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7-woods are back (did they ever really go away?)

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With the commotion surrounding Dustin Johnson’s double-digit win at the Northern Trust along with, what some would call a disappointing 60 on Friday (seriously, a disappointing 60) at TPC Boston, there was one club in his bag that flew under the radar—his TaylorMade SIM Max 7-wood.

Yes, you read that correctly. One of the longest players on tour recently put a 7-wood in his bag, and he’s not the first one in the pro ranks to put one into play this season either. 7-woods have been popular on tour for quite some time but recently they have seen a resurgence caused by longer golf courses and changing golf swing dynamics.

The old stereotype was 7-woods were reserved for seniors and female golfers—but I absolutely hate segmenting golfers that way, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. They are the perfect club for any golfer looking to add height and spin to longer approach shots and can be a big help when not in the fairway—this writer included.

Don’t call it a comeback

Digitally lofted persimmon 5 wood at 21°

Modern 7-woods are not the same clubs they were 15 years ago, and if we go back further, it’s easy to see that “7-woods” have been around a lot longer than you might think. Similar to irons, thanks to hotter faces, lower centers of gravity, and the modern golf ball, fairway woods have gotten progressively stronger to help launch the ball through optimal flight windows.

A persimmon 5-wood is a modern 7-wood playing at a loft of 21 degrees, and when you consider the fact, how much slower the face of a persimmon wood is, puts it right in line with a modern 3-iron—perfect gapping if you ask me.

Why now?

The biggest reason we are seeing more 7-woods in the professional ranks goes beyond longer courses, it has to do with club gapping and player dynamics. Since most PGA Tour players don’t have an issue with distance or accuracy with the driver, strong 3-woods (12-14 degrees) on tour have almost completely gone extinct—although they continue to be popular amongst amateurs. Instead, they have been replaced with traditional-lofted 3-woods (15-16 degrees), even 4-woods (17-18 degrees) to create enough launch and spin to either place a shot in the fairway or hit an approach into long par 5s. This is where the 7-woods fit it.

Modern fairway woods are designed to hit the ball as far as possible and to do that engineers have created fairway woods that don’t spin as much. For players with higher swing speeds, this can create a gapping issue and actually cause the 3-wood to go too far. Speaking of the Northern Trust, the newest Mr. 59, Scottie Scheffler, made this exact comment when talking about his trusty 3-wood in a 2019 PGA Tour video (starting around the 40-second mark).

So instead of carrying a 5-wood that could end up gapping to close to the next club, 7-woods are the big play.

Examples on Tour

My absolute favorite 7-wood on tour belongs to Jason Dufner—his Titleist 915F with Aldila Rogue Silver 125 MSI 80 TX. It’s also the club that was at the top of my Favorite “classic clubs on the PGA Tour list, compiled in April. Other great examples spotted on tour include:

  • Dustin Johnson’s SIM Max 7-wood with Project X HZRDUS Black 105, 6.5 flex
  • Matt Fitzpatrick’s Ping G410 7-wood with Graphite Design Tour AD 8X
  • Bubba Watson’s Ping G410 9-wood ( set to 21° ) with Fujikura Ventus Black 8-X in custom pink
  • Correy Conners Ping G410 7-wood with Project X HZRDUS Black 85, 6.5 flex
  • Tyrrell Hatton Ping G410 7-wood with Diamana DF 80X

Now it’s your turn

As I originally touched on here—Why your traditional 3-wood might be extinct—finding the right fairway woods is entirely about gapping and tuning your launch conditions to match your swing. If you are a golfer who has struggled with hybrids in the past, a 7-wood could be your ticket to hitting and holding more greens and solving the common top-end-of-the-bag gapping issues.

In other words, if it’s good enough for Dustin Johnson, maybe it’s time to try one yourself.

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Kope

    Sep 18, 2020 at 8:36 am

    I switched out my 20* hybrid for a 21* wood and am loving it. Goes higher and softer with less runout for when you need to hit a number off the tee or into a green, and going long is not an option. Fits perfectly between my 16* wood and 23* hybrid. The 20* hybrid (or 18*) would be more suited for low running tee shots under the wind, for me.

  2. gticlay

    Sep 8, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    I have been playing a 7 wood for a very long time now. It’s a great 240-245 club and served me well from the back tees at Pebble beach on holes like #3 and for second shots. My go to is a Sonartec SS-05 that appears open at address (weren’t those fantastic looking clubs?). I don’t know what I’ll do if it ever breaks… constantly on the lookout for another 7 wood but there’s nothing quite like it… perhaps if I can ever try one of those special TM tour paintbreak van only ones but TM ain’t sharing the van with me…

  3. Sebyas

    Sep 6, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    Dustin does not hit the 7 wood in tournaments

  4. Bob Jones

    Sep 1, 2020 at 9:35 am

    Some people are wood players and some are hybrid players. I’m a hybrid player, but can’t hit the longer ones any more, so I’m getting used to a 20.5* fairway wood. My 24* hybrid is still a money club, though.

  5. JK

    Aug 31, 2020 at 8:15 pm

    As far as the 7 wood I haven’t ever felt any shame in bagging one. Use what works best for your game & helps you shoot a good score.

  6. joro

    Aug 31, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    Personaly I don’t like Hybrids but I love the 7 AND 9 woods. They are much easier to hit and work from everywhere from rough to sand.

  7. Jack Nash

    Aug 31, 2020 at 9:11 am

    I don’t need a hybrid now that my new fav club is my 7 Wood. Have had it since late spring and it’s working great.

  8. Phil

    Aug 30, 2020 at 9:02 am

    I have struggled with consistently hitting the hybrids clean off the deck. Last moth I picked up a SIM Max 7 wood after having hit enough of the the new 3/4 hybrids and the Max 7 at the store’s sim… wow! Loving my new club, my approach shots to the green are consistently sweet and crisp. It makes me look good. I’ve been winning more skins and my confidence has shot through the roof. The store guy was dissing the club hard, like it was old tech. I loved how it looked at address, how the ball flew and bought it, added a new grip too.

  9. studatnu

    Aug 29, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    I’ve had a Callaway RFX 7W for 2 1/2 season super easy to hit off the tee and the deck…

  10. Jason

    Aug 28, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    It’s nice to know that after I put a 7 wood in the bag, everyone else started thinking about it. Let me just say that the SIM Max 7 wood is the first 7 wood that I didn’t spin too much. I needed a club that I could carry 235-255, especially into greens. 7 wood is stupid easy to hit and is almost like cheating.

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Whats in the Bag

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Driver: Ping G400 LST (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila NV 60 TX

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Shaft: Aldila Rogue 125 MSI 80 TX

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Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Tour
Grip: SuperStroke

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

 

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Grips: Iomic Sticky 2.3 Black

 

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