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Members Choice: The Best Fairway Woods of 2017

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In this edition of Members Choice, we attempt to answer the question, “What’s the best fairway wood of 2017?”

Admittedly, it’s a bit of a loaded question since golfers use fairway woods for different reasons and in different situations on the course. Some use a fairway wood strictly as an alternative to their driver off the tee; other golfers use them almost entirely as approach clubs from the turf on long par fours and par fives; the rest use fairway woods for some combination of both situations. So are we looking for the longest and straightest fairway wood, or simply the most accurate and forgiving?

The best way to determine the best fairway wood, therefore, is to pose that question to golfers who have hit them all and let them decide. Thus, we have Members Choice: The Best Fairway Woods of 2017, where GolfWRX Members describe their experiences with the latest fairway woods. With in-depth descriptions from their testing, GolfWRX Members illuminate the pros and cons of each fairway wood, providing the real information you need when making your purchasing decisions.

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Our advice when reading through this story is to think about what you want from your fairway wood. Do you want max distance, max forgiveness, or a combination of both? The feedback from GolfWRX Members on each fairway wood will lead to toward a few models that match your needs and desires. Then test them out for yourself. Everyone interprets the performance of golf clubs differently, so personal testing and professional fittings are imperative, especially in this particular category. View the full results from the poll testing here

Note: Responses from GolfWRX Members have been minimally edited for brevity and clarity. 

Callaway Steelhead XR (4.08 percent)

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  • SwingMan: I recognize that the Steelhead XR is late to the game, having just entered the market, but for a club that does everything well for GI and Players (the + models), they are long rocket launchers. Light, hot feel with pleasing metallic crack, deep face for ease off the tee, low CG (center of gravity) for ease off the deck, rounded sole gives you versatility from rough and bunkers. Forgiving and long. J36 carbon weave crown moves weight low. Because of the deep face with lot of bulge you need to lay it on the ground and it sits square. Take care when you pick it up so as not to close it. I hit it long off the tee with an R-Flex, obtaining 260-270 yards under favorable conditions — this club produces an urgent, direct trajectory with loads of roll in the lower lofts. Off the deck, 220+ with light wind; against a strong wind, 200. This club is surprising. Even the 7 wood off the deck with a higher trajectory gives you great yardage. Only caveat is that if you are in low speed range and insist on a 3 wood, you may want to order a high launch shaft instead of the mid-launch Tensei. But that’s the same advice with all 3 woods — you must be able to launch them. Callaway has several no cost shaft options. Otherwise, go with the 5 and 7 woods, which are loooong and versatile. The + models, for players and pros, are more weight forward and fade bias and arrive with a 65 Tensei CK Blue fairway shaft — smoother than the CK Blue driver shaft.
  • DWtalk: I just finished testing the 15-degree Callaway Steelhead with the Tensi Blue shaft, and it’s a great club. It’s long and my misses are either a little right or left, but very solid. I also have a 15-degree M2 that is very good also with the stock shaft but I’m going to reshaft it with the Tensi blue. You couldn’t go wrong with either club.

Further Reading: Callaway upgrades a classic, introduces Steelhead XR fairways

Titleist 917F3 (5.28 percent)

e5b8f57429bd93d25c4727f12cad20e9

  • Peanut191: I thought the Titleist F3 was the best combination of looks and feel, but they didn’t offer a 16.5 version, so I ordered the M2 Tour HL. I thought the M2/M2 Tour were the best distance wise, with the Callaway Epic, then the Titleist 917F3 just behind.
  • II PigBimpin II: I used to be a Taylormade loyalist when it came to woods, but I recently switched to a Titleist 917F3 15-degree and it has single handedly put me in prime position to make three eagles within two weeks. Very predictable ball flight and distance, easy to hit off the deck.
  • DuckHook02: I did try the Titleist 917F2, and if I was using it off the deck more, I’d probably gravitate towards the F2 and it’s shallow profile. However, I like the more compact look of the F3 and the lower ball flight it produces.

Review: Titleist 917F2 and 917F3 Fairway Woods

Cobra King F7 (6.40 percent)

Cobra_King_F7_fairway_wood

  • Steveko89: I didn’t do nearly as much testing for my 3 wood after going up and down the racks picking out my Cobra F7+ w/ Hzrdus Yellow shaft. After settling on the driver, I said, “That 3 wood that matches looks pretty slick, let me hit a few with it.” and immediately fell in love. Has a nice traditional note at impact and the ball just flies off the face, especially with the weight forward. Probably could’ve tried a few different shafts, but the stock-stiff shaft works well enough and was able to find one used-mint on the bay for $150. Unfortunately, this was before the Cobra BOGO promo. Most of the positive shots that stick in my head from this season have come with the 3 wood, won’t be seeking out a replacement for a while.
  • carcharodan1977: Cobra F7 fairway, currently playing at 4 wood loft… it’s fantastic. Easy to swing, impact sounds great and it’s a rocket from the fairway and even bad lies. The baffler rails really work well. Such a forgiving club.
  • herbst20: Have played the Titleist 910 fairway woods since they came out. The Cobra F7 finally kicked them out of the bag. I have had an easier to hit whether it be off the team, fairway, or especially out of the rough. I love the baffler technology. I play it at 13 degrees because I am sporadic with my driver.

Further Reading: Cobra’s King F7 and F7+ drivers, fairways and hybrids

Callaway GBB Sub Zero (7.39 percent)

GBB_Epic_Sub_Zero_Fairways

  • Warrick: The (Sub Zero) 3+ was the first Epic in my bag, and it is never leaving. I have never hit a long club so consistently.
  • Dobbs983: This is a fantastic year for fairway woods. I game the Epic Sub Zero 15-degree, set to 14 degrees. Easy distance, mid launch and penetrating flight. Easy to hit off the deck and a tee. I can move it left and right, if I need to, but why bother when straight and long is so easy. The Titleist 917’s are both very close to the Epic SZ, but not quite as forgiving. They are the best looking of the bunch. The Exotics EX10 Beta is amazingly long and straight and the sole is fantastic out of the rough.
  • belacyrf: I currently game the TaylorMade SLDR fairway woods as I’ve never seen enough improvement from any new woods to make a change. However, IF I were to make a change, I would definitely move to the Callaway Epic Sub Zero. They are so forgiving and their flight is exactly what I like, plus they are long.
  • PreppySlapCut: I was very pleased when messing around with the Epic Sub Zero this week. I was able to launch the 13.5 degrees off the deck, which has literally NEVER been a strength for me. Very impressive stuff from Callaway. The Ping G400 also just seems like the next wonderful iteration from Ping.
  • kejoal11: I put the Epic Sub Zero 3+ in my bag and love it. Long off the tee, long from fairways. I love the ball flight and the fact that it doesn’t balloon on me. Very consistent with the club and by far my best purchase of 2017.
  • golftech: If you like smaller, traditional shaped fairway woods, then Callaway’s Epic Sub Zero 15-degree is the best I’ve played. For that matter, it’s the best 3 wood I’ve had since my Toney Penna persimmon in the early 80s. It’s versatile off the tee and the fairway. I’ve been hitting career shots all season including the 18th at the famous Monterey, CA course.
  • ago33: I’d choose the Epic Sub Zero over the M2 Tour. Adjustable hosel is better, looks better behind the ball and more forgiving.

Further Reading: Callaway GBB Epic and Epic Sub Zero Fairway Woods

Ping G400 (7.67 percent)

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  • Mwiseley10: Love my Titleist 917, I hit it so well off the deck I use it without a tee!
    The Cobra Baffler felt great and has good sound but didn’t purchase. Hit the Ping G400 this morning, it hits great but d*** that profile is low!
  • DNice26: I tried the Ping G400 against my Ping G, both using my own shaft… little to no difference. The G400 looks and sounds better, but any performance benefit seemed negligible from the Trackman numbers I saw. My swing speed is about 109 mph with the driver.
  • PrettyGood: Hit the new Ping G400 fairway this morning. My current 3-wood is the 2016 PING G series, at 14.5-degrees. So, between the two models: Turbulators on the G400 are definitely more pronounced. Footprint of the G400 looks bigger, and it’s a rounder shape somewhat (PING.com says G400 is ~12cc larger). Sole of the G400 does look a bit flatter, but no difference hitting shots. G400 face feels more lively, and it’s louder… but no more or less pleasing to hit, just different. Switching my own shaft between the two, performance looked pretty close… G400 maybe a shade higher, if anything. G400 headcover much nicer, big improvement. That’s about it.

Further Reading: Ping introduces new face material with its G400 Fairways

TaylorMade M1 2017 (7.88 percent)

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  • lowball5732: My TaylorMade M1 15-degree is a wonder! Either off the deck or on the tee — optimal performance for me. My wife swears by her M2. She’s straight and true!
  • Rdarling18: I really hit Taylormade’s entire M family pretty good. I went with the M1 because it was most consistent for me. However both M2 models (M2 and M2 Tour) are very long.
  • AWD430: TaylorMade’s M1 was giving better distance than M2 when I hit them. I do agree that the M2 head on this year’s model seems very big when hitting off the deck.
  • gpleonard: My two cents is the TaylorMade M1 HL 2017 is a monster both of the deck and from the tee… It is a go to club for me on long Par 5’s and on short Par 4’s off the tee.
  • Mob: I have the TaylorMade M1 2016 and tried it against the M1 2017 and preferred the 2016 model for some reason. I know that I am supposed to prefer the newer model, but I consistently hit the 2016 straighter. Distance was a wash.

Further Reading: TaylorMade 2017 M1 Fairway Woods

TaylorMade M2 Tour (8.94 percent)

TaylorMade_M2_Tour_Fairway_Woods_2017

  • AThompson_3: Best fairway wood by far is TaylorMade M2 Tour. Exceptional feel, workability, and forgiveness. Great off the tee while also able to launch the ball off the fairway very easily. Fantastic club. Expecting it be in my bag for years to come.
  • Bomber_11: TaylorMade’s M2 Tour would get all 3 of my votes if I could do that. Wins out on distance, accuracy, forgiveness, versatility, and feel.
  • Roadking_6: M2 Tour HL is an absolute beast this far (in my testing).
  • halfsumo: M2 Tour: best look, sound, feel and performance. M1: awesome look and feel, I just decided to go with a 3HL version and since the M2 Tour spins less, I went with that to counteract the extra loft. Mizuno JPX900: second best look and feel and best stock shaft of anything out there by far.
  • DeCuchi: M2 Tour. Higher launch and less spin makes it an excellent choice. Forgiveness is on par with other top fairways makes it the cream of the crop.
  • Scratchat50: M2 Tour HL with a Project X HZDRUS 75g shaft (6.5-flex, -1 inch under std). Been searching for a great 3 wood for over 10 years. This is it!
  • john443: M2 Tour is THE 3 wood of 2017.

Further Reading: TaylorMade 2017 M2 Tour Fairway Woods

Titleist 917F2 (10.13 percent)

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  • bazinky: I’ve spent years searching for a fairway wood that I could hit with a consistent shot shape/pattern, and I finally found it in the Titleist 917 F2.
  • tleader: I went from the Titleist 915F to the Titleist 917F2. Found them very similar, perhaps a slight increase in launch and more consistent across the face on mishits. Went with the 16.5-degree so it was an easy decision.
  • MJL313214: I’ve hit the 917F2 at 16.5 degrees a good bit. It’s crazy long compared to the previous fairway woods. I like the slightly bigger look than the 917F3.

Review: Titleist 917F2 and 917F3 Fairway Woods

TaylorMade M2 2017 (12.60 percent)

TaylorMade_M2_Fairway_Woods_2017

  • Gnomesteel: (The TaylorMade M2 2017 fairway wood is) long off the tee and easily hit off the deck with control. Best of both worlds.
  • kush614: My vote is for M2 2017, as well. Gaming a 15-degree M2 2017 with an Oban Kioyshi White shaft. Mid launch, low spin monster.
  • venturagolfer87: There’s nowhere even remotely close to me that has the M2 Tour, but my 3HL normal M2 is as close to automatic as I’ve ever been. I’ve never been able to hit 3 woods, to the point where for the last few seasons, the next club in my bag after driver was a 5 wood that was shortened an inch. The M2 2017 is somehow just as easy to hit, and looooooong.
  • johnnylongballz72: M2 3HL with AD DI 7X; probably the single best golf club I have ever owned.
  • qwetz: I’m playing a 3HL M2 with a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue and it’s just a bomber from the deck or the tee.
  • lordemsworth: How do those that have hit Epic fairway feel about the sound? That dull thwack is awful. As another opinion, I found the M2 2017 easier to hit consistently than the Epic fairway. Both from tee and deck.
  • Porsche928: I had the M2 2017 and it was huge too hard off the deck. Never hit the M1 2017 but had the old M1 2016 for a demo and loved it.

Further Reading: TaylorMade 2017 M2 Fairway Woods

Callaway GBB Epic (13.37 percent)

GBB_Epic

  • mcgem: Hands down, without a doubt, Callaway’s GBB Epic fairway is the best of this year’s crop.
  • Sean2: I have three Callaway Epic fairway woods and am quite enamored with their performance at 16/20/24 degrees. I am comfortable standing over the ball with any of these woods in my hands. I have no problem hitting the 16-degree off the turf and I find it a very good club on tight driving holes. The 7 and the 9 fly high and land soft.
  • aussieb: Tested the Mizuno JPX-900 fairway wood on a few occasions now and it’s really the best off the deck, adjustable from 13-17 degrees and the sliding weight dials it in, has a great stock shaft and sounds as good as it looks. Ping’s G400 was really solid and forgiving, didn’t spin too much and set up well for my eye. A bit of adjustability and stock Tour shafts are great. Callaway Epic had the smallest head and best ball speeds off the tee. I didn’t really care for the sound and lack of forgiveness compared to the previous two, was dead feeling but that’s mostly shaft I think.
  • leftshot: I went through a thorough fitting at Club Champion last month and had access to most of the heads on this list. So I know the answer FOR ME. Notably none of the top fits involves a club head with the standard shafts offered off the rack.  The results of my testing was:
    1. Callaway GBB Epic: Distance #1 (Tied), Dispersion #1, Off-center hits #1
    2. Titleist 917F3: Distance #1 (Tied), Dispersion #2, Off-center hits #3
    3. TaylorMade M2 2017: Distance #3, Dispersion #3, Off-center hits #2
  • rony10: Epic. Accuracy, forgiveness and flight, distance is very good to.
  • Benkross: I just put an Epic in the bag. I tried the M2, M2 Tour, M1 (2017 and 2016) and was playing a Titleist 915F and prior a 913Fd and 909 F3 before that. The Epic sounded the best and feels awesome. The 2016 M1 was the worst feeling 3 wood I’ve ever played. I’m replacing the shaft in the Epic so I’m excited to use it this weekend.
  • kgeorge78: The Epic looks much smaller than the M2 2017 for some reason and easier to hit off the deck.

Further Reading: Callaway GBB Epic and Epic Sub Zero Fairway Woods

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. benzene

    Oct 6, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    My WITB:
    Callaway Epic Sub Zero (9.5*) with UST Elements Platinum
    TM M2 3HL (16.5*) with Graphite Design Tour AD Fairway
    TM M2 5W (18*) with Graphite Design Tour AD Fairway
    Srixon Z765 (4-GW) with KBS C-Taper
    Titleist Vokey SM6 (56* and 60*) with KBS 610
    Scotty Futura X5

  2. asdfgf

    Sep 28, 2017 at 1:41 am

    NO COMMENTS
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Equipment

L.A.B. Golf now offers DF 2.1 putter with Electroless Nickel finish

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When you have an award-winning product, you don’t need overhaul it.

Instead, from time to time, you just need to give it a little tweak, and in the case of L.A.B. Golf’s DF 2.1—featuring lie angle balanced technology—that means offering a new highly durable nickel finish.

This isn’t the first time the team at L.A.B. Golf has changed a few things up with the DF 2.1. Just this May, on “Star Wars day” May 4th (because May 4th also kinda sounds like “May the force… be with you”) they released a hyper-limited 5 putter series featuring Start Wars graphics.

The new nickel finish on the L.A.B. DF2.1 is applied using Electroless Nickel Plating which is applied in a nickel bath through a chemical reaction. This reaction doesn’t require the traditional electric current for the plating process and it deposits a uniform layer of nickel onto the surface of the putter.

This nickel plating makes the finish on the putter almost impossible to scratch, and based on the properties of pure nickel, it isn’t affected by moisture.

Price, Specs, and Availability

The L.A.B. Golf DF 2.1 is available now with a base price of $425, with the new nickel plating being offered for an additional $30.

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Equipment

The future of iron shafts is graphite

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For me, the process to accept the superiority of graphite has not been easy. Like many GolfWRX readers, I grew up with a clear goal—become an elite player. A rite of passage on this journey, was when you finally had enough speed to get True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts in your blade irons.

I remember the day well. I also remember not having much difference in performance after making the change. Instead, the only real difference I experience was a lack of feel (which many describe as “boardiness”).

I was a victim of a bogus narrative, but as I have gotten older, I have also gotten smarter. I have awoken to the truth in 2020: Steel is good, but graphite shafts are the future of golf, especially for irons for the average player.

Let me explain. To understand why graphite is becoming a superior option, you must understand two important inputs of the design and manufacturing of shafts. The first is taper and the second is the thickness of the walls of the shafts. Together these factors combine to influence everything we think we love about steel. However, they are also extremely fixed; you cannot do a lot with the material. That is simply not true for graphite. Instead, graphite gives shaft manufacturers options. Options can result in way better performance for you.

So, what does this mean for you?

Let me share my own experience which started a couple of months ago when I learned that I would be moving from Florida to Denver. I was excited for the change of pace but quickly had questions—how would this impact my set makeup? With some questions in mind, I reached out to an old friend, Gawain Robertson of ACCRA (True Temper). I wanted to know how I could take advantage of the altitude and become the inner bomber I always knew I was!

With Gawain’s expertise, we developed a profile for the shaft that I wanted: something about 85 grams, 3.0 degrees of torque, and higher spin to go with a set of PXG 0211 iron heads. The intent was to create a combination, which was going to be easy to have max peak apex with lower spin, resulting more distance.

So, a set was built: 0211’s with custom ACCRA graphite shafts, 1/2 inch long, 2 degrees flat with Golf Pride New Decade MCC Grips.

As soon as I got to Denver, I was excited to test. I got a bucket, set up my FlightScope and started to smash 6-irons (Bugattis do not need to warm-up). The results? Over 15 shots my numbers where what I wanted, my smash stayed at an average of 1.39 but my peak apex went up from 28 to 33, my clubhead speed up from 86 to 89 mph, but my spin was about the same, hovering around 6,000 RPM, or in plain language 200-yard high, long 6-irons.

Graphite shaft technology is only going to improve, and we are, to use a ball flight term, far from the apex. I believe the future of iron shafts, in general, will be graphite—I know that, in my particular case, I’ll never see the glimmer of steel when I stand over an iron shot again.

 

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Equipment

TaylorMade P Series irons: Talking tour integration

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Now that the cat has been let out of the bag on the new 2020 TaylorMade P Series irons, I wanted to get some intel on how these new sticks will start to infiltrate the major tours and what that might look like.

TaylorMade’s Adrian Rietveld is one of the individuals that players like Rory, Rahm, and a number of the European staff trust to transition into new product.

I had a chance to chat with him this week on all things P Series, and this is what he had to say.

JW: In a general sense, what is the process for you when integrating a new product on Tour?

AR: I never like to do [more than] one product at a time, unless I’m at the Kingdom or off-site. On tour, it’s essential the focus stays in a bubble and we deal with one thing at a time. We typically will speak before any testing is done and I’ll get a sense from them what is looking to be gained or if there are any glaring issues.

The main place to start is going apples-to-apples spec-wise—old product vs new product. At that point we can see what the new product is offering, i.e. where it’s good and also identify what we need to do to get dialed across the board.

JW: Of the main Tour staff, who is testing now, and who will be testing after the season is over?

AR: Can’t answer exactly who is currently testing because all players test at different times, but I know our U.S. and European core staff players all have sets including non-staff players that also have our equipment in play.

The cool thing is the players who have had the time to test put them in play quickly which is a good sign.

JW: Rory put the P7MB in play quickly. What did he respond to on the P7MB that encouraged the switch?

AR: He did, but by the time, he got them he had been testing with us for a good while. When he got the set he has now, he was already quite familiar with them, so the transition was easy. This iron was designed with a lot of his input (as well as DJ) and both players had very nuanced but similar preferences, so it’s safe to say he was comfortable with them when they came outta the box.

It’s not a huge switch from his 730’s. He liked that he picked up marginal improvements across the board and was particularly pleased of the simplicity of the set—especially in the longer irons with less offset.

JW: What improvements are you seeing so far vs old models?

AR: For MB, using Charley Hull as an example, the 730 for her seemed to turn over a bit and was a bit less forgiving. With the 7MB, she neutralized her ball flight all while keeping her spec identical to her old set.

In the MC the long irons seem to launch a touch higher with a fraction more speed. Every player who has tested has made the switch, and that’s with no pressure to do so. We are patient when players irons hit in regards to player switches. I believe in the next 6-9 months you will see a ton of MC’s in bags, whether its staff or non-staff.

JW: Do you think you will see more combo sets than before?

AR: To be honest most setups these days are combo sets in some way shape or form. What I think we will see are players having the P7MB play further down into the set. For example, the player that was 4, 5, 6 750 and 7-P in 730 will now start to have the MB in the 5 and 6. That little addition of forgiveness will give players enough confidence and performance to make them comfortable.

JW: Using Rahm as an example, what is his process when he is getting into a new product?

AR: He spends a lot of time at The Kingdom and does any major switching there. He’s not a player who tends to tinker at a tournament site. As with most of our staff, his process is about making sure any switch in the bag is a step forward in performance. Since he lives in Arizona, getting to Keith and me in Carlsbad isn’t a long trip and that gives us ample quiet time to focus, test, and experiment.

*according to TaylorMade, eight sets P Series irons have been built for players on the European Tour with seven going into play immediately.

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