I’ve been able to shoot my best scores ever when I had a fairway wood I was completely confident with off the tee. Not all woods are created equal though and that’s why the average golfer should be careful with what fairway wood they play.
Here are the 5 best fairway woods for the average golfer:
- Callaway Mavrik Max (best all-around wood)
- Cleveland Launcher Turbo (best for slower swing speeds)
- Cobra F-Max Superlite (best budget-friendly wood)
- PING G410
- Cobra F9 Speedback
If I was just an average weekend golfer and was in the market for a new fairway wood, these are the options I’d consider. There’s really no reason to go out and blow a bunch of money on this year’s gear if you don’t have to. All of these options are solid and don’t think you could go wrong with any of them.
Who Is Considered An Average Golfer?
An average golfer is anyone who shoots above 90 on a par 72 golf course. These golfers are also referred to as high handicap players.
This might seem a little bit hard to believe but these numbers take into account all types and ages of golfers. What’s pretty crazy is that the average golf score has actually gotten worse over the past number of years (even with the gear getting “better).
Here’s the way I break down golf scores and what group you fit in:
- If you shoot above 90 = High handicap (average).
- If you shoot between 80-90 = Mid Handicap
- If you shoot below 80 = Low handicap
This just keeps things simple and easy to understand. Golfers in each of these groups should look for different features in a fairway wood. A beginner could use a club that’s designed for low handicaps but it’s not going to perform nearly as well.
So, if you normally shoot in the 90s or 100s then you’re in the right place. If you’re someone who consistently breaks 90, you might want to check out our fairway woods for mid handicaps article instead.
Should High Handicappers Use Fairway Woods?
Fairways woods are very important for beginners and high handicaps and should be the go-to club off the tee. They’re more accurate and will help average players hit more fairways and lower scores.
One of the best ways for people to lower their scores is by hitting more fairways. How many golfers do you see hitting their second shots from the rough? It’s really hard to get a par when you’re hitting from the thick stuff.
Before you go out and get yourself a driver or hybrid, I definitely recommend you get yourself a good fairway wood and get consistent with it. Even to this day, I don’t have a driver and prefer hitting my wood off the tee.
Yeah, a driver might give me 20 extra yards but the way I look at it is what club will land in the fairway more often? For me (and most others) that’s going to be a fairway wood.
I was playing not that great one day and couldn’t hit a fairway to save my life (was maybe 10 over through 9 holes). I decided to bench the driver and 5-wood and hit my 7-wood off the tee. I ended up shooting 4 over on the back 9.
Let me give you a scenario.
If someone came up to you and said I’ll give you a million bucks if you can tee off and land the ball 175+ yards in the fairway. What club would you hit? That’s the only club you need right now.
In my opinion, these are the first clubs a beginner/high handicap should get:
- 175+ yards club
- 150-yard club
- 100-yard club
- Sand wedge
If you got really good with these 5 clubs I can guarantee you’ll shoot good scores. If I was starting from scratch and were following this guideline, my 175+ yard club would be a wood (not a hybrid or driver).
Once I could hit fairways in my sleep with the wood I’d go out and get a hybrid. They’re a lot easier to hit out of the rough and it’ll add a bit more versatility to your game.
After that, I’d go out and get a driver. I’d probably wait until I broke through 100 and 90 and was consistently shooting in the 80s. That’s a pretty good time to add some yardage to your game.
In case you were wondering when you should be using fairway woods instead of other clubs, here’s a general guideline I like to follow.
- On longer par 3’s.
- When the green is in range and no hazards are close.
- If the fairway is narrow and accuracy is important.
- When you’re 280 yards from the pin and want to get it “close”.
- If you’re just in range but there’s water next to the green.
Should High Handicappers Use A 3 Or 5 Wood?
The best type of fairway wood for a beginner or high handicap is 5-wood. They’re easier to hit off the fairway and will go just about as far as a 3-wood.
I’ve had both clubs over the years and the 5 wood is a lot easier to play. It’s easier to hit because it’s normally an inch shorter and it has more loft on it.
Just think about what’s easier to hit, your 3 iron or your 7 iron? Your 7 iron has more loft and is a bit shorter. The exact same goes for your woods.
For the first number of years I played, I always used a 3-wood. What made me switch was reading an article by Butch Harmon that was called “Bench Your 3-Wood“. It got me thinking but made a lot of sense.
He basically said that 5-wood will be a lot easier to get in the air and will go the same distance for most golfers. It’s better off the fairway and will go the same distance off the tee.
5-wood seems like the obvious answer to me.
Let’s say you already had a driver. The best driver loft for most high handicaps is between 11-13 degrees. Most 3-woods have a loft around 15 degrees. It wouldn’t really make sense for the average golfer to have two clubs that close together.
The loft of a 5-wood is normally around 18 degrees and that’ll be a much better gap between clubs. My ideal setup is an 11-degree driver, 18-degree 5-wood, and 22-degree hybrid.
What To Look For In A Fairway Wood
When it comes to fairway woods, the average player needs to look for different things than a scratch player. They don’t normally swing as fast, they miss the sweet spot more often, and they want much straighter shots.
Here are some general things you’ll want to look at:
- Launch height
Probably the most important thing is how forgiving the club is. The more forgiveness your clubs has the more fairways you’ll hit. The more fairways you hit the better your scores will be. The most forgiving fairway woods have a slightly bigger head that makes the sweet spot bigger.
What most people look for is distance but it’s actually not as important as you might think. Remember I talked about shooting my best 9 holes ever with a 7-wood? That club only went 200 yards or so, so that clearly shows how important distance actually is.
Another super important feature is launch height. A lot of average golfers don’t have the fastest swing speeds and might have trouble getting the ball in the air. More height will give you more distance. Loft is your friend and that’s one of the reasons I like 5-wood more.
One thing to also be aware of is the spin rate. It might seem like a good idea to have less spin on your shots but it’s probably not a good idea for the average golfer. There are low spinning options for drivers and woods (Sub Zero, Tour, etc) but these are for better players.
The last thing to consider is adjustability. Being able to adjust loft, lie, and weight is pretty cool and all but it’s not something a high handicap should be focusing on. Keep things simple, work on your swing, and come back to these after. If your club has adjustments, cool, but it’s not a big deal if it doesn’t.
Best Shaft Flex For High Handicaps
Shaft flex is based on how fast you swing the club, but for most high handicaps, the best shaft flex is regular. This will generate more speed and keep the ball flying straighter.
Now that you know what fairway wood you want, you’ll need to figure out what shaft is right for you. This is just as important as the club itself because it’ll have a big impact on your shot shape.
A shaft that’s too firm will give you low shots that tend to slice. A shaft that’s too soft will tend to hook the ball. Not always but these are some general guidelines.
What you need to do is figure out your swing speed. If you don’t know your swing speed then figure out how far you normally drive the ball. Here are some guidelines:
- If you drive the ball under 200 yards = swing speed under 80 MPH = senior/ladies shaft
- If you drive the ball 200-240 yards = swing speed 80-90 MPH = regular shaft
- If you drive the ball 240-275 yards = swing speed 90-100 MPH = stiff shaft
- If you drive the ball over 275 yards = swing speed over 100 MPH = extra stiff shaft
Picking the right shaft for your swing will help you get the most distance and will give you the most control. I’ve used all types of shafts and I could hit the ball fine with each. My consistency was all over the place though with the wrong flex.
Best Fairway Woods For Beginners & High Handicaps
Now that you know exactly what to look for with your fairway wood, we’ll jump into some of my favorites. I think there are zero reasons for you to go out and spend 400 bucks on this year’s clubs as an average player.
Pretty much all of the clubs over the past 5 years hit the ball the same distance. If you want the latest and greatest club then go right ahead, but just know, it’s not necessary.
The clubs I’ve listed below are the ones I’d consider if I was an average player in the market for something new. Each of them is slightly different but you can’t go wrong with any of them. We’ll talk about who each of them is perfect for.
Callaway Mavrik Max (My #1 Pick)
Callaway makes some of the most popular golf products and the Mavrik Max is their 2020 fairway wood designed for higher handicap players. It’s built for distance and maximum forgiveness.
I currently use the Epic Flash fairway wood (2019 version) and absolutely love it. I don’t think it’s forgiving enough for the average player and that’s why the Mavrik would be better.
There are a few different models of the Mavrik fairway wood (standard, Max, Sub Zero). The Sub Zero is for low handicap players and is definitely out of the equation. Max is bigger and is going to be a lot more forgiving.
If you are working your way through the 90s and don’t need a whole lot of forgiveness, you might want to get the standard Mavrik. I like it better myself because it’s slightly smaller but it’s definitely not as easy to hit.
This club is designed to give a high launch and the flight bias is a slight draw. It won’t fix a slice but it can help straighten things out a little bit.
What I like about this club is that the face is designed to hit the ball a decent distance if you hit the toe or heel. Let’s be honest, we rarely hit the center of the face and that’s why this is a cool feature.
- Mishits still hit the ball well.
- The launch height is great for most.
- The bigger face is easier to hit.
- The alignment aid isn’t the best.
- No adjustments.
Cleveland Launcher Turbo (My #2 Pick)
A lot of people overlook Cleveland clubs but they’re some of my favorite on the market. The Turbo is their model designed for high handicaps and it’s probably one of the easiest clubs I’ve ever hit.
I think it’s best suited for someone with a slower swing speed but it’s completely fine if you don’t. It’s designed to launch the ball high in the air, give a straight ball flight, and generate the most distance for the average golfer.
I’m currently using Cleveland irons and have one of their wedges and absolutely love them. I really liked the previous year’s Launcher and the new Turbo is even better.
It’s not overly fancy, it’s not adjustable, and it’s not the best for shaping the ball around. That’s not who this club is designed for and I actually like the simple grab and shoot design.
As long as you want to hit the ball high, long, and straight, you’ll really like the Turbo wood. It’s one of my favorites and should be the go-to if you’re swing is starting to slow down a bit.
- It has better alignment help.
- The launch is high for slower swing speeds.
- It’s incredibly forgiving.
- There are no adjustments.
- It’s not the best for controlling the ball.
Cobra F-Max Superlite
If you don’t golf a whole lot or just don’t want to drop big money on a new club, the Cobra Superlite could be perfect for you. It’s not quite as good as the other two clubs but it’s definitely the best in its price range.
Just like with a lot of game-improvement clubs, the Superlite has a bit of offset to help fight the slice. You might not want this as you get better, but for now, it’s going to help you out a lot.
One thing to be aware of is that this probably isn’t the best choice for faster swing speeds. If you do swing the club pretty fast, you’d prefer the Callaway. If you have a slow to mid swing speed, you’ll see awesome results with this.
The ball flight isn’t going to be as high as the other two clubs but it’s still pretty decent. It’s also not adjustable, which could be a pro or con depending on how you look at it. For the price though, I really can’t complain.
What I really like about the Superlite is the sound and feel at impact. Some clubs are sort of embarrassing to hit at the range because you can hear it from 2 miles away. That’s not the case with this bad boy.
It also feels really solid through impact as well and that can boost confidence. Pair it with a ball that’s suits your swing and you’ve got a pretty deadly combo.
- The price can’t be beaten.
- Great distance for mid to low swing speeds.
- The sound and feel are solid.
- No adjustments.
- Not ideal for faster swing speeds.
If you have a slower swing speed and want something that’s really forgiving, this could be an option for you. PING is a little bit underrated but they make some awesome clubs for mid to high handicap golfers.
I’d personally get the Cleveland instead because it’s cheaper, but the two clubs are very similar. You can hit the club on the toe, the heel, low, or high, and it’ll send the ball fairly straight.
The good news with this is that you’ll end up hitting more fairways. That’ll really help take you from a high to mid handicap or from the high to low 80s. The bad news is that it’ll be harder to hit a draw or fade.
The G410 is higher launching and will be easier to hit for golfers with slower swing speeds. If you have a faster swing speed then you’ll get more distance with a slightly lower launching club.
One thing to be aware of is that you can adjust the loft but it’s only up or down by 1 degree. That’s why I think it’d be important to get the 5-wood instead of 3-wood.
- The ball flight is high.
- It’s one of the more forgiving woods.
- You can hit it from all lies.
- There are minimal adjustments.
- It’s not the best for shaping the ball.
Cobra F9 Speedback
If you’re looking for a solid all-around fairway wood that can be used as you get better, this could also be a good option. I didn’t find it as high launching as the Cleveland or as forgiving as the Callaway, but it was pretty close.
The club does have two rails on the bottom and that does help hit out of the rough. Out of all the woods, the Cobra was probably the best out of the rough and is good for people who hit behind the ball.
There aren’t as many adjustments as some but there are more than the G410. On the Speedback, you can adjust the loft of the 3-wood between 14-16 and the 5-wood from 17-20 degrees.
I did mention that this club is long. That was definitely the case but it wasn’t miles above the others. Most clubs that have come out over the past 5 years hit the ball very similar distances.
You can pick from either yellow and grey or silver and grey. I prefer the look of the silver Cobra, but I don’t mind the look of the yellow version either.
- This club is long.
- Forgiveness is really good.
- It hits well out of the rough.
- It’s not the best for shaping the ball.
- I’m not the biggest fan of the way it looks at address.