Despite the advent of hybrid and utility clubs, the fairway wood is still an important club to master. Almost all professionals carry at least one in their bags. Most of us do not hit the ball far enough from the tee to be close to the green, and we need all the distance we can get from our second shot on a par 5. Faced with an approach shot of two hundred yards plus--or the need to maximize distance from the fairway--the ability to strike an accurate and controlled fairway wood shot is still a vital part of the game.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
Select a fairway wood if the lie is good and the back of the ball is readily accessible to the club. If the ball is sitting down, a hybrid or iron will be a better choice for the shot. You will be able to hit down on the back of the ball more, producing a better contact.
Take your normal stance, but the ball should be positioned further forward than for your medium to short irons. About an inch further back from where you play your driver is ideal.
Swing smoothly. Do not fall into the trap of trying to muscle the ball away because you are facing a long shot. The smoother you swing, the better contact you will make and the farther and straighter the ball will go.
Sweep the ball away off the top of the grass. Do not take a divot with the fairway wood. You can hit down very slightly on the ball, brushing it away from the grass, but swinging steeper and taking a divot results in the ball popping up and losing distance.
Play the ball slightly further back in your stance from a fairway bunker. Concentrate on hitting the ball first. Opening the stance and face of the club a little helps achieve a clean contact from the sand.
Tips & Warnings
Make a controlled and smooth swing. More distance will be gained from making a pure contact with the ball than by trying to power the ball away. If you're struggling, choke down on the shaft an inch. Swing even slower.
Topping or thinning the ball with the fairway wood can be caused when the ball is too far forward in your stance, leading to you hitting the ball when the club head is ascending. The ball should be struck at the point the club reaches the bottom of its arc.