This post was most recently updated on March 23rd, 2022
Whether a pro, a complete beginner, or anyone in between, any golfer of any level understands the importance of having a reliable fairway wood in the bag. Deciding on the best fairway woods for you could depend on a few factors, so we will lay out all the info and provide an array of options to ensure you know exactly which club is the ideal fit for your game.
Best Fairway Woods Summary
Short on Time? Here's A Quick Product Synopsis
The importance of the fairway wood for your game
The fairway wood may well be the most versatile golf club in your bag.
Not only can you take a fairway wood straight off the deck in pursuit of those mega par fives or longer par threes, but it can double up as a driver from the tee when the Big Dog isn’t behaving.
Heck, there are plenty of players (present company included) that actually turn to the 3-wood as a first option while the driver stays largely neglected.
I’ve always been happy to sacrifice a few yards in distance for greater control of the golf ball by trusting a wood, particularly on tighter holes.
If it works for Henrik Stenson, that’s good enough for me and my golf game.
Of course, the 3-wood may be the most common fairway wood to have among your golf clubs, but it is by no means the only wood option.
We’ll go over your choices depending on what you’re looking for in a fairway wood.
If you are just starting out or struggle with longer clubs, use our best fairway woods for high handicappers instead as your guide.
When should I use a fairway wood? Can’t I just use a hybrid or long iron?
The easy answer to this question would be: distance. And that certainly does play its part, whether you’re looking to use your fairway wood off the tee or from the fairway.
Naturally, a 13-15-degree 3-wood is going to give you better distance than a 21-degree hybrid, and certainly more than a 24-degree 3-iron. The higher the degree, the greater the trajectory, which means the club will produce more height than distance.
However, it’s not all about distance in golf, and knowing when to use a fairway wood compared to a hybrid or long iron could make all the difference.
As two-time major winner Anna Nordqvist recommends, you might want to select a fairway wood when you have a good lie, there’s not too much trouble around the green, and you’re playing into wind.
Plus, if you’re playing well and feeling confident, back yourself with the more ambitious, less forgiving club.
On the flip side, she suggests opting for a hybrid if you’re playing from the rough, sand or an uneven lie, you have to carry a hazard, or you’re playing downwind.
Additionally, go for a hybrid or long iron if you’re having an off day as these clubs are more forgiving. Our most forgiving fairway woods article will also make your life easier if that’s the feature you really need in your wood.
At the end of the day, distance isn’t everything in the game of golf, and even for high-risk players, playing the percentages (and therefore selecting the right club in the right conditions), is key to low scores.
What am I looking for in my perfect fairway wood?
In a word, versatility. You want a fairway wood that can pack a punch off the tee, but can also deliver on the fairway.
Having said that, much will depend on how you intend to deploy your fairway wood: if you’re already a beast off the tee but need some assistance on the fairway, your choice could differ from if you’re predominantly looking to use your fairway wood from the tee.
I’m looking for a fairway wood as a driver replacement
Then you’ll want a fairway wood that prioritises distance, targeting a club that provides lower loft degrees, lower spin rates and higher launch.
These kinds of clubs will offer less trajectory and therefore further distances.
There are plenty of fairway woods on the market where you can adjust the loft, the 3-5 wood Cobra Fly-Z for example can be adjusted between 13 and 16 degrees.
Therefore, at its lowest degree, the Fly-Z wood is only a degree or so higher than most drivers.
I’d rather get a fairway wood that helps me on the fairway
Then you will be looking for a club that provides greater control, loft and trajectory. Narrow your focus to clubs that offer a larger hitting area on the sole, meaning a wider, more accessible club face.
Ignore the fairway wood options that promise to give you greater distance, instead look at clubs that match your clubhead speed which in turn will provide you more consistent trajectory.
Loft degree settings might vary based on your playing style, but in general seek out higher degree options, with 5/7 woods offering anything between 17 and 22 degrees.
How many woods do I need in my bag?
Much will depend on you personally as a player, but a general rule would be between two and three woods in your bag.
You obviously need a driver in your arsenal, plus a 3/4 wood – a club that offers a loft of around 13-16 degrees.
Beyond that, it’s up to you and your playing style. I would then suggest either another fairway wood a 5/7-wood with a degree loft of 17-21 or a hybrid that offers similar trajectory.
If you’re more confident with long irons compared to fairway woods, or vice versa, that should determine which club takes that third spot.
How do I effectively hit a fairway wood off the deck?
Having a fairway wood is all very well and good, but unless you know how to harness its power off the deck, you’ll only ever use it from the tee, or even worse: remain in awe of your shiny new weapon and leave it to collect dust in your bag.
So for those of us who need a bit of advice on how to conquer the fairway wood off the deck, check out this video from Chris Ryan, who has a clever trick to ensure you’ll be hitting your fairway wood just as clean with or without a tee:
Fairway Woods Product Reviews
Callaway’s Epic Flash fairway wood and Sub Zero range of fairway woods have taken the golf world by storm since their release in January.
Launched alongside this and Epic Flash Sub Zero drivers, the new fairway woods from Callaway received many of the same technological additions as the drivers, including Jailbreak and Flash Face – designed to give golfers of all levels greater ball speeds and distance.
Both models of woods are both fitted with the shorter, lighter OptlFIT Hosel, which has allowed Callaway’s engineers to reposition the centre of gravity, resulting in a high, long-carrying flight.
Also aiding these woods in fast ball speeds is the forged 455 Carpenter steel construction, which combined with Face Cup technology, allows for more distance on-centre and off-centre ball striking.
The key difference between the Epic Flash and the Sub Zero is the latter has what Callaway call “precision shot-shaping technology” through adjustable sole weighting (16g and 2g), which allows for spin control, launch and trajectory.
The stock steel shaft is a Project X Evenflow Green, while there are two graphite options: the Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black and the Mitsubishi Tensei AV Blue. Available as a a 3 wood, 3hl wood, 5-wood, 7-wood, 9-wood, 11-wood, and Heavenwood.
The Taylormade JetSpeed wood was created and launched as the replacement to the RBZ Stage 2 line in 2013, but even some years later, this fairway wood remains a favourite.
The curved Speed Pocket design is central to the JetSpeed’s ability to produce better swing speed and distance.
When released, TaylorMade described the JetSpeed range as “our longest and most playable fairway woods ever and it has stood the test of time.
Other components that promote fast ball speed and long distance include the JetSteel face, low-and-forward CG (which also allows for low ball spin), and low-profile head design.
The Matrix Velox T69 shaft provides plenty of support and feel, allowing the JetSpeed to be more forgiving than some other fairway woods, including another TaylorMade model, the SLDR.
A big difference between the JetSpeed and its predecessor, the RBZ Stage 2, is that the JetSpeed has been filled with a polymer, keeping the club free of debris, which has reduced vibration and provided an improved feel.
The Taylormade JetSpeed is available as a 15-degree 3-wood, a 19-degree 5-wood, and a 23-degree seven wood, so depending on your needs there is a club to suit your golf game, particularly if you’re looking to hit the ball higher.
The first time Jailbreak technology was implemented into a fairway wood was with the Callaway Rogue last year.
For those unfamiliar with “Jailbreak” (apologies, I should’ve explained earlier), it refers to the two vertical bars Callaway fitted that join the sole and the heel, creating what looks like mini prison bars.
This proved to stiffen the club face on impact, which in turn improves energy transfer and thus produces greater distance.
Until the Rogue, Callaway had struggled to include Jailbreak tech in their fairway woods and hybrids having had great success since using it in their drivers.
Thankfully they overcame the challenge and the result is the Rogue. Made from Triaxial Carbon, this ultra-light material allows for an even faster swing and improved MOI (Moment of Intertia – or when the club meets the ball in another place other than the sweet spot, i.e the optimum area on the club to strike the ball), making this club long and forgiving.
Face Cup technology has also increased speed and distance through the ball as Callaway thinned out the club face, which therefore flexes more on impact.
Meanwhile, the Rogue allows for low-spin and high-launch thanks to the club’s Internal Standing Wave technology.
Put simply, if you are looking for greater distance, then look no further than the Callaway Rogue wood, which is available in a range of lofts.
Our third of three Callaway fairway woods on this list (do you see a pattern emerging?), the XR16 brought back the ‘Warbird’ sole most famously associated with Callaway’s iconic Big Bertha, modernising and updating the design in this wood.
The Hyper Speed Face Cup technology offers the XR16 flex on impact to assist in creating distance, while the Fujikura Speeder Evolution 565 Red graphite shaft provides light and stable support.
Don’t expect monster distance (like the Rogue or Epic Flash) with the XR16, but the club is extremely versatile, allowing you to deploy the club from the tee, fairway or even light rough.
Also, the flight trajectory is low compared to other clubs on this list, making it feel like a greater effort to get the ball airborne if you’re a player with a lower swing speed.
For a company famous for its woods, it seemed only fair to feature the Cobra’s range, in particular the Fly-Z. (The Cobra King is also popular but we preferred Fly-Z’s versatility.)
The stand-out feature of the Cobra Fly Z wood is the MyFly8 with SmartPad, which provides eight, easy-to-adjust loft settings to make sure you are using your club in the right way based on the circumstances.
The SmartPad then provides a square face at impact, whatever loft settings you choose.
The forged E9 face design has seen Cobra increase the size of the sweet spot by removing some weight from the hosel and face. This means that even on off-centre hits, the Fly Z provides some forgiveness.
The Fly Z wood comes with a graphite shaft – either regular or stiff – to provide durability and performance.
Unlike the rest of the fairway woods on this list, the Cobra Fly Z, only comes in two configurations: 3/4-wood and 5/7-wood, allowing you to adjust the lofts accordingly.
Just to make things a bit interesting, I’ve decided to throw another fairway wood bomber into the mix.
Released alongside the M3 to replace the M1 and M2, the TaylorMade M4 is one of the most powerful fairway woods on the market.
If you’re looking for some help from the tee, or want to reach that pesky par-5 green in two, then you can’t go too far wrong with this TaylorMade club.
The GeoCoustic design on the M4’s sole has made these golf clubs easier to hit, too, and compared to the M3, it creates more spin and a higher trajectory.
One downside though: this wood has a fixed hosel, so if you want a custom shaft, be sure to get it fitted in advance.
The Taylormade M4 is available in five loft options – 3-wood, 3-wood HL, 5-wood, 5-wood HL, and 7-wood HL. Distance and forgiveness – what more could you ask for in a fairway wood?
It’s been quite a journey through the best fairway wood options on the market in 2022 but we completed it together. By now you should have a complete understanding into the beauty of fairway woods, what sort of club you need for your golf game and the best rated fairway woods that suits your needs.
To be quite honest, you can’t go too wrong with any of the six listed above – but it’s the Callaway Epic Flash that really stands out from the crowd: the latest in cutting-edge technology, suitable for players of all golf abilities, a beast from the tee and reliable off the deck, and plenty of adjustment and customisable options make this offering from Callaway, in my opinion, the best fairway wood on the market.
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.