Chances are your 3-wood is doing your golf game more harm than good, and I’m here to help explain why.
The 3-wood is a unique specialty club in most golfers’ bag because it has to offer distance off the tee, but also be functional enough to hit a long air shot from the fairway. It’s usually not too difficult to find a 3-wood that does one of these two jobs well, but finding one that does both can be an extremely difficult challenge.
Why is it hard to hit a 3 wood?
The less loft a club has, the harder it is to get into the air with enough spin to maintain carry distance. For every Bryson DeChambeau who uses a 10.5° 3-wood, there are hundreds of other golfers who can’t make their 15° fairway go more than 200 yards. Clubhead speed creates launch and spin, aka lift, and the same modern golf ball that makes drivers easier to hit is the same one that makes 3-woods harder, especially from the street.
Another factor beyond loft is that the length of the 3-wood has increased from 42.5″ to 43.5″ in some cases, and hitting a low-lofted club with that length is extremely difficult…even the pros have problems sometimes.
Change loft – change expectations
Just because a 15° 3-wood is shorter than a 5-wood (18°) or a 7-wood (21°) doesn’t mean it will automatically go further. Distance is created by optimizing launch and spin the same way you adjust a driver or set of irons, and when it comes to loft, there’s a point of diminishing returns for any club in the bag. It’s why so many golfers find they hit a 4-iron the same distance as a 5-iron and transition to hybrids.
“As with driver tuning, there is an optimal loft that maximizes distance. CG location, club mass properties, face shape and impact location dictate different loft optimizations to maximize distance in a 3-wood.
As an example, we have a great player on our engineering team who has 165 ball speed, 10 launch and 3000 spin with a 15 degree 3-wood. This is the perfect launch and spin to optimize your carry distance, given club speed, angle of attack and impact location.
With those launch conditions, it takes him 282 yards. Through both experimental testing and simulation techniques, if we give him 2 more degrees of elevation, he loses 4 yards of carry. With 2 degrees less loft (a 13° 3-wood), the resulting 1.7 degrees lower launch and 450 rpm less spin results in a whopping 7 yards decrease in carry distance, even though speed of your ball is greater.
There is a sweet spot for the loft setting that maximizes distance, assuming that is the player’s goal on their 3-wood, and this changes for each player. This is the essence of custom fit.”
— Marty Jertson, VP of Fit and Performance, Ping Golf
Forget the name – go with what works!
The best way to find your next 3-wood is to start by eliminating the idea that you need one in the first place; instead, think of that spot in your golf bag as the “next club after your driver.” The golf ball doesn’t care what it’s called, all that matters is whether you’re creating the right kind of dynamics to suit your game and swing speed.
This could mean testing a 4-wood (a club with 16-17.5° loft), or even an adjustable-loft 5-wood (18-20° loft) to achieve ideal launch conditions based on the speed of the ball. your swing. The best part about an adjustable hosel fairway wood is that you can adjust the club based on the course or weather conditions; firm and fast — lower the loft for more roll, softer conditions in a field with forced hauls — raise the loft for extra haul.