How often do you use your 3-wood from the fairway? You may still use it from the tee, but are you able to get the 3 wood up in the air from the fairway?
If not, don’t blame yourself, there are reasons the 3-wood is difficult to hit from the fairway.
Modern 3-Woods Lack Loft
Modern 3-woods don’t have enough loft. Many only have 15 degrees. The thought is that you can hit a club with less loft farther than one with more loft, but that isn’t necessarily true.
Lower Spin Rate on Golf Balls
Most ball manufactures have lowered the spin rate on balls. If a ball spins less, it will have less side spin, as well as less backspin.
With less side spin the ball will go straighter. However, you need backspin to make the ball aerodynamic and keep it in the air. Less backspin makes getting the ball in the air more difficult.
Lower Club Head Speeds
A lower club head speed imparts less spin to the ball and a higher club head speed imparts more spin to the ball. Most golfers, especially seniors and ladies, have slow club head speeds — below 90 miles per hour.
The slow club head speed compounds the problem of a low spin rate ball, which is why the better players with high club head speed are able to hit a 3-wood or long iron off the fairway.
Low Center of Gravity
Lower center of gravity in a club launches the ball higher and spins the ball more, while higher center of gravity launches the ball lower and spins the ball less.
A 3-wood has the deepest face of the fairway woods, hence a higher center of gravity, which again makes it difficult to get the ball in the air.
What’s a Golfer to Do?
What does a golfer with a slower club head speed do to get a fairway wood up in the air and maximize distance?
Since you can’t depend on spin to do the job, you need to launch the ball higher. More loft on the club will launch the ball higher and the trajectory will keep the ball in the air longer.
The majority of golfers will find they can hit a #5 wood farther out of the fairway. This makes sense, because a 5-wood has up to 20 degrees loft — 5 degrees more than the 3 wood — and a shallower face (read: lower center of gravity). Both of these features allow you to launch the ball higher and carry it farther.
The next time you’re at the range, compare your #3 wood to your #5 wood “off the deck”. You might be surprised at which one goes the farthest!