There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the subtle differences between fairway woods, especially the most common 3, 4, and 5 woods. While there’s not a necessarily standard loft for each wood, you’ll frequently find 3 woods with lofts ranging between 15 and 18 degrees, though 13 degree 3 Woods are available. Understanding a little more about loft and how it affects your game will help you choose the best 3 Wood for your bag.
What is Loft?
Loft is the clubhead’s angle in relation to the ground when you’re standing ready to swing. That by itself might not tell you much, but for most players, a higher loft means you will send your ball higher into the air. High loft is great for new players who may struggle to launch the ball with clubs with too little loft, but if you’re not careful, a club with too much loft will send your ball soaring high into the sky, only to land short of its destination.
Although higher lofts may cost you distance, if you keep hitting the dirt and missing the ball because your club’s loft is too low, you’ll never get to the green. All and all, if you’re looking for a club that will be easy to play, go with the higher lofted 3 Woods, or forget the 3 Wood entirely and look for the more difficult to find 4 Wood with a loft between 18 and 20 degrees.
Choosing the Right Clubhead Loft
There’s nothing like a custom fitting to help you choose the perfect clubs, but if you know a little bit about your swing speed, you can sometimes save the trouble and select a loft that will work for you. In most cases, a slower swing necessitates a higher loft, so if your swing is below 60 miles per hour, don’t consider any Wood with a loft less than 15 degrees. Between 60 and 70 miles per hour, you should be able to play with a 14 degree 3 Wood, but if your ball tends to fly low and flat, bumping up the loft will still help you move the ball down the fairway.
The higher loft of your 3 Wood allows you to hit down slightly instead of having to attack your ball squarely like you would with a driver, and you absolutely should do so when you’re on short grass. A lot of players make the mistake of trying to help their ball into the air when it’s sitting on the grass, but the higher lofted 3 Wood doesn’t need the help — in fact, even a lot of the pros take a small divot with a perfectly executed fairway wood shot.