“I’m hitting the woods just great, but I’m having a terrible time getting out of them.” – Harry Toscano
By Ian Hardie
I see a lot of golfers who – due to the advances in club technology – are able to hit really good drives off the tee.
The balls they hit with their driver seem to fly high, long and remarkably straight.
Maybe it’s the clubs or possibly it’s because the ball is teed up and simple enough to hit cleanly
It could be due to them spending hours – hitting drive after drive off the nice tees at the driving range.
In fact most of them hit it so well, you would almost think that they were all scratch golfers
And then they get to a fairway wood shot………
All of a sudden, their true ability shows up and the results are generally poor (at best)
Poor fairway wood shots cost a lot of golfers the opportunity to attack on par 5’s
A well struck fairway wood allows you to play your 2nd shot deep on a par 5, giving you the ability to attack with your 3rd
Most golfers aren’t able to attack as they are busy trying to save the hole after a poor fairway wood shot that’s topped along the ground, headed off into the trees, the rough or a water hazard.
So why such a difference?
I think to understand why most golfers struggle to hit fairway woods, we need to look at why they can hit their drivers relatively well first.
When using a modern driver most players have;
- the ball teed up quite high
- practice tees at driving ranges that are the same height (consistency)
- a tendency to hit more drivers than any other club if they do practice
- the faces of most drivers are pretty deep these days, which gives a lot of room for error and miss-hits, while still providing a good shot
- The ball positioned at the front of their stance to promote hitting it on their upswing
There’s not much that can go wrong – is there?
The ball is teed up nice, nothing in the way of a club head, plenty of room to hit it hard on the upswing and a club head designed to produce a good shot however you hit it.
However, when hitting a fairway wood – the tables are turned a bit;
- for a start there’s no tee holding it up off the ground
- fairway woods generally have a smaller head and face, so the margin for error is significantly smaller than a driver
- the ground conditions can affect the shot quality greatly depending on where you are hitting from, whether you catch it cleanly and the weather on the day
- most golfers simply don’t practice that much with them
Basically, the margin for error is much smaller for a fairway wood shot as the ball is on the ground and you don’t have as much help from the club head
Also for some reason, most golfers are under the impression that a fairway wood shot is more of a sweeping shot like a driver but it’s not.
So how do you hit them?
The main thing to be aware of is that you need to adjust the ball position – so that it is back in your stance an inch or two from where you hit your driver to allow you to make a descending blow on the ball (as opposed to ascending with a driver)
Suddenly realized why you top your fairway wood shots after reading that?
Read it again just to make sure you have it
Put the ball back in your stance a little and make a descending blow on the ball, just the same as you would hitting a long iron.
The other thing you may find helpful is that if using a fairway wood off a tee instead of a driver – hit it off the ground the same as you would on the fairway.
Yes, I am suggesting not to tee it up!
Personally I hit all fairway woods off the ground whether I am on the tee or not – which means I develop one consistent action regardless of where I am playing it from – I make no adjustment from tee shot to fairway shots at all.
After all – regardless of our levels – we all want to be consistent right?
I also do the same with every iron shot but we’ll deal with that another day.