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Get rid of your 3 wood to cut strokes from your scores

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Despite what your buddies might tell you, you do not need a 3-wood in your bag. By playing such a low-lofted fairway wood, you’re probably costing yourself strokes.

You may say that you need a 3-wood for more control off the tee, or to reach par-5s or long par-4s in two shots. I’d argue that not only are those unrealistic expectations for 95 percent of golfers, but a 3-wood may actually produce the opposite effect. Many golfers, especially those with slower swing speeds, will hit the ball shorter with less control with a 3-wood, and reduce their chances of hitting and keeping the ball on the green.

If you’ve looked in the bags of Tour players lately, you know that nearly every one of them has some kind of utility club or higher-lofted fairway wood. Why? Because they’re easier to hit. Yet I see almost every golfer with a 15-degree 3-wood in their bag, which may be just as difficult, if not harder for them to hit, as a long iron.

My suggestion is if you’re taking up golf, or shoot in the 90’s or higher, get rid of your 3-wood. You can replace it with a fairway wood that has 18 or more degrees of loft, or a low-lofted hybrid, which helps many golfers because of its shorter shaft. Yes, take the 3-wood out of the bag and leave it in the garage or basement!

Here are my reasons why.

  • A 15-degree 3-wood is more difficult to hit than higher-lofted woods or hybrids, especially for a beginning or intermediate player. Low-lofted fairway woods can produce low, flat trajectories that usually don’t carry very far and rely on roll to reach the required distance. On today’s over-watered fairways, they’re not as effective as they once were.
  • Less loft means you need more club head/ball speed to produce the proper trajectory. A fairway wood shot that comes in knee high and lands on the green rarely stays there. And if there’s a front bunker, you have basically no chance to hit the green.
  • The inconsistent contact most golfers have with their 3 wood decreases ball speed and makes carry distance too varied. When you have a shorter club with more loft, you’ll almost always swing it with more confidence, hitting the center of the face more often. Low and behold, you’ll hit more shots on the green.
  • Many times when a beginner pulls out a 3-wood, anxiety levels rise. “What happens if I top it or duff it?” they wonder. Stress is a killer to making a smooth, solid swing. Why not eliminate an unnecessary source of stress?
  • Success breeds success. Whenever you hit a club and you see positive results, you’ll naturally create more confidence in your abilities, as well as belief in your swing and game. This is crucial at the early levels of golf since your distance isn’t fully developed yet, leaving you with a multitude of fairway wood shots during a round. Far too often I see people defaulting to their 3-wood. Find a more reliable wood or hybrid, and make that your default club. Try as you want, but the 3-wood is simply more difficult to hit than shorter clubs with more loft.

Remember, a 5-wood or 7-wood hit consistently will save you strokes in the long run over a 3-wood hit well only 25 percent of the time.

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Tom F. Stickney II, is a specialist in Biomechanics for Golf, Physiology, and 3d Motion Analysis. He has a degree in Exercise and Fitness and has been a Director of Instruction for almost 30 years at resorts and clubs such as- The Four Seasons Punta Mita, BIGHORN Golf Club, The Club at Cordillera, The Promontory Club, and the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. His past and present instructional awards include the following: Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, Golf Digest Top 50 International Instructor, Golf Tips Top 25 Instructor, Best in State (Florida, Colorado, and California,) Top 20 Teachers Under 40, Best Young Teachers and many more. Tom is a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 25 people in the world. Tom is TPI Certified- Level 1, Golf Level 2, Level 2- Power, and Level 2- Fitness and believes that you cannot reach your maximum potential as a player with out some focus on your physiology. You can reach him at [email protected] and he welcomes any questions you may have.

70 Comments

70 Comments

  1. Par4

    Oct 26, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    It’s more of a technique issue, Sergio Garcia, Tiger Woods, and others sometime take a smallish divot. More driving into the back of the ball and extending your spine post impact. 3 woods are clutch…

  2. Duane Tomaszewski

    Oct 25, 2016 at 11:36 am

    F-that… I would be DEAD without my 3-wood off the tee. haha Better idea is to leave the DRIVER out of your bag!

  3. westphi

    Oct 9, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    What’s next? Leave your putter at home too? Please. Anyone who can’t hit or use their 3-wood won’t benefit from another club being in the bag…

  4. Sean

    Oct 7, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    I am quite enamored with my 3-wood. It has saved me strokes. It’s great on short par 4’s and hitting into long par 5’s.

  5. Mat

    Oct 7, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    This article takes the wrong approach.

    OEMs make two kinds of 3-wood. There is a “chicken stick” 3-wood made for people who want what is probably the right fit for a driver in shaft length. There is also the “HL” 3-wood or the 4 wood, using traditional fairway lofts and shaping for shots hit off the ground.

    Better golfers can manipulate a longer 3-wood off the deck. No question. However, what this article misses is that there are plenty of “3-woods” and “3-woods”. They are called the same, but there’s a bunch that are tee-friendly and a bunch that are ground-friendly to those of us with double-digit caps. We need to better distinguish them at the purchase point, because the real thesis of this article is “Don’t buy a tee-box 3, and use it anywhere after your first shot.”

    • Titty681

      Oct 9, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      Yes! Those “deep faced” or “off the tee” 3 woods are nothing like a “shallow faced” or “off the deck” 3 woods. The clubs the call mini drivers are called 3 woods but maybe it should be called a 2 wood. Semantics is the issue, but I am not sure if it really matters what you call it! Find one you like and use the tool!

  6. Grizz01

    Oct 7, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    Back in the day. I read where Freddie Couples only carried two woods. A Driver and a 4 wood cut to a 3 wood length. I’ve been doing it since. I could hit the 4 wood 250 and choke the club for shorter distances. Now that I’m older I can’t hit the 250… I’m going to a 3 wood.

    • Jeffrey Purtell

      Oct 7, 2016 at 8:32 pm

      Did he cut the 4 wood longer?

      • Me Nunya-izzle

        Oct 10, 2016 at 11:20 pm

        It wasn’t long enough after the first cut so he cut it again.

  7. Egor

    Oct 7, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    This entire article is general and filler. I read it. I know my game and it doesn’t apply.

    statements like :
    almost every golfer
    most golfers
    the majority of golfers

    .. don’t mean anything. High handicapper, low hdcp, fat, athletic, short, poor swing, bad short game, good putter, what?!?! Who??

    I carry a Driver, 3w, 3h, 4-P, Gw, Sw, Lw. Driver is 250 – 270 and is finally hitting more fairways thanks to a swing change and the right driver head. 3w is always 220 – 245 off the tee, 215 – 230 off the fairway. My hdcp is 12, I’m mid-30s and in fair to decent shape.

    Play your game. See a pro who can help you decide what clubs you *should* have in your bag.

    Others in the comments who say things like “a 15hdcp” shouldn’t carry a 62* wedge – so you know every 15hdcp has the exact same problems so they shouldn’t have a 62*? Pfft. I know nothing about your game, you know nothing about mine or any other generic 15hdcp player. Don’t make specific statements that will undoubtedly mislead people.

    See a pro. get fitted. carry what they suggest based on your swing, game, and courses you play.

  8. Tom Noel

    Oct 7, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    I am a 12 handicap and 62 years old, fat and out of shape! I am still gaming a Tour Edge CB1 three wood. It is loooong and easy to hit. That being said I use my 3 wood off the tee and/or only if I have a great lie. I still like the thought of putting for a eagle and general if I muck up my 3 wood shot I am still very close to the green for my third shot. As the situation dictates I use 3 or 4 hybrid. In my case, truth being told I probably could score better leaving my Driver out of the bag but sometimes with the wind behind me and down hill I can still hit a huge drive of maybe 240+! LOL!

  9. Raven

    Oct 7, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    If someone can only hit a 3w 25% of the time, then the chance are they are not consistent with the 5W either. With today’s tech, the 3w is still easier than the driver or a 4i in my opinion. Learn to hit it and then you have a choice to bag a 3w, 5w or both.

  10. Jack Nash

    Oct 7, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Put my 3 wood in the basement where it belongs and was able to find a Callaway x hot 4 wood that Im able to use in a number of situations. My new favorite club.

  11. Craig

    Oct 7, 2016 at 11:11 am

    My pro told me it was a loft problem…lack of fricking talent. Unfortunately, he is correct.

  12. kb clements

    Oct 7, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Sheesh – yah – throw away all of the clubs that might require some skill to use – throw away all the clubs that require an effective golf swing
    Go out and buy clubs that work when you just slap at the ball
    Use clubs that do not give you any feedback when you mis-hit a shot
    Give up completely on improving
    Just the kind of advice that the modern teaching pro abdicating responsibility should give
    LMAO

    • 2bf2

      Oct 7, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      Some people just play for fun and do not have time to practice. This advice is for them. Open up your mind.

      • Titty681

        Oct 9, 2016 at 2:11 pm

        The people you are referring to most likely don’t read articles like this one. They don’t have time.

  13. JJVas

    Oct 7, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Going through a related issue now as a 2 hcp… mini driver vs. 3-wood. For me, it was just a matter of doing the math. I hit 4-5 3Ws off the tee in a normal round, and probably average 1.5 3Ws off the deck. It was simply not justifiable to keep the smaller 3W in the bag. Not gonna lie, it sucks having 245 in on a par 5 after a great driver and only having a mini driver or 5W in the bag… but again… math. That “may” happen once in a round. That heeled Mini that still gets 235 yards in the first cut can happen at least 4 times a round. The only real decision was the AeroBurner TP or the Mini 1.5. The AB is a 10/10 off the tee, but a 3/10 off the deck. The Mini is a 9/10 teed, and a 5/10 deck. Probably going Mini, but keeping both.

    • Matto

      Oct 8, 2016 at 5:36 am

      Agree completely.
      I ditched the 3 wood completely. I’ve got the SLDR mini driver and I’ve never looked back. AND (for me) I love it off the deck. I’d give it an 8/10 off the deck and 9/10 off the tee….so good that I’m torn between even keeping my driver proper in the bag!

  14. Bob

    Oct 7, 2016 at 9:56 am

    I saw a video with Butch Harmon giving pretty much the same advise to average golfers, especially from the fairways. Since taking his advise I use my 5 wood from the fairways with much better results. The only time I use my 3 wood is off the tee on a dogleg that my driver will go through the fairway.

  15. Bob Jones

    Oct 7, 2016 at 9:50 am

    I agree completely. My 19-degree hybrid gives me 200 yards off the fairway and it’s an easy shot. It’s also my driving club on tight holes. I haven’t had a fairway wood in my bag for years. I don’t need it off the tee and I can’t hit it from the fairway. The guys I play with have a 3-wood and use it, even though they don’t hit it well, because they think you’re supposed to have one. Go figure.

  16. Paul Dunn

    Oct 7, 2016 at 8:57 am

    I find my 3 wood goes almost as far as the driver off the tee these days. New technologies, longer shafts etc….. As a result, my thought process is, if I think I can hit a three wood off the tee, i can probably hit the driver too, so I’ve ditched the 3. There’s just not enough difference in length.

    Off the fairway, i’d agree with the initial point. Very hard to be consistent off the deck with the 3 compared to 5 or hybrid, so more reason to ditch it.

    Overall, I just think companies are cheating (hit the rocketballz 3 wood as a test). They’ve made them with longer shafts, hotter faces, lower loft and boom, they now go 40 yards further etc…

    My 3 wood rocketballz was the same length and club head size as the original metal wood drivers, and I wouldn’t have hit those of the fairway.

  17. pvisser

    Oct 7, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Partially agree. Hybrids are good from any lie while woods you need to sweep more, thus requiring a soft lie. Applies to higher lofted woods as well. Hybrids have less disperion than woods but less distance as well.

    But if you are no good with your driver keep your 3 wood for off the tee. I did for years.

  18. Lob Wedge

    Oct 7, 2016 at 1:59 am

    17HC
    drop driver
    3 months
    14HC
    No other changes.
    Generic advice is for the weak.

  19. KK

    Oct 6, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    Vast majority of golfers don’t have the ballspeed to play a 3 wood. Now a 16.5-17 degree 4 wood, that’s a real man’s fairway. Ask DJ.

    • juststeve

      Oct 7, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      I play a titleist 16.5 degree fairway wood. Easy to hit off the ground and says three on the bottom so I can feel all studly.

  20. Mad-Mex

    Oct 6, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Articles as these should come with a warning as to who they will benefit the most.
    I have been golfing since 1981, I cannot recall after reading my first article about ditching the driver, how many articles I have seen (notice seen, NOT read) about how most high to middle handicapper’s should ditch the driver for a couple of rounds. Like Phillip already stated, 3 wood, 4 wood, 4 hybrid, 4 iron don’t mean squat nowadays since lofts are nowhere standard as they used to be. I rather hit a boring 3 wood 230 off the tee in the middle of the fairway, then a 5 iron 175, and pitching wedge to the green for a chance at birdie,,, than a driver 300 yards long and 30 in the rough behind a tree…

  21. Rick

    Oct 6, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    It is the wrist thing again…pay attention at the range and work with that three wood, for many the reason they struggle with the 3 wood, 3,4,5 iron is the bowing of the left wrist coming into impact (a lot of it is simply thinking you are delaying your wrist cock) need to slow down the swing and make sure your not swing so hard that the club bends the lead wrist back and never recovers (also why you slice swinging all out with the driver) Working on the range put a little cup in both wrists at address and just swing hard enough to keep that position back and into impact….you can only swing as hard and fast as you can control the club face which includes loft. Clue, watching Dustin Johnson hit a ball may not be the best way to get air into your 3 wood shoot unless your swing speed is 120 mph with that 3 wood.

  22. Tom Duckworth

    Oct 6, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    I think that a 5 wood has become somewhat of a forgotten club. I have a 3 and 5 wood as well as a hybrid and the 5 wood is my go to club for long second shots. It is just so easy to hit off the deck and hit low shots that run up on the green or high soft landing shots and it has more effortless power than the hybrid.

  23. Justin

    Oct 6, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    I know a number of 15+ handicap players that simply cannot hit the driver off the tee with any sort of consistency. They use a 3-wood off the tee and most of their shots end up just as far as the driver would have. So the advice of getting rid of your 3-wood is only valid if you can actually hit a driver. If a” you’ve got is 5-wood off every tee, you’re going to be struggling on a number of courses or have to consider playing the ladies tees

  24. Mark

    Oct 6, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    I am in the process of dropping my 3 wood and going to a 4 or strong 5 and a driving iron. I hit more bad shots off the deck with a 3 wood than any other club in the bag, and as a very straight driver have little need for it off the tee. In our club the weapons of choice for elite players are TM HLs and 16.5 Titleist 915s. All our par 5s have sloping fairways so a bit of extra loft is essential.

  25. Ezra

    Oct 6, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    this is common sense! but the majority of the readers of this site doesn’t understand common sense, they just want to have the same bag set-up than the pros…

    • Bwall

      Oct 6, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      This isn’t common sense. It’s a very broad and ignorant statement. I know many of golfers that shoot in the upper 80’s, low 90’s that can easily hit a 3 wood off the deck. I think its just a personal preference to the golfer and the style of swing they have, some being sweepers. To each their own, but I personally, when hitting a 3 wood off the tee box, do not prop it up on a tee. I simply toss it on the ground and hit it off the deck cause that is what works best for me.

      • mrm3356

        Oct 6, 2016 at 7:25 pm

        Best thing I every did was ditch the 3/4 wood for a 17 degree hybrid. I agree that it’s far too broad a statement to apply to everyone.

        • John Cooper

          Oct 6, 2016 at 11:37 pm

          Just doing the same. I play off 9-10 but cannot hit my wood. I am o.k. with 3 and 4 hybrid so just purchased a 17 degree 2 rescue.

      • Gebby

        Oct 6, 2016 at 9:58 pm

        What are your qualifications to make these statements?

      • Matto

        Oct 8, 2016 at 5:46 am

        And you don’t think your “I know plenty of golfers shooting in the 80’s & 90’s that can hit a 3 wood off the deck” is a broad statement?
        Seriously, how many do you know? Like 50? 100? How many?

  26. Bryan

    Oct 6, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    About two years ago I got fit by Spargo Golf in RI and that was on major recommendation outside of what I was there for that he gave me. I already owned a Ping G30 3-wood and he saw my ball flight and said I would be better suited with a 5-wood. I took his advice, sold the 3, bought a used 5 with the tour 80 shaft (based on my fitting) and will never go back. Since I got that 5-wood I’ve hit it consistently longer and more controlled than I ever hit the 3-wood, and I can actually use it on a long par 5 If I wanted to (although I would rarely try to carry it to a green). Best decision I’ve made! Currently playing off an 8.6 index.

  27. J.

    Oct 6, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    If you’re a 20+ handicap.. work with it. Keep it in the bag if you’re confident.. you’ll need another advancement club if your driver swing isn’t working that day..

    If you’re <20 handicap… get properly fit, and not by the big-box stores, but actual fitters who understand not only shaft bend profiles, but physics (shaft, head weight) and biomechanics. You're likely to have more success, especially from fitters who guarantee their performance.

    • Gebby

      Oct 6, 2016 at 10:24 pm

      And you will find that most fitters will tell you to lose the 3 fairway… Even off the tee th 20+ will have better success.

  28. Chris N

    Oct 6, 2016 at 11:41 am

    I agree with dropping the 3 wood, but what is the logic for starting at 18 degrees or higher? Especially for slower swing speed players such as myself, you are essentially giving up on a 2nd shot >200 yards. Given that same person is likely shorter off the tee, that seems like a recipe for frustration. I have a 16.5 degree 4 wood. The shorter shaft and higher loft was jaw dropping in terms of helping me hit a fairway wood reliably, but I can still generate a penetrating shot of 200+ yards. My 3h is 18.5 degrees and a much higher flight. I can occasionally get that past 200 yards, but mostly in the 190s. I know I’m just one anecdote and that doesn’t invalidate the broader experience, I’m just surprised you recommend jumping so much in loft/shaft length as a starting point for slow swingers.

  29. Mitch Young

    Oct 6, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Hi Tom, totally agree with your statement, the only part that is missing behind your reasoning for ditching your 3w is the modern driver is so freaking forgiving compared to the small heads in the past, as well as having hot hybrids and high lofted woods. pre 460 cc drivers it was almost mandatory that you carried a 3w. if you can’t break 100, you have more than swing problems to worry about ie alignment, basic game knowledge and management. if you can’t break 90 you have a fundamental swing flaw that needs to be addressed and no equipment is going to help you no matter what anyone says. if you can break 90 with relative ease but struggle to break 80, then it could be time commitments, or outside influences that hinder you from shooting low scores. if you can break 80, then really you are considered a very accomplished player. Point being, 95% of players in the world can’t break 80, and their swings simply can’t handle a 3w to hit it consistently to lower their scores. i don’t know if taking out a 3w from your bag will drop strokes for you but i can bet the farm that a 3w will never help you shoot lower scores. i have spent 1000s of dollars on 3w, and i have yet to find one that gives me the distance of a driver or the consistency of a 5w or 3H, 7W. if you carry a handicap and cannot consistently carry 250 yards with your driver, ditch the 3w, its a total waste of a spot in your bag. that said if golf wasn’t so tight ass about rules and stickler for rules, they should promote people to carry more than 14 clubs in their bag!

    • Jon

      Oct 6, 2016 at 11:54 am

      I admit I cannot consistently carry 250 yards with my driver, nor do I know where it is going to end up most of the time. So I ditched my driver for a new 3 wood. I am now consistently carrying 240 yards and am finding the fairway about 65% of the time. Do I ever use the 3w from the fairway? Only if I get a teed up lie, otherwise I use my 5w which is much easier to hit. Now if I ever blow the dust off of my wallet so I can get properly fitted for driver, I might be changing my tune. Until then, the 905R will stay in the basement.

    • Bjorn O

      Oct 12, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      When it comes to breaking 80 it’s not about consistently carrying 250 yards with your driver. You could consistently carry 250 and still shoot 90+ because you have close to zero confident where the ball is going to go. To break 80, and par for that matter, a player has to start thinking about placing your ball in the best spot for your club yardages to then hit the best possible shot to the green. A 3w, or in my case 16 degree 4w, would definitely fit that bill because it’s easier to hit well and accurately then a driver and longer then a 5w. Case and point is Henrik Stenson’s Open win, and the following article ( http://www.golfwrx.com/381086/the-formidable-3-wood-vs-the-indomitable-driver/ ) posted here on GolfWRX. It would improve peoples game more if they ditched the driver for the 3w and still carried their 5woods and hybrids.
      Now, your comment about the rules of golf makes me wonder. In all honesty, in normal, casual play there is absolutely nothing that is stoping you from not abiding by the rules set by USGA or R&A. You could walk around with 20 clubs and that would be your prerogative, because in this country you do not need a USGA membership to play this great game. But just like any organisation, if you want the benefits of the membership(HCP, playing tournaments etc.) then you have to abide by their rules. Personally, in my 20 years of holding a HCP, I’ve yet to find a USGA or R&A rule that has made me think “Wow, they are tight asses!”

  30. Philip

    Oct 6, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Tom, when you write “but the 3-wood is simply more difficult to hit than shorter clubs with more loft” your letting the cat out of the bag in that golfers are being fooled by the OEMs when they decrease lofts and increase lengths for almost every club on a yearly basis – due to increased launch angles (from technology improvements they say) – as there is a point of no return for the average golfer. I realized this when I got back into golf a few years ago. It never did make any sense why lengths keep increasing when I was no longer getting taller, thus I adjusted my lengths and lofts to suit me and I am presently evaluating my driver and woods/hybrids for lofts and lengths. If I cannot hit a 15 degree club (Tom please start working on ditching the terms 3W/5W/4i/PW – as they mean less now than they ever did) at 42 to 43 inches, I will increase loft and reduce length until I have a green finder. I am totally comfortable with my 20 degree hybrid at 40.5″ – so I hope to have something in between. Unfortunately the crowd you really need to get through to would rarely read this forum, or get a so-so fitting, or accept that corporations do not have the best interests of golfers in mind with the new releases. Who wants to admit when they got snowed by someone else because they trusted them – they got me a few times, but I’m no longer uninformed.

  31. Titty681

    Oct 6, 2016 at 11:03 am

    If you can hit wedge you can hit a 3 wood. Failure with the 3 wood is partially technic but mostly how you mentally approach the shot. Most of the failures are wrong ball position (technic) and over swinging (mental). This article assumes you will never or hardly work on your game. The problem is the people who don’t work on their game also most likely don’t read articles on Golf WRX.

    Now is this a solution for those who don’t want to work as hard on the 3 wood; hell yes! I know many players that play in the high 80’s low 90 that have Driver, Hybrid (18-20*), 5-PW, GW, SW, LW and Putter that have a good game.

    • TR1PTIK

      Oct 6, 2016 at 10:11 pm

      I’m sorry, but I can’t ignore an error that bad… ***TECHNIQUE*** Not “technic”. “Technic” is not a word.

  32. es

    Oct 6, 2016 at 10:49 am

    3 wood is the hardest club to find one that fits you. It took me a while to find a 3 wood that fits me and bc of that it is the best $$ I’ve spent on a club and least likely club I would change (driver is still my favorite club to hit). Henrik Stenson uses a 3 wood from I think 2010. It’s the club you won’t be itching to “upgrade” when you find yours.

  33. KoreanSlumLord

    Oct 6, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Nah…my S-Yard XV mated with Rombax shaft is point and shoot. Can’t live without it.

  34. bogeypro

    Oct 6, 2016 at 10:46 am

    I couldn’t disagree more! I would argue that most amateurs and high handicappers can actually hit a 3 wood better off the the tee than their drivers. The shorter shaft and added loft will actually be easeir to control that a driver. Find the right shaft and it should be easier to hit off the fairway than a long iron. The forward leading edge and sole make it dig less and more forgiving than any long iron off the ground.

  35. alexdub

    Oct 6, 2016 at 10:38 am

    I think it’s more important for a high handicapper to drop their 3 or 4 iron before dropping the 3 wood. IMO the optimum setup for a high handicapper would be driver, 3/4 wood, 7 wood, 4 hybrid—and then going into the 5 iron, and so on.

    • Scott

      Oct 7, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      I agree. For bad players, there are a lot of clubs that they should leave in the trunk. 3 wood, 3 iron, 4 iron and probably a very high lofted wedge (like a 60), could all be left behind. But if ANY player has the confidence that they can hit a particular club, they should get it in the bag, no matter what the number in on the bottom.

  36. Iutodd

    Oct 6, 2016 at 10:33 am

    I agree that if you’re a beginner or if you’re in the 90s you probably shouldn’t be hitting 15 degree 3 woods off the deck. And off the tee you should be focusing on your driver.

    Past all that – it’s really up to the individual golfer. If I’m playing a 375 yard par four I can, in general, do 2 things off of the tee: hit an long iron to around the 150 stick or hit my driver as far down as possible. But what if the hole has a creek at 270 yards? Then my driver is out. What if the hole set up doesn’t work for my driver shot shape? What if it’s really tight? What if there is a creek at 200 yards and my iron is out?

    My feelings about this are basically: know what each club in your bag can do and hit the shot with that club. Also – understand what you have that day. If you’re having a bad day with the driver and are flushing your irons then maybe don’t pull out driver.

  37. juststeve

    Oct 6, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Good post Tom. Might bruise the egos of some WRXers, but the truth can hurt.

    Steve

  38. Double Mocha Man

    Oct 6, 2016 at 9:33 am

    I carry 5 wedges. If I dropped my 3-wood I could carry 6 wedges.

  39. BoomCannon

    Oct 6, 2016 at 9:00 am

    “On today’s over-watered fairways” – not where I play…

    • Philip

      Oct 6, 2016 at 10:07 am

      What! Courses water fairways! I would be happy if they watered the greens and tees more often.

  40. Nath

    Oct 6, 2016 at 8:54 am

    Yea and if the 5wood doesnt work, drop that, and the 3 iron,4 iron, hey if you are not consistent with your wedges drop them too. Have a bad day with the putter, leave it out the bag and use your hybrid, heck just take a hybrid and an 8 iron thats all you need. Ball? Dont worry you wont need that in this guys idea of golf.

  41. Mr. Blue

    Oct 6, 2016 at 8:49 am

    I am the other way, I don’t carry a driver. I can hit my 3 wood about 10-15 yards less and I am way more accurate. As long as I am in the fairway I can smoke my 3 wood on long par 4’s and 5’s. I tend to get in more trouble with a driver. But I can see what the writer is saying for most high handicappers.

    • Markallister

      Oct 6, 2016 at 8:58 am

      if you are as good a ´player as you think you are, you should be able to hit driver.

      • Mr. Blue

        Oct 6, 2016 at 10:55 am

        I started last year and I am a 14.2, so I don’t think I am that good. Its just that I can control a 3 Wood better than my driver.

  42. SV

    Oct 6, 2016 at 8:32 am

    3 woods are good off the tee, but I agree that a higher loft is better off of the fairway (or rough). One thing that would help almost everyone hit fairway woods better would be to shorten them at least 1/2 inch. Today’s 3 woods are the length a driver used to be. As with jacking up lofts on irons, this makes it more difficult for an average golfer to actually use the club effectively.

  43. Patricknorm

    Oct 6, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Couldn’t agree more Tom. I play about 15 tournaments a season and most guys I play with don’t bag a 3 wood, instead most hit a 5 wood or 3 hybrid. We might be giving up yards but if you’re trying to score or not have a guaranteed approach shot, the 3 wood can be dangerous especially under pressure. The only time I bag a three is for a course with a narrow par 4 tee shot. This tee guarantees a certain length but more importantly, I won’t push my tee shot, like I’m apt to do with my driver.
    There a scratch player at our club who often uses his 4 iron for tight tee shots and/ long ( 200 yard approach shots). I’m seen him use this club so many times it’s his go to club when he has to score. Very impressive.

    • Scott

      Oct 7, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      95% of the golfers should not be playing a 4 iron either.

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Instruction

Wedge Guy: Short iron challenges — and a little insight (hopefully!)

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In my experience, almost all golfers could benefit from better short iron play. The ability to hit it closer to where you are looking with your 8-, 9- and P-irons will do more for your scoring than most anything else you can do. So, why is it that so many golfers just don’t hit the quality shots with these clubs that they do and should expect?

I chose this topic in response to an email from Phillip S., who wrote:

“I’m hitting straight and consistent most of the time but I’ve got a big problem between my 8-iron and everything else below.  I can hit my 8-iron 140-145 fairly consistently every time.  I hit my 9-iron somewhere between 110-135.  My pitching wedge is a mystery….it varies between 85 -125 yards.  No matter how “hard” I swing, I can’t seem to hit my short irons consistent distances.  It’s maddening to hit a great drive followed by a pitching wedge short of the green from 110 yards away.  What am I doing wrong?

Well, Phillip, don’t feel alone, because this is one of the most common golf issues I observe. It seems that the lion’s share of technology applied to golf clubs is focused on the long stuff, with drivers and hybrids getting the press. But I firmly believe that the short irons in nearly all “game improvement” designs are ill-suited for precise distance control, hitting shots on the optimum trajectory or knocking flags down. I’ve written about this a number of times, so a little trip back in Wedge Guy history should be enlightening. But here are some facts of golf club performance as applied to short iron play:

Fact #1. Short irons are much more similar to wedges than your middle irons. But almost all iron sets feature a consistent back design for cosmetic appeal on the store racks. And while that deep cavity and perimeter weight distribution certainly help you hit higher and more consistent shots with your 3- or 4- through 7-iron, as the loft gets in the 40-degree range and higher, that weight distribution is not your friend. Regardless of your skill level, short irons should be designed much more similar to wedges than to your middle irons.

Fact #2. As loft increases, perimeter weighting is less effective. Missed shots off of higher lofted clubs have less directional deviation than off of lower-lofted clubs. This is proven time and again on “Iron Byron” robotic testers.

Fact #3. It takes mass behind the ball to deliver consistent distances. Even on dead center hits, cavity back, thin-face irons do not deliver tack-driver distance control like a blade design. In my post of a couple of years ago, “The Round Club Mindset,” I urged readers to borrow blade-style short irons from a friend or assistant pro and watch the difference in trajectories and shotmaking. Do it! You will be surprised, enlightened, and most likely pleased with the results.

Fact #4. The 4.5-degree difference between irons is part of the problem. The industry has built irons around this formula forever, but every golfer who knows his distances can tell you that the full swing distance gap gets larger as the iron number increases, i.e. your gap between your 8- and 9-iron is probably larger than that between your 4- and 5-iron. Could there be some club tweaking called for here?

Fact #5. Your irons do not have to “match.” If you find through experimentation that you get better results with the blade style short irons, get some and have your whole set re-shafted to match, along with lengths and lie angles. These are the keys to true “matching” anyway.

So, Phillip, without knowing your swing or what brand of irons you play, I’m betting that the solution to your problems lies in these facts. Oh, and one more thing – regardless of short iron design, the harder you swing, the higher and shorter the shot will tend to go. That’s because it becomes harder and harder to stay ahead of the club through impact. Keep short iron shots at 80-85 percent power, lead with your left side and watch everything improve.

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Clement: Easily find your perfect backswing plane with this drill

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When you get on one of these, magic will happen! You can’t come too far inside or outside in the backswing, and you can’t have arms too deep or shallow at the top of the backswing nor can you be too laid off or across the line either! SEAMLESS!!

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Wedge Guy: The top 7 short game mistakes

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I’ve written hundreds of articles as “The Wedge Guy” and I’ve made it my life’s work to closely observe golfers and their short games. So, I thought I’d compile what I see into a list of what I believe are the most common mistakes golfers make around the greens that prevents them from optimizing their scoring. So here goes, not in any particular order:

  1. Tempo. Maybe the most common error I see is a tempo that is too quick and “jabby”. That probably comes from the misunderstood and overdone advice “accelerate through the ball.” I like to compare playing a golf hole to painting a room, and your short shots are your “trim brushes”. They determine how the finished work turns out, and a slower and more deliberate stroke delivers more precision as you get closer to the green and hole.
  2. Set Up/Posture. To hit good chips and pitches, you need to “get down”. Bend your knees a bit more and grip down on the club – it puts you closer to your work for better precision. Too many golfers I see stand up too tall and grip the club to the end.
  3. Grip Pressure. A very light grip on the club is essential to good touch and a proper release through the impact zone. Trust me, you cannot hold a golf club too lightly – your body won’t let you. Concentrate on your forearms; if you can feel any tenseness in the muscles in your forearms, you are holding on too tightly.
  4. Hand position. Watch the tour players hit short shots on TV. Their arms are hanging naturally so that their hands are very close to their upper thighs at address and through impact, but the club is not tilted up on its toe. Copy that and your short game will improve dramatically.
  5. Lack of Body/Core Rotation. When you are hitting short shots, the hands and arms have stay in front of the torso throughout the swing. If you don’t rotate your chest and shoulders back and through, you won’t develop good consistency in distance or contact.
  6. Club selection. Every pitch or chip is different, so don’t try to hit them all with the same club. I see two major errors here. Some golfers always grab the sand wedge when they miss a green. If you have lots of green to work with and don’t need that loft, a PW, 9-iron or even less will give you much better results. The other error is seen in those golfers who are “afraid” of their wedge and are trying to hit tough recoveries with 8- and 9-irons. That doesn’t work either. Go to your practice green and see what happens with different clubs, then take that knowledge to the course.
  7. Clubhead/grip relationship. This error falls into two categories. One is those golfers who forward press so much that they dramatically change the loft of the club. At address and impact the grip should be slightly ahead of the clubhead. I like to focus on the hands, rather than the club, and just think of my left hand leading my right through impact. Which brings me to the other error – allowing the clubhead to pass the hands through impact. If you let the clubhead do that, good shots just cannot happen. And that is caused by you trying to “hit” up on the ball, rather than swinging the entire club through impact.

So, there are my top 7. Obviously, there are others, but if you eliminate those, your short game will get better in a hurry.

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