and high handicap golfers need all the assistance they can get. They also tend to have slower swing speeds than an experienced golfer which is required to achieve the maximum benefit from a 5-wood.
It is more advisable for newbies to concentrate on accuracy rather than distance. A 3-wood will suffice off the tee, and you will benefit more from a hybrid club than putting a 5-iron in your bag.
Hybrids will allow you to build confidence in your swing and keep your scores relatively low.
What’s Better For Mid-Handicappers
As your golf improves, your handicap lowers, and your confidence increases you may feel the need to replace some of the hybrids in your bag with fairway woods. It’s not unheard of for professional golfers to carry woods as high as a 7-wood.
At this stage, you will be able to make an informed choice on whether you want to put a 3-wood or a 5-wood in your bag, or maybe carry both.
3 Wood vs 5 Wood Distance (What Goes Farther?)
Loft and trajectory determine how far a 3 wood and 5 wood goes. This can vary quite substantially.
Your swing speed and increased speed generated through the use of a longer shaft in the 3-wood could amplify the difference even more.
The average 3 wood distance is between 0-20 yards farther than a 5-wood depending on your swing type and speed.
Average golfers tend to swing the club at between 95 mph and 100 mph with their driver. At this speed, you can expect an average 3 wood distance between 220-230 yards with possible rollout to around 240 yards on a center impact shot.
If a 3-wood travels up to 240 yards, how far should I hit my 5 wood?
The same golfer would look at an average 5 wood distance between 200-220 yards with a potential roll-out to 230 yards depending on shaft length and other factors.
Why do I hit my 5 wood farther than my 3 wood?
Golfers that hit their 5-wood farther than their 3-wood have the incorrect loft for the swing speed resulting in a celling being achieved. The result of this is that various clubs travel the same distance. Correcting the loft/swing speed ratio will enable you to achieve a better combination of clubs.
3-Wood Loft vs 5-Wood Loft
Loft angle is one of the key factors that determine the ball trajectory and distance achieved.
Higher lofts will produce more height and less distance. The higher trajectory is a result of increased spin combined with the loft allowing the ball to stop rapidly or hold the green.
Loft of a 3 wood golf club is generally between 15 degrees and 18 degrees, while 5-woods generally range between 20 degrees and 22 degrees.
With the advent of an adjustable hosel and weights, it is increasingly possible to set your woods to the loft you require for a specific course and conditions.
Shaft Length Difference of 3 Wood and 5 Wood
Shaft length, weight, and flex are amongst the most influential parts of your club that are easily underrated.
Longer shafts produce a wider arc for more speed but sacrifices on the control you can exert over the club.
On average a 3-wood shaft is between 42 inches and 43 inches while the 5-wood comes in lengths of 41 inches and 42 inches.
3 Wood vs 5 Wood Shaft Weight
Lighter shafts enable you to generate more speed than heavier shafts. However, you have to take cognizance of the force that is put into your swing to ensure that the shaft is not too light for your swing mechanics.
To keep shaft weight down manufacturers replaced steel shafts on most woods with lightweight composite materials such as graphite.
Do You Need Both A 3 Wood and 5 Wood In Your Bag?
It is possible to carry both a 3-wood and a 5-wood in your bag once you have increased your distance control and know the exact circumstances when you would use either of the clubs.
Beginners and high handicap golfers will benefit more from replacing the 5-wood with a hybrid to become a better golfer and reach mid-handicap status.
Which Wood Should You Choose?
You may wonder “should I carry a 5 wood?”.
Ultimately the choice between a 3-wood and a 5-wood depends on your personal choice and swing mechanics.
When your driver leaves you too far off the green to hit a 5-wood or lower club, and you are confident hitting the 3-wood off the deck, the 3-wood is advisable.
However, if you are long off the tee and generally don’t hit the 3-wood into the green, a 5-wood would be a better choice.
It is noticeable that professional golfers never leave the 3-would out but only a few carry a 5-wood.
3 Wood or 5 Wood Off The Tee?
Deciding which is better off the tee depends on circumstance and whether there are hazards that could be reached by using the longer of the two.
When accuracy is crucial, the 5-wood would be more appropriate whereas a wide-open fairway that requires distance or there is a hazard that requires you to go over it, a 3-wood would be the appropriate club to use.
3-Wood vs 5-Wood: Which Should I Choose?
Choosing between a 3-wood and a 5-wood depends on your preferences, swing mechanics, driver distance, and course type that you play.
A longer course will in all likelihood require a 3-wood in your bag while on shorter courses you may well get away with a 5-wood
Which fairway wood do you carry in your bag?
Feedback and your advice will be highly appreciated in the comments section below.
The Editorial Staff at Golfible is a team of golfing geeks and enthusiasts led by founder Alec Rose. All have the same obsession with golf tech, equipment updates and avoiding rain on the course.