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How to Use a Three-Wood Fairway Metal

by M.L. Rose

    This article is one of our editor's top picks this month.

    Fairway woods in general, and 3-woods in particular, are difficult clubs for many golfers. Noted swing coach Butch Harmon says that even some players who hit 5-woods or 7-woods well will struggle with the less-lofted 3-wood. Using the correct alignment, however, and practicing proper swing mechanics can help you improve your 3-wood game. Despite the name, modern fairway woods are all made with metal club heads.

    Step 1

    Play the ball forward in your stance, but not as far forward as you would play it with a driver. Harmon recommends playing the ball a few inches inside of your front heel. Teaching pro Conan Elliott suggests aligning the ball one ball-length inside of your typical driving position.

    Step 2

    Take a comfortable stance by bending forward comfortably from your hips. Begin the backswing by turning your shoulders.

    Step 3

    Take an easy swing. Teaching pro Scott Sackett suggests swinging about 80 percent as hard as your most aggressive swing to increase the likelihood that you’ll make solid contact.

    Step 4

    Sweep the ball off the ground. Don’t hit down on the ball, as you would with an iron: Elliott says you shouldn’t take a divot with a fairway wood. At the same time, don’t try to lift the ball into the air. Raising the club at impact or playing the ball too far forward in your stance will only result in a thin or topped shot, Harmon warns. The 3-wood doesn’t have much loft, but if you hit the ball square the club head, will lift it sufficiently. Sackett says the club head should be “level to the ground” just before and just after the moment of impact.

    Tips

    • While conventional wisdom says to use a sweeping motion when hitting a fairway wood, Harmon’s opinion is a bit different. He says “don't be afraid to hit down on it.” He notes that Woods takes a bit of a divot on his 3-wood shots. Golfers who have difficulty sweeping the ball off the fairway with their woods may wish to experiment with Harmon’s alternative approach.
    • Harmon suggests using a 3-wood with 15 or 16 degrees of loft.

    About the Author

    M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

    Photo Credits

    • David Cannon/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images