Fairway woods can be utilized both off the tee and off the fairway when faced with a long approach shot into a green.
Many players find hitting a 3 wood off the tee easier than the driver but much more technically demanding than an iron when hit from the fairway. Both fairway wood shots require similar techniques with only a few alterations and they are well worth learning as accuracy off the tee and distance from the fairway are crucial for long lasting success on the course.
The key to playing a great fairway wood shot is to understand where the club arc bottoms out during the swing. A lofted iron swing bottoms out just after the ball which is why good players strike the ball first then the turf, creating a perfect divot. Alternatively, the driver arc bottoms out just before the ball, most good players and long drivers’ strike the ball with a slightly ascending arc. A fairway wood swing bottoms out almost exactly at the point of impact, with players catching the ball cleanly and just bruising the ground afterward.
Players don’t want to be taking big gouging divots with a fairway wood. Because of their lack of loft, fairway woods are not easy to hit skyward.
- Address the ball with your feet shoulder width apart and the ball positioned a few inches inside the left heel to help the fairway wood bottom out correctly.
- Keep balanced while swinging the club back. Players don’t want big weight shifts back and through. Keep the weight 50/50 on each foot throughout the swing.
- A smooth rhythm is essential for a successful shot. It’s important the strike is clean so the small amount of loft on the fairway wood can have the most effect and will help the ball rise into the air.
- The ball needs to be struck at the bottom of the club’s arc. This should be achieved by placing the ball a couple of inches inside the left heel. Golfers can feel they are sweeping the ball away just off the top of the grass or tee. If the swing is executed correctly, the club will brush the ground slightly after impact off the fairway but almost not at all when off a tee.
- Don’t be tempted to lift the ball into the air with the hands. Sweep the ball away, let it be gathered up by the swing and finish in a fully balanced position.
- For added control, try and grip down the fairway wood an inch. This will add control but could decrease distance.
Get the technique right and you are sure to improve your fairway shots.