Golf is a sport that constantly urges its players to improve and learn new skill-sets. Unless you restrict yourself to playing on your local golf course, you are bound to find yourself is unfamiliar and challenging lies all the time.
As a beginner these days, you probably start out with a couple of hybrids and a decent set of irons, and maybe a driver if you feel so inclined. That is all you need to gain an early foothold in golf. But once you start lowering your handicap, that is when the real fun begins.
Fairway woods are great tools for the improving mid handicapper to hone their long distance game and add some much needed versatility to your set of clubs. There are great fairway woods for beginners and high handicappers as well, and we have covered those in a separate article here (link for article on best fairway woods for high handicappers).
But in this article, we will look closely at some of the less forgiving woods ideal for the aspiring mid handicapper, They include:
Best Fairway Woods For Mid Handicappers
Why Even Consider Fairway Woods As A Mid Handicapper?
The rise of hybrids have undoubtedly removed some of the sheen from fairway woods in the recent past. Hybrids are easier to swing and master and all you have to sacrifice is probably a few yards (or 20-30 max).
That seems like a fair price to pay, especially if you are struggling with your swing as a beginner. But once your handicap drops closer to 15, the fairway woods start looking like an inviting proposition again.
For one, your swing is a lot more stable and consistent and your accuracy has also improved, a lot. Now distance becomes more of an issue, and those 20-30 yards start looking really inviting. That is when you contemplate buying a fairway wood or two as a mid handicapper.
How does it help my game?
There are three main ways a fairway wood can be of use to you on the course. The would include:
Replacing your long irons/hybrids
Woods were designed for use on the fairway. You can get better shots on to green from the fairway with a higher lofted wood, say a 5 wood, than what you would normally get from your 2-4 irons. You will get more distance and that too with much less effort in your swing.
What is not to like about that? The secret lies in the larger clubheads of woods, when compared to the bladed heads of irons. If you are looking for a straight swap, replace your 2 iron with a 3-5 wood, 3 -4 iron with a 7 wood, and 5 iron with a 9 wood.
On the teeing ground
A driver is the longest and lowest lofted fairway wood, basically a 1-wood. They are not the easiest to hit properly despite those massive clubheads.
A higher lofted wood with a shorter shaft can make things slightly easier. You might get less distance, but a properly wielded 3 wood can still clear 220 yards with ease, making them a great alternative to drivers in certain situations.
Depending on the course layout, a 3 wood can be a better option to a driver on the shorter par 3 or 4 holes, or in situations where you don’t want to overshoot and end up in a hazard or bunker.
Deal with a par 5 in 2
This again harks back to the “replace irons on the fairway” situation. A Driver+wood combo is better than a driver+long iron if you want to play aggressively on a longer par 5 hole. Want to get your short irons/wedges out in two shots?
Get a good 3 or 4 wood and use it for your second shot. That should get the job done. Get one with a lower profile head if you find yourself in tighter lies.
What loft to use and when?
The math is simple: lower the loft, the flatter your trajectory and longer the ball travels in a flatter arc. Lofts in woods usually start around the 13 degree mark and extend all the way up to 38 in some ladies/senior oriented models.
Here is a rough overview on progressive loft angles:
- 3 Wood: the standard loft in a classic 3 wood is 15-16. If you want your 3 wood to hit slightly harder and longer, you can find them in 13-14 degrees as well. For a more accessible shorter option, try one in 16 degrees. It is alternatively called a weak 3/strong 4 wood.
- 4 Wood: Standard would be 17-18 loft. Easier to hit than a 3 wood and harder than a 5.
- 5 wood: shorter than a 4 wood, the stronger model would have 18-19 loft. Bur the best option is probably a 19-21 lofted 5 wood. They are usually carried along with a 3 wood.
- 7 wood: best used with a 4 wood. Lofts available include 23-24 (Strong).
- 9 woods and above: With high lofts closer to 30, they are more of an easier alternative to mid irons. The smoother heads work better than irons in rougher lies and tall grassed turfs. 11 Woods have lofts anywhere from 30-38, they are mostly oriented towards golfers who have problems generating enough clubspeed in their swings, seniors for instance.
Quick Guide to Shafts, Clubhead Designs and Materials
Even as a mid handicapper you don’t have to sweat too much over these things when trying to select a new fairway wood. Manufacturers throw a lot of fancy words and technical drivel at you as part of their marketing.
Don’t get caught up in that. Nobody is reinventing the wheel here. Fairway woods have been around since forever. Just remember these things:
Several choices may be available, but graphite is the norm. Get it if you want good height and distance in your ball flight. Once you get better, you may want to try a steel shaft for sharper and lower shots.
Don’t lose your head over this one. The advantages of one model over another, if any, are usually trivial. Either plain ignore it, or go to your local clubfitter and get some advice.
Head materials: steel is the majority option, though you can find a fair few titanium/composite heads as well. If you want to use your wood primarily as a driver replacement, try titanium/composite first. They are lighter and have more voluminous heads.
Best Fairway Woods For Mid Handicappers
The M2, a successor to the M1 combines the best of its predecessor’s traits with those of the AeroBurner series of woods from TaylorMade.
One of the few woods to sport a composite graphite head, the M2has a dramatic look at address. A black speed pocket at the sole adds further character to an already striking looking club.
The club is available in standard 3 wood (15, 16.5) as well as 5 wood (21, and a strong 18), and 24 lofted 7 wood. When buying this 3 wood, do consider the higher lofted options if your swing speed is on the lower side.
- Not too forgiving, gives the right amount of support for shots that connect low on the clubface
- Great as a driver replacement, gets good distance from the tee.
- The Black and white contrasting crown design helps better alignment when preparing for a shot.
- Not as versatile as some other woods, especially in tougher lies
- Shots feel a bit muted and subdued
The 915F is slightly more forgiving than the Fd, but otherwise they both offer similar performance. If your handicap lies north of 15, you might want to try 915 while the latter might offer a bit more of a challenge for stronger players.
But the 915Fd is only available in 13 and 15 degree options, while the F versions has the whole gamut from 13 to 21. But since they all have adjustable lofts, there is still a fair bit of versatility in play, regardless of which version you choose to buy.
- Class leading fairway woods with a high degree of playability and versatility. Easy to swing and works in a wide variety of tough lies.
- Not forgiving enough to cover bad mistakes, one of the best fairway woods for mid handicappers looking to improve their accuracy and consistency
- Excellent distance, makes you feel confident enough to leave your driver at home.
- Not many, except maybe that they don’t offer too much improvement on their predecessors.
- Also, limited loft options on the 915Fd.
With a middle of the road forgiveness, don’t be surprised if you find the F6 in some of our other shortlists of woods for high handicappers and beginners.
This is that rare kind golf club, the one that offers players of all skill levels a fair chance. For those low to mid level handicappers, the F6 Ltd will be a better option. It has moveable weights at the sole, along with adjustable lofts.
If you are a tinkerer, this club has enough features to keep you interested. Cobra has a way of making striking looking clubs, and the F6 wood is no exception.
- Adjustable lofts make for a versatile club that can handle different swing styles and situations with ease
- Forgiveness level makes it a great option if you are a weaker mid handicappers
- The great feel encourages you to let it rip with one of these clubs in hand, very enjoyable to hit.
- Best in class looks
- Takes some tinkering to figure out the ideal weight configuration for each player
- Distance is not the greatest
- Doesn’t work that well in rough lies.
The Big Bertha series is a fairly diverse and popular line of clubs from Callaway. The Alpha 816 is decidedly oriented towards the more skilled players, with first ever forged composite crown from the company.
The adjustable weights can change the level of forgiveness and launch angles. The club is available in 14, 16 and 18 degree lofts with the adjustable loft feature.
- Great distance suitable for both drives off the tee as well as shots from the fairways
- Just the right amount of forgiveness for better players, it can be adjusted
- Ball flight can altered with the weights, capable of addressing a wide variety of lies
- Compact head and matter black finish looks classy and understated
- The understated looks wont suit every golfer
- Some players might have a bit of trouble with launching shots into the air.
Mid handicap players don’t generally need clubs that literally hold their hands and guide them through a course with oodles of extra forgiveness. They need woods that offer just the right amount of forgiveness, while punishing them for the more blatant mistakes and off center hits.
All the woods shortlisted here are geared more towards players with a handicap between 10-20. In our opinion, the pick of the lot would be the Titleist 915Fd for the balance between performance, looks and minimal forgiveness.