Fairway woods are designed to sweep the golf ball off the turf without producing a divot. Fairway woods can also be used off the tee, and are often easier to keep in the fariway than drivers. To properly hit a fairway wood, you need to make a few small adjustments to your stance, swing plane and the location in which you place the golf ball. Fairway woods can be somewhat difficult to hit at first, but with practice and proper technique, these clubs can take several shots off your score.
Take a slightly wider stance than you would with an iron. Your stance should be wider than shoulder-width, and about 60 percent of your weight should be placed on your front foot. This will help promote the wider swing angle you need to sweep the ball of the turf.
Line the ball up in the front of your stance, about two inches inside your left heel if you are right-handed. When hitting a fairway wood, the ball should also be about in line with the logo on the left breast of a common golf shirt. Placing the ball slightly forward allows you to hit the ball at the bottom of the swing plane, rather than on the downswing, as in an iron.
Take the club back on a straight line, as you would with any other club. As you begin your shoulder turn, keep your right elbow tucked in as much as possible. This will keep the plane of the swing flat and slightly wider than usual, while also promoting a full upper-body rotation.
Keep your hands just slightly ahead of the ball during impact, and focus on sweeping the ball off the turf. The flat, wide sole of a fairway would should not produce a divot. You should feel like your are just barely clipping the turf with the club.
Follow through as you would with an iron or driver. The long shaft of the fairway wood will force you to extend your arms fully during the follow through. Your hips and shoulders should face the target when the swing is complete, and you should be almost completely free of tension.
Tips & Warnings
- Place the ball slightly back in your stance to hit the ball out of the rough. You will need to hit this type of shot with a downward angle to "pop" the ball out of the deep grass.
- Use a mirror to check your technique and body position from time to time.
- Reinforce keeping your right elbow tucked in by placing a towel in your right armpit when practicing the swing. The towel should not fall out until you have finished the shot.
- Do not over-swing with a fairway wood. Woods are lightweight and designed to mostly work on their own. Over-swinging can cause mishits and a loss in accuracy.
- Many people stand too far away from the ball at address when using a fairway wood, leading to poorly-struck shots. During the set-up, let your arms hang down in a relaxed position, and let the grip of the fairway wood rest in your hands while the head of the club is directly behind the ball.
- "A.I.M. of Golf"; Mitchell Spearman; 2004
- "Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf"; Ben Hogan; 1957
- Photo Credit homme qui joue au golf image by bacalao from Fotolia.com