How to Hit Fairway Woods

By Mike Camunas

A fairway wood is a valuable and near indispensable club in a golf bag. When a golfer is sitting in the middle of a par-5 hole, or even a long par-4 hole, a fairway wood--or a hybrid club--comes in handy to make up plenty of ground and yardage. Generally, it is the club of choice for amateur golfers looking to get on the green in or under regulation. It's important for every golfer to be able to hit a fairway wood or hybrid properly, since it is an integral part of any golfer's game.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Step 1
Determine if a fairway wood or a hybrid club is the club needed for the upcoming shot. Sometimes, even on a par-5 hole, a long iron would play better due to conditions or hole layout, especially if a golfer incorporates course management into their game or lacks power in a golf swing.
Step 2
Since fairway woods or hybrids can eliminate longer irons, it allows the golfer to have a more upright posture during the shot. Set up with your body's weight on the balls of your feet and put your feet about shoulder-width apart. The ball should be about 2 to 3 inches left of center in your stance, with your hands pointing straight downwards. Make sure your hands are not forward or behind the ball.
Step 3
Lean your body to your right (or away from the ball), which will help you swing upwards and rotate your body on the back swing. Most of your weight should be transferred to your right foot when pulling the club back.
Step 4
When starting the swing, it should be a full back swing and then have a shallow downswing into the ball. Make sure your body makes the full turn so it leads your hands and arms in a wide arc through the swing.
Step 5
At the point of impact with the ball, make sure your shoulders return square so the club head swings straight into the ball. Remember to release your hands at point of impact, which will help create a long, straight shot. During this step, the weight on your back foot will transfer to the front foot, which will turn in slightly to generate power for the follow through.

Tips & Warnings

The ball will not necessarily always have a flat lie, even in the fairway. Remember to adjust your stance and grip to adhere to the ball, which could be below or above your feet. For example, you'll want to choke up on the club when the ball is above your feet.
Fairway woods are clubs made for sweeping the ball off the turf leaving little or no divot behind. The large club head and wide sole produces longer shots and makes them much more forgiving clubs to use than irons.
When using your fairway woods, think "low, slow and wide" on your takeaway.
Fairway woods can be a difficult club to hit. It takes practice to hit it well and then get the most out of the club. If you have trouble hitting a fairway wood properly, try using a hybrid club or sticking to the long irons. There are irons available up to 1, while some hybrids are specifically designed to replace a high-lofted fairway wood.
Many mishits with a fairway wood or a hybrid club will be a topped shot or a low and thin shot that will slice to the right. To avoid topping the shot, it's important to keep your head down until contact is made with the ball.

About The Author

Mike Camunas is also reporter for the St. Petersburg Times, covering local golf in the Tampa Bay area, from events to golfers hitting hole in ones, to even covering the professional events that hit town. He has been playing golf for about 11 years and has not seen his handicap lower. Maybe one day, but he'll stick to his day job for now.


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