A 3 wood usually has between 13 and 15 degrees of loft. Now, of course, everything makes sense, right? Maybe not. Just because you have the answer doesn’t mean you understand the question.
Before you ask what loft your 3 wood has, let’s look at what loft is and what it does.
Exactly what is loft?
By definition, loft is the angle of the clubface as it is positioned on the shaft. The angle of the clubface controls trajectory and affects distance.
For you visual learners, Sports Journalist Brent Kelley has a good description to help you better grasp the concept of loft:
Imagine a line running down the shaft of the club and continuing into the ground. Now imagine a second line running from the top of the clubface and extending down the clubface and continuing into the ground. When those two lines meet, they create an angle between them. That is the loft angle, or golf club loft.
Why it’s important
Loft controls trajectory and affects distance of the shot. So if a club has more loft, the ball will have a higher trajectory and travel a shorter distance. Less loft means a lower trajectory and that the ball will travel farther.
So back to the 3 wood question: What is the loft of a 3 wood, and why is it important?
A 3 wood, usually, has between 13 and 16 degrees of loft. (There is, in fact, a wide range of loft for 3 woods and they can vary between manufacturers. GolfDigest.com’s 2013 Hot List for fairway woods includes 17 clubs from makers like Adams Golf, Ping, Callaway, TaylorMade and Titliest with lofts ranging from 13 degrees up to 24, including half-degree increments. Some are even adjustable.)
But drivers typically have a loft of between 7 and 12 degrees. An experienced golfer who can actually hit a driver will naturally use it regularly off the tee. Remember: lower loft = greater distance.
A few degrees may not seem like a big difference, but it can be. And for the millions of us who have trouble with a driver, the lower lofted and easier to hit 3 wood might be a more sensible option off the tee.
A 3 wood is also commonly known as a fairway wood, because it was designed for long-distance shots from lying in the fairway on long par 4s and par 5s
In addition to the lower loft, fairway woods also have smaller heads than drivers and get progressively shorter than drivers. That makes them easier to control the swing, easier get the ball up into the air, and to keep it straight.
But the right loft for your 3 wood is not going to be the same as the next player’s. Swing speed, head material, and shaft material are just a few of the other things can factor into the success of your swing. There are many opportunities at golf shops and demo days to try new clubs, so it can’t hurt to try a range lofts and find the one that’s best for you.