Best Fairway Woods For High Handicappers: Top 11 Picks of 2022

Your golf experts: Jordan Fuller & John Marshall.
Updated February 14, 2022. This article was thoroughly audited by multiple golf experts and coaches for its accuracy. You can read more about our rigorous testing protocol here.

The Rundown:

Best Overall: TaylorMade M4 Fairway Wood
“The M4 Fairway Wood is the best performing 3-wood today. Thanks to its solid forgiveness and ultra-hot face, it is perfect for high handicappers.”

Best Value For Money: Callaway Mavrik Max Fairway Wood
“The Mavrik Max is an affordable option from a top manufacturer – perfect for players who want high quality, great forgiveness and design, all without breaking the wallet.”

Best For Distance: Ping G425 Fairway Wood
“The Ferrari of fairway woods: get extra distance and better spin control with a wood that contains all that PING has best to offer – it’s pricier, but you’ll make real progress in your shots.”

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Fairway woods are often overlooked by players today, especially beginners and high handicappers. They are essential to cover long distances from the fairway and add versatility to your overall gameplay. 

Buying one fairway wood or two for beginners can be a confusing task. With so many options and different features out there, it is hard to find the right one that can complement your driver and other clubs. 

To help you can skip all the hassle of trial and error, we tested and reviewed the best fairway woods for high handicappers!

Sources researched
12
Sources researched
Customer reviews
17,650
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
12
Hours spent testing
Products tested
11
Products tested
Editor's Choice
Best Value For Money
Best For Distance
Pros
Lifts the ball off the ground nicely
Largest & most forgiving head ever on a Callaway club
Provides extra distance & spin control
Pros 2
Great feel & good distance on off-center hits
Incredible value for money at current pricepoint
The Ferrari of Fairway Woods
Editor's Choice
Pros
Lifts the ball off the ground nicely
Pros 2
Great feel & good distance on off-center hits
Best Value For Money
Pros
Largest & most forgiving head ever on a Callaway club
Pros 2
Incredible value for money at current pricepoint
Best For Distance
Pros
Provides extra distance & spin control
Pros 2
The Ferrari of Fairway Woods

Last updated on 2022-07-03. The links are affiliate links. Product images are served from Amazon Product Advertising API.

Best Fairway Woods for High Handicappers

TaylorMade M4 Fairway Wood

Best Overall Fairway Wood: Great performance from a top manufacturer

TaylorMade M4 Fairway (3 Wood, Regular Flex, Right Hand)
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PROS

  • Great feel
  • Good distance on off-center hits
  • Lifts the ball off the ground nicely
  • Useful from tough lies

CONS

  • No adjustability

Thanks to its ultra-hot face and solid forgiveness, the TaylorMade M4 3-wood is the top-performing driver in my tests this year.

While it doesn’t have the adjustability options you may find in other TaylorMade woods, it’s an excellent option for high handicappers who are just looking for something they can get off the ground.

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Sleek Sole

The sole of the M4 is an unheralded but essential aspect of it. It’s perfectly shaped to deliver an excellent strike to the ball, even in fairly tough lies. I found it dug through the rough well and gave long, high-flying shots.

The Speed Pocket built into the sole makes the face ultra-hot, giving both sweet-spot contacts and mis-hits remarkable distance.

Sound is feel

One of the most critical aspects of the borderline-indefinable quality known as “feel” is the club’s sound. In the past, I’ve found TaylorMade woods to perform well but to have a thuddy, almost plastic sound. This is common to woods that use carbon fiber composite materials instead of being solid metal.

TaylorMade has paid a lot of attention to this aspect, and has really improved the sound. A well-struck ball leaps off the face with a satisfying crack, aided by the sonically tuned fluted hosel.

Low spin and high launch

The carbon-fiber material used in the crown allows TaylorMade to move the center of gravity low and forward, which provides the hitherto difficult-to-achieve combination of high launch and low spin. Low-spin clubs are usually hard for high-handicappers to get in the air, but the TaylorMade M4 launches nice and high. The lower spin reduces the severity of hooks and slices, resulting in more fairways and greens hit.

Callaway Mavrik Max Fairway Wood

Best Value for the Money

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PROS

  • Jailbreak Technology stiffens head for more power
  • Draw-biased weighting corrects slicing
  • Aerodynamic crown reduces drag
  • High launch with excellent turf interaction

CONS

  • No adjustable features
  • Built for distance, not shot-shaping

Callaway’s Mavrik Max Fairway Wood features a draw-bias to prevent slicing, along with several valuable features that can help high handicappers and beginners get the ball into the air.

The Mavrik Max, capable from either the tee box or fairway, utilizes mid-range spin and high launch with a progressive leading edge that helps with turf interaction.

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Jailbreak Technology

The Jailbreak Technology places two steel bars behind the face to offer more power to the golfer. The bars stiffen the head, directing more energy to the golf ball to assist in higher launch and extended length.

The Mavrik Max also features an oversized head that broadens the sweet spot with more forgiveness, allowing golfers to focus on dialing up their swing speed. Between the draw-bias, Jailbreak bars, and high forgiveness, amateurs can find plenty to love with the Mavrik Max Fairway Wood.

Optimized Weighting

The Max also features two weights that create the draw-bias that beginners and high handicappers need to center their shotmaking. The weighting helps boost shot height with a soft landing that stops near the target area.

The weights are interchangeable, allowing golfers to find a customized, ideal balance for the head through the impact area. With the customization factor, struggling golfers can find better shotmaking with the Mavrik Max.

Aerodynamic Design

Along with its distance and accuracy, the Mavrik Max also features aerodynamics along the crown for reduced drag. The maximized swing speed translates to more distance with a minimal spin for tighter shot dispersion.

From the fairway, the aerodynamics pay off with the oversized head-boosting forgiveness with high launch. By minimizing the side spin, golfers can find better accuracy from the fairway, very helpful on second shots on longer par 5s.

Ping G425 Max Fairway Wood

Best Fairway Wood for Distance

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PROS

  • High MOI with easy alignment for better accuracy
  • Consistent spin with accuracy and distance
  • Facewrap design increases flex for more ball speeds
  • Exceptionally long from the tee box or fairway

CONS

  • Expensive for casual golfers
  • Moderate launch restricts distance for beginners, high-handicappers

Ping’s latest fairway wood, the G425 Max, offers advanced golfers the sophistication and craftsmanship long associated with the company. Our choice for the best distance option on our list, the G425 Max minimizes spin for higher accuracy, along with high MOI with a distinct alignment line that keeps you aligned to the target.

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Tungsten Sole Weighting

Positioned along the center-rear of the sole is an interchangeable tungsten weight. The weighting helps many areas but no more so than the launch of the golf ball.

Working in concert with several other notable features, the weighting is the engine behind the power that the G425 Max delivers on every swing. With the impressive turf interaction, the G425 Max’s features, such as the sole weighting, provide exceptional shotmaking ability and unmatched versatility.

Increased Ball Spin for Distance

For golfers that need more distance via their versatile fairway wood, the G425 Max is well suited to the task. One of the areas where the G425 Max excels is through spin rate. Since advanced golfers want minimal spin from their woods, the G425 offers a severe reduction in spin to help tighten shot dispersion, along with maintaining the high speed needed for distance.

Although the club is tailored to the sophisticated golfer, mid handicappers will find that the G425 Max is very accessible to help them reach the next level in their game.

Facewrap Technology

Along with its gorgeous design and craftsmanship, the Ping G425 Max also gets the company’s patented Facewrap Technology along the crown. With a high-strength maraging steel face that extends from the crown and sole, increases flexibility for faster shotmaking with extended carry.

Cobra F9 Speedback Fairway Wood

Best Fairway Wood For Mid Handicappers

Cobra Golf 2019 F9 Speedback Fairway, Black/Yellow, Right Hand, Regular, 14.5 Degrees
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PROS

  • Available in three different options from 3-wood through 8-wood
  • Adjustable loft sleeve and rear weighting gives golfer total control
  • Lightweight body makes F9 one of the fastest fairway woods available

CONS

  • High handicappers might want a simpler fairway wood for their bag

One of the most affordable, first-rate fairway woods on the market is the Cobra King F9 Speedback Fairway wood.

The wood combines the company’s most celebrated innovations as the Speedback and Baffler technologies drive Cobra’s thinnest and hottest CMC milled club face for an exceptional fairway wood that is long and forgiving.

Throw in an adjustable loft sleeve and interchangeable rear weight and the F9 Fairway becomes an absolute powerhouse in the fairway wood category.

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Adjustable Loft Sleeve & Weighting

The F9 Fairway has eight adjustable loft settings, giving golfers more control and options on the height of their shots. Regardless of the loft setting you choose, Cobra has included their Smart Pad Technology to help keep the face square at impact.

A rear tungsten weight anchors the back of the club and helps keep the center of gravity back to assist with a higher launch off the face. Also, the weight is interchangeable if you want a heavier feel throughout the swing.

Three Different Options

The King F9 Fairway comes in three different options to customize your club set. There is a 3-4 wood, a 5-6 wood, and a 7-8 wood to choose from. Each club offers different features to help create the shot shape and height that you want from your fairway wood.

The popular 3-4 wood has shallower rails to create the sweeping motion that golfers want from their long fairway woods. The rails allow for a lower and more rounded swing arc to lift the golf ball from trouble areas like rough and hardpan surfaces.

The other options have higher lofts and moderate rails on the sole to accommodate a steeper swing for more compression and a greater launch angle.

Aerodynamic Crown

The F9 Fairway also features an incredibly sleek aerodynamic crown for maximum club head speed. Lightweight and durable, the club head is another reason why the F9 Fairway is one of the best bargains for mid-handicappers looking to upgrade their secondary woods.

The carbon fiber crown of the Cobra fairway wood moves more weight to the high side of the head to allow for a lower center of gravity that creates incredibly high launch after impact with reduced side spin for straighter and more accurate shots.

MW8 Moon Wood Fairway Wood

High lofts make it easy to get the ball airborne

MW8 Moon Wood – Premium Golf Fairway Wood for Men and Women – Golf Club Includes Headcover – Legal for Tournament Play
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PROS

  • Easy to get the ball up the air
  • Low profile wood
  • Perfect if you have trouble hitting fairway woods

CONS

  • Unique design could be off-putting for traditional golfers
  • Low profile face does create too much height at times

The MW8 Moon Wood is a love-it-or-hate-it club with some slower-swinging high handicappers jumping for joy.

With very high lofts that are more typically found in hybrids, the Moon Woods are designed to easily hit high up in the air. However, if you have a fast swing or are already pretty good with your fairway woods, you may find these only hit mostly useless popups.

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Lofts

With lofts starting at 21 degrees and going all the way up to 33 degrees, these fairway woods are designed as replacements for long and mid irons. Many high handicappers struggle with long irons and even struggle to hit hybrids properly. If that’s you, you may find a lot to like here. The Moon Woods offers a good bit of forgiveness for off-center hits.

With the high lofts, you’re not going to get much distance out of these compared to a normal fairway wood setup of, say, a 3 and 5 wood. But if you can’t hit a 3-wood properly, that’s not really going to concern you! The 21-degree flies about as far as a well-struck 3-iron, with the added benefit of a bit of stopping power than most high-handicappers have a hard time generating.

Shallow

The Moon Woods has an extremely low profile. This makes them tough to hit if they’re teed up at all, so be sure you’re teeing them close to the ground if you decide to tee off with them. But it does help them cut through the rough and get under the ball on a tight fairway lie. Sometimes when it seemed like only a 9-iron or pitching wedge would be able to give the ball enough lift to escape heavy rough, the Moon Wood was up to the task.

I was also surprised to find them useful around the green. If you have trouble with chunking or thinning chips and wish you had a more reliable option, take the Moon Wood to a chipping green next time you’re practicing. You may be pleasantly surprised that the ball pops up into the air and rolls out nicely to the hole.

This is really only a good option if you have a lot of green to work with, but that’s often the toughest shot for a high handicapper to hit.

Value

At a price point similar to better-known companies, it’s tough to spring for a relatively unknown company. But if you miss the old Adams Tight Lies club or you’re new to the game and can’t hit fairway woods or hybrids, it’s worth your time to give these a shot.

Callaway Men’s Rogue Fairway Wood

Most Technologically Advanced Fairway Wood: Great deal on a top performer

Callaway Golf 2018 Men's Rogue Fairway Wood, Right Hand, Synergy, 60G Shaft, Regular Flex, 5 Wood, 19 Degrees
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PROS

  • Very long
  • Boeing technology for great clubhead speed
  • Comes with a headcover and a full 1-year warranty

CONS

  • May not look brand new
  • Not as forgiving as other clubs

The Callaway Rogue Fairway Wood has quickly developed a reputation as one of the hottest clubs on the market since its release in 2018.

With that buzz comes a price tag to match that still comes with the full 1-year warranty.

Featuring collaborative aerodynamics from Boeing, the Rogue Fairway Wood is one of the longest fairway woods on the market.

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Clubhead Speed

The Callaway Rogue fairway woods feature “Jailbreak Technology,” designed to maximize clubhead speed through their aerodynamic streamlining in collaboration with airplane manufacturer Boeing. 

This translates into a very fast fairway wood with a hot face that really gets the ball up in the air and flying.

High handicappers may find that the Rogue 3-wood is easier to hit and longer than their drivers, so you may wind up being like Henrik Stenson, hitting 3-wood off of most tees. 

The increased clubhead speed also helps generate more lift off the fairway and even from the rough.

Forgiveness

While Callaway has done everything it can to maximize distance, the forgiveness of the driver is a bit compromised. Heel and toe hit fly offline without much directional correction. 

The distance is still good, but it would be nice to see more perimeter weighting to help mis-hits curve back to the intended target.

Is the trade-off worth it?

High handicappers are always looking for more distance, so the Rogue is a good choice for shorter, straighter hitters who would benefit from long shots. 

If you’re a high handicapper because you’re always in the woods trying to find the ball you hit 50 yards offline, you may want to look for a club that offers more directional correction.

TaylorMade Golf M6 Fairway Wood

Premium Fairway Wood: The best keeps getting better

TaylorMade Golf M6 Fairway, 7 Wood, Left Hand, Regular Flex Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Orange 6
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PROS

  • Packed with the latest technology
  • Refined version of award-winning M5 and M4
  • Simply the best fairway wood

CONS

  • Fixed hosel and no adjustable weighting leaves no room for creative tweaks
  • Wider design feels more like a driver, less like a fairway wood

TaylorMade makes some of the best-selling, most advanced drivers and woods on the market.

Each year it seems like they’re touting a newly-developed technology that’ll guarantee more yards, straighter shots, and lower scores. But each year, they deliver a top-notch product that really does seem to outperform its peers. The TaylorMade M6 is one of the best clubs we’ve tested for golfers at any level.

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Performance

The big selling point for the M5 and M6 woods is the Twist Face technology, which is a tweaked version of the classic “bulge and roll” technology. Instead of the standard bulge and roll, the Twist Face is tweaked to deliver more correction on high-toe and low-heel hits; those are the most common mis-hits for all golfers and, thus, need the most focus.

And the technology works. Whereas normally a high-toe hit would balloon off to the right, the Twist Face helps apply spin to keep the flight lower and curving back towards the original line of the shot. While it’s not going to guarantee good results, it certainly helps to minimize bad ones.

And the thinness of the face combined with the Speed Pocket behind it turns the M6 into a rocket. Many golfers may find they hit it nearly as far as their driver and may find themselves going the Henrik Stenson route of hitting mostly 3-wood off the tee.

While past TaylorMade woods have been a little too busy on the crown for my tastes, this is a simple combination of a silver front half and a carbon-fiber black back half, with a simple sweet-spot indicator that puts a great visual in your mind before you swing. It looks like it’ll send the ball into the stratosphere, and it does!

Value

The TaylorMade M6 has a price tag to match its performance level, however. At around $300/club, it’s up there with some drivers and entire iron sets. High handicappers may have a tough time justifying this expenditure, especially when they may get more benefit out of more lessons or playing time instead of new equipment.

While there are comparable clubs out there for a lower price, if you do want that extra last bit of yardage and forgiveness, it’s here for the taking. However, I can’t blame you if you opt for a nearly-as-good-but-1/3-the-cost option.

Cobra RADSpeed Fairway Wood

Best For Adjustability

Cobra Golf 2021 Radspeed Fairway Matte Peacoat-Red (Men's Right Hand, Fujikura Motore XF3, Stiff Flex, 14.5)
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PROS

  • Impressive turf interaction with the patented Baffler Rail system
  • Outstanding balance throughout the swing
  • High launch with soft landing on the greens

CONS

  • Smaller club head makes consistency important
  • Compact face punishes off-center contact for inexperienced golfers

With a long-standing reputation for producing high-quality, innovative clubs, Cobra hits another home run with their latest fairway wood, the Radspeed. The Radspeed Fairway offers a customized launch to dial in your game’s ideal shot height to maximize distance with adjustability.

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Exceptional Perimeter Weighting

When first getting the Radspeed Fairway in our hands, we noticed that the club offers a nice balance that plays well throughout the swing. The Cobra’s innovative perimeter weighting technology generates a low spin for a straight shot shape that offers a nice upgrade for high handicappers.

The Radspeed Fairway delivers solid contact through the impact zone that provides instant feedback. We immediately knew that we crushed shots toward the target on our best swings with the club, a significant positive when building confidence in your game.

Forgiving CNC Milled Face

Usually, we see CNC milling in putters and wedges, but Cobra has long used the technology on the faces of their drivers and fairway woods. The feature also makes an appearance here with the Radspeed Fairway, and we’re happy to report that the milling reduces sidespin and helps maintain accuracy.

The milling also boosts the appearance of the fairway wood. The Radspeed Fairway offers a modern, almost futuristic, look in the bag.

Lightweight Carbon Crown

We were also blown away by the lightweight but very solid construction of the club. Using a carbon crown, Cobra helps golfers generate higher swing speed without sacrificing shot quality. During our time with the club, we often noted how much fun the lightweight build of the fairway wood delivered high arcing shots that found the target more often than not.

A delightfully well-made fairway wood, the Cobra Radspeed is another step up from the company that will help high handicappers improve their distance and accuracy.

TaylorMade SIM2 MAX Fairway Wood

Our Top Draw Bias Model: Low profile and slight offset for slice correction

TaylorMade SIM 2 Max Draw Fairway Mens Right Hand Graphite Senior 3 Wood
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PROS

  • Extra heel weight minimizes sidespin that causes slices
  • Twist Face redirects off-center strikes for better accuracy
  • Exceptionally long from tee box or fairway

CONS

  • High-priced model only for serious, frequent golfers
  • No adjustability hinders sophisticated shotmaking ability

TaylorMade’s SIM2 MAX remains one of the best draw-bias fairway woods on the market. With a host of exciting features, the SIM2 MAX delivers a severe reduction in the sidespin that causes the golf ball to travel far to the right. Instead, golfers find the club provides them with better accuracy and tighter shot dispersion.

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Twist Face Technology

One of the biggest reasons why I wanted to highlight this feature is because of how the Twist Face keeps the ball from straying too far off the path. Even when I hit the ball off the toe, the shot stayed along my target line with maximum velocity. 

An enjoyable discovery on the driving range, the Twist Face delivers an incredible feel and response on swing after swing.

Draw-Bias Design

When it comes to hitting balls with a draw-bias fairway wood, high handicappers need to understand how alignment benefits their game. Since you don’t have to worry about hitting the ball to the right with such extremity, you can instead work on swinging the SIM2 Max with high speed.

With several features including a heel weight and the Twist Face, the club helps close the face allowing it to come back to the square position at impact.

Distance and Accuracy

As with any club, you want length and precision and I’m happy to report that the SIM2 MAX delivers exceptional performance in both categories. Shots travel high with the extended carry that high handicappers need to get the most from each swing.

From the fairway, this fairway wood offers crisp contact, and the large, rounded sole moves smoothly across the turf to square up the golf ball on the face.

Orlimar Golf Escape Fairway Wood

Best Fairway Wood for Slow-swingers: Extra loft and low profile for high flight

Orlimar Golf Escape Fairway Wood (RH) #11 Graphite Shaft - R Flex
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PROS

  • Extra loft provides extra lift
  • Shallow profile helps club get under ball
  • Available in super high lofts

CONS

  • Not very long
  • Not much roll-out
  • Strictly for slow swingers

The Orlimar Escape Fairway Woods are designed for slow-swinging high handicappers to help them dig the ball up off the ground and get them in the air.

They produce a ball flight more akin to a lofted iron and feature very little roll-out after landing.

They’re available from 3-wood through 15-wood, so if you like it you can essentially carry seven Orlimar woods to cover most of your distances.

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Ultralight shaft

The 60-gram graphite shaft is as light as you’ll find in any fairway wood.

Quite frankly, it’s too light for most golfers, but slow-swinging seniors and high handicappers will find a lot to like here.

The light, flexible shaft allows for greater clubhead speed, which helps get the ball up in the air.

Extra loft

The 3-wood comes with 16 degrees of loft, which is what you might find in 5-woods from other manufacturers.

Orlimar also offers, 5-, 7-, 9-, 11-, 13- and 15-woods in lofts all the way up to 38 degrees. That’s an 8-iron in most sets!

So if you have a slower swing or have trouble getting irons up into the air, the Orlimar Escape woods should be on your shortlist.

Shallow face

Orlimar’s Escape features a shallow face and a unique design that gets under the ball and sends it flying high in the air.

This makes it very easy to hit, but means you won’t get a ton of distance and not much in the way of roll.

This is a good thing if you’re using the Orlimar woods as iron replacements! But if you’d like a more traditional 3-wood that’ll give you 15-20 yards of roll after it lands, this isn’t for you.

Pinemeadow PGX Offset Golf Fairway Wood

Best Fairway Wood for Slice Correction: Dramatic slice correction

Pinemeadow Golf Men's 12392 PGX Offset 3 Wood Driver, Black/Green, Right Hand
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PROS

  • Extreme offset offers dramatic slice correction
  • Low price

CONS

  • Offset is so extreme it may be hard to aim
  • Scratches easily

The Pinemeadow PGX Offset fairway woods are flat-out the most offset woods I’ve ever encountered.

If you’ve tried mild offsets like the Cobra F-Max and you’re still hitting banana slices, you may want to look into this highly offset offering from Pinemeadow.

They’re high-loft, high-spin clubs designed to get the ball in the air and help high handicappers stop slicing.

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Setting up

The PGX fairway woods have a set of small arrows for an alignment aid, and I wish it were just a dot instead. The offset makes it look like the arrows are pointed way left of the target when setting up. 

This can cause aiming issues, especially for people with a bad slice who are used to aiming way left to begin with. The arrows may cause subconscious overcorrection, which is the last thing a slicer wants.

Ball flight

The PGX is focused on keeping the ball left, and it does a pretty good job of that. But overall distance and forgiveness are somewhat lacking. It just doesn’t have the lively face or high-tech design advantages of most of the other woods reviewed here. Ball flights are high but a bit short. 

However, most importantly, they tend to draw or hook. So the one trick they attempt, they pull off.

The bottom line

The PGX is an inexpensive club geared at the recreational golfer who just wants to stop violently slicing the ball. It won’t win any beauty contests (in fact, it gets scratched up pretty easily even if you’re diligent about keeping its headcover on), but at a price point around $50 and lofts available up to a 15-wood, it might be a lifesaver to the right high-handicapper.


Things to Consider When Buying the Best Fairway Woods for High Handicappers

Forgiveness

Even pros don’t hit the sweet spot every time, and high handicappers will hit the ball all over the club face. However, with the technology and materials available in clubs today, even mis-hits should be playable. 

I’m looking for a fairway wood that’ll turn a slice into a fade and will still provide useful distance on a poor swing. While no club can fix a chunk, some are better than others at turning bad shots into “that’ll work” and “just ok” shots into good ones.

Distance

It also needs to be long no matter how forgiving a club is. Golf courses are getting longer and longer every day, so you don’t want to be stuck using a club that can’t keep up with the demands of the modern game. 

You want a fairway wood with a thin, lively face that launches it as far as possible down the fairway. Par 5s should be scoring opportunities instead of scary monsters. Distance has never been more critical in the game of golf.

Durability

Golf clubs get more and more expensive every year. With hand-crafted graphite shafts and carbon fiber compound clubheads becoming ever more common, the retail price tag reflects the manufacturing (and marketing) costs. 

So when you pay that much for a golf club, you want it to last. Durability is reflected in the craftsmanship and build quality. A club should be well-made enough to last you several years, if not decades.

Value

If a fairway wood costs twice as much as the one next to it, shouldn’t it hit it twice as far and twice as straight? You’d hope so, but of course, that’s not the case. 

One club might eke a few more yards out of a mediocre swing than another, but if it costs exorbitantly more, it might not be worth the extra bucks.

Desirability

Is this the hot new fairway wood everyone’s talking about? Does it feature space-age materials to help the ball fly higher and longer? Is it from the same brand that all the pros use? 

A more desirable club will have features you may not find in other fairway woods, and it’ll retain its value better if you ever try to re-sell it. More recognizable brands will be more desirable for a good reason: they’re usually on the cutting edge of technology, with tons of money poured into research and development each year.


Questions & Answers

Why should I use fairway woods if I already have several hybrids?

Hybrids are hugely popular nowadays for all skill levels of golfers. High handicappers especially can benefit from their use, but a smartly laid out golf bag will include fairway woods and hybrids.

Hybrids are designed to incorporate the best qualities of fairway woods into a replacement for hard-to-hit long irons. They were never intended to replace the 3-wood or the 5-wood, only to augment an iron set for someone who finds it easier to hit woods than long irons. Fairway woods have stronger lofts and are designed to hit the ball farther than hybrids. They should be used for long shots off the fairway or tee shots when a driver might get you in trouble. (If you’re interested in hybrid clubs, we have reviewed them here).

XE1 Wedge Review

Due to the head shape and design, a fairway wood will fly and roll out further than a similarly lofted hybrid. In addition, the fairway woods generally have longer shafts and generate more ball speed. Ultimately, fairway woods have different purposes and characteristics compared to hybrids, and there’s room for both in your golf bag.

How do I choose the right fairway wood for me?

There are several essential factors you should understand before purchasing a fairway wood. They are:

LOFT

Loft dictates flight trajectory and distance. The higher the loft, the higher the flight trajectory and the shorter the ball will travel. Higher lofts are also easier to hit than stronger ones. Fairway woods have higher lofts than drivers, with the standard 3-wood loft coming in between 14 and 16 degrees. The higher the number, the higher the loft: 5-woods have lofts between 17 and 20 degrees. Higher lofted woods (7-, 9-, 11-, etc.) are often called utility or specialty woods.

SHAFT LENGTH

The higher the club number and the loft, the shorter the shaft length.  3-woods need long shafts to generate enough clubhead speed to drive the ball into the air. 5-woods have more loft and thus shorter shafts for the perfect clubhead speed and launch angle.

MATERIALS

Fairway woods are usually made from three different materials, often dictating the size.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is the most common and most affordable material used. It’s pretty strong but relatively heavy compared to other materials. Because of its weight, clubhead size is limited. Some golfers like the compact profile of steel wood heads, but most high handicappers will benefit from more modern materials.

Titanium

Titanium is a material commonly used to make drivers or larger fairway woods for hitting the tee. Titanium is relatively light compared to stainless steel, yet also very strong. With titanium, manufacturers can push the center of gravity (CG) deeper in the club head, which translates to a higher natural flight trajectory. Titanium faces can also be made really thin, providing better distance.

Multi-Material Composite

Recent advancements in technology have allowed manufacturers to combine carbon with titanium or steel to create ultra-lightweight, ultra strong heads. As a result, we get larger, more forgiving heads without sacrificing performance. The lightweight also prevents twisting on mis-hits by allowing greater weight distribution to the head’s perimeter. Multi-material clubs are generally the most expensive but deliver the best results.

On top of these factors, there are other considerations when choosing your fairway wood. It ultimately depends on what you are looking to achieve:

You may want to use fairway wood off the tee, as a 3- or 4- wood is easier to hit than a driver. They won’t travel as far, but many golfers find that they’re easier to control; hitting the fairway more often is an acceptable trade-off for the distance lost by not hitting the driver. Pros like Henrik Stenson feel so much more comfortable with their 3-woods that you’ll only see them hitting driver on the longest holes.

We all know that long irons can be tough to hit well.

Higher lofted fairway woods can be good alternatives to long irons and hybrids with larger club heads, increased forgiveness, and lower center-of-gravity. As a general rule, a 5-wood can replace a 2-iron, a 7-wood for 3- or 4- iron, and 9-wood can replace the 5-iron.

Ever wanted to reach the par 5 in two? Some holes are simply too long to reach with a hybrid or long irons. In these cases, a 3- or 4- wood with a lively clubface can often do the job from the fairway.

What are the key benefits of fairway woods for high handicap golfers?

High handicappers’ clubs are commonly designed with two things in mind: more forgiveness and distance on off-center strikes. With fairway woods, it is no different.

Handicapped Golfers

Fairway woods for high handicappers are designed to be as forgiving as possible. This is mainly achieved by making the head bigger and moving weight to the perimeter, giving you a bigger sweet spot to hit the ball. Other approaches in design can also be used, such as manipulating the center of gravity (CG) position or thinning the face to flex more during impact.

With adjustability being the trend of golf club designs nowadays, what forms of adjustability should I look for in a fairway wood?

Although not as prominent as in drivers, some manufacturers offer some forms of adjustability in their fairway woods. There are generally three forms of adjustability/customization offered in fairway woods:

Adjustable Loft

By using adjustable hosel, players can modify the loft of the fairway wood. Usually achieved with a removable screw in the heel, the player removes the head and re-positions it on the shaft in the desired loft setting.  Usually, this method allows the loft to be increased or decreased by 1-3 degrees.

However, it is not only the loft that is changed with this method, as the lie may also be affected. ‘Lie’ is the angle of the shaft in relation to the ground at address, which will affect the horizontal flight of the ball. Some adjustable hosels allow us to change loft angles without affecting the lie, which is worth considering when purchasing a club with an adjustable hosel.

In the end, adjustable hosels are designed to optimize your ball flight, trajectory, and distance. Hitting several balls at each available setting with a launch monitor and trained professional interpreting the numbers is the best way to determine which setting is best for you.

Face Angle

Face angle, as the name suggests, is the angle of the face at address. We call the face angle ‘squared’ when perpendicular to the ball. Some fairway woods have soles that cause the club to naturally sit square behind the ball, which can help the golfer align the clubhead precisely.

Adjusting the face angle can have a quite significant impact on ball flight: a closed clubface (“draw” setting) can help players who tend to slice the ball, while an open clubface (“fade” setting) can help with hook tendencies.

Movable Weights

An adjustable weight feature has become the norm in drivers to manipulate the center of gravity positioning. It is less prevalent in fairway woods, but some manufacturers offer it. Manipulating the weight position will affect the center of gravity, which will, in turn, affect forgiveness, flight trajectory, and distance. 

Are there things to look for that differentiate fairway woods for high handicappers?

High handicappers should be looking for two traits in their fairway woods: high launch and maximum forgiveness. 

Those qualities can come in different forms, as other manufacturers have different approaches to achieve them. As a general rule, here are some features you should look for:

Golfer

HEAD SIZE

Fairway woods for high handicappers come in relatively large head sizes. This is because larger heads can accommodate bigger moments of inertia (MOI), which will increase forgiveness. 

FORGIVENESS FEATURES/TECHNOLOGIES

Other technological approaches can increase forgiveness, which will vary significantly between manufacturers. Most of them will have similar principles: manipulating the center of gravity position or enabling the face to flex more for an even bigger sweet spot. Before purchasing your fairway wood, it is essential to consider how forgiving it is on mis-hits.

DISTANCE-FOCUSED TECHNOLOGIES

Every golfer wants to get as much yardage as possible out of their equipment. Different manufacturers can use other technologies to achieve more distance. The more adjustability options presented, the better the chance you’ll have of optimizing your distance. A light clubhead with a springy clubface will provide the most distance to a high handicapper.

Can a beginner golfer use fairway woods?

Yes! In fact, fairway woods are among the easiest clubs to use because they are light enough to generate good clubhead speed, and the size of the wood makes it more forgiving than an iron.

The beginner often finds the low center of gravity very helpful in getting the ball airborne. 

Fairway woods are an invaluable tool at every level of golf.

Are there any particular brands I should look for?

A very difficult question, as many brands offer excellent fairway woods for beginners and high handicappers. The right club will come down to personal preference; the club that feels the best and inspires confidence is usually the right one for you. That said, there are three particular brands we recommend:

TaylorMade

TaylorMade is the most popular manufacturer of drivers and fairway woods. Many of their top-notch technologies and designs for their drivers are also implemented in their fairway woods. TaylorMade woods and drivers are known for their distance and forgiveness, two key qualities we are looking for.

Callaway

It’s hard to mention TaylorMade without mentioning Callaway, arguably their biggest rival in the world of golf equipment. Callaway is known for integrating modern technology into classic designs. If you want great looks and feel, it’s hard to go wrong with Callaway.

Cobra

Cobra is a fast-rising brand in the world of drivers and woods. After peaking in the 90s when Tiger Woods used a King Cobra driver to bomb it past his fellow pros, Cobra’s market share slowly declined until recently. It’s seen a resurgence in popularity recently with Rickie Fowler’s use of Cobra woods and irons, and they’re offering truly cutting edge technology and some of the best adjustability features we’ve seen in fairway woods.

How many fairway woods should I carry in my bag?

Ultimately the composition of your bag is a personal choice. You should only have clubs in your bag that you feel confident about hitting, so if you have a 3-wood you almost never hit well, get rid of it!

But traditionally, most golfers carry a 3-wood and a 5-wood to provide the most options on par 5s and long par 4s. High handicappers will often find themselves needing a good, long second shot to get to the green, and having multiple fairway woods in your bag will provide you with those options.

Once you start getting better, you may want to add a lob wedge or gap wedge to improve your scoring game close to the green. At that point, you may want to consider merging your 5-wood and 4-iron into, say, a 3-hybrid, or just carrying a 4-wood instead of both a 3 and 5 wood.

But overall, my advice is to make sure you love every club in your bag. Experiment with different make-ups until you find yourself constantly saying, “I’ve got the club for this shot!” instead of “if only I had the right club.”


Conclusion

Our choice for the best fairway wood for high handicappers is the TaylorMade M4 due to its balanced club head and exceptional distance.

The M4 Fairway delivers consistent production that improves your shotmaking from the fairway and even the tee box, featuring a wide-hitting area with great forgiveness.

If you are searching for a fairway wood that improves your ball speed, this TaylorMade club ramps up your MPH and produces dependable performance on each swing.

With the M4 Fairway’s ability to send the golf ball into the air with an ideal launch angle, you’ll find that this club is one of the best on the market for increasing carry and overall distance.