A new 3 wood can have a huge impact on your round; with new clubs coming out every year if you haven’t upgraded in more than 3 years, you’re probably due! If you’re playing with an outdated 3 wood, you’re missing out on valuable technology that will help you hit longer straighter shots.
The right 3 wood can be an absolute weapon in your bag, while the wrong 3 wood may not ever see the light of day. If you’re backing down from using 3 wood when you should be hitting it, you’re probably missing out on some key scoring opportunities.
We’ve evaluated what the market has to offer, both with brand new 3 woods and those that are from last season; check out our guide on the best 3 woods for your game below!
Our Top Picks
Best Overall Pick: TaylorMade SIM MAX Fairway Wood
Best Budget Pick: Cobra Golf 2019 F9 Men’s Speedback Fairway
Value Option: Cleveland Golf Launcher HB Turbo Fairway Wood
Buyers Guide for 3 woods
Like any club, you want to take some serious consideration when buying a 3 wood, as making the right decision here can help make your life easier and more fun on the course.
Basic info before buying a 3 wood:
Do I need multiple fairway woods?
Honestly, this is complete personal preference. I recommend everyone have at least one fairway wood, and the 3 wood is a staple for any golfers bag. If you’re wary of having multiple fairway woods, in your bag, at minimum you should carry a 3 wood.
Most golfers are now carrying hybrids, and having a 3 hybrid or a 5 hybrid can easily substitute an additional fairway wood.
When should I use a 3 wood?
3 woods are in the category of fairway woods, so naturally you’d assume you need to be hitting the club from the fairway; this is true. That said, there are plenty of opportunities for you to use a 3 wood on the golf course.
The 3 wood is one step below a driver in terms of distance and length, and can be a little bit safer and easier to hit than a driver. It can be a good alternative to hit a 3 wood instead of driver off the tee if it’s on a shorter hole, or can’t afford to spray your shot. Many golfers find it easier to hit 3 wood, and can keep it in play more frequently.
Outside of the fairway and off the tee, you can hit a 3 wood from the rough, but keep in mind it’s much harder to hit a great shot with a 3 wood from the rough. If your ball is sitting up nice in the rough and you have a long way to go to the green, I’d say go for it. If this isn’t the case, Try and go for a hybrid or iron instead.
Do materials matter?
Of course they do.
Generally, most fairway woods are made of 3 materials: stainless steel, titanium, and multi-material composite.
Stainless steel is the most common material used, and generally is more affordable. Fairway woods made with a stainless steel head will be more compact than others, because it’s the heaviest material used.
Titanium is a very strong, very light option that allows the manufacturers to produce a slightly larger club head. Titanium heads can produce a naturally higher trajectory and ball flight, as well as more speed because of the deeper center of gravity and lighter head.
Most recently, manufacturers have started creating multiple-material composites including carbon, titanium and stainless steel to produce even stronger and lighter club heads. These are a bit more expensive, but provide natural forgiveness due to larger heads.
The loft of your fairway wood will have an impact on ball trajectory and distance. A higher loft angle will produce a higher trajectory with a little less distance, while lower loft angles will deliver more distance but a lower trajectory.
Longer clubs will usually have lower loft angles, and this stays true with fairway woods. This means a 3 wood will have a lower loft angle than a 5 wood. Not all 3 woods have the same loft angle because they vary between companies. The typical 3 wood loft angle is between 14 to 16 degrees.
An adjustable 3 wood is highly desirable, and should definitely be something you consider when buying. With modern technology, many fairway woods on the market are now adjustable. You can easily adjust the loft, face angle or even adjustable weights with a tool that accompanies your new wood.
An adjustable loft allows you to play around with the loft angle of your 3 wood, and increase or decrease the trajectory of your shots. The typical adjustable loft will let you change the loft between 1 and 3 degrees. Spending a day on the range trying out the various lofts will help you find which you like best. Doing this with a TrackMan will give you more actionable data.
Adjusting the face angle will adjust the natural face of the ball at address. Neutral is standard, however you can close or open the face to encourage a draw or fade. This can be useful to combat a natural slice or hook, and allow you to produce a straighter shot.
Adjustable weights will affect trajectory, distance and forgiveness by changing the center of gravity in the club. Adjustable weights are more common in drivers, but some manufacturers are including them with their fairway woods.
Forgiveness is a huge focus point on buying the right 3 wood; many golfers hit imperfect shots, and you want to make sure you have a bigger sweet spot. The forgiveness of a fairway wood is impacted by the overall size of the head and center of gravity. More forgiving 3 woods will have a deeper and lower center of gravity. With a forgiving 3 wood, your mis-hits will be better, and your good hits will be great.
The 5 Best 3 Woods That You Can Find in the Market
Best Overall Pick: TaylorMade SIM MAX Fairway Wood
This is the 2020 Taylormade Fairway Wood, and the SIM MAX has been absolutely stunning on the tour, while it’s just making it’s way to the course for amateurs. The SIM is essentially a replacement version of Taylormade’s M series. This club has plenty of technology packed into, making it our top overall pick.
Visually, the feature that stands out on this wood is the V Steel Sole Design, which is a plate on the bottom of the head to promote better turf interaction. This makes it a little bit easier to catch a 3 wood clean from the turf than with other woods.
The Twist Face technology is another standout feature that has been improved over the years. Taylormade use corrective face angles to produce better mis-hits and straighter golf shots. This wood uses C300 Steel on the face for explosive performance. Taylormade also have a Titanium version of this club, but the price is about $100 higher. Lastly, the Speed Pocket technology on the sole of the club is designed to produce additional ball speed and forgiveness.
The SIM MAX fairway wood is packed with technology, as has proven to be a deadly club on the course in the hands of pros. The club is designed to produce as much forgiveness as possible without sacrificing performance, making this our favorite overall 3 wood this year.
Best Budget Pick: Cobra Golf 2019 F9 Men’s Speedback Fairway
The Cobra Golf 2019 F9 Speedback Fairway Wood is a great option if you’re looking to for a lower price 3 wood, without sacrificing quality. This is Cobra’s 2019 fairway wood, and because they’ve released a newer version, this one is sold at a nice discount. If your current fairway wood is older than 2016, this will be a huge upgrade.
Cobra’s Baffler Technology has been around for a long time, and in this wood it’s been re-engineered to optimize turf interaction, and lower the center of gravity in the wood. As a result, this club has improved launch that helps you produce higher trajectories with ease.
The F9 is the first fairway wood in golf that is made with a CNC Milled Face, which helps make the face of this club very thin and hot. This club is loaded with technology; the carbon fiber crown makes the club even lighter and helps produce a lower center of gravity, and deliver more forgiveness.
This is one of the best 3 woods on the market from 2019, and stays extremely relevant this year if you need an upgrade. Overall, if you want to save a few bucks while getting some of the newest gear around, the F9 is a solid option.
Best Value Option: Cleveland Golf Launcher HB Turbo Fairway Wood
The Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo is one of the best value fairway woods in 2020. Cleveland do a great job of producing very forgiving golf clubs, and that trend continues with their HB Turbo 3 wood. Cleveland do everything they can to ensure the average golfer can launch the ball well with this wood, which is typically where a high handicapper will struggle with their 3 wood.
Cleveland have used a Turbocharged cup face on this fairway wood to create a larger impact area, increasing ball speed and distance. With a larger impact area, mis-hits off the face of this club are very forgiving. The weight of this club is redistributed and lowered for a lower center of gravity, and several features help increase MOI (moment of inertia) on this wood.
If you’re looking for a very forgiving, brand new 3 wood in 2020, this is a great value option. Cleveland have made this 3 wood to be cheaper than the more premium options on the market, but optimize it for launch and forgiveness. This fairway wood caters to the average golfer, and is the best value you can find on the market in 2020.
Best Premium Pick: Callaway Golf 2020 Mavrik MAX Fairway Wood
The Mavrik MAX Fairway Wood is the newest 3 wood out there by Callaway, and this year’s version has been optimized through A.I., the second Callaway Fairway Wood to do so. Callaway have made the Mavrik one of the most customizable fairway woods ever created, with 16 different options between loft and head style.
The Callaway Mavrik MAX is 1 of 3 models of the Mavrik for 2020, and the MAX is the most forgiving model of the 3, with the highest launch. While the other 2 are great options, I generally lean toward forgiveness as being essential for all amateur golfers. The Mavrik MAX has a larger club head than the other 2 models, which is part of what makes it more forgiving.
The Mavrik has Face Cup technology to ensure better shots from mishits, and enhanced performance from unique leading edge geometry for better launch angles. Callaway’s new Flash Face SS20 is made from exotic materials not found in typical fairway woods, uniquely designed to optimize ball speed. The club has a solid, fast feel when being hit; the feel is responsive with center, and mis-hit shots.
This is an exciting premium option on the market for 2020, promising forgiveness, feel and performance to the average player. The AI based club is offset to create a natural draw. If you’re looking for a brand new premium option, this is my favorite this year.
Worth a Look: TaylorMade M4 Fairway Wood
Last but not least, TaylorMade graces the list once again. If you’re looking for a fairway wood that offers excellent performance for a decent price, you should have a look at the M4 from TaylorMade.
First of all, the fairway wood looks amazing. But once again, the sleek design offers much more than good looks. TaylorMade designed the sole to score excellent strikes on every swing. TaylorMade optimized the M4 to deliver the crisp sound thanks to the Geoacoustic technology. This wood also uses innovative speed pockets that help in increasing the speed. As a result, you can achieve more distance on swings.
The carbon fiber crown saves up to 8 grams of weight when compared with steel crowns. Yet, it offers similar performance with better control and launches with reduced spin. This design also creates a lower center of gravity for a heavier load on impact.
This is another great option that’s definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for a new 3 wood. This is last year’s model of the Taylormade SIM, yet it still is a great buy if your equipment is out of date.
The Bottom Line
There are a ton of 3 woods on the market, and choosing which is right for you can prove to be a daunting task. We’ve outlined our favorites above, and the best overall for us is definitely the Taylormade SIM MAX; it’s been instrumental on the PGA Tour, and is packed with performance and forgiveness for the average player.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Thanks for reading!