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2014 Gear Trials: Best Fairway Woods

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What are the best fairway woods in golf?

That question is more difficult to answer than other club categories, such as drivers and irons, because of all the different ways golfers use their fairway woods. Some players prefer to use fairway woods off the tee almost exclusively to help them find more fairways, while others need to hit their fairway woods into par 4’s and par 5’s to improve their scoring chances. Other golfers use them for both purposes, which further complicates things.

As a result, we’ve separated this year’s list of best fairway woods into three different categories. The golfers who are looking to maximize the distance they can hit their fairway woods should look closely at our “Distance-First” category, which includes our picks for the five longest fairway woods in golf. Those who lean heavily on their fairway woods for approach shots will want to pay special attention to our “Forgiveness-First” category, which list models that tend to fly higher and a little straighter than others. Finally, golfers who want fairway woods that are long, straight and playable from a variety of lies should look into our “Balanced-Performance” category.

It should be noted that unlike our Gear Trials: Best Drivers list, we’ve group certain models together such as Callaway’s X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro, Tour Edge Exotics’ XCG7 and XCG7 Beta and Titleist’s 913F and 913F.d. While the design of these fairway woods are slightly different, they are seen by our team and fitters more as different fitting options than different clubs entirely, as they produce slightly different launch conditions that help golfers dial in the best possible fairway woods for their game.

Click here to read 2014 Gear Trials: Best Drivers, our list of the best drivers in golf for 2014.

Who votes?

Now for the toughest question we had to answer: How do we create such a list?

In the past, we relied on both the feedback of our equipment editors and an elite panel of custom fitters located across North America. For this year’s list, we decided we needed another component: mass player testing of every major manufacturer’s fairway woods performed by fitters at Miles of Golf in Ypsilanti, Mich. Those fitters spent eight days with 33 different testers of various ability levels evaluating a total of 27 different fairway woods. Each fairway wood was tested with its stock stiff-flex shaft and had as close to 15 degrees of loft as possible. The data was then normalized by the team at Miles of Golf in order to rank each fairway woods’ launch, spin and smash factor.

After the data was collected, we surveyed our five other top custom fitters located across North America — Carl’s GolflandModern GolfMorton Golf and two other custom fitters who chose to remain anonymous on the top performing fairway woods heads in each category.

The scoring process

Unlike in year’s past, this year’s scores were entirely based on the performance of each fairway wood, removing the subjective categories of looks, sound and feel from the equation. What was left was the votes of our custom fitters (60 percent of a fairway wood’s score), the results of our mass player test (30 percent of a fairway wood’s score) and the votes of our staff members (10 percent of a fairway wood’s score).

Now that we’ve added up the scores, we present to you our list of the absolute best fairway woods in golf. We consider each of these fairway woods to be a winner, which is why they’re listed in alphabetical order (Note: You can click the images of each fairway wood to enlarge the text).

Distance

distance_winners Listed in alphabetic order

Looking for the most possible distance from your fairway wood? Look no further than this list, which includes two titanium-faced fairway woods (Adams XTD Ti and Tour Edge Exotics’ XCG7 Beta), as well as five of the fastest steel fairway woods that our club fitters have ever tested in Callaway’s X2 Hot, Callaway’s X2 Hot Pro, TaylorMade’s SLDR and TaylorMade’s SLDR S and Tour Edge Exotics’ XCG7.

Gear Trials Fairway Woods Adams XTD Ti

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Adams’ XTD Ti fairway woods use a variety of constructions to help golfers get the most possible distance from the company’s largest-profile fairway wood.

The driver of their performance are the clubs’ titanium faces, which are wedged between Adams’ two Cut-Thru slots. They’re located on the sole and crown of the clubs, which creates a spring-like effect that is right on the USGA’s legal limit. The company’s progressive face thickness also helps ball speeds remain close to the legal limit across the entirety of the clubface.

The XTD Ti fairway woods are available in lofts of 13.5, 15 and 18 degrees, and include a 12-position adjustable hosel that allows golfers to change the loft and face angle by as much as 1.5 degrees in 0.5-degree increments.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/205151/review-adams-xtd-ti-fairway-wood/”]Read our review of the XTD Ti[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FXLEUHA/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00FXLEUHA&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20″]Buy XTD Ti[/button][/colored_box]

Callaway X2 Hot Distance

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: In head-to-head testing, the Callaway X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro give golfers some of the best combinations of distance and forgiveness of any fairway wood on this list, which is why you’ll find it listed in all three of our categories: Distance-FirstForgiveness-First and Balanced Performance. The X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro, along with TaylorMade’s SLDR S, are the only fairway woods in Gear Trials to receive that honor.

Yes, the X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro are long, but they’re also extremely high-launching and low-spinning, a testament to their extremely thin, heat-treated 455 Carpenter steel Hyper Speed Face Cups that are welded to their 17-4 stainless steel bodies. The company’s internal standing wave, a shelf inside the club head that moves weight low and forward, along with the clubs’ compact profile and Warbird sole design, also serve to lower the fairway woods’ center of gravity (CG) to make these clubs playable from the tee, fairway and even lies in the rough.

The X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro are not adjustable, but they’re offered in 10 different lofts and two distinct head shapes to make fitting a breeze. For golfers who use their fairway woods primarily off the tee, Callaway also offers its “Deep” fairway woods, which have a taller, or deeper face for more forgiveness on shots hit high and low on the club head. The Deep fairway woods are offered in three lofts: a 2Deep (12.5 degrees), 3Deep (14.5 degrees) and 5Deep (18.5 degrees).

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/166887/review-callaway-x2-hot-x2-hot-pro-fairway-woods/”]Read our review of the X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G97PGNY/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00G97PGNY&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=N2LX3ZTTQTYMTBHK”]Buy X2 Hot[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G97PRN8/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00G97PRN8&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=JXB5Y7FZIKHLUY57″]Buy X2 Hot Pro[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G97Q04I/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00G97Q04I&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=HNCBCDLGQAJPU6P2″]Buy X2 Hot Deep[/button][/colored_box]

Gear Trials TaylorMade SLDR Fairway Woods

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: For most golfers, TaylorMade’s SLDR fairway woods are the lowest spinning fairway woods on the market, helping those with mid-to-high swing speeds get maximum distance from their fairway woods.

Like TaylorMade’s SLDR driver, these stainless steel fairway woods have a center of gravity that is low and forward to reduce spin. The result is that most golfers will need to loft up at least one model (from 15 to 17 degrees or 17 to 19 degrees, for example) to achieve maximum carry distance. The SLDR fairway woods also have the company’s updated Speed Pocket, a handlebar-shaped slot on the front of the club’s sole that improves the fairway wood’s spring-like effect and increases energy transfer on off-center hits.

Unlike the SLDR S fairway woods, the SLDR fairway woods are adjustable up to 1.5 degrees up or down in loft in 0.5-degree increments, allowing golfers to dial in their desired trajectory, face angle and lie. They’re offered in five lofts: 14 (TS), 15 (3W), 17 (3W HL) 19 (5W) and 21 (5W HL), as well as a TP version with the same lofts that includes a heavier, stiffer Fujikura Motore Speeder Tour Spec 8.3 shaft.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/150516/review-taylormade-sldr-fairway-woods-and-hybrids/”]Read our review of SLDR[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G2M7KT4/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00G2M7KT4&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=XM2ZYFPMWRMBDQPR”]Buy SLDR[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G2M6AZY/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00G2M6AZY&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=YZCM2IWSJWQDDPVO”]Buy SLDR TP[/button][/colored_box]

Gear Trials Fairway Woods TaylorMade SLDR S

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: TaylorMade’s SLDR S fairway woods are a lot like the company’s JetSpeed models, which were launched in November 2013. While their performance is very much the same — a good thing, because the JetSpeeds were great performers — the SLDR S fairway woods have shorter shaft lengths, lighter shafts and lighter head weights that make them more playable for most golfers.

Like SLDR, the SLDR S fairway woods have the company’s Speed Pocket, as handlebar-shaped slot on the front of their soles that gives the clubs livier faces and more consistent ball speeds on off-center hits. The SLDR S, however, have shallower faces, which makes them easier to hit off lies in the fairway and rough. Their low, forward CG will also necessitate that golfers to “loft up” about two degrees from previous models.

Along with Callaway’s X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro, the SLDR S are the only fairway woods in our test to earn a spot in all three of our categories: Distance-First, Forgiveness-First and Balanced Performance.

The SLDR S is available in several high lofted models to accommodate golfers with slower clubhead speeds. Those lofts include: 15 (3W), 17 (3W HL), 19 (5W), 21 (5W HL) and 23 (7W). Unlike the SLDR fairway woods, a TP version is not currently available.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/207735/taylormade-unveils-new-sldr-s-woods-and-irons/”]Read our story on the SLDR S line[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JR52H64/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00JR52H64&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=UJWHXCHFWILZV3CC”]Buy SLDR S[/button][/colored_box]

Gear Trials Fairway Woods Toe Edge Exotics XCG7

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Tour Edge Exotics is known as a leader in fairway wood performance, and the company’s new XCG7 and XCG7 Beta fairway woods are a testament to the company’s commitment to that reputation.

The XCG7 is a shallow-faced fairway wood with a lengthened heel-to-toe profile to improve the performance of golfers who tend to mis-hit shots on the heel and toe. The club’s denser, 465 forged maraging steel cup face offers ball speeds right at the USGA’s limit, and the faces are combo brazed to their steel bodies, saving precious grams of weight that the company moves low and deep in the head in the form of tetrahedral weight pads for increased forgiveness.

The XCG7 Beta is designed for better players who prefer a smaller footprint and fairway woods with deeper faces. They have forged titanium cup faces that, like the XCG7, are combo braised to the clubs’ steel body. Unlike the XCG7, the XCG7 Beta has its tetrahedral weight pads moved farther forward in the club head, raising their CG for a more penetrating trajectory.

Both models have Exotics’ “Power Grid” behind the sweet spot, which functions like an accordion at impact to increase spring-like effect. The XCG7 is available in lofts of 13, 15, 16.5, 18 and 21 degrees, while the XCG7 Beta fairway woods are offered in lofts of 11.5, 13, 15, 16.5 and 18 degrees.

Golfers looking for an even lower-spinning Exotics fairway wood might consider the CB Pro, which has a smaller, more workable profile and comes stock with Fujikura’s Speeder 757 shaft.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/169645/review-tour-edge-exotics-xcg7-xcg7-beta-and-cb-pro-fairway-woods/”]Read our review of the XCG7 and XCG7 Beta[/button] [button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FNL0W5O/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00FNL0W5O&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=PO5XCXJFXJH272ZD”]Buy the XCG7[/button]
[button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FNL0KIS/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00FNL0KIS&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=SRWQVOLYK4FVUJOA”]Buy the XCG7 Beta[/button][/colored_box]

Forgiveness

forgiveness_winners Listed in alphabetic order

Golfers most often go into a driver fitting looking for every extra yard they can get their hands on, but with fairway woods, that’s not always the case. Whether you’re looking for the straightest fairway wood you can get your hands on, or a sole shape that allows you to hit your fairway woods from nasty lies and still reach the green, this list of golf’s most forgiving fairway woods has something for you.

Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 10.04.38 PM

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: The Tight Lies proved to be the easiest fairway wood to elevate of any club in the test thanks to their extremely low face height, which makes hitting these clubs from just about any lie a breeze.

The Tight Lies have a shape that’s similar to the original Tight Lies fairway woods that put Adams on the map 18 years ago, but the new models fly considerably longer thanks to the company’s Cut-Thru slots, which were added to the sole and crown of the clubs to improve their Characteristic Time (CT) score to 220, twice that of the originals.

The Tight Lies are offered in lofts of 14, 16, 19 and 22 degrees, and come stock with Mitsubishi Rayon’s Bassara Eagle, a 55-to-60-gram shaft that’s designed to boost swing speed and launch. Golfers looking for a lower-spinning option might consider the Tight Lies Tour fairway wood.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/136533/adams-tight-lies-and-tight-lies-tour-editor-review/”]Read our review of the Tight Lies[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EC74IUA/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00EC74IUA&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20″]Buy Tight Lies[/button][/colored_box]

Callaway X2 Hot Forgiveness

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: In head-to-head testing, the Callaway X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro give golfers some of the best combinations of distance and forgiveness of any fairway wood on this list, which is why you’ll find it listed in all three of our categories: Distance-FirstForgiveness-First and Balanced Performance. The X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro, along with TaylorMade’s SLDR S, are the only fairway woods in Gear Trials to receive that honor.

Yes, the X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro are long, but they’re also extremely high-launching and low-spinning, a testament to their extremely thin, heat-treated 455 Carpenter steel Hyper Speed Face Cups that are welded to their 17-4 stainless steel bodies. The company’s internal standing wave, a shelf inside the club head that moves weight low and forward, along with the clubs’ compact profile and Warbird sole design, also serve to lower the fairway woods’ center of gravity (CG) to make these clubs playable from the tee, fairway and even lies in the rough.

The X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro are not adjustable, but they’re offered in 10 different lofts and two distinct head shapes to make fitting a breeze. For golfers who use their fairway woods primarily off the tee, Callaway also offers its “Deep” fairway woods, which have a taller, or deeper face for more forgiveness on shots hit high and low on the club head. The Deep fairway woods are offered in three lofts: a 2Deep (12.5 degrees), 3Deep (14.5 degrees) and 5Deep (18.5 degrees).

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/166887/review-callaway-x2-hot-x2-hot-pro-fairway-woods/”]Read our review of the X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G97PGNY/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00G97PGNY&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=N2LX3ZTTQTYMTBHK”]Buy X2 Hot[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G97PRN8/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00G97PRN8&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=JXB5Y7FZIKHLUY57″]Buy X2 Hot Pro[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G97Q04I/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00G97Q04I&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=HNCBCDLGQAJPU6P2″]Buy X2 Hot Deep[/button][/colored_box]

GolfWRX Gear Trials Fairway Woods Cobra Bio Cell

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Cobra’s Bio Cell is one of our panel’s favorite fairway woods on this list, thanks to its impressive blend of ball speed and forgiveness, as well as its ease to fit.

Like Cobra’s Bio Cell driver, the Bio Cell fairway woods have a neutral CG that maintains the clubs’ moment of inertia (MOI), a measure of a clubs forgiveness, and also drives the center of gravity low in the head to raise launch and lower spin. The clubs also have a high-strength steel face insert and Cobra’s forged E9 Bio Cell face technology, an elliptical design that improve performance on shots struck not just in the center of the face, but also on shots hit low on the heel and high on the toe as well, where most golfers mis-hit their shots.

Maybe most important to the success of the Bio Cell fairway woods are their MyFly8 adjustable hosels, which allow golfers to tweak the loft of the clubs as much as 4 degrees in 0.5-degree increments and provides three “draw” settings that make the fairway woods more upright at address. Cobra’s SmartPad holds all of this adjustability together, allowing the clubs to sit relatively square at address regardless of the loft and lie settings.

The Bio Cell fairway woods are offered in two models: a 3-4 fairway that adjusts from 13-to-16 degrees and a 5-7 fairway that adjusts from 17-to-20 degrees. Golfers looking for a smaller, more workable option with stronger lofts might consider Cobra’s Bio Cell+ fairway woods.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/204123/review-bio-cell-and-bio-cell-fairway-woods/”]Read our review of the Bio Cell[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GUD3E6I/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00GUD3E6I&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20″]Buy Bio Cell[/button][/colored_box]

Ping G25 forgiveness

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: While the G25 fairway woods were released all the way back in January 2013, they remain one of the best performing fairway woods on a list dominated by 2014 models.

Ping’s recipe for success, which it also used for its G25 drivers, is to move the CG of the clubs as low and as far back in the club head as possible, creating the most forgiving fairway woods in golf. That’s the opposite of TaylorMade’s low-and-forward philosophy on CG, and it allows golfers to play lower-lofted fairway woods than they might in other company’s models and still retain a high launch angle.

While the G25’s can’t be called low-spinning fairway woods — they’re actually one of the highest-spinning models on this list — their high MOI keeps spin and ball speed more consistent on mishits, creating longer shots regardless of where they’re hit on the face. The G25 fairway woods are available in lofts of 15 (3W), 16.5 (4W), 18 (5W) and 21 (7W) degrees.

Golfers looking for a more penetrating trajectory than the G25 can offer might look into the company’s new i25 fairway woods, which are designed with a slightly more forward CG position to reduce spin.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/110054/ping-g25-fairway-woods-and-hybrids-editor-review/”]Read our review of the G25 fairway woods[/button][/colored_box]

SLDR S Fairway Woods forgiveness

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: TaylorMade’s SLDR S fairway woods are a lot like the company’s JetSpeed models, which were launched in November 2013. While their performance is very much the same — a good thing, because the JetSpeeds were great performers — the SLDR S fairway woods have shorter shaft lengths, lighter shafts and lighter head weights that make them more playable for most golfers.

Like SLDR, the SLDR S fairway woods have the company’s Speed Pocket, as handlebar-shaped slot on the front of their soles that gives the clubs livier faces and more consistent ball speeds on off-center hits. The SLDR S, however, have shallower faces, which makes them easier to hit off lies in the fairway and rough. Their low, forward CG will also necessitate that golfers to “loft up” about two degrees from previous models.

Along with Callaway’s X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro, the SLDR S are the only fairway woods in our test to earn a spot in all three of our categories: Distance-FirstForgiveness-First and Balanced Performance.

The SLDR S is available in several high lofted models to accommodate golfers with slower clubhead speeds. Those lofts include: 15 (3W), 17 (3W HL), 19 (5W), 21 (5W HL) and 23 (7W). Unlike the SLDR fairway woods, a TP version is not currently available.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/207735/taylormade-unveils-new-sldr-s-woods-and-irons/”]Read our story on the SLDR S line[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JR52H64/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00JR52H64&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=UJWHXCHFWILZV3CC”]Buy SLDR S[/button][/colored_box]

Balanced Performance

balanced_winners Listed in alphabetic order

The Balanced Performance category was created to be the Holy Grail of best fairway wood lists, listing the clubs that have the best combination of jaw-dropping distance and precision. We hold the clubs on this list to the highest standards of ball speed, launch and spin conditions and playability. That’s while you’ll find two of the longest fairway woods on our list (Callaway’s X2 Hot/X2 Hot Pro and TaylorMade’s SLDR S) two of the most forgiving designs (Cobra’s Bio Cell and Ping’s G25) as well as Titleist’s 913F/913F.d, which is a perfect example of a fairway wood that is long, accurate and playable from a variety of surfaces.

Callaway X2 Hot Balanced

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: In head-to-head testing, the Callaway X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro give golfers some of the best combinations of distance and forgiveness of any fairway wood on this list, which is why you’ll find it listed in all three of our categories: Distance-FirstForgiveness-First and Balanced Performance. The X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro, along with TaylorMade’s SLDR S, are the only fairway woods in Gear Trials to receive that honor.

Yes, the X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro are long, but they’re also extremely high-launching and low-spinning, a testament to their extremely thin, heat-treated 455 Carpenter steel Hyper Speed Face Cups that are welded to their 17-4 stainless steel bodies. The company’s internal standing wave, a shelf inside the club head that moves weight low and forward, along with the clubs’ compact profile and Warbird sole design, also serve to lower the fairway woods’ center of gravity (CG) to make these clubs playable from the tee, fairway and even lies in the rough.

The X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro are not adjustable, but they’re offered in 10 different lofts and two distinct head shapes to make fitting a breeze. For golfers who use their fairway woods primarily off the tee, Callaway also offers its “Deep” fairway woods, which have a taller, or deeper face for more forgiveness on shots hit high and low on the club head. The Deep fairway woods are offered in three lofts: a 2Deep (12.5 degrees), 3Deep (14.5 degrees) and 5Deep (18.5 degrees).

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/166887/review-callaway-x2-hot-x2-hot-pro-fairway-woods/”]Read our review of the X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G97PGNY/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00G97PGNY&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=N2LX3ZTTQTYMTBHK”]Buy X2 Hot[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G97PRN8/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00G97PRN8&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=JXB5Y7FZIKHLUY57″]Buy X2 Hot Pro[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G97Q04I/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00G97Q04I&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=HNCBCDLGQAJPU6P2″]Buy X2 Hot Deep[/button][/colored_box]

Cobra Bio Cell Balanced

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Cobra’s Bio Cell is one of our panel’s favorite fairway woods on this list, thanks to its impressive blend of ball speed and forgiveness, as well as its ease to fit.

Like Cobra’s Bio Cell driver, the Bio Cell fairway woods have a neutral CG that maintains the clubs’ moment of inertia (MOI), a measure of a clubs forgiveness, and also drives the center of gravity low in the head to raise launch and lower spin. The clubs also have a high-strength steel face insert and Cobra’s forged E9 Bio Cell face technology, an elliptical design that improve performance on shots struck not just in the center of the face, but also on shots hit low on the heel and high on the toe as well, where most golfers mis-hit their shots.

Maybe most important to the success of the Bio Cell fairway woods are their MyFly8 adjustable hosels, which allow golfers to tweak the loft of the clubs as much as 4 degrees in 0.5-degree increments and provides three “draw” settings that make the fairway woods more upright at address. Cobra’s SmartPad holds all of this adjustability together, allowing the clubs to sit relatively square at address regardless of the loft and lie settings.

The Bio Cell fairway woods are offered in two models: a 3-4 fairway that adjusts from 13-to-16 degrees and a 5-7 fairway that adjusts from 17-to-20 degrees. Golfers looking for a smaller, more workable option with stronger lofts might consider Cobra’s Bio Cell+ fairway woods.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/204123/review-bio-cell-and-bio-cell-fairway-woods/”]Read our review of the Bio Cell[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GUD3E6I/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00GUD3E6I&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20″]Buy Bio Cell[/button][/colored_box]

Ping G25 Balanced Fairway Woods

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: While the G25 fairway woods were released all the way back in January 2013, they remain one of the best performing fairway woods on a list dominated by 2014 models.

Ping’s recipe for success, which it also used for its G25 drivers and fairway woods, is to move the CG of the clubs as low and as far back in the club head as possible, creating the most forgiving fairway woods in golf. That’s the opposite of TaylorMade’s low-and-forward philosophy on CG, and it allows golfers to play lower-lofted fairway woods than they might in other company’s models and still retain a high launch angle.

While the G25’s can’t be called low-spinning fairway woods — they’re actually one of the highest-spinning models on this list — their high MOI keeps spin and ball speed more consistent on mishits, creating longer shots regardless of where they’re hit on the face. The G25 fairway woods are available in lofts of 15 (3W), 16.5 (4W), 18 (5W) and 21 (7W) degrees.

Golfers looking for a more penetrating trajectory than the G25 can offer might look into the company’s new i25 fairway woods, which are designed with a slightly more forward CG position to reduce spin.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/110054/ping-g25-fairway-woods-and-hybrids-editor-review/”]Read our review of the G25 fairway woods[/button][/colored_box]

SLDR S Fairway Woods Balanced

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: TaylorMade’s SLDR S fairway woods are a lot like the company’s JetSpeed models, which were launched in November 2013. While their performance is very much the same — a good thing, because the JetSpeeds were great performers — the SLDR S fairway woods have shorter shaft lengths, lighter shafts and lighter head weights that make them more playable for most golfers.

Like SLDR, the SLDR S fairway woods have the company’s Speed Pocket, as handlebar-shaped slot on the front of their soles that gives the clubs livier faces and more consistent ball speeds on off-center hits. The SLDR S, however, have shallower faces, which makes them easier to hit off lies in the fairway and rough. Their low, forward CG will also necessitate that golfers to “loft up” about two degrees from previous models.

Along with Callaway’s X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro, the SLDR S are the only fairway woods in our test to earn a spot in all three of our categories: Distance-FirstForgiveness-First and Balanced Performance.

The SLDR S is available in several high lofted models to accommodate golfers with slower clubhead speeds. Those lofts include: 15 (3W), 17 (3W HL), 19 (5W), 21 (5W HL) and 23 (7W). Unlike the SLDR fairway woods, a TP version is not currently available.

[button color=”red” link=”http://www.golfwrx.com/207735/taylormade-unveils-new-sldr-s-woods-and-irons/”]Read our story on the SLDR S line[/button][button color=”red” link=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JR52H64/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00JR52H64&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=UJWHXCHFWILZV3CC”]Buy SLDR S[/button][/colored_box]

Gear Trials Fairway Woods Titleist 913F and 913F.d

[colored_box color=”white”]Tech Talk: Titleist’s 913F and 913F.d have been a top choice of our club fitters since their release in February 2013, and epitomize what many golfers are looking for from their fairway woods. They have a medium launch and spin, and offer enough forgiveness to keep mishits tracking toward their target.

Like Cobra’s Bio Cell, the 913F has a neutral CG positioned low in the head that retains the fairway woods’ MOI and improves performance on shots from the ground. The 913F.d offers similar performance with a slightly more forward CG that lowers spin. Both models have Titleist SureFit hosel, which adjusts loft, lie and face angle as much as 1.5 degrees in 0.75 degree increments.

The 913F is offered in lofts of 13.5, 15, 17, 19 and 21 degrees. The 913F.d comes in lots of 13.5, 15 and 18 degrees. Both models come stock with premium shafts made by Aldila and Mitsubishi Rayon, as well as many more premium shafts that are available for an upcharge.[/colored_box]

Click here to read 2014 Gear Trials: Best Drivers, our list of the best drivers in golf for 2014.

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33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Pingback: Cobra Fly Z and Fly Z+ Drivers, Fairway Woods and Hybrids | Golf Gear Select

  2. w

    Aug 3, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    If you are a short hitter, distance in fairway metals shouldn’t matter much. You are probably hitting your driver for every par 4 and 5. You should aim to cover your distance gaps to reach all par 4s in two. Focus more on forgiveness.

  3. Sander

    Jun 27, 2014 at 7:36 am

    The Titleist 913F has a higher rating for forgiveness than the Taylormade SLDR S, but the Taylormade SLDR S is listed in the top-5 foregiveness and the Titleist 913F isn’t. Did I miss anything?

  4. adam

    Jun 18, 2014 at 8:00 am

    I’ve played Taylormade R9 TP fairway woods since they came out and I’ve recently tested the Callaway x2 Hot’s and they’ve switched me quicker than I thought possible. For me, they are miles above any other club I’ve hit, for distance, dispersion and feel. I liked them so much I told my girlfriend (whose a 6 hdcp) to try them out and the next week after trying them out, she liked them so much, we ordered two hybrids, a 3 wood and a set of 5-pw irons all in the x2’s. Her first round out she shot her 2nd lowest round ever. I am not into all the gimmicks of adjustable clubs and haven’t switched anything in my bag for years…. until the X2’s.

  5. John O

    May 30, 2014 at 4:10 am

    Dang. Wish I’d seen this before buying my Titleist 913F, but my 913H hybrid was just so good. Bit different to the Golf Digest Hot List. Love my Callaway X-Hot driver, but the X2-Hot fairway wood heads are unadjustable and seem angled in even more closed than the previous year’s X-Hot. Titleist 913F are more square/neutral and you can adjust both the loft and the lie. The new Callaway Bertha would be a better comparison. Maybe I should look at those Cobras.

  6. Old putt

    May 28, 2014 at 6:57 am

    Just got Nike Covert 2.0 driver. Have never adjusted to Taylor Drivers but oddly love the Fairway Woods. Will try the sldr s like the choice of 7w. Rare person who prefers woods to hybrids.

  7. Jorge

    May 28, 2014 at 6:36 am

    I agree with the greatness of the Cally X2Hot as I have the pro model in the stiff Tour Green shaft and it is an absolute beast! Every aspect of this 3 wood is spot on – feel, sound, workability & trajectory. Best 3 wood I have ever gamed….and I’m a club ho so I have tried many models on that list.

  8. Chris

    May 27, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    No way the PING Rapture didn’t make it. Best 3 wood I have ever hit….. Amazing! Straight up KILLS it!

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      May 27, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      The Ping Rapture is a GREAT driving fairway wood. You’ll notice that no driving fairway woods (Callaway X2 Hot Deep, Ping Rapture or TaylorMade SLDR Mini) made our list, but that doesn’t mean they’re not great clubs for specific players. They’re just not as good at as many things are more traditionally sized fairway woods.

  9. Mason

    May 27, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Good list. I have the sldr, and either stripe it or hit some odd shot. Looking for a little more forgiveness and distance, as I am using the 3 wood off the tee more. About a 14 HC, thinking bio cell or g25. I have about a 96MPH swing speed.

    Thoughts?

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      May 27, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      Mason,

      You can’t go wrong with either of those or any of the fairway woods that made our “Forgiveness-First” or “Balanced-Performance” categories. You also might want to try “lofting up” your SLDR fairway wood in 0.5-degree increments until you see a more consistent trajectory from shot-to-shot, or seek advice from a golf teaching professional to see if your inconsistency is a fitting issue or a swing issue.

      • chrispuckhaber

        Nov 4, 2014 at 8:55 am

        looking for a low trajectory 3 wood that is forgiving I’m a 16 handicap any suggestions? thx

  10. Rod

    May 27, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Nice review and its good to understand more about the clubs offerings against distance and forgiveness. We are certainly spoilt for choice. I bought an rbz stage 2 tour Fairway with a kai’li shaft last year and you probably find them in the discount box now. Such an amazing club and I would encourage buyers to look at the last model and spend the money on an an after market shaft. Then you will be keeping it for years.

  11. Charlie

    May 27, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    No Big Bertha or Exotics CB Pro? C’mon man!! It would be nice to see a list of clubs that didn’t make the cut so that we at least know they were or were not tested/voted on by the club fitters that you poll.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      May 27, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      Charlie,

      Those two clubs were tested. Here’s all 27 that we hit.

      Adams Tight Lies
      Adams Tight Lies Tour
      Adams XTD Ti
      Callaway Big Bertha
      Callaway X2 Hot
      Callaway X2 Hot Pro
      Callaway X2 Hot Deep
      Cleveland 588
      Cobra Baffler XL
      Cobra Bio Cell
      Cobra Bio Cell+
      Mizuno JPX EZ
      Nike Covert 2.0
      Nike Covert 2.0 Tour
      Ping G25
      Ping i25
      Ping Rapture
      TaylorMade JetSpeed
      TaylorMade SLDR
      TaylorMade SLDR Mini
      TaylorMade SLDR S
      Titleist 913F
      Titleist 913F.D
      Tour Edge Exotics CB Pro
      Tour Edge Exotics XCG7
      Tour Edge Exotics XCG7 Beta
      Wilson Staff M3

      • Charles

        May 27, 2014 at 6:00 pm

        Awesome! Thanks!!

      • Rich

        May 28, 2014 at 3:49 am

        Wow! Amazed that the Ping rapture didn’t make the distance list. It’s supposed to be a beast isn’t it?

      • golffmyster

        Jul 23, 2014 at 7:36 am

        Hi Zak,I am well aware Miura dictate a certain a market not to the masses, I believe my initial £ outlay will save me depressiation costs in the long term. I digress the point I want to make is why do Miura never get considered in club testing.

        • Zak Kozuchowski

          Jul 23, 2014 at 9:52 am

          Miura did receive votes in our Gear Trials irons categories with its PP-9003 (GI) and CB-501 (players) irons, but very few compared to the clubs you’ll find on our Best irons lists. That’s why you did not see them in our club test.

          I wouldn’t worry about the depreciation of your clubs, either. Spend what it takes to get yourself a properly fit and properly built set of clubs and use them until you wear them out or get significantly better numbers from a new model.

          In our experience, that usually takes at least two seasons and is limited mostly to drivers and game-improvement irons. You’ll find that the same is true on tour; it’s amazing how many old fairway woods, hybrids, irons and putters there are in the bags of professionals considering that they get all their clubs for free and can be properly fit at any time.

      • golffmyster

        Jul 23, 2014 at 7:38 am

        Zak I apologize “depreciation”

  12. John Frizzell

    May 27, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Ping dominates again with the 1+ year old G25. Doesn’t surprise me at all, looking forward to the G30 launch in the next few months. Exciting times for us Ping devotees.

  13. JEFF

    May 27, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Tayporly made? why?

    • Dick Woodcock

      May 27, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      Haters gonna hate…funny though that TMAG continues to dominate in performance..

    • adam

      Jun 18, 2014 at 7:53 am

      “Tayporly made” man that’s a stretch. Think of something better than that if you’re gonna hate.

  14. LorenRobertsFan

    May 27, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    I like the data included in the mygolfspy review of most wanted fairway woods of 2014 a lot better

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      May 27, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      Our Gear Trials lists are based on more than just a club test, which is why you don’t see specific launch, spin, distance and dispersion numbers listed.

      Our goal with these stories is to identify the best drivers and fairway woods (and later hybrids and irons) for golfers based on their specific needs. That’s why we poll elite club fitters located throughout North America, who spend 40+ hours every week fitting golfers in bays outfit with the latest fitting technology, on the best performing clubs on the market.

      Those fitters recognize, as we do, that it’s impossible to concretely say that one model is “2 yards longer” or “5 yards straighter” simply based on its performance in a group club test. Club fitting is about finding the best possible head and shaft combination for a golfer’s game, and his or her swing and contact point on the face can change the way two clubs that are exactly the same perform for two different golfers, even if their swing speeds are similar.

      The addition of the sliding bars in each infographic should be used to understand the launch, spin and forgiveness characteristics that are typical of each head, but keep in mind that golfers should be fit for a new fairway wood by a qualified fitter if they hope to achieve maximum performance, which might be defined differently by different golfers. For example, a low-spinning fairway wood might be awesome for a golfer looking for low-spin performance off the tee, but no so great for a golfer who needs to stop their shots on the green on a long par 4 or par 5.

      You can hit every fairway wood on the market, but most golfers will find that the best fairway woods for their games are a part of this list. Models that aren’t included on this list aren’t bad; these are simply a little better.

      • William Ramsey

        May 28, 2014 at 2:43 pm

        When wil the iron portion be released? I’m looking forward to it

        • Zak Kozuchowski

          May 29, 2014 at 10:37 pm

          William,

          We’re working hard on the hybrid list right now, and hope to have irons published in the coming weeks. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading.

  15. 4pillars

    May 27, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    So would you recommend the Jetspeed then, as they have just been discontinued?

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      May 27, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      You could make a strong case that JetSpeed fairway woods offer the most bang for the buck right now. We did, however, see a strong correlation between SLDR S’s shorter shaft length and lighter total weight and better dispersion.

  16. froneputt

    May 27, 2014 at 11:50 am

    After reading and viewing many reviews, only surprised that the Big Bertha did not make any list

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Equipment

SPOTTED: New Callaway Forged irons… Apex or Legacy?

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Photos of a new Callaway Forged iron popped up in our GolfWRX Forums, and our members are trying to figure out whether they’re going to be replacements for Apex Pro irons, or whether they’re an update on the Legacy series. They could also be X-Forged irons, but since Callaway recently came out with new X-Forged irons, that would be unlikely.

Here’s what GolfWRX Members are saying:

  • elwhippy: A new Legacy iron? Looks a bit Japanese shaped. 
  • mattTHEkatt: Like an X-Forged/Legacy Black mashup. They look powerful. 
  • DTown3011: …gotta be the next Apex!
  • J13: Pics look like a newer legacy black.
  • mgholda: Pics look like a newer legacy black.
  • TheMoneyShot: I thought Cally was going to phase out the Apex name after they released the MBs?
  • john443: A larger cavity in these then the X- Forged… competitor to the 750 and AP3 maybe? …or Legacy Black finally brought to retail…hallelujah. CF16 replacement???!
  • Equipto: These look very sharp, and like thumpers. I don’t care if they are a Legacy Black or Apex replacement, call them whatever… i’ll try them 
  • mrmikeac: Next gen Callaway Apex Legacy? Hmmmm…..
  • Brizam: The Legacy Black might be the best players cavity back ever made.  If they were to become available they’d move straight to the top of the list of clubs to buy for me. 
  • Jourdan M: This is the Apex Pro 

Here are photos of the new Callaway irons we spotted

Previous Apex Pro irons

Previous Legacy irons

Which one do you think the new iron looks like? 

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Equipment

Wilson’s new FG Tour V6 RAW irons (yes, they will rust)

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Wilson came out with its FG Tour V6 irons in 2016, but these new Raw versions have a different look… and with time, they’ll have a VERY different look.

The new FG Tour V6 Raw irons have an unplated finish, and they’re designed to “develop a unique patina based on age, exposure and use over time,” according to Wilson. This gives each iron a unique look, and one that’s far from the clean cut original FG Tour release that had a chrome finish (which won’t rust).

In addition to the rusting effect, the irons are different because they have a copper badge in the cavity that will eventually match the color of the golf club over time. Here’s a graphic mock-up of how the Raw irons may look overtime.

Like the original releases, the irons have tungsten weights and mass behind the impact area for a “forged feel” and “improved feedback,” according to the company.

The FG Tour V6 Raw irons are a custom option on Wilson.com, and are available through Wilson’s premium partner accounts as of today, Tuesday, June 19. According to Wilson, the Raw irons “are a very limited production run,” so only a certain amount of sets will even be built.

 

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Equipment

Chief Engineer Chris Voshall on Mizuno’s approach to the Tour and some of the most insightful pros

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Mizuno’s Chief Engineer Chris Voshall chatted with Johnny Wunder on the latest episode of the Gear Dive.

Voshall offers innumerable interesting anecdotes–particularly interesting is the development of the JPX 900 iron for Brooks Koepka and Voshall’s discussion of his work with other Tour talents.

In the excerpt below, however, Voshall discusses Mizuno’s approach to Tour players and further, whose feedback has proven particularly valuable.

“We’re not making them something special. If they’re coming to us, it’s because the product is that good…They come to us instead of us having to go to them…that’s one of the really exciting things.”

Voshall indicated that players on Tour play essentially the same Mizuno products that are available at retail.

“If the Tour van is out of inventory, they can reach out to us…and we’ll get them more heads. There’s nothing unique about what they’re playing, which I think speaks to the customer…you can almost not trust marketing around the whole world these days, but for us to say ‘there’s nothing different’…that’s something we really hang our hat on.”

With respect to excellent testers on Tour, Voshall sang Luke Donald’s praises, as well as Jhonny Vegas and Brian Gay.

“I love working with Luke. Luke, especially when you’re talking irons…turf interaction, that’s the thing he’s looking for. So with Luke, you’ve really got to speak to him about how it feels, how it enter, how it exits [the turf] and how that’s causing the ball to launch. You could give him the exact same head with a slightly different sole grind, and he will love or hate one versus the other. He’s really cool to work with on that front.”

“Jhonny Vegas…he’s raw power. He goes at it. He wants to slam the club into the ground as hard as he can and see where it goes. He very much on the opposite end of the spectrum as Luke, who’s very much an artist out there, trying to work it, trying to do different things.”

“One of my favorite guys to work with, even though he’s not on staff anymore, is Brian Gay. He knows his game. He knows equipment. Speaking to the fact that he’s been out on Tour as long as he has and has the wins he has with the length he hits the ball, it shows that he does not miss a shot. And he knows everything…when he makes a comment on a club, that’s the one that I take most serious.”

For the rest of Voshall’s insights and perspective, give the full podcast a listen below.

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