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The Fairway Wood is Dead

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By Tony Covey | Follow Tony on Twitter

The End is Near

The fairway wood isn’t dead yet…but it sure as hell looks like it’s dying.

Yes, I’ve heard of RocketBallz, but in this case, Stage 2 means terminal. Never mind Speedline, Adams should call their next fairway wood the Flatline. Why call them fairway woods at all? Calling them panda woods seems more appropriate. Extinction is all but certain.

I suppose TaylorMade, and Callaway, and Nike, and just about everyone else with a new for 2013 fairway wood  would disagree, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

The Surge

There’s a strange phenomenon that sometimes happens as terminally ill patients near the end. In the hours before they flatline they experience a surge of energy. They are renewed, they are vital, and then they are gone.

And yes…I first learned about the surge while (not) watching Grey’s Anatomy. Personally, I hate the show, and basically watch it by accident when my wife watches it, but I definitely don’t like it. It totally sucks. That is my official story. And I’m absolutely sticking to it.

Where fairway woods are concerned, after barely breathing for the better part of a decade, The Surge happened last season. With the release of RocketBallz TaylorMade reinvigorated a market segment golfers had largely stopped caring about. Lured by the promise of 17 MORE YARDS, golfer suddenly found themselves energized to do something they hadn’t considered in years; buy new fairway woods.

And they did…by the truckloads. Lots and lots of truckloads. For its efforts TaylorMade raked in something in the neighborhood of a gozillion dollars, and set record sales numbers…again.

This season, the beeps aren’t what they were a year ago. Sales, like the heartbeat of the fairway wood, are slowing. We’re inching closer to the end.

Beep…Beep…Beeeeeeeeep_____________________ (pulls the plug so we can all mourn in silence).

Reality Setting In

You can say what you want about TaylorMade…hell, I’ve said lots of things about TaylorMade, but you’ll never hear me call them stupid. They must have known that the momentum from the original RocketBallz wasn’t wholly sustainable. You just gave me 17 more yards (actually in my case it was 37 yards), I don’t really need 10 more…not from hardest to hit club in the bag, and not from a club I just replaced last year (unless it’s the driver…in which case…sure, 10 more yards sounds fantastic).

Callaway for its part must have believed the same with the XHot fairway. Maybe there’s a little noise to be made. Give Callaway some credit for reviving, the 7, 9, and even the 11 wood, but a full-on lighting strike isn’t happening two years in a row.  Not with a fairway wood.

Even the most promiscuous of club hos doesn’t replace his fairway woods every season.

The point is, even if nobody expects to sell a freighter full of fairway woods, you still have to put something on the shelves. Their presence alone shouldn’t suggest that the consumer actually wants them.

When I picked up the game, a 3 wood and a 5 wood were practically mandatory for every golfer on the course. Those days are over. The 7, 9, and 11 woods are bordering on extinction (Callaway’s XHot could prove to be the last of the species), and even the 5 wood is just barely clinging to life. Some golfers (including your’s truly more often than not) have abandoned the fairway wood altogether, and an increasing majority rely on just a single fairway wood to get them through their rounds.

Ideally they never have to use it.

More often than not it’s a 3 wood. For some it’s a 4 wood. Beyond that…well…there’s probably nothing beyond that.

Fairway woods are an evil of dwindling necessity.

Neglect, Hybrids, and the PGA Tour

So how did we reach a point in time where the once mighty fairway wood is slowly going the way of the jigger? The way I see it, you can’t point the finger 3 places; neglect, hybrids, and the PGA Tour.

NEGLECT

Blame the golf companies. While perhaps not for lack of trying, for the better part of a decade engineers and designers conjured up what basically amounts to zero innovation on the fairway wood front. At the beginning of last season when I spoke to Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade’s Chief Technology Officer, he told me that revolutionizing the fairway wood has been on his to-do list for 10 years, and RocketBallz was the first time in a decade his team had achieved the goal.

10 years. That’s a long time to without any significant technological breakthroughs (real or imagined), and TaylorMade certainly wasn’t alone. The golf companies inadvertently conditioned golfers to believe that fairway woods were the ultimate equipment commodity. They’re all they same. They haven’t changed in years.

We’ll make your drives go farther. We’ll make you a better iron player. Have you tried the new hybrid? Check out the grooves on these wedges.

The fairway wood…don’t bother. What’ s the point?

In a decade we can give you 15 drivers each better than the one that came before it, but a fairway wood…meh…stick with what you got.

And that’s exactly what most guys did…it’s what most still do. I can’t count the number of times a reader has told me that nothing on today’s market can touch the Titleist he’s had for the last decade.

HYBRIDS

About the same time that fairway wood futility was setting in, hybrids/rescues began to emerge as viable alternatives to long irons. As golfers became more and more comfortable with the idea of no longer bagging difficult to hit 3 and 4 (and in some cases 5, 6, and 7) irons, many started to wonder if it might be possible to replace those even more difficult to hit fairway woods with lower lofted hybrids.

Questions flooded forums, “Can I replace my 5 wood with a 2 hybrid?”, and as golfers experimented many learned that what little they lost in distance by switching to a hybrid, they more than made up for in accuracy. There’s always something to be said for swinging on plane and hitting the ball with the center of the face. Who needs this 5 wood?

Keeping up with growing consumer demand, manufacturers focused more of their attention on the emerging hybrid space. In many cases, higher lofted 3 and 4 iron replacements were accompanied by 19°, and then 18°, and then 16°, and now 15° hybrids. Hybrids are no longer designed just to replace irons. Hybrids are being designed to replace fairway woods, and with 15° offerings, one could argue they’re being designed to render the 3-wood obsolete.

Given the distance increases companies are achieving with rescue clubs, we could be one well-designed 13° hybrid away from the extinction of the 3-wood.

Now if I’m being completely objective, it’s impossible not to notice that today’s modern long hybrid aren’t much different from yesterday’s fairway woods. Only a few CCs and ½” or so separates the modern 15° hybrid from the 3 wood of a decade ago.

You can call them whatever you want, but the clubs themselves simply aren’t that different, but hybrids have the benefit of reputation. They’re easier to hit. Fairway woods…they’re hard to hit. Scrap ‘em if you can.

THE PGA TOUR

Whether you define the shape of influence as a pyramid or a sphere, the single greatest retail influencer remains the the PGA Tour. And those tour guys, they’ve done a piss-poor lousy job of selling the consumer on new fairway wood technology.

It’s not that Callaway’s XHot marketing has been totally ineffective, or that TaylorMade hasn’t gotten some attention with their #IER campaign (Johnson Wagner saying “Mustache-IER” is funny), it’s that despite supposed advancements in technology, guys…lots of guys on the PGA Tour continue to win with what the manufacturers would have the rest of us believe is obsolete technology.

Looking back from this year’s WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral to last season’s Masters, no fewer than 15 wins (and that doesn’t include multiple winners like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy) are credited to guys carrying something other than the latest fairway wood technology. And we’re not talking about guys who are just a little slow transitioning from last year’s model to this year’s model. We’re talking about some seriously old, antiquated, find-it-for-thirty-bucks-or-less-on-eBay gear.

Those winner’s bags include such classics as Titleist’s 980F and 906F2, TaylorMade’s Burner, Nike’s SQ Sumo, and Callaway’s famed FT-i.

And then there’s Cleveland staffer Charlie Beljan. He won without a single fairway wood in the bag (he carried 15° and 20° hybrids).

If the best players in the world – guys for whom a single shot can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars – aren’t finding the performance gains to justify an upgrade, why should the average joe drop upwards of $300 on a club he can’t hit straight anyway?

The Future of the Fairway Wood

I’ve been predicting the end of fairway woods for years, and yet they keep limping along. Truthfully, I probably got a little ahead of myself (what can I say, I’m a visionary) and TaylorMade’s success with the RBZ last season admittedly forced me to bump my time table back a bit. I’ll begrudgingly accept that it’s probably not time to pull the plug on the 3 wood just yet. It’s not going away any time soon (if ever), but the 5 wood is on a life support, and most everything else…let’s just say they might not outlive the Javan Rhino.

As long as the tour guys keep playing something of the 3 wood variety, I suspect golfers will continue to occasionally buy new 3 woods, but despite best efforts from Callaway, TaylorMade, and anyone else who thinks they’ve got the next IT fairway, we’re unlikely to see another year like last year any time soon. Golfers will revert to their old habits, and that means fairway woods will only get replaced when it’s absolutely necessary. It’s probably better that way.

They’re all the same right? You stick with what you got, and I’ll keep not watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Join the Discussion

We want to know (share with us in the comments section):

  • Do you upgrade your fairway woods frequently, or are you one of those who clings to the familiar?
  • When was the last time you put a new fairway wood in your bag, and why did you do it?
  • If you’re one of those guys who bags a so-called “obsolete” model, what ‘s in your bag now and what would it take to convince you to replace it?

{ 102 comments… read them below or add one }

Christian Furu March 21, 2013 at 6:20 am

I agree about Grey’s Anatomy. But not the future of the fw.

Adjustability like the AMP Cell is a must.
7, 9 and 11 will become more popular.

I actually think the hybrid will struggle in a few years time. Fw and long, easy irons will be more popular. Driving irons, GI and SGI irons that are easy to hit in 2i and 3i.

Both the hybrid and fw can be completely destroyed by the long shafts. Keep them short – save the clubs. People need to see consistency with these clubs.

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TT March 21, 2013 at 6:33 am

Wow am I behind the times. I just purchased my first fairway wood EVER! Never really needed it. I do have an old TM Raylor 21° that I found maybe 13 yrs ago. It does everything from anywhere. Finally bought a 4 wood this winter, last years model, got a ridiculous deal on it which is the only reason I got it. But hey, I’m the guy the manufacturers love! Can’t wait to hit my shiny new driver and the brand new putter sleeps in bed with me.

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Dustin March 21, 2013 at 7:09 am

I’ve had the R11 3W in the bag for a while. Last fall I added an Acer XDS React “Machete” (18° loft, 7-wood length) and I like it quite a bit. My problem is I have yet to find a hybrid that I like. I’ve tried a hand full and none of them feel right. So far the Machete has done a good job filling the gap between the 5-iron and the 3W.

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Blade March 21, 2013 at 7:25 am

I already dumped my 3w for now anyway. Might try one again someday, but don’t need one at the moment.

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Boris March 21, 2013 at 7:25 am

I know, everyone seems to love their hybrids, but I have yet to find one that I can use.
At clinics I have hit hundreds of balls with the latest, greatest, longest, and have yet to
hit more than a dozen decent shots.. So, will be sticking with my old fairway woods and yep, still have 3 & 4 irons in the bag…

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GolfSpy T March 21, 2013 at 7:49 am

This isn’t totally unusual. I have a good buddy who has never found a hybrid he can hit. As a result, he’s got a fairly recent Callaway 3 iron bent to 17° that he carries as a long/mid hybrid alternative.

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David W March 21, 2013 at 8:04 am

I’m also seeing guys put a long iron (2, 3, 4) such as a JPX, G20, etc. in their bags along with their cavity back irons instead of hybrids. They are much easier to hit than they used to be.

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Oldplayer March 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm

I’ve got a ping eye 2 plus two iron in the bag. I don’t get on with hybrids. The 2 iron is easy to hit and versatile to use. Also carry a 14 degree sonartec 3 wood and 3-pw in the irons. I think fairway woods still have appeal to the better player.

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Fleeter March 21, 2013 at 7:46 am

It’s funny, I always carried a 2 iron and when I got my lastest irons (Titleist AP1′s ) the 2 wasn’t available so I got a 16 degree rescue club and love it. Now, the irons i got were actually 4-gw so I also got an 18 degree ping g10 hybrid to replace the 3 iron and could not hit it consistently and ended up ordering a 3 iron instead! I’ve always carried a strong 3 wood (12 degrees years ago) and my current one is a 14 degree ping.

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Drew March 21, 2013 at 7:50 am

I think this article is spot on…hybrids are simply easier to hit than fairway woods. I tried the Cally’s Tour Edge and Ping’s K15 fairwoods and struggled. Maybe I dont have as flat a swing as some. Went with several Mashie hybrids and I’m loving life.

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Bob Pegram March 21, 2013 at 10:40 am

One of the reasons newer FWs are hard to hit is that the heads are too big. The smaller, older, ones get down in behind the ball better for easier flush contact. Like the author said, many hybrid heads are almost as big as old fairway woods. The only fairways I have found easy to hit have extremely low profile faces and relatively smaller size. They are about 10 years old, but unused until I got them.

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Drew March 21, 2013 at 11:58 am

Good points.

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Chriovorg March 22, 2013 at 8:21 am

Excellent comment. This has been my gripe with fairway woods for years now. the new woods look like old drivers and I would never have even thought of trying to hit my old drivers off of the fairway.

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Socorro March 21, 2013 at 7:53 am

I agree that fairway clubs (call them “woods”or “metals”) were slow to progress in technology, and I still haven’t found one that hits better than my Hogan C455 from any lie in the fairway or rough. However, as driver replacements the new low loft or adjustable fairways are a sure bet to continue. Several of the guys I play with have abandoned their drivers in favor of the TM and Callaway 3′s, and we see plenty of tour pros using them frequently from the tees.

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ross March 21, 2013 at 7:59 am

For those struggling with the hyprid – Try the MD Golf Seve Icon.

I know its not a top brand – but this is seriously so easy to hit my mate can smack it with his eyes closed and it flys. Give him anything else and even with his eyes open he can’t hit it and he’s a good 6 handicapper.

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bruce raffe March 21, 2013 at 8:00 am

Toney Covey – Your insane! The idea that fairway woods are near the end is absurd. As a matter of fact companies like Taylor Made and Adams Golf had record sales in 2012 with fairway woods. !st quarter closes in a couple of weeks and all indications are that both companies are way ahead of 2012′s pace.
Even touring pro’s had steadily added stronger lofted 3 woods to subsidize off the tee box from short par 4′s.
Edwin Watts outsold 5 woods to 2 hybrids almost 8 to 1 in 2012.
I emplore you to find a pro other than a real front runner(week in a week out)like Charlie Beljan to back up your point.
Also, a company like Adams Golf which is driven by innovation has engineers that are putting primary focus on the fairway wood and VST (velocity slot technology) and sending this to the front line of their equipment possibilities. This is why Taylor Made purchased Adams. Their utilizing this technology to deliver the best and easiest to hit fairway woods available.

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golfer4life March 21, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I believe your gonna be surprised with TM for sales. I know a certain main large retailer has them down 52% from last year.
TM actually was largely influenced to purchase Adams to avoid law suites for patent infringement claims. Adams had the technology first, yet TM made claims of the first to introduce it.
I have noticed that even with the claims of additional yardage that players found them harder to hit than ever. They launched very low for most.

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TwoSolitudes March 21, 2013 at 8:00 am

Yep, my 3 wood vanished long ago… I still have a 5 and a 7. But the 7 is in the closet in favour of a 4H. That leaves the 5 which is only for non-driver tee shots. In other words I have one spot in the bag for a fairway wood, but I would never actually hit it from the fairway. And as soon as I can hit a 19* hybrid from the tee, the 5wood will be gone as well.

Great post! Fun read, a bit of controversy and some humour.

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Golfspy Matt March 21, 2013 at 8:04 am

I don’t upgrade my FW woods frequently, but I also don’t cling to anything because I’ve yet to find one I truly truly love on a long term basis.

I had an RBZ last year. At the time, I had nothing and I liked the RBZ when I demoed it (and for a long while after that, too).

Best,

Matt

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Mike T March 21, 2013 at 8:10 am

I just bought a new Ping G25 driver and 3 wood. I was fit for both of them. I upgraded from my Callaway Razr Hawk driver and 3 wood combo. I used to not be able to hit the driver and do well with the 3 wood but now it is the opposite. Honestly, I should have saved the $300 for the custom 3 wood and kept the Razr Hawk. There are only a very few holes that a 3 wood is necessary. Most of the time if it is not driver for the tee shot, then I could use a 4 iron or my 3 iron hybrid. I can’t hit the 3 wood off the deck to save my life. I wish I read this article about a month ago when I ordered the new 3 wood. I would not have ordered it and saved the $300.

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wdgolf March 21, 2013 at 8:11 am

I think it makes a nice progression in face size between the hybrid and driver. Off the tee, I like having a little bigger face when it doesn’t make sense to use the driver, especially considering the 3 wood is usually 43″ long.

Can’t say I’ve ever felt the need to replace a 3 wood with a hybrid. I rarely hit my 3 wood off the ground as it is.

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wdgolf March 21, 2013 at 8:16 am

I’m a damn contrarian today aren’t I? lol

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Maverickping March 21, 2013 at 8:13 am

Last year for the first time (been golfing since 1999) I bought a TEE 3 FW and love the thing. Very long for me and I can see it being around for quite a while.

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Gary Lewis March 21, 2013 at 8:15 am

I still have a 15 degree 3 wood and a 19 degree 5 wood, have had these for over 2 years. If I could find a hybrid 18 or 19 degree that would go about the same distance as the 5 wood, and high enough, I might consider replacing the the 5 wood. I haven’t found a hybrid that equals the 5 wood in trajectory, but I haven’t looked at 18 or 19 degree hybrids lately either. Looks to me like the lower lofted hybrids might continue to evolve into something between a hybrid and a fairway wood. The main advantage I see for a fairway wood is the higher launch (unless they have solved that with hybrids recently).. Older folks with declining swing speeds aren’t going to be able to handle a 15 or 16 degree hybrid, unless they can hit it high enough to be effective, and a 19 degree hybrid may not fly high enough for a number of golfers..

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Ardbeg March 21, 2013 at 8:20 am

I’ve just made some swing changes, I was too closed in my back swing, and now after 4 years of bagging a fairway wood (been playing for 5 years ) I can hit it off the deck consistently.

i am carrying a r11 4 wood and getting great distance and penetrating ball flight.
It has changed my long game on par fives, but has made me discover how well the two courses I play at my home club are designed.

From the eight par 5′s from the two courses , only 4 greens are without major risk reachable in 2 ( if you are lucky to hit a monster drive).
Then you have to be actually be in the right place on the fairway to have a shot.
So I have a new shot in my bag that I can only use, 1 or 2 times a round if lucky.

It can be a savior from a bad drive on a long hole, but that’s it.
I use it from the tee on around two holes that I could use a 3 hybrid with a similar result.

So with a hybrid I can get great great distance, placement and consistency, lay up etc.

So maybe we are starting to realize the worth of carrying such a club when we can bag another hybrid or even another wedge that we will use more often.
I carry only the 4 wood, then titleist 3 and 4 910h.

So maybe we are just getting smarter and realize the risk in the shot, and therefore sales have dropped.

I am hitting mine great and will carry it just for the 1 or 2 times a round I can use it off the deck, because when you get one sweet and watch it go, the feeling is one of the best.

Cheers Ardbug

The pro’s use a fairway from the tee, and to have a crack at the par 5′s

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Yumanike March 21, 2013 at 8:30 am

An interesting article, but I don’t totally agree with the conclusion. I’ve had my TEE CB1 in the bag for probably about 8 years now and I’m waiting for something to kick it out. I put a blue board in it and it is one of my favorite, if not my favorite, clubs. Butter smooth and easy to get off the deck. I know if it can get my drive to within 280yds on a par 5, I have a shot at the green in two. If you show me a hybrid that is as easy to hit as my 3 wood and is good to go from 280, I’ll put it in the bag! I’ve hit all of the latest offerings, but the best I can do is about 260. If I added a little length to the shaft and made the head a little bigger… oh, wait, that is a 3 wood. Anyway, I highly recommend anybody in the market for a club around 13* to 18* to hit a fairway wood from TEE that has a titanium face.

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staceyf March 21, 2013 at 8:39 am

Couldn’t agree more. Got rid of my 3 wood a couple months ago for a used Adams 15* hybrid with a longer shaft. Couldn’t be happier. The fairway wood was wonderful as long as my lie had enough loft under it. The hybrid allows me to hit 150yds from a flat fairway or even hardpack. When I started golf about 4 yrs ago, I used 3,5, and 7 woods. Today, I’ve traded them all for hybrids and will never go back.

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Russ March 21, 2013 at 8:39 am

I’m still using the Adams GTExtremes(3/5) or the Bobby Jones(3/5). Seems like about the time I agree with you I hit a fantastic shot with either one of these. Oh yeah- I hit with a Louisville golf persimmon(3/5) as well(you ought to hear what that sounds/acts like).

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mstod March 21, 2013 at 8:49 am

I have a Ping K15 5 wood. It’s my favourite club in the bag and I use it all the time. I don’t like the lower lofted hybrids as much but as you said, I won’t be looking to replace it anytime soon. I also carry one hybrid which I don’t use as often but it’s necessary depending on where the ball ends up.

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Chris March 21, 2013 at 8:51 am

Is this just another round of the life cycle of a trend? Are the golf companies trying to steer everyone in the direction of hybrids now so they can try and get one in everyone’s bag and then revamp the fairway metals later to try and push us back that direction so we can buy the new and improved fairway wood? I recently went and tried all of the new offerings in the hybrids and 3 woods. I was not rocketballzier! I hit the original RBZ better than the Stage 2 but the best was the Ping G25. I also liked the Adams. I do not feel like sharing the hybrid results, they were bad. I need a lot of improvement in my game but I am not going to get it from a hybrid. I will stick with what I have and work on my swing instead. Sorry if I am messing up the golf companies plan for increasing sales.
I personally cannot hit a hybrid consistently. Nor can I hit a long iron consistently. I carry 2 different 3 woods. 1 old Taylormade Burner, the original steelhead, and a Ping G10. The TM is for shots 215 to 230 and the Ping is for anything over 230 up to about 260. I have a 6 iron I use for up to 200. I then have a short driver for par 4′s and a longer driver for par 5′s. I am not trying to say that I am good with any of these clubs, but I am better with these then any alternative I have tried so far.
Maybe if they come up with a driver hybrid that is sized somewhere between a normal 3 wood and 400 cc?

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john young March 21, 2013 at 8:56 am

I just bought a Rocketballz Stage 2 3-wood… replacing an Adams XTD which replaced a R9 which replaced an R7 tp…. always searching for that extra yard from the fairway/rough … think I need to find the fountain of youth instead… The Rocketballz stage 2 is definitely longer than anything I’ve tried…

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Fredo March 21, 2013 at 8:59 am

Well until I got fit for the Adams Super S driver, 3w & 5w my ability to hit the FW was sketchy at best. This current crop of FW is very forgiving and easy to hit. Honestly until this year I would not have attempted to hit the 3w off the deck. Nothing bit a huge smile after each swing now. Have fun worshiping the hybrid.

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Charlie March 21, 2013 at 8:59 am

Sounds like the results of any club. If you get it and it feels and plays good you use it obsolete or not. I have a 3 wood (metal) that I wouldn’t part with. Right out of the box and on to the course I started hitting that club.

The above said, I will have to say that after reading and listening to what has been said about “off the shelf clubs” it is no wonder some clubs in your bag don’t seem to perform as well as others.

On the other hand think about this. An old guy I play with (like me) said he wasn’t hitting it as far as he use to. I said yeah, but look at your scores. You are consistently hitting in the high 70′s now where as a few years ago you were all over the board. So he has lost distance but gained accuracy.

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Ardbeg March 21, 2013 at 9:01 am

Laughing at distances talked about here,
Tiger hits his 3 wood around 265- 275 , so Bubba must be posting under an alias on here!

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Gary Lewis March 21, 2013 at 9:09 am

Hard to say how things will turn out but I think the 3 and 5 wood are going to be around for awhile because some folks have a hard time hitting hybrids and/or hit their 3 and 5 woods well. I changed my swing last year and have hit the 3 and 5 woods better than in the last several years. Anyone who struggles even a little with the 3 wood off the deck should try a 17 degree 4 wood (Taylormade calls it a 3 HL), almost as long as the 3 wood off the deck but a whole lot easier to hit consistently).

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Crow March 21, 2013 at 9:16 am

I put a new I20 5 wood in my bag end of last year. Before that, I had a G5 5 wood that I would not get rid of, until my swing speed finally got to fast for the shaft. I am one of the few people that cannot figure out how to hit a hybrid. I am about a 6 to 8 handicap, but hybrids seem to light for me. I don’t carry a 3 or 4 iron, i have a hybrid for that place, but I do what I can to not hit it. I will actually choke down on the 5 wood to prevent hitting the hybrid. I am actually debating getting a 7 wood or one of the Mizuno or Callaway driving iron types.

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Regis March 21, 2013 at 9:36 am

I have a “hybrid” philosophy on this. I usually carry a 2 or 3 hybrid which I pair with a 3 or 4 Fairway wood. Prefer the Fairway wood off the tee on certain tight holes or where my second shot on a par 5 allows a wide berth. Use the hybrid on tighter fairways or as a scoring club or on long par 3′s because I find the distance more predictable. But I never can see going all fairways or hybrids. I like the options afforded in gaming both

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Gary Lewis March 21, 2013 at 9:46 pm

I feel the same way, still like the 3,4,and 5 fairway woods but my 20.5 and 23 degree hybrids work very well and are a lot easier for me to hit than blade type 3 and 4 irons.

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Ted S March 21, 2013 at 9:46 am

I really enjoy using fairway woods. I first tried golf when graphite shafts were just hitting the market. I really started playing about 2 years ago, had never seen a hybrid until then, sorry had really fallen of the golf radar. Carried 17 and 22 degree hybrids, which I struggled with. Came across a used Callaway Hawkeye VFT 5 wood for $20 figured it was worth trying. Boom 215 off the deck first time out. Next I added 2 more Hawkeyes a 3 and 7, ironically the three replaced an Adams Speedline 3 wood. The one wood needs to be reshafted still but have found so much use for these clubs.

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Ted S March 21, 2013 at 9:51 am

Also forgot that my five wood was used to take closet to the pin in a par 3 tourney on a 210 yd hole, in mid November.

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Larry March 21, 2013 at 10:09 am

I disagree with you fairway is not dead! Maybe the 3 wood is not used as much but all the fellows I play with use 5 and 7 wood… We find them easirer to hit..period. It is a different swing with hybirds, that with fairway wood…

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Hans March 21, 2013 at 10:11 am

Still haven’t found anything to replace my callaway 2008 FT 3 wood and hybrids. Have tried all the new clubs out every year and these still win out. Now irons, putters and wedges are on a constant merry-go-round. Still hitting the ft5 driver as well.

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Chal March 21, 2013 at 11:15 am

Just replaced my Titleist 910F with a 910fd and “upgraded” to a Callway X Hot Pro all within the last 6 months. I disagree as well. I love to have a fairway wood for the tee box.

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Greg March 21, 2013 at 11:31 am

I love my TaylorMade 2 and 3 hybrids, and I’m waiting for that breakthrough 13 degree hybrid to replace the 4 wood or 5 wood I sometimes carry. Fairway woods off the ground have always been the toughest clubs for me to hit consistently, except for a 7 wood I carried several years ago, which I replaced with the 2 hybrid.

I’m not sure fairways woods are completely on the way out. I know 15 handicappers who hit them well. (I’m an 8 and once upon a time was scratch.) But I agree fairway woods will continue to be less popular.

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Desmond March 21, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I am having this inner battle regarding fairway versus hybrid.

Recent fairways, like the RBZ, Titleist, TM R11 – in 17 to 18 – couldn’t get them to easily launch. I saw too many 50 something guys struggle with the RBZ 3 wood last year – give them an alternative, and they’ll chuck the RBZ. The XHot … now that is a launcher that breathes new life into fairways … but that shaft length – too long.

Still – maybe a 17 or 19 in an XHot but cut the shaft, hotmelt the head with 5g … a plan coming together. Next, is it the 21/23 XHot or the 22 Stage 2 Hybrid… Decisions.

Hybrids … Fairways….

War.

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blstrong (SeeRed) March 21, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Agree with CF above- fairway wood shaft lengths are growing and shouldn’t. Takes away one of their greatest features (playability). I like my Adams Fast 10 15* 3W a lot and will likely not replace it anytime soon. The Super LS sounds very interesting, but not at the current asking price. Love the 3W off the tee. I tried replacing it with a 16* hybrid, but it’s just not the same thing. I didn’t gain that much in accuracy and lost quite a bit of distance. I also don’t find the 3W any more difficult to hit from the fairway than the hybrid. Am actually even considering picking up a 5W (again) to replace my 20* hybrid.

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Drew March 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Would be interestingt to know if some folks defending FWs are biased because they just shelled out some dough this or last season on a new FW.

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Dhuck Whooker March 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Hey, this could be one of those ah-ha moments,

My 3 wood isn’t more reliable (straighter I mean) off the tee than the driver, that’s very true for me for sure.

And then I use it off the deck trying to reach a par 5 in two, I 1) slice into the woods are the right, 2) duck-hook it into the swamp on the left, 3) top it, 4) pop it up

When I think of it, that 3 wood thing costs me more penalty strokes than anything else in my golf bag.

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Thomas March 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm

I don’t know about you, but I like having the ability to reach par 5′s in two. That usually means driver and 3 or 5 wood. I’m a 10 handicap and find fairway woods easy to hit (Taylormade Superfast 2.0). I often hit the 3 off the tee on tight fairways or sharp doglegs. Yeah, the 2 and 3 iron are gone from my bag, but to misquote Charlton Heston; you will have to pry my fairway wood from my cold dead hands.

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Tom54 March 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Good column. For about the past 7 years I’ve used 2 hybrids and 1 3-Wood. And I don’t use the 3W all that much.
What I find interesting about the column is that I’m looking at new hybrids and there was a Callaway demo day at my course a few weeks ago. I wanted to see the X-Hots. Here is an actual conversation I had with the rep:

Him: What are you currently using?
Me: The Diablo Edge Tour 2(18*) and 3(21*).
Him: Why are you still using a 3 Wood then?

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Matt W March 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Amen Tony. I finally gave up on FW’s last season after finally figuring out how seldom I was actually hitting the ball flush. Replacing them with hybrids tripled my percentage of well struck shots and I may have only lost 10-15 yards in the process. This season I am taking this grand experiment to the next level, investing heavily in my hybrids (and at nearly $300 a pop….I mean heavily) by purchasing the Adams Super LS 2 and 3 hybrids. When people report putting up driver like numbers with a 2 hybrid it’s time to sit up and take note. If all goes well I may add a 4H. My only regret at the demise of the fairway wood is that I didn’t pull the plug years and a couple grand ago.

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aev March 21, 2013 at 2:37 pm

great reading! i’m 67, overweight and live in ontario canada which limits time for local golf. i never have found a hybrid i liked and have never really gotten a good feel for fairway woods. my solution: work at hitting long irons, and when you think you’ve got it work some more! i play with hogan apex forged irons(nice slim blades) supplemented with a13 degree driving iron. on a good day still able to muster 185-90 from a 3 iron and 225-35 from the driving iron. my handicap has remained in the low double digits for most of my 40 year golfing career. since retiring working the short game has become paramount to keeping me there. for most of us who don’t think they are the spitting image of a pro, the yearly outbursts of new technology don’t really do much except keep us going to the neighbourhood golf retailer. your time would be better spent working with what you have learned not to butcher (and then blame it on the club). and oh by-the-way then working some more until you can perceive the difference between blaming the club and realizing that you just are not as consistently good as you think you are!

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Kieran March 21, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Interesting comments. I agree, I have spent the last four years getting my set up right, playing a TM v-steel 4 wood because it is comfortable. I just upgraded to the 910 fd with a cheap ex demo club, because of the adjustability to change trajectory between seasons; and because I really loved the V2 fairway shaft. Also $120 was a bargain too good to miss! At this point, will lose the 21 deg hybrid, and play a 18 deg adams hybrid instead. the 3i can come in and out of the bag depending on my wedge set up. I can’t see how another fw/wood gives me this flexibility. I just dont see how a manufacturer will get fw money from me for years! A fw won’t get down and let me stop one on the green like a hybrid, and is useless from light rough or heavier. So I think the segment will find itself being bred out by the hybrid, with the three wood surviving as a backup driving club, becoming bigger and therefore not as workable or versatile as the better player demands.

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Bob March 21, 2013 at 3:25 pm

The fairway wood isn’t dead, it’s just boring.

Instead of a revolutionary fairway wood, how about a driver the size of a FW? Shallow face, compact head, less room for error… Sounds crazy, I know, but I’d buy one. Maybe I’d learn to hit it as well…

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Mike B March 21, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I believe the problem with fairway clubs is that people go to the range to hit shot after shot with a driver, and never hit their FWs. If they would hit balls with them off the grass at the range, they would find them much easier to hit.

FWs aren’t used often during a round of golf so if they are not used in practice, they will certainly be harder to hit.

Fairway clubs are typically not replaced often because they aren’t used often.

In my situation, I carry a TM r7 CGB MAX 3 and 5 metal and corresponding 3,4, and 5 hybrids. The 5 hybrid gives me fits and have tried many others which I can’t hit properly either. To that end, I have purchased a used Tour Edge EX-3 5 iron instead. As far as the vaunted Adams hybrids… I haven’t met one I could hit consistently yet! I do, however, love their drivers and fairway clubs… so go figure.

My biggest problem right now is waiting for spring to arrive here in Windsor, Ontario.

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Lefthookee March 21, 2013 at 4:04 pm

I’m far from a club hoe, in fact my parents marriage didn’t last as long as how long I had my last 3 wood in the bag (a Callaway great big Bertha) but I have recently changed to a Callaway raza hawk bought from eBay which I imagine will be in the bag for quite some time. I don’t want distance I want a 3 wood which I can go to if I’m having a bad day with the driver and ill more than likely keep the ball in play. For me It’s about having a club in the bag you can trust not crush.

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Iron2850 March 21, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I can see your point. I have a 4 wood (Callaway Fit) that I love for 5 par’s and strategic 4 par’s. But honestly the hybrids are wonderful to hit and I have a 3 and 4 (Callaway Razr HL) that are money. So much so that I am looking at a 2 hybrid.

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Casey W March 21, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I don’t think that I’ll ever switch to a hybrid (I just got the RBZ Stage 2 15* today) but I’ve noticed a good amount of people dropping them. I think that this is a well thought out point.

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Paul March 21, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Sorry, but way wrong. For the longer hitter the FW still remains a driver on certain holes. I use mine on one hole at my club purely because a well struck drive runs through the fairway. If I used a hybrid or iron I would not make the corner. And, on par 5s it is the ultimate risk reward club.

Agree higher markers and old golfers may find it hard to use but there is always a market for them. Espeically now the same technology that is in drivers in the FW.

Cheers

PS Totally agree about Grey’s Anatomy. It was the reason we bought a second TV so I didn’t have to suffer it.

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JB March 21, 2013 at 5:41 pm

I’ll always carried and preferred fairway woods. I have tried lower lofted hybrids and they just never felt as good or easy to hit off the tee or the deck as my fairways. I have carried a 3 and 5 for as long as I’ve played. I had the original X-hot and an ’04 Big Bertha in the bag for about 5 years or so, never thought they’d lose a spot in the bag. I decided to try out some new techology last year and got new TE fairways. I loved them, and even got an extra 3+ wood as a driver replacement for some shorter or tighter courses. I used the the 3 woods a ton last year and had a very accurate year off the tee, although I used the 5 less. After getting a lower lofted driver I have changed to a 2 and 4 wood setup for this year. We’ll see how they go, but either way I don’t think I’ll find a hybrid I like to hit as much as my fairways

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Frank March 21, 2013 at 6:17 pm

I have Wilson Mid size 3 & 5 and they are about 17 years old! I have tried several others over the years but they didn’t appear to be any better.
Until RocketBallz!!! I hit the 3 wood as straight as my old one, but it goes about the same distance as my driver. I can get a nice draw on the 5 wood. So, they are both great positional clubs – and I often use both on par 5′s.
My handicap is a comfortably 12 and I can’t see me swapping for hybrids any time soon.

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Richard Patrick March 21, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I like my FW’s. I carry Ping Rapture V2s and have either a 3W or 4W in the bag. It took a while before I was satisfied with how I hit them, but it was worth the wait. I don’t hit long, so I need a bigger cannon than my 3H enough to justify a FW. I always try FWs when demo days roll around. I’m old school anyhow, so I will probably stick with them even if they do become scarce.

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Bill March 21, 2013 at 7:46 pm

I’ve switched out all sorts of irons, drivers and putters in the last decade but still bagging my Titleist steel shaft 975F (14.5 degree) 3W from a decade ago. Tried to switch to a hybrid but suffered both distance and accuracy drops. I think the main problem is between the ears but I used to kill the 3W and now I have trouble with it, the hybrid and 3 iron (I used to use a 1 iron off the tee because I could hit it straight and far). While I struggle with the long irons and 3W more now, my scores are much better. Wedges and putting are key to good days. If I can keep the driver in the fairway on those days, I’m golden. I only use the 3W maybe once every two rounds now. The hybrid a couple times a round (I like it for collar putts on the fringe). I rarely go for it in two on par 5′s unless my second shot is inside 200. I usually aim for 100 yards from the hole on my second shot because my chance for birdie from there is far better than a 6 or 7 after yanking my 3W or hybrid into trouble. Sometimes I get bored with smart golf and still go for it, but if I kept track of the success rate, I’d probably stop trying altogether.

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Ramesh Singh March 21, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I think you are right about the future of FW’s. I personally had stopped using the fw’s about 4yrs or so ago. Initially i totally relied on my 3 and 4 irons. Later i had bagged the utility / rescue’ s. Presently I only carry one 18*taylormade burner rescue 3# till date. I have been looking into the hybrids for the past two years or so but have yet to find one that “suits me”. From the day i left the FW’s i have never looked back and dont think will ever look for another FW again.!!

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Trevor March 21, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I’ve had two 3-woods in my bag in the last 15 years (I carry driver, 3-wood, 2-iron). My current gamer is a 909 F2 with an old Grafalloy blue driver shaft and its not leaving the bag until the face caves in.

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hutch March 21, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I took out my 3-wood and 5-wood 3 yrs ago and replaced them with Cleveland hi-bore 2i-3i hybrids…hit 2i 230 yrds when off the screws and more consistant contact hence more accurate.love em love em..

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John March 21, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Well, I decided to get the Rocketballz 3 wood Tour 14.5 last summer to increase my distance off the tee and deck by extra 15 yards from R9 so that I can hit more frequently off the tees (carry 270 yards) instead of my driver for better control and accuracy. I carry a 2 iron instead of a hybrid and a 5 wood.

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Davo59 March 22, 2013 at 4:57 am

Whenever I try a new f’way wd I’m always choking down and inch or so. I find the shafts are too long and too hard to find the middle consistently. Having long shafts on drivers are ok, they are hit off a tee and with 460cc’s of assistance and ‘x’ amount of years of RnD. They consistently measure +45.5″ length these days but fairway woods in the same family have followed suit by consistently being 2″ shorter, progression is one thing but have they considered the CC size drop from driver to 3wd, and the fact that its played off the deck? Also I think my first driver was a similar length to today’s 3wds.
My current 3wd is an old Cleveland launcher Titanium (the larger one which is more forgiving than its smaller steel headed predecessor) although it has an aftermarket shaft installed at -1″ length. I keep it in the bag because I know where it is going to go. Not to compare my game to his but Vijay Singh used to play a 9″wd bent to 7wd loft that played more like a 5wd.” Seems like a natural progression towards a hybrid, or a blend of the two (a hybrid of a hybrid and a 3wd) Anyone keen to coin the name of a club of the future?

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Dhuck Hooker March 22, 2013 at 6:31 am

Didn’t the industry “standard” regarding overall length for fairway woods creep up with the drivers?

The old driver was 43.5″, 2 wood 43″, 3 wood 42.5″, etc.

Are they selling 42.5″ 3 woods these days?

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Rev Kev March 22, 2013 at 8:05 am

T is beyond a doubt my favorite Red Sox fan and this is an extremely well written article. I think that he hit the nail on the head in the middle of it though and that his points actually disprove his thesis. Many “hybrids” are masquarading as fairway woods. All that is happening is that the nomenclature is transitioning, not the club – there is still a need for a club that is needed off the tee for position in place of the driver and yet one that is versitle enough to play long shots into the green – you can stick big head on it and make the shaft 1/2 shorter to make it easier to hit and call it a hybrid, but if it quacks and waddles like a duck it’s still a fairway wood.

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Sven Hallauer March 22, 2013 at 8:06 am

Having just switched from a Titleist hybrid to a TaylorMade 5 woods I couldn’t disagree more. Yes, innovation over the last decade has been slow in this area, but the RocketBallz line has finally addressed that. Not having tried the new Nike woods, but having seen Tiger and Rory put them in play I haves to assume that they are equally impressive.

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Eric Larson March 22, 2013 at 8:16 am

I still play 4w & 7w, only real complaint is I hit the 7w high. But I can still reach shorter par 5′s in 2. I’m updating irons this year, and don’t want to upset the apple cart with a 4-iron that’s too long…LOL

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Rob March 22, 2013 at 10:44 am

I think it would be interesting to see if there is a minimum swing speed you should generate for a fairway wood to be beneficial. I swing between 110-115 mph and I see a huge difference, but my step-father has a swing speed between 85-90 mph and with a launch monitor and on course results we determined that he hit is 40.5″ 19* hybrid just as far and more consistently than his 43″ 15* wood. I bet there is a crossover somewhere around 100 mph.

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Ben March 22, 2013 at 11:15 am

I have a TEE XCG-V 4-wood in my bag and it will likely never leave. I’ve practiced with it and I know how to hit it. It has it’s place in my yardage gaps. I think a lot of people have problems with fairway woods because they’re still hanging on to the old loft fallacies and think that you need a 15 degree wood. Everyone that I know that’s tried a 17 to 19 degree fairway usually hits it further than they were hitting their 15 degree. If you look at the heads of these hybrids, they’re really more like the old 4,5, and 7 woods in volume.

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TheHacker March 22, 2013 at 11:56 pm

My workhorse in the bag, apart from my putter, is my 18 deg hybrid. Its the club that I’ll use when I need to get from here to there, where there’s a fair amount of real estate to cover, and I absolutely must not embarrass myself.

My 3 wood is a good training club. It works nice in the range, but it’s just too hard to hit reliably when dealing with uneven lies.

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RAT March 23, 2013 at 2:00 am

Well ,the FW cost too much, only could us it on the par 5′s maybe and the 19.5 fybrid can replace it. I had rather hit something consistently and be a little short than to try the 3w and have a less than 50% chance of hitting it on the screws , topping it is greater than 50%
The cost of clubs is getting out of control and the mfgs are looking for another vein to bleed.

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ignorance123 March 23, 2013 at 4:09 am

The 5 wood has been my friend for years and is still an easier hit for me than a 3-hybrid (Idea Tech V3). Maybe I’m doing something wrong but I can’t figure out hybrids yet. Maybe it’s because I practiced so much with the fairway woods my swing isn’t suited for a hybrid.

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Rob March 23, 2013 at 5:40 am

The Cobra Long Tom 2 wood is a rocket off the fairway for me-providing I have a good lie. Goal-reach some par 5′s in two. The premise that hybrids are easier to hit is true but there will always be a niche group in the sport who will pay for more yards and sacrifice accuracy. That is called ego and that will always be there. For many weekend golfers, the difference between a 94 and a 97 on the card will not matter as much as the memory of the 260 yard blast from the fairway which gets her home in two. The overwhelming majority of golfers buy their equipment from major retail outlets such as Dicks. Most of these golfers play from the white tees. If you want to predict the demise of the fairway wood, I would say it will come if the current thinking to move whites up to where the ladies tees are now in order to encourage better scores and speed up play, then that move will surely help weaken the 3 wood. Hybrids alone won’t do it. Furthermore, if Tour Edge, for example,paid Tiger to endorse a new 4 wood, sales would spike for certain.

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Troy Vayanos March 23, 2013 at 2:46 pm

I only carry a 3 metal wood these days and it’s mostly used off the tee on shorter par fours when I’m looking for position off the tee. I’m lucky enough that I hit the golf ball a long way and find I can get home on par fours and some fives with a long iron.

I am noticing a trend of more and more golfers using hybrids off the fairway and the 3 & 5 woods are becoming very rare.

I suppose they haven’t got long to go!

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TheHacker March 23, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Not sure if it’s just me, does anybody also find it very hard to draw a modern 3 wood? The only chance for me to get a 3 wood in the air with my spanking new RBZ, is to hit fades.

But I do like the sound of it, even when I hit worm burners, it sound as if I crushed it :)

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wayne norris March 24, 2013 at 12:32 am

I have just purchased a taylormade rbz 3 wood, I can hit it off the deck nearly as far as my driver, a great club.

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Ross March 24, 2013 at 10:30 am

I’m playing a Taylormade Burner 08 fw! My first fairway and I don’t intend to change it simply because it took me over 2 years to be comfortable with it. Since this is suppose to be a go-to club, I know I hardly miss a fairway with it! I hate white heads so the RBZ is not for me and the 910/913 can’t be in my bag because of the black face (nice for drivers but not fairways)! I’ll never touch hybrids because they replace one of my favourite clubs (3-iron). Instead of spending soo much on a hybrid, why don’t youu just hit the range more often with the 3-iron and use it of tees when playing social games? Nobody said the game was suppose to be easy so why play it that way?

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Boris March 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Again I will say, I have not found a hybrid that I can use. Fairway woods. 3 & 4 irons will stay in the bag.
Why hybrids? Why not golf clubs? Would you use a softball to play soccer? C’mon.. just another ploy by the big club makers to sell something…

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Joe Golfer March 25, 2013 at 12:07 am

I think the 3 Wood is staying, but like another commenter in this post, I think that companies should keep the heads smaller and not lengthen the shafts like what has been done with drivers. Those large headed 3 Woods are harder to hit off the deck than traditional fairway woods of yore.
I wouldn’t make a 3 Wood longer than 43″.
In the past, I’ve simply cut them down slightly if necessary and then re-gripped it.
I certainly can see hybrids replacing the 5 wood and beyond, especially the way hybrids are shaped nowadays. But that depends on player preference.
I have an old Sonartec hybrid to replace my three iron, and it hits piercing trajectories, unlike most of today’s hybrids, which are designed to hit extremely high like a 5W or 7W.
Like the article author said, it seems like today’s hybrids are shaped like yesteryear’s fairway woods, but the shaft is only slightly shorter.

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kloyd0306 March 25, 2013 at 2:01 pm

The premise for the article fails to recognise that many hybrid designs have a much larger profile and footprint than earlier designs, when hybrids began to be fashionable.

Some fairway woods have become so big, they are unplayable especially off tight lies, hence the move towards smaller (yet growing bigger) hybrids.

Fairway woods from 15-20 years back are the same size as current hybrids, proving that there is really nothing new in the golf design business. Designs are merely recycled. Have a look at the long nosed cleek from 100 years ago.

So, the reason that hybrids appear to be outselling fairway woods is size and playablilty. However, for slower swing speeds, fairway woods will continue to sell due to a lower CofG and smaller shaft tip diameter making them easier to launch.

Given the choice (and I hope we continue to have a choice) between a big footed hybrid and a smaller profile fairway wood – I’ll take the the fairway wood every time.

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Jack March 26, 2013 at 3:36 am

Call me old fashioned but i still love the feel of a fairway wood. Will choose it over a hybrid every day of the year!

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Gorham March 27, 2013 at 7:12 am

I don’t see fairway woods dying, in fact far from it. I see the impact of hybrids getting smaller. More and more SGI Irons are coming out with easy to hit 4 and 5 Irons. I for one, hit a 7 wood far better than a 3 hybrid. I recently bought Rocketbladez MAX Irons and got rid of my 4 and 5 hybrid. I go from 4 Iron to 7 wood. I guess it is just personal preference. I find most hybrids hook too much for me.

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Mark March 27, 2013 at 7:41 am

I think you are totally on target Tony! In a few years the 3-wood will join the 2-iron on the Endangered Species list.
I’ve been playing golf since I was 15 and have always had an affinity for the 3-wood. Over the years it was usually my favorite club in the bag. I had a TaylorMade Tour spoon for 10 years before I found anything that could beat it – the Ping G5 I replaced it with had about 20 yards on it and I couldn’t ignore that.
Last August my clubs were stolen out of my car and I replaced the 4 year old Ping with a Titleist 910F, which I really like much better. BUT this winter the idea of a 1 Hybrid with a 3-wood loft hit me like a sledgehammer – I realized I had made a mistake. The Titleist is a great club from the tee and fairway but even a little rough makes it much harder to hit. I have an 18° TM Rescue 11 TP that is also great from the fairway & tee, but I can also hit it well from any reasonable lie in the rough. To have that same ability with a 13-15° lofted hybrid renders the 3-wood obsolete IMO.
I see news every month of guys on tour putting GI long irons in their bags and it seems that the pull of the 1 hybrid could be too much for them to resist as well.

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jmiller065 March 28, 2013 at 7:42 am

I don’t think the fairway metal will ever totally die. Lets be honest with ourselves here, anyone that is a 5 or less handicap is probably going to stay in tempo and have good swing sequence to be able to find the center of the face on any length shaft for the most part.

Speaking only for myself here as a 5 or less handicap, I don’t have a “favorite club” and I don’t think any one club in my bag is harder to hit then another. It is probably an indication of someones ability when you hear something like “the fairway wood is hard to hit” or “the long iron is hard to hit”.

I personally gap my clubs in-between the driver like I would wedges, I pick the clubs that give me the most versatility on the course and more options off the tee. They give me good options for the long ass par 3s and trying for par 5s in two. For me My Driver is probably roughly 295-305 consistently total distance. My 3iron is probably about 223 carry, 225 total. if I wanted to drop the 3i and play an additional wedge then I’m looking at 210-215 with the 4iron. What clubs are going to give me the best distances in the 75 yard to 85 yard gap?
>> Fairway @ 16.5* ~ 270 yards (30 yards less then driver)
>> Hybrid @ 19.0* ~ 240 yards (30 yards less then the fairway)
>> 3i @ 21.0* ~ 220-225 yards (15 to 20 yards less then hybrid)
>> 4i @ 24.0* ~ 210-215 yards (25 to 30 yards less then the hybrid, 10 to 15 less then the 3i)

I normally don’t even bother carrying my 3i honestly and carry an extra wedge instead. I just don’t run into a lot of situations where I would prefer to carry a hybrid and 3i honestly, I would even take a literal 2i (19.0*) out to some courses over a 19.0* hybrid and the 3iron. It would be only on super windy courses or hard conditions where I knew the 3i is not long enough and the 2hybrid goes too high.

This is just my opinion and probably I would guess mirrors a lot of other better players thought processes to the fairway / hybrid thing. The marketing is for more distance while better players like myself look for specific distances and workability I would imagine, it’s more about control then raw distance. Whatever works better for that player, it comes down to a personal preference.

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RJ March 28, 2013 at 9:57 am

I hit the Rocketballz (green) 19 degree 3 hybrid and the 3 wood fine. My irons are 5-9. Wedges 48, 50, 56. All my clubs have different purposes which relate to shaft length and lie. For those of you who play courses with deep Bermuda or St. Augustine fairway rough, make sure you choke down on those hybrids like you would an iron and hit the ball first. I use the three wood from the fairway because of the sweeping motion and extra distance I get. You can control the action of a hybrid more but I lose distance. I average 10-12 GIR’s and sticking the green with the hybrid is certainly easier,though I have duffed from trying to swing too hard. I have never found that I need a 2i, 3i or 4i for distance or control. I get 180-210y from the hybrid in the fairway and 210 to 250y with the 3 wood. Wind is a huge factor down here in Texas so we’re hitting the ball off the back foot a lot. On non-windy days with Pro V1′s I’m at the 210 hybrid/250 3 wood all day. I think hybrids might give a senior golfer a little more distance and forgivable duff as their swing speed declines just like a 7 rescue might help them lift the ball out of the rough more. I’m in my 40′s and still swingin’ 110 with the driver/100 with the irons. We have tight lies down here and won’t see spongy fairways until May. Tight lies are perfect for the hybrid. Woods are so much better with spongy high lies. Since distance is the last thing I need, the hybrid fills the accuracy gap for low handicap golfers in the 180-210y range which would replace your 2,3,4 if your still swingin’ hard. I do this all with one 19 degree hybrid. I will never get rid of my 3 wood. It’s just an awesome club if you can hit it. Nothing feels better than reaching a par five in two and unless I go driver/driver, when there are real spongy fairways, the 3 will always be in my bag.

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Desmond April 12, 2013 at 10:45 pm

With a mantra of low spin and high launch, big heads and shafts that are too long in length, and low spin balls – I found the fairway is tending towards less use, especially for moderate swing speeds. I bought an adjustable 5 wood that gets down to 17 deg just so I could have a 42.5 inch shaft. But I may play it at 18.5 degrees. The next two clubs are hybrids – slightly smaller head is more playable out of more lies, and the shorter shaft lends itself to better ballstriking.

Unless OEMs begin shortening shaft length and decreasing head size, the fairway will become the hybrid except for those wanting a second driver – something in 14.5 degrees and 43.5 inches for more accuracy off the tee.

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mootrail May 14, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Funny how things change… It’s been month and some since I read this. I believed, dumped my 3 wood that I rarely carried anyway and was strutting around the course with 3 hybrids. Of course I happened to try the new G25 3 wood and was just smoking it. Almost as easy to hit off the deck as my hybrids. I never cared about what sound my woods made, but the thwack this G25 makes is awesome. You know when you’ve killed it. Let’s get to the point, everyone on tour seems to be bagging new fairway woods, Phil’s got his Phrankenwood(3 like) and I see a lot of TMs, X-Hots and G25s. But when Tiger wins the Player’s using a 5 wood, the sheep will follow and no doubt we will be seeing a lot more new fairways woods all around. My only worry; how do I fit a 4 or 5 wood in my bag:)

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TheGolfdaily May 24, 2013 at 5:15 pm

I must be an odd ball but, I have never found any hybrids easier to hit as accurately as a long iron. (Nor easy to hit) -I would rather hit a 2 iron even on a fairway than a 3 hybrid.
The trouble with me is the weight distribution of the hybrid club head that extends behind the club face of the hybrids rather like a wood. I just can’t feel the club face as precisely as an iron during the swing….

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Chris Green July 3, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Just ordered a 16* rescue today and thinking of dropping either driver or 3 wood, if I could have found a 11-12* rescue there would have been no woods left in my bag for sure. Currently carry a Ping G10 3 wood which I changed for a xHot 3 wood (which to be fair is v.long) but only hanged due to having a budget from my wife, otherwise would have been he last thing I changed.

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John July 30, 2013 at 3:54 am

3 woods are a very subjective matter I think. There are players who hit them exclusively from the tee… for them a larger headed, longer shafted ‘driver style’ 3 wood is going to the way they play the game.

For others the smaller, shorter shaft that allows playability from the tee, fairway or even the rough there are far fewer options in the market today. These clubs, which I think of as real fairway woods, are coming from companies like Titleist who have managed to keep their models fairly static in terms of the job it provides.

I think that there is a tendancy for higher handicaps and new players to never learn how useful a good wood can actually be. They can be as useful in dodgy lies as hybrids, with the right swing adjustments. I think that is proven by the fact that hybrids these days are in reality woods. I think that Vega and Sonartec are probably the only companies that offer a true hybrid anymore.

As for what I carry… It’s a 906F2 and a 2 iron… and a Nike blade (original) version at that.

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Lit September 4, 2013 at 11:58 am

Here’s the problem. I just broke my old Cobra 7- wood which I hit 200 – 210 yards. I have 2 hybrids (taylor made) in 4 and 5 iron lofts. I was told by my pro that I should just purchase a 3 hybrid to replace the 7 instead of re-shafting because the cost was negligable. I took out 2 new hybrid 3′s – the taylor made and the titleist. Both were awesome off of the cut and a mat. BUT, when I threw 10 balls into the high rough on the side of the range and tried to hit them, I was able to make solid contact and get decent distance about 25% of the time. My good friend Brent also has a Cobra 7-wood and I asked him to borrow it and I threw 10 more balls into the rough. This time I hit about 50% of them well. The larger face and contoured sole allowed me to get the ball on the top of the clubface and the mishits I had were all either toe or heel. With the hybrids they were mostly thin. I NEED A TROUBLE CLUB. I DON’T HIT THE FAIRWAY EVERY TIME. I’m sorry, but low-loft (2-3) hybrids just don’t cut it.

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Greg September 6, 2013 at 3:23 pm

I have tried so many FW over the years and they are historically my most difficult club to hit in the bag. I have noticed that many players will change drivers regularly but carry an old FW for years though. Personally I love hybrids and have found that a heavier shaft works much better for control of a hybrid vs. the 65 grams versions that are prone to duck hooks. I opt for 85 gram shafts in regular flex and it works great for me. (see Adilla Voodoo, etc.) I have all but abandoned FW because I can hit a 2H as far or further than a 5w and know where it is going. I am now 56 years old and carry a 190 yd, 205 yd and 215 yd hybrid as my home course has very long par 3s. There are very rare occasions where I could reach a par 5, had I hit a great 3w vs a 2h but more often than not my abilities do not allow for a “great 3w” off the deck. A great 3w off the deck for me is way less than 50% of the time but a good 2h off the deck for me happens way more than 50% of the time so the smart money for me is the hybrid. Hey, it is in the fairway. I am only an 8-11 HC player so perhaps the fw work better for the younger and/or better player. I do know I play with a lot of guys in my handicap range that hit 3w & 4w off the deck and i outhit them with my hybrids. Odd how differing the opinions are on the subject of FW vs hybrids. All I know is I have a pretty bad swing, but if I hit down on a hybrid that has a quality shaft it flys straight and long.

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RIPTERMO November 19, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I HATE MY HIBIRDS, BUT THEY WORK,, EVEN HOMEMADE HBRDS WORK..
WUD PREFER TO GOFF WI JUST IRONS, BUT U GOT TO GO WI RESULTS..
A FEW SHORT IRONS, PUTTER AND A BAG OF HIBIRDS IS IT…

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Lester November 26, 2013 at 11:07 pm

For players who hit the ball pro like distances, I agree that 3 and 5 woods have become obsolete. However, for us golfers with more moderate swing speeds and double digit handicaps, we use those clubs a lot in a round of golf. If you can hit a long iron then you can probably hit the older hybrids too. But if you can hit your long irons then you don’t need the hybrids in the first place. There is a reason why the newer hybrids are looking more and more like older FW’s, their easier to hit with a moderate swing speed. I use Adams BUL 3&5 fairway woods I bought new for $19 each. They are small headed titanium faced clubs with an ok name brand original shaft. If I ever find anything I can hit better, I’ll switch.

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Tom Earls January 16, 2014 at 3:51 pm

I found 3 used Older Callaway woods last year for $20 They are the “heaven wood” (7), the “Divine nine” and the 11 wood. The 7 and the 9 are Big Berthas and I have never hit clubs as straight. The 7 gets about 190 and the 9 about 170-75. The 11 is a Steelhead and not as good. So I got a 5 wood but for whatever reason it is too heavy. The 7 & 9 are light. How can I take some weight off of the 5 wood?

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ken January 19, 2014 at 11:37 pm

I recently replace my 3 wood with the Callaway optiforce 3 wood. I enjoy it. I think it gives me the confidence I need when I think my driver isn’t “working”. It’s easy to hit of the deck and flies fairly straight. The distance is also fantastic.

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DB April 14, 2014 at 4:54 pm

I was always against hybrids until yesterday. I have had 3 hybrids in my garage for the last 7-8 years., left intentionally by my brother in law. I tried them several years back but hated the grips (peeling composite crap) and never hit one well the few times I tried. I was re-gripping my set and saved the old grips. As i was putting them away, the hybrids caught my eye (3 iron stinks these days) and I decided to throw a grip on the 1 hybrid before leaving for the course. Never missed it once. Regripped the 2 and 3 hybrid and hit a bunch of balls onto the course behind my house. Never missed one of them either. I hate my 3 wood but am afraid of distance loss with the 1 hybrid. Time will tell. The 2 and 3 hybrids have already replaced my 5 wood and 3 iron.

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