Best Fairway Woods 2017 – Reviews & Buying Guide

As a beginner, fairway woods have a dual purpose.

First off, they are clubs you’ll likely use a lot off the deck – hopefully from the short stuff mostly, but invariably also from some trickier lies too.

They’re also handy off the tee; either if you’re having a bad day, or as a personal preference if you aren’t generally a big fan of pulling out the driver.

As such, choosing forgiving, versatile fairways which are best suited to your swing is vital.

There are plenty of great products out there too, with this year in particular seeing some excellent new pieces of merchandise enter the fray. We’ve taken a swim in this sea of quality to see which are the best propositions of all.

Below we have highlighted our current five Best Fairway Woods, with a view to helping those who are either new to the game, or play at a casual level.

Best Fairway Woods

Here are our top five choices for the Best Fairway Woods:

  1. Editors Choice: TaylorMade Men’s AeroBurner Fairway Wood
  2. Best Value: Bullet Golf .444 Hi Loft Fairway Wood
  3. Best Seller: Cobra Men’s KING F6 Fairway Wood
  4. Worthy Competitor: Callaway XR 16 Fairway Wood
  5. Worthy Competitor: Adams Golf Tight Lies Fairway Wood

Editors Choice: TaylorMade AeroBurner Fairway Wood

The Editor’s Choice is one we take very seriously, and we put a lot of thought into this one. But, in the weigh up of value and quality versus relevance for beginners, the TaylorMade AeroBurner Fairway Wood is hard to beat.

The Speed Channel maximises the size of the sweetspot, and it really doesn’t feel like you can miss it. It generates excellent distance too, and also consistency, as spin is reduced. The face is made of some potent, high-quality materials too – Ni-Co 300 Super alloy, to be precise.

And then there is the look… it’s beautiful! The heads sport a lovely white matte finish, interspersed with a black PVD face, along with the easily-identifiable AeroBurner crown graphic, which acts as an alignment aid. The stock Matrix Speed RUL-Z 60 shaft is also striking.

These woods are available in 3 (15°), 3HL (16.5°), 5 (19°), 5HL (21°) and 7 (23°), and at less than $130 a pop, you can’t go too far wrong.

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Best Value: Bullet Golf .444 Hi Loft Fairway Wood

The .444 is not your average fairway wood. This Chinese model carves out its niche by virtue of its high loft.

27 and 31 degrees sounds a bit ridiculous for woods, but these act as utility clubs – not too dissimilar from a hybrid. Yet there’s more distance on offer here, which is why they just about scrape into the woods category. And of course, with a thinner crown, and the weight stacked lower in the head, this club is incredibly forgiving, and we were impressed with the performance levels and consistency we achieved.

But let’s not beat about the bush: it is value which is this club’s USP, and at a cost of just 40-odd bucks per club, this one is almost impossible to beat, and newbies are going to snap this up en masse.

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Best Seller: Cobra KING F6 Fairway Woods (Adjustable 3/4 Wood)

Our 2017 love affair with Cobra continues into the fairway woods domain, and there’s no shortage of reasons why the King F6 range comes top of the pops.

The set itself comes with three adjustable clubs: a 3/4 covering a loft range of 13-16°, a 5/6 covering a loft range of 17-20° and a 7/8 covering a loft range of 21-24°. As you may have guessed, it is the 3/4 which is doing the most business. This club has eight adjustable loft settings, allowing you to fine tune launch and trajectory. You can also adjust CG forward and back to alter ball flights – an ideal solution to the issue of the different requirements for lay-ups versus approach shots. The Speed Channel, now synonymous with a lot of Cobra products, is also a fine feature which increases ball speeds for mishits, and thus make this club altogether more forgiving.

It also covers every base in that both left and right-handers are catered for, while four varieties of the stock graphite shaft will mean you can easily find the right flex for you. This club has so much going for it, and, at a competitive price of $130, many players are considering it to be a no brainer.

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Best Seller: Callaway XR 16 Fairway Wood

Callaway have taken 2017 by storm with the launch of the Epic fairway woods, but, for those still wet behind the ears in golfing terms, we think the XR 16s have more to give.

For starters, every base is covered, with both left and right-handed orientation, and a range of lofts from 14-25 degrees. The stock shaft is the impressive Fujikura Speeder, with flex options regular, senior and stiff.

But it is the technology that’s gone into it which stands out. Ball speeds are the main emphasis, with the forged Hyper Speed Face Cup ensuring that the ball comes hot off the face. The sweet spot is immense, and, with the thin face, the distances you get are exceptional. The design is aerodynamic too, which gets the club coming through nice and quickly.

The last piece of the puzzle is the forgiveness in this fairway wood. The COR is as high as you’ll get within the bounds of legality, the MOI is right up there, and the cambered sole brings in that crucial level of versatility to negotiate a variety of different lies. It’s another gem from a manufacturer who made its name in the fairway woods game, and this is definitely one to keep on the radar – even if it does cost north of $200.

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Best Seller: Adams Golf Tight Lies Fairway Wood

These woods come in three different lofts (14°, 16° and 19°), and have a lot going for them. The most striking thing when you first look at the club is how big the head is!

But it is the technology which lies inside that makes these woods so easy to hit. Adams call it the “Ghost Slot”, which is basically an invisible, cut-through slot in the crown designed to work in conjunction with the tri-sole and low CG to deliver awesome launch and hefty ball speeds.

The tri-sole design also minimises turf interaction, as the club kisses the ground with minimal resistance. The results speak for themselves too, with consistency in both shape and distance, and also a few extra yards when you really stripe it.

Although they may look a tad clumsy, the Adams Tight Lies fairway woods guarantee high-level performance, and at a price of around $60, it represents a real bargain.

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Buying Fairway Woods

Design and Features

It’s not only about aesthetics. Do you like a more rounded clubhead in the crown? What composite has been used for the structure? And does the prospective club tick enough boxes in terms of things like ball speeds, MOI and CG? All important questions to navigate if you’re going to find the right wood(s). Oh, and it helps if the club(s) look good too!

Loft/Trajectory

This is a very subjective category, and depends on you. Do you envisage using fairway woods more for approach shots, or bunting it up the fairway? Do you play in the wind much? What’s your natural shape? Usually with a 3 wood, it’s preferable to have a lower trajectory, whereas control with a 5 wood is paramount. But it’s something you’ll need to get a feel for, which is why it’s helpful to try out clubs like these on the course so that you can get a clearer picture.

Shaft type

More often than not, graphite shafts will be the order of the day with fairway woods. The extra whip and flex associated with regular graphite shafts in particular is conducive to a broader spectrum of swing types. But steel shafts shouldn’t be dismissed completely either.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness can be elusive with fairway woods, although with ever-thinning clubfaces, lower CGs and increasing ball speeds, the benefits of technology have really permeated into this niche. Hitting shots with fairway woods – especially approach shots – are the ones with the most margin for error, so it’s vital that they cut you a bit of slack when you don’t get it out the sweetspot. It is the key to building consistency, and establishing a strong relationship with these important clubs.

Distance

Unlike hybrids, it’s reasonable to say that, especially at beginner level, maximising distance with fairway woods is more important than distance control. With these clubs, you’ll likely be hitting as many shots up the fairway as you will approach shots to the green. As a result, you should look to favour woods whose clubfaces put emphasis on spin reduction and high MOI.

Adjustability

Many woods enable you to adjust things like loft and draw/fade bias. Given that a significant number of beginners often tend to struggle with a slice, the latter can be particularly useful, and an easy way to extract greater consistency (and distance). The only caution we’d make is that adjustable features can sometimes compromise the quality of both the build and the design, so don’t automatically assume that a wood with adjustability is a chart topper.

Value

What’s a good price for a fairway wood? Unfortunately, that question is far too simplistic. Everything from the shaft type to the quality of materials used will affect cost. Not to mention the brand name too! At the top end, you could be coughing up close to $300 per club, while, at the bottom of the ladder, you can pick up a decent wood for as little as $40. It’s the rungs in between where you’re likely to get the best value though, and it’s a case of marrying quality and feel with the price tag.

Choosing your clubs wisely

The first thing to think about is the composition of your golf club set. Remember, you’re only allowed to have 14 clubs in your bag, so you need to choose wisely! Do you enjoy hybrids? How well do you hit your long irons? Are you going to be using a driver off the tee generally? Once you have all that worked out, you should have a clearer picture of which woods you need to buy: 3, 5, 7 or even 9 – or perhaps the whole lot. A bit of planning will help to ensure you purchase exactly what you need – no more, no less.

Conclusion

As we’ve alluded to above, you’ll first need to decide which fairway woods you actually need. After that, it’s simply a case of factoring in the considerations highlighted above. It’s unlikely that any wood will score a perfect 10 in every category. But by weighing up the benefits which are most important to you – and by giving your prospective clubs some rigorous trials – you’ll have the frameworks in place to make the best possible choice.

Hi, I'm Tom! I run the show here at the #GGFB. Golf is my absolute passion and given the choice I would be on the course all the time. Alas, my day job and lovely wife help moderate my enthusiasm for the game. I hope you have a blast browsing the site and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to drop me a line. Current handicap: 12!

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