It’s a toss-up as to what is more critical in fairway woods, forgiveness, or distance. Many will argue that without forgiveness, you won’t get reasonable distance. We tend to agree with this statement.
Length can be significantly affected by hitting a ball anywhere other than the sweet spot of the club face. Forgiving fairway woods have a large sweet spot, plenty of distance, and the ability to help players with both swing speed and spin.
In this review of the most forgiving fairway woods on the market, we will give you some options for value, for high handicappers, mid handicappers, and our opinion on the overall best fairway wood when it comes to forgiveness.
Our Most Forgiving Fairway Woods in 2020
Most Forgiving Fairway Wood: TaylorMade SIM MAX D Fairway
A brand new release from TaylorMade this year is the SIM MAX D fairway wood. This club has an ultra-low center of gravity and a brand new and improved V Steel sole.
The unique sole is to help with better turf interaction and higher launch. If you are a player that struggles with getting the proper ball flight on a fairway wood, this SIM MAX D is a perfect option.
Installed in almost all of the latest fairway wood technology, the SIM MAX D comes equipped with the revolutionary twist face technology. The best way to describe twist face technology is that it responds to a poor hit and tries to help your ball move along the path straighter.
The thru slot speed pocket will help players that tend to miss on the bottom part of the club face. This mis-hit can generally result in a very low shot that loses quite a bit of distance. Fortunately, the speed pocket helps to improve ball speed and get you the most possible distance out a mis-hit.
The fact that this club is the D model means that the clubface is slightly close to help players that have trouble missing the ball to the right. A slice or a strong fade is the most common miss in players looking for more forgiving clubs. TaylorMade has you covered with the face settings on this SIM MAX D.
This club is priced standard for high-end equipment as it is a new release. If you are looking for a wood that is going to be in your bag for years to come, this is it.
Read our TaylorMade SIM MAX Fairway Woods review.
Alternative #1: Tour Edge Exotics EXS
One of the most underrated golf companies in this game is Tour Edge. They make two general models of clubs: the HL series and the EXS series. Technically the EXS is their more premium club option that attracts better players, but this fairway wood is too good not to mention.
Available in several different loft options, this fairway woods can be configured to be something that fits perfectly in your bag.
One of our favorite features with the Tour Edge Exotics EXS is the adjustability. In our opinion, the second you add adjustability, the more forgiving a club gets.
If your swing demands a shot with a higher launch, you can achieve that. If you start ballooning the ball, you can move a few weights around and get the ball flight you need.
The carbon fiber toe in this club helped to reposition the majority of the weight in this club to be pushed further back. The shifting of the weight led to an extremely high moment of inertia in this fairway wood. So not only are you getting some great forgiveness, but the distance on this club will rival any other fairway wood on the market.
Tour Edge Exotics also manages to incorporate their variable face thickness on these fairway woods. The variable face thickness helps to maximize forgiveness mostly in the heel and toe and give you some room on those mis-hits.
The center of gravity is positioned close to the club face to help provide a lower amount of spin on these fairway woods. A little spin on a 3 wood can be a great thing for someone that struggles to keep the ball straight. It makes this club an excellent alternative for a tee shot when the driver is not performing as it should.
With a clean and sleek black club head, these fairway woods have a classic look from the top down, making this a good option even for the more traditional player looking for forgiveness. Priced very low for a fairway wood, this is one of the best value clubs you can find.
Alternative #2: Cobra F9 Speedback Fairway Wood
The Cobra F9 fairway is again a forgiving and adjustable option. That adjustability factor just really helps to make sure these clubs are fine-tuned to your game.
The most forgiving fairway woods will not only help your golf game on the perfect swings but make the most significant differences in the miss-hits.
One of the best things about the F9 fairway is that regardless of if you are a low handicapper or one of the high handicappers, this club can work for your game. Priced at a very fair value and offered in the 3/4, 5/6, and 7/8 wood options, this is one of the best value woods that you can find.
A CNC Precision milled face gives the fairways some of the best feel in the market. The Fujikura Atmos shaft provides players with high launch and the ability to gain lots of swing speed. For players that struggle with hitting a 3 wood solid, the 3/4 option is the perfect solution.
Most Forgiveness for the Lowest Price: TaylorMade RBZ Black Fairway
The TaylorMade RBZ Black Fairways are not a new model. Some may struggle to find this club in the exact specs you need, but if you can find it, this is a fantastic option, especially for high handicappers.
With a lightweight rocket fuel 55 shaft in this forgiving golf club, you will be able to achieve incredible ball speed and launch as well.
This design was the start of the speed pocket technology that TaylorMade has only continued to perfect in their woods. For those looking for even more help hitting a 3 wood solid, choose the HL version.
Anytime TaylorMade makes an HL; it is usually 1 to 1.5 degrees higher with a little bit more significant of a sweet spot. The 3 wood on this series of woods is 15 degrees in the standard and 16.5 in the HL. If you hit a lot of shots from the fairway, go with the HL version.
Since the RBZ is not a new release, the price has continued to drop through the years. Often found at a very fair value, this is a hard bargain to pass up.
Most Forgiving Fairway Wood for Women: Cobra King F8 Fairway
This Cobra fairway wood for women comes in three different loft options and is highly adjustable. The F8 series is when Cobra first introduced the Cobra Connect technology to help track the lengths of each shot.
Being able to see how far you hit your fairway woods from different lies and locations can be most beneficial when it comes to proper club selection.
These fairway woods implements the rail system that made the Cobra baffler fairway woods so famous years ago.
The rails on the bottom of the club help to get the club through even the most difficult of lies. The rail system, combined with the lightweight club, makes this a very forgiving club for both high handicappers and medium handicappers.
Low center of gravity and a price sometimes less than any other fairway wood availalbe this Cobra King F8 is a no brainer for women looking to put a high-quality fairway in their bag without breaking the bank.
When Should I Use My Fairway Woods?
Fairway woods are a great alternative to a Driver on those days when you are struggling off the tee. Course management is something that many amateurs don’t think about enough. Do you know that bunker on the 4th hole the one you Drive it into every time? Why are you still hitting the driver?
Hit the three wood off the tee, leave yourself a few yards short of the bunker and then hit one extra club into the green. This is the kind of course management that you need to lower your golf scores and get your game to the next level.
If you hit a super long drive off the tee, but it’s in the rough, do not try and muscle a 3 wood out of it.
Yes, fairway woods have increased forgiveness from several years ago, but this is still a very difficult shot to pull off. Choose an option that will advance the ball down the fairway and not get you in more trouble.
How Do Hybrids and Fairway Woods Compare?
Sometimes when deciding to use a fairway wood or a hybrid, players make the decision based on distance alone. There are quite a few differences between the fairway wood and hybrid that are worth noting before you make your club selection.
The fairway wood is going to fly longer and roll further. A hybrid tends to fly a bit higher and land softer. Hybrids are your smartest option from an awkward lie, and fairway woods will work best from the tee or an excellent fairway lie.
As far as your golf swing is concerned, the fairway wood will need a swing similar to a Driver, more of a sweeping motion. Hybrids are going to be more of an iron swing where a player hits down on the ball. If your iron game is strong, hybrids might be the best fit for you when trying to get that distance from the fairway.
What lofts Should I Purchase for Fairway Woods?
Traditionally a three wood has about 15 degrees of loft, a five wood has 19, and 7 wood has close to 22. This can vary significantly between manufacturers. Some will offer a four wood as well. I think if you want to carry one wood in your bag, it makes the most sense to get something like a four wood around 16 or 17 degrees.
A club with this loft will help off the tee, and it will also provide enough forgiveness from fairway shots as well. Typically speaking, a three wood hit from the fairway can be one of the more difficult shots to hit correctly. The ball is subject to quite a bit of spin and could end up left or right of your intended target. Just a few extra degrees of loft can make all the difference.
Some players will carry a 19 degree fairway in addition to a 19 degree hybrid. This is completely acceptable to do considering the different options this provides in your game. Having these two clubs is not the same as having two 5 irons in your set.
Sometimes players enjoy fairways more than hybrids and, in this case, look for a new release to fill your bag with fairways. Callaway is well known for producing clubs down to an 11 and 13 wood. Most modern golfers will want a mix of fairway woods and hybrids, but if you are not that player, there are options available for you.
Although choosing the right fairway wood for your game can be a rather personal decision, the TaylorMade SIM MAX D stands out as a perfect option for people looking for complete forgiveness.
Without giving up even a yard of distance, this large clubhead provides high launch angles and just the ideal amount of spin. If for some reason, TaylorMade is not your brand, you will not be going wrong with the Cobra F9 Speedback or Tour Edge Exotics EXS options we presented.
Just be sure when you are buying a fairway wood that you choose something that matches what you are going to use it for. Is it a backup club off the tee, is it a go-to club on the fairway for every hole?
Be honest with yourself with what you need and choose the level of forgiveness accordingly.