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Best fairway woods of 2021: By club fitters for you!

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Having the right fairway woods is essential for golfers of all skill levels looking to get the most out of their long games—whether it be approach shots into longer par 4’s and par 3’s, going after par 5’s in two, or just trying to hit more fairways off the tee—finding the best fairway wood of 2021 to fit your needs is a must.

Looking at the best fairway wood playing field for 2021, we continue to see more fairway wood options from every manufacturer. What used to be a single model release has been expanded to three—and in some cases even four—models to fit specific player types. These new fairway woods impress us with their ability to utilize new technology and construction methods to go faster, and further, while also offering never-before-seen levels of forgiveness. It’s now easier than ever to find the right one that matches your swing.

That being said, ultimately the best way to find the best fairway woods for you is to work with a professional fitter using a launch monitor. The difficult part is a lot of people don’t have easy access to fitters, launch monitors, and club builders—so at GolfWRX, we have done a lot of the work for you.

The methodology is simple: We want to give you the tools and information to go out and find what works best for you, with recommendations based on exactly what you need from your fairway woods.

Best fairway woods of 2021: Meet the fitters

Nick Sherburne: Founder, Club Champion
Clare Cornelius: Fitter,
Cool Clubs
Eric Johnson: Fitter, True Spec Golf
Shaun Fagan: Fitter, True Spec Golf
Kirk Oguri: PGA Professional/ Club Specialist, Pete’s Golf
Sue O’Connor: Fitter, Cool Clubs 
Scott Felix: Owner, Felix Club Works
Mark Knapp: Club Fitter, Carls Golfland
Ryan Johnson: Club Fitter, Carls Golfland
Eric Hensler: Manager & Fitter, 
Miles of Golf
Brad Coffield: Fitter Carls Golfland
Nick Waterworth: Fitter, Haggin Oaks Golf Super Shop
Adam White: Co-Founder & Director of Club Fitting, Measured Golf
Scott Anderson: VP of Sales, Fitter, True Spec Golf
Matthew Sim: Director of Operations, Modern Golf
Ian Fraser: CEO & Founder, Tour Experience Golf
Mike Martysiewicz: Director of Club Fitting & Building, Tour Experience Golf
Shawn Zawodni: Fitter, Miles of Golf
Ben Giunta: Owner, The Tour Van

Best fairway woods of 2021: The categories

We have broken our 2021 best fairway wood list into two categories.

  1. Best fairway wood for golfers seeking forgiveness 
  2. Best fairway wood for golfers seeking versatility

We selected this format for fairway woods because every golfer fits into one of these two “want” categories regardless of age, handicap, or gender, and for a lot of golfers, forgiveness is the number one factor when selecting a fairway wood.

Before we started building the survey, we reached out to our trusted fitters to discuss how they sort through the fairway wood options available to golfers. Forgiveness and versatility were the highest-ranked choices.

We can’t thank the fitters enough for their time, and we hope that in your search for your best fairway wood for 2021, we can help you find it!

Most forgiving fairway woods 2021

TaylorMade SIM2 Max

Unlike the SIM2 Titanium, the SIM2 Max fairway has gotten bigger than the previous model and comes in at 190 cc head in the 3-wood (compared to 185 in the 2020 version) to increase forgiveness. Although the head has gotten larger, it is still easy to elevate from tighter lies with the help of the newly redesigned two-step V Steel sole.

For the full technology breakdown, check out our 2021 TaylorMade SIM2 Max fairway wood launch piece.

Fitter Notes

  • With its larger size, the SIM2 Max serves a great dual purpose for any golfer looking to use a 3-wood off the tee and off the fairway. If you are a golfer that is intimidated to hit a bigger-headed 3-wood from off the deck you will be hugely surprised how easy it is to elevate thanks to the low center of gravity.
  • The SIM2 Max is great for those golfers that struggle with the low left miss with their fairway woods thanks to its slight draw bias, and for the golfer that tends to “get into the dirt” a bit more often with their fairways, the deeper face really helps prevent the dreaded high ball near the topline.
  • If you struggle to elevate your standard 3-wood you have to try the 3HL in this head!

Ping G425 Max

The G425 Max model fits the widest amount of golfers on the launch conditions bell curve. Instead of looking at golfers by age or other visible factors, it’s much more productive for engineers and designers to look at golfers using their launch dynamics. The Max is a neutrally biased head and has the highest MOI for total forgiveness.

For the full technology breakdown, check out our 2021 Ping G425 Max fairway wood launch piece.

Fitter Notes

  • Beyond just the head design, the thing that makes the G425 Max fairways really forgiving is the ability to adjust the hosel. You can go to a flatter lie for shorter players who tend to hit lower-flying shots to the left or you can add some loft and close it up to help with a fade.
  • Ping’s new face shape really helps golfers who have a hard time hitting their fairway woods off the deck and tend to come up short, which is traditionally caused by excess spin.
  • It’s the perfect tweener size of being big enough to inspire confidence while still offering something that you are not scared to hit from the deck or from a bad lie when you are just trying to advance it from the rough—that’s a true test of forgiveness.

Callaway Epic Max

Just like Callaway’s Epic Max driver, the Epic Max fairway wood also features the company’s new Jailbreak A.I. Velocity Blades designed to provide increased ball speeds as well as a club that is easy to launch. The oversized head on the new Epic Max woods combines with a shallow face to make the club extremely easy to launch from the fairway while also offering added forgiveness.

The Epic Max line also offers adjustable weighting allowing golfers to adjust launch and spin using two and 14-gram weights. The added weight in the rear provides more forgiveness while more weight in the front offers lower launch and spin.

For the full technology breakdown, check out our 2021 Callaway Epic Max fairway wood launch piece.

Fitter Notes

  • How else can you say fast and high launching? The traits of the Epic Max driver carry through to the fairway wood by offering a high and stable ball flight.
  • Where this club really shines is lower on the face – where a lot of golfers tend to miss, and towards the heel and toe.
  • If you need that higher flight but want to keep spin down while using a larger and more game-improvement style fairway wood you need to try the Max with the heavy weight upfront.

Titleist TSi2

The combination of the newly constructed face with ARC 4.0 and the lower center of gravity position make the Titleist TSi2 fairway woods fast and easy to hit. They offer a rounded front leading edge that makes getting under the ball from any lie possible—and you can fine-tune the back weight to match your preferred feel.

For the full technology breakdown, check out our 2021 Titleist TSi2 fairway wood launch piece.

Fitter Notes

  • This is my go-to fairway wood to start a fitting because the adjustable hosel is so functional. I’m really glad Titleist hasn’t messed with this feature. If you use your fairway wood from the rough a lot, the rounded leading edge and sole are brilliant.
  • It’s such a functional and forgiving head because it’s nice and shallow and easy to elevate. To the higher handicaps who have been afraid of Titleist thinking they weren’t forgiving enough, the TSi2 will 100 percent vanquish that stereotype the first time you hit it.
  • If you need height with your fairway woods try the 16.5 or 21 degrees. Hey, if the TSi2 7/21-degree is good enough for Adam Scott, what do you have to lose trying it?

Ping G425 SFT

The G425 SFT fairway has been differentiated more than the previous G410 to create more left bias in the club to help stop slicing. This is achieved with the head shaping combined with the more heel-biased tungsten weight in the back of the head.

From testing, the G425 SFT is six yards more left-biased than the previous G410 SFT and almost a colossal 20 yards more so than the G425 Max in the standard-setting. When you include the ability to further close the face with the adjustable hosel, you get even more slice-killing power.

For the full technology breakdown, check out our 2021 Ping G425 SFT fairway wood launch piece.

Fitter Notes

  • The G425 is everything the standard G425 Max is with a lot more draw bias!
  • If you hate hitting fades with your fairway woods, hit this.

Join the discussion about 2021 best fairway woods in the forums.

Most versatile fairway woods 2021

Titleist TSi2

2021-titleist-tsi2-fairway-wood-featured

The combination of the newly constructed face with ARC 4.0 and the lower center of gravity position make the Titleist TSi2 fairway woods fast and easy to hit. They offer a rounded front leading edge that makes getting under the ball from any lie possible, and you can fine-tune the back weight to match your preferred feel and the hosel to adjust ball flight.

For the full technology breakdown, check out our 2021 Titleist TSi2 fairway wood launch piece.

Fitter Notes

  • This head excels in versatility because of its shape, the available lofts, and the adjustable hosel—you can do almost anything you want with the TSi2.
  • Not only are the TSi2 fairway woods long, but they offer a playable trajectory for going into greens. There is no point in having a fairway wood for attacking long par 4 and par 5’s if you can’t stop it on the green.

Ping G425 Max

The G425 Max model is the one that is going to fit the widest amount of golfers on the launch conditions bell curve. Instead of looking at golfers by age or other visible factors, it’s much more productive for engineers and designers to look at golfers using their launch dynamics. The Max is a neutrally biased head and has the highest MOI for total forgiveness.

For the full technology breakdown, check out our 2021 Ping G425 Max fairway wood launch piece.

Fitter Notes

  • If you are a golfer who uses your fairway woods to fill specific approach shot distances, you need to try the G425 Max because the loft options and trajectory tuning hosel can get you exactly what you need.

TaylorMade SIM2 Max

Unlike the SIM2 Titanium, the SIM2 Max fairway has gotten bigger than the previous model and comes in at 190 cc head in the 3-wood (compared to 185 in the 2020 version) to increase forgiveness. Although the head has gotten larger, it is still easy to elevate from tighter lies with the help of the newly redesigned two-step V Steel sole.

For the full technology breakdown, check out our 2021 TaylorMade SIM2 Max fairway wood launch piece.

Fitter Notes

  • This club is versatile, not for its adjustability, but because of how many players can use it. Higher loft options with a softer shaft and boom, you have height. Standard loft options and a tour-level/weight shaft, and you have a cannon. This head really can work for so many players.

TaylorMade SIM2 Titanium

The new SIM2 Titanium comes in at 170 cc, 10 cc smaller than the 2020 version. It has also been reshaped from address to offer a more “tour-inspired” look, and to instill confidence for those shots off the fairway. The most impressive thing about the new Sim2 Titanium fairway wood is even in a smaller size it offers a five-percent higher MOI thanks in part to the reconfigured 80-gram steel soleplate, ZaTech titanium face and body—along with the carbon crown.

For the full technology breakdown, check out our 2021 TaylorMade SIM2 Titanium fairway wood launch piece.

Fitter Notes

  • This could easily be the longest fairway wood on the market. If you just want a pure distance 3-wood, the stronger lofted “Rocket” will closely keep up to your driver off the tee.
  • The SIM2 is a low spinner, so as far as pure distance, it’s hard to beat—although it doesn’t come in a true “4-wood” head, I have had great success already with players using the SIM2 Titanium 5-wood lofted down at 3-wood length.
  • The new smaller shape compared to last year’s SIM Titanium really helps those golfers that are going to use their fairway woods from the rough.

Titleist TSi3

Titleist TSi3 introduces a new SureFit track weighting system that incorporates more weight deeper in the head to lower the center of gravity while also offering the ability to easily alter the CG location. The new system is superior to the previous models’ SureFit CG system thanks to its external visibility and ease of use. The three-position system (heel/toe/neutral) is secured by a robust Kyron Max Polymer with a carbon fiber cover.

For the full technology breakdown, check out our 2021 Titleist TSi3 fairway wood launch piece.

Fitter Notes

  • You get lofts from 13.5 degrees all the way to 18 degrees, and then you get the adjustable hosel on top of that. Once you add in the option to use the SureFit hosel to tune ball flight and the weight to help with the contact point and flight bias, you can make this head do anything you want.
  • The TSi3 is such a safe bet if you are buying a fairway wood off the rack because it’s packed with forgiveness relative to its overall shape and you also get endless tuning options with the head.
  • If you need height with your 3-wood, the 16.5 degree set to standard or slightly lofted down will give you all the height you need while still keeping spin in the appropriate window.
  • Classic Titleist look with modern technology is hard to beat.

Join the discussion about 2021 best fairway woods in the forums.

Best fairway woods of 2021: Conclusion

The fitters consulted for this piece have accumulated data from thousands of fittings with golfers just like you. From beginners to tour players, their feedback and information can’t be undervalued.

Now, it’s your turn: Everybody swings the club differently and everybody has their own experience. We want to hear from you. What fairway woods are you using? What did you switch from? What performance gains did you find in your own game? Share your experience looking for your personal best fairway wood of 2021 to help others!

 

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Equipment

Taking the backyard putting green plunge

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I’ve wanted a backyard putting green of my own for as long as I can remember. Every time I have moved houses, I’ve looked at each new backyard and wondered where a putting green would fit. It’s fun to dream. And I am pretty sure I am not alone in having that dream, especially amongst our GolfWRX readership full of golf nerds just like me.

I’ve researched it in the past. I’ve gotten bid estimates but never pulled the trigger. Until now. With a three-year-old son growing up, starting to really enjoy the game, it was time to make it happen.

The cost was obviously a big decision point in finding the company I wanted to perform the work. I had several different companies come out for an estimate, and you’d be surprised at the range of bids I received. The area I had picked out is a garden just off my back patio, measuring 7.6 feet x 20.5 feet for a total of approximately 150 square feet. It wouldn’t be huge but big enough for three holes.

The Initial Consult

The other estimates I had received were for this garden as well as potential greens in other areas of the yard, more able to accommodate bigger green sizes, but ultimately I decided that a smaller green just off the porch would get the most use. And it was obviously more affordable. Some companies wouldn’t even entertain the garden area, stating their minimum jobs are $5,000.00 for any given project. That was out of my budget.

A putting green of the size I was hoping for, mind you, measures out to be between $1,500 to $2,600 depending on the turf chosen. Financing is available. That brings me to the most important decision you’ll make when embarking on a backyard putting green journey: choose your installer wisely based on your comfort with the people. Don’t just go with the first people you call. Go with the ones that you feel most comfortable with and who are the most transparent.

I chose a Texas-based company called Ideal Turf. They were local to me here in Fort Worth, but they provide service to the entire state of Texas and Oklahoma. Their website actually has a cost calculator so you can get a feel for the expense involved prior to even making a phone call. They were excited about this location, agreeing that it would be a nice size surface for what I was wanted. That made me feel better. Some of the present foliage would obviously need to come out, which can be done by a subcontractor that Ideal Turf uses or I could hire someone else or do it myself. I had the shrubs taken out as well as the Crepe Myrtle tree, but my designer was just fine with me leaving in the Yaupon tree, as he could work around it and give the green some shade and character.

Logan, my green technician, came to the initial consultation with turf samples and a tablet that he could actually use to begin the design right there on the spot. This was the first company that I had seen do that, which was really impressive to me.

We went through the different artificial turf options for both the putting surface and the longer grass border that would surround the green. The shape is completely customizable, with hourglass or kidney bean being the most common choices. I really had three goals in mind. First, I wanted to maximize the size of the putting surface, knowing that my square footage was already on the smaller size. Second, I wanted to find the grass that looked really good but would hold up to weather conditions. Third, I wanted turf that performed as close to a real putting surface as possible.

With Logan’s help, I felt satisfied that Ideal Turf could deliver on all three items of concern. We started with an hourglass design, but we ended up widening the putting surface at most turns to ensure as large a putting area as possible. The changes were made to the design app in a matter of seconds.

The turf we went with includes UV inhibitors that are added to the fibers to reduce fading from exposure to the sun. With quality turf, drainage isn’t a concern either. Ideal Turf uses a “cascade backing system” that allows for rainwater to drain at 1,500 inches per hour. Puddling apparently won’t be an issue.

The initial visit and consultation took less than an hour, but a lot got done. When Ideal Turf was gone, I went ahead and began preparing the space for installation. The removal of the tree and shrubs needed to include the roots because three inches of the dirt are actually cleared out during the installation process and replaced with a topsoil mix ideal for leveling and drainage.

Installation Day

Ideal Turf was great at communication, with a series of emails leading up to the day of installation. I was assigned a personal Client Liason (shoutout to Samantha) who was with me every step of the way, from the estimate and design agreement to the coordination of scheduling. We were able to get the installation scheduled just over a week from the date I signed my contract.

The installers were out to my house at 10:30 am on a Thursday and I was rolling putts before sundown. As I mentioned before, they cleared the existing dirt out three inches deep and replaced it with that drainable topsoil. They also marked and capped all existing sprinkler heads in the garden. That was something I didn’t think much about prior to installation day so I was relieved to learn they would be handling it.

They then wet the topsoil and then smoothed and rolled it. I decided to not add many undulations to the putting surface since it was a smaller green. I wanted to make sure I had flat 15-foot putts to practice intermediate strokes. The crew was able to work around the Yaupon tree we left behind to add some charm to the green.

Next, the Ace Putt 56 putting turf was rolled out over the entire surface and the digital design was used to measure out and trace the green. Once marked, the green was cut to shape and the border turf was laid to form the edges. The border rough works great with wedges for short pitches and chips. Since the green has been installed, I actually turn and chip back into the heart of my backyard off the border grass for longer short game work.

Finally, the green is sanded and rolled to level the surface and make sure the turf is laying smooth and flat. Three holes were brought out and I was asked to design their placement myself. I was my own yard’s Gil Hanse for about 25 minutes, walking the entire surface several times with putter in hand, rolling balls, deciding how I would like my own course to be routed. It was a ton of fun. I ended up going with a more Golden Age design.

The holes are traced, cut, and then hammered into the earth. I did appreciate that a bit of extra attention was given to the hole installation so that they fit flat and clean with the turf around them. And that’s really it…the green is ready for play! Ideal Turf provided three pins and flags for the finishing touch. In less than two weeks from consultation to installation and less than eight hours for installation, the process went incredibly smooth.

Maintenance has been a breeze, as a broom and leaf blower is pretty much all you need to keep it looking perfect. The installation itself came with a one-year warranty from Ideal Turf, and a twenty-year product warranty for the turf itself. Check with whoever you decided to use for something similar.

It’s been several days now and I’ve had time to enjoy the green at different hours of the day. I wake up, walk out with a cup of coffee with just the dog, and enjoy some quiet time before the sun comes up. The kiddo also loves to “practice golf” before bedtime, a delay tactic I’m happy to entertain.

Time will tell how much use the green will get as my son gets older, backyard parties are had, and the shine of a “new toy” begins to wear. But I guess the point of all this is to simply say that a backyard green is possible for all of us. There are good companies out there that aren’t trying to just take all your money. So far, I couldn’t be happier with the decision we made as a family to embark on this putting green adventure. Here’s to many sunken putts ahead.

 

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Equipment

Cleveland launches all-new Launcher XL irons

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Cleveland Golf has launched its all-new Launcher XL irons: game improvement irons designed to give players a reliable ball flight and consistent control.

The Launcher XL irons feature a new XL head design with an MOI of 3,081 g-cm² in the 7-iron, the most ever in a Cleveland Golf game-improvement iron. This 15% increase in high-toe MOI (Moment of Inertia) over the previous generation is designed to give players maximum forgiveness.

The irons were designed using artificial intelligence, with MainFrame variable face technology designed to increase ball speed, while unique weight pad designs aim to ensure maximum forgiveness across the face. The variable thickness pattern behind each iron face aims to maximize COR and ball speed for more distance on every strike.

The 4i-7i lofts from the new irons contain wider, flatter grooves, while the 8i-DW have closely-spaced, deeper, and higher spinning wedge grooves. In addition, the higher lofts also feature laser-milled grooves for enhanced friction.

An 8g weight placed inside the end of the grip seeks to offer better balance for more control without extra effort, while the V-Shaped sole is designed to provide an elevated leading edge that glides through turf with less drag to maintain speed and power on heavy strikes.

Speaking on the new irons, Dustin Brekke, Director of Engineering at Cleveland Golf, said

“The new Cleveland Launcher XL Irons provide a new XL head design with a large high MOI and confidence inspiring shape that results in more greens in regulation.

“MainFrame technology faces are optimized with AI to guarantee shots all over the face maintain distance and precision, while Action Mass CB, with a counterbalance weight in the grip end, helps players get on the correct swing plane while increasing head speed for distance. All in all, Cleveland Launcher XL Irons deliver a pin seeking iron for shooting your lowest scores.” 

Pricing & Availability

  • Pricing: 7-piece steel ($799.99); 7-piece graphite set ($899.99)
  • U.S. Retail Launch Date: September 17, 2021

 

 

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Whats in the Bag

WITB GolfWRX Members Edition: FormerDimer

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Recently we put out the call for our members to submit their WITBs in our forum to be featured on the GolfWRX front page. Since then, our members have been responding in numbers!

Now it’s time to take a look at the bag of FormerDimer.

*Full details on the submission process can be found here, and you can submit your WITB in this forum thread.*

Member: FormerDimer

Handicap: 3.3

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (9 degrees, adapter -1 degree)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black (Velocore) 6 X (45 inches)

Fairway: Titleist TS3 (15 degrees, A1 SureFit)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 7 X (43 inches)

Hybrid: Ping G425 Hybrid 3 (19.5 degrees, small minus setting)
Shaft: Ping Alta CB Slate 7 S

Irons: Mizuno JPX 900 Tour (4-PW)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper Stiff 120 G (standard length, loft, lie)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM5 Tour Chrome (50-12F, 54-12D, 60-08M)
Shaft: KBS 610 Stiff 120 G

Putter: Taylor Made Spider X Chalk (34 inches)

Grips: Lamkin Crossline STD

FormerDimer: “I’m not the hugest of ho’s, I tend to play stuff for awhile but the pandemic has served as a time for me to slowly make some updates to the bag. Previous to this I played Mp29s, a 910D3 and a SonarTec 3 wood, lol, so let’s see how long this lasts.”

Get submitting your WITB in our forum as we’ll be publishing more and more of them on our front page over the coming days and weeks.

Feel free to make it your own too by including some thoughts on your setup, your age, handicap, etc. Anything you feel is relevant!

Share your WITBs here.

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