What are the Best Fairway Woods For Mid Handicappers in 2018?
Fairway woods are the most versatile long clubs in a golfer's arsenal. But their name is quite misleading. They are not just clubs to be used exclusively on the fairway, nor are they made of wood, for that matter! Modern fairway woods are probably second only to drivers with regards to innovation and advanced clubhead designs. With perimeter weighting, speed pockets, hot faces, titanium and carbon fiber composite heads and much more, the best fairway woods on the market these days are a far cry from the clubs that were sold under the moniker just a few decades ago. Like the best irons for mid handicappers, a game improvement fairway wood is quite capable of performing several different functions on the course, on the fairway, off the tee and in the rough. But unlike the irons which come as a set of 6-9 clubs, a combination of 3 and 5-wood takes up only two slots on your regulation club set. That makes a compelling case for the inclusion of at least a 3-wood in your club collection. On that note, here are the best fairway woods for mid handicappers in 2017:
Fairway Woods Introduction & Buying GuideWoods are a family of golf clubs that include the 1-wood (more commonly called the driver), and the 3, 5 and 7-woods which are alluded to as fairway woods. The numbering on the wood denotes the loft angle, with the 1-wood being the lowest lofted and the 7-wood the highest. You can even find higher lofted woods on the market. These 7, 9 and 11-woods are called utility woods. And thanks to the continuing innovations in club technology, it is possible to buy woods with adjustable lofts these days. Such a club can be transformed from a 3-wood to a 5, or 7-wood, though only in between rounds according to regulations. Woods are used on longer par-5 and above courses for your second shot from the fairway when you still have a couple of hundred yards or more to go to reach the green. And on shorter holes, you can even use them from the tee with a full swing, instead of trying underpowered shots with your driver. Woods are also lofted enough to provide some workability from the rough but do note that some models may be optimized for one function over the other.
Fairway Woods vs. HybridsWoods are easier to hit than longer irons and get more distance than hybrids. But on the other hand, hybrids are the easiest to hit out of the three and work better in the rough thanks to their smaller club heads. Though, the only losers here are long irons. A couple of woods and couple of hybrids can work much better together than any combination that involves long irons, especially for beginners and mid handicappers. You might want to alter your combination depending on the course, its length and the number of potential roughs and tight lies you might fall into en-route to the green. For more distance, use woods and for better workability from tough lies in the fairway, use the hybrids. To learn more about fairway woods and hybrids, check out this YouTube instructional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9Jc6hks0yI
Fairway Wood LoftThe loft of a club is the angle at which club face rests, and it mainly affects the trajectory and distance on shots. Higher lofts result in higher ball trajectories and shorter distances on shots. This is why higher lofted fairway woods cannot match the distance you get on shots with the lowest lofted 1-wood, a.k.a the driver. The lofts on a 3-wood are usually between 15-18 degrees, while a 5-wood goes between 20-22 degrees and so on. The best fairway woods for high handicappers ideally should have higher lofts, while mid-handicappers can try their hands at the standard lower lofted 3-woods.
Adjustable OptionsTop end models from brands like TaylorMade, Titleist and Callaway just to name a few, will have some advanced customization features on the clubhead these days. An adjustable hosel that allows you to twist and change the loft angle is a common sight these days. Movable and sliding weights is another feature that manufacturers have added these days to fairway woods, making them similar to the best drivers for mid handicappers in this regard. As to whether you need these features is entirely subjective. But they are all the rage, and many golfers do buy them based on the marketing hype. If you like tinkering with your clubs, and have the extra cash to spend, there is no reason not to get a wood with adjustable features. The movable weights might help if you have issues with slicing or hooking your shots. The adjustable loft option is nice since you are getting a club that can be altered to do the work of two other lofts as well.
If we take mid handicappers as any group of players with their handicaps between 10-20, then the Cobra King LTD is more suitable for those with their handicaps below 15.
The driver from the same series ranks very highly on charts for its stellar performance, and the fairway woods do not disappoint here. They have carried over the space-age looks of the driver to the LTD woods, and these too sport the inventive “Space-Port” at the sole of the club.
Word has it that Cobra partnered with the folks connected to the International Space Station in searching for the lightest combination of titanium-composite for the club head. It looks stunning and performs like a real champ, and is available with adjustable loft options.
What we like
- One of the best performers in all kinds of lies, even divots and bunkers, thanks to that compact clubhead.
- Just about enough forgiveness to cover marginal mishits, perfect for mid handicappers looking to improve their game.
- Plenty of distance on shots, enough to make you smile on shorter par-4s from the tee.
- Sturdy feel and feedback, with impressive sound on impact.
- Black and orange finish with the innovative “space-port” at the sole make this a killer looking club.
What we dislike
- The trajectory on shots is a bit too flat for some golfers.
- Despite the excellent performance on the fairway, some might find this as more of a driver substitute.
The XJ1 is the more mid handicapper friendly wood from Tour Edge, which also has the recently launched EX10 series for better players. The XJ1 has a heavy tungsten sole for more lower CoG that should help you launch your shots higher into the air.
The lightweight titanium alloy frame used across the club helps this effect by concentrating all the weight towards the bottom of the club. The wood has no adjustable features, and you will need to buy your 3 and 5-woods separately.
What we like
- With 2/3rds of the entire mass at the sole, this wood can launch the ball high up into the air for some really long distance shots, making this excellent from the tee.
- There is plenty of forgiveness on offer for mishits, and you can get accurate shots that land on the fairway on a regular basis.
- The feel and feedback are the best attributes of the club, and an explosive sound on impact makes this a fun club to let rip.
- The glossy black finish and teardrop design with an E for alignment make this a good looking club.
What we dislike
- This one tends to get the ball to launch too high into the air for some.
- Not one of the best fairway woods for high handicappers due to low forgiveness.
The revolutionary “Jailbreak” technology made the Epic driver such a hit this year for Callaway. Though this fairway wood shares the same GBB Epic name, the technology is not quite the same.
You still get that ultra-lightweight triaxial carbon in the clubhead, a Speed Step crown, and the fast Face Cup design though.
All that amounts to a fairway wood that is very lightweight and easy to swing, with the weight focused towards the sole for playability and forgiveness. You also get a wide choice in lofts, from 3 all the way to 9-wood.
What we like
- Equally comfortable off the tee and on the fairway, a great option if you want a well-balanced wood.
- Excellent distance on shots, with faster ball speeds due to the Face Cup design.
- The Wood is incredibly easy and lightweight to swing, with good amounts of forgiveness.
- Looks great in the glossy black finish with neon accents.
What we dislike
- The feedback and sound are not the best in class.
- Probably not a good fit for the better swingers in the mid handicap range.
The 2017 edition of the M2 Fairway is an upgrade to what was already one of the best game improvement fairways of the past years. They have reinforced the shape of the clubhead for a much better impact sound and feedback, along with a Speed Pocket for extra ball speed and distance on shots.
TaylorMade included an inverted cone design, along with an ultra fast stainless steel face for a balance between ball speed and forgiveness. Overall the M2 has everything that the 2016 version offered, with a few choice improvements sweetening the deal.
What we like
- Excellent forgiveness and accuracy with the inverted cone face design.
- The Speed Pocket and “hot face” guarantees distance and speed on all shots, making drives from the tee a real pleasure.
- The wood is very lightweight and easy to swing.
- Looks good in the contrasting black and white finish, with the white on the crown aiding alignment.
What we dislike
- The sound is still a bit off, not as good as some other clubs in its class.
- Not as good from different lies.
If you want maximum forgiveness on a game improvement fairway wood, you can’t possibly do any better than the Fusion from Callaway. Like the Epic, the Big Bertha Fusion also sports a triaxial carbon on the crown, but the club head has a quite radical, triangular shape.
Regarding performance, the Fusion rates highly on both forgiveness and distance, with a liberal dose of feedback thrown in for good measure.
The woods are easy to hit, and they stay hit when you get it right on the sweet spot. The woods are available in 3, 5 and 7-wood lofts.
What we like
- Matte black finish with red and white trim make this an attractive club.
- The steel-composite head produces a pleasingly muted feedback that sounds just right.
- Lots of forgiveness on offer inspires confidence to go for aggressive shots.
- Excellent shots from the tee, with high workability in all kinds of lies make this a versatile wood.
- One of the best fairway woods for mid handicappers with the best-in-class distance on shots.
What we dislike
- Too light for some players.
- The triangular clubhead looks odd for some.
Having adjustable features can be a nice plus, but they are not really necessary for a club to become the best fairway wood. And this fact is borne out by our top pick out this shortlist.
The Callaway Big Bertha Fusion has to be the best fairway wood for intermediate golfers, with a delicate balance between playability, distance, and forgiveness.
If you have a lower handicap and higher swing speeds, you might want to look at the Cobra LTD or the Callaway Epic Sub Zero woods.
Also, if you are on the lookout for the best golf sets for beginners, or the best irons for mid handicappers, we have got you covered with our in-depth reviews!