***If you’re looking for the most recent reviews for 2021 gear, we will be updating this page in the summer after we’ve had a chance to review them!
If you’re in a hurry and just want to find the Best 3 Wood in 2020, then here’s what we recommend:
- Best Overall – TaylorMade SIM
- Best for Beginners and High Handicappers – Cobra King SpeedZone
- Best for Mid and Low Handicappers – Titleist TS2
If you need a little more control off of the tee, you are 250 yards from the hole on a par 5, or you need to punch the ball out of the woods, a 3 wood is a very versatile club.
In this article we’re going to dive into how to select the best 3 wood.
With a little less length and a little more loft than a driver and a design that helps get the ball off of the turf, a 3 wood is a fun club to hit as well. It carries with it a confidence that even if you are not hitting your driver straight that day, you can pull out your 3 wood and have some pretty good distance off of the tee.
We’re going to be reviewing the following 3 woods:
- TaylorMade SIM/SIM Max/SIM Max D
- Callaway Mavrik/Mavrik Max/Mavirk Sub Zero
- Titleist TS2/TS3
- Cobra King SpeedZone/SpeedZone Tour/SpeedZone Big Tour
- Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo
- Tour Edge Exotics EXS 220
- Ping G410/G410 LST/G410 SFT
- Mizuno ST200/ST200 TS
One of my best memories with a 3 wood is the time my wife took me out golfing for my birthday. She was riding in the cart with me and I had not played in almost a year since my Grandfather had passed away. I was telling her how rusty I was and that my first tee shot was probably going to be ugly.
So, I took out the 3 wood my Grandfather had given me and I blasted a 275 yard bomb down the middle of the fairway. It was over 12 years ago and I can still picture the shot. And that is what a 3 wood does for you. It gives you distance from the tee, and the turf, along with an accuracy that your driver does not always provide.
How to Choose the Best 3 Wood
Most of today’s 3 woods have similar technology that you find in that company’s driver just with a little more loft and a better design to get the ball off of the turf. When choosing the 3 wood for your bag, you have to decide how you will use the club most often.
If you plan on using your 3 wood as a second driver, then find the most technologically advanced 3 wood that has the same basic features as your favorite driver. The higher loft and shorter club length will make the club easier to hit and to control.
If you plan on using your 3 wood mainly off of the turf for approach shots on long par 5 holes, you want a club that interacts with the turf well and has a slightly higher loft so that the ball lands softer on the green. A 3 wood with a shallow head and a low center of gravity will provide a higher trajectory and more distance from the ground.
These are the 2 main purposes of a 3 wood, but when choosing your club it is important to understand your primary reason for the purchase. While you will inevitably use the club for more than its stated purpose, you do not want to be disappointed in that area of club performance. However, for many people a 3 wood is just a part of your bag and you want to find the one that is the most versatile and the best all around. Just read the rest of this article and you will see which club we believe that to be and why.
What Are the Benefits of Carrying a 3 Wood?
I consider there to be 3 major benefits of a carrying a 3 wood as follows:
- When your driver is not working.
- When there are a couple of long par 5s you want to reach in 2.
- If you like to use a fairway wood as a utility club around the green or out of the woods.
We could elaborate further, but I think these 3 benefits sum up the major reasons to carry a 3 wood in your bag. For most beginner golfers, the first benefit will outweigh any of the other ones and will be a good enough reason in itself to carry a 3 wood. For more experienced golfers, the 3 wood is a truly versatile club with even more benefits than those listed above.
What Differentiates One 3 Wood From Another?
The features of each 3 wood are what differentiate it from another. Here are some of the major things to look for when purchasing a 3 wood:
- Center of Gravity. This is most important for beginners and high handicappers. A club with a low center of gravity will promote a high ball flight and increased backspin.
- Forgiveness. The longer the club, the more important forgiveness is. You want your 3 wood to be forgiving so that even a mishit does not put you out of bounds.
- Adjustability. Just like many of today’s drivers, you can purchase a 3 wood with adjustable lie, loft, weight, and face angle.
- Shaft Flex. The harder you swing, the less flex you want in your club’s shaft. While graphite increased whip and potentially distance, a stiff flex steel shaft may provide you the control and accuracy you need. Make sure the shaft material and flex match your swing speed.
- Loft. Traditionally the loft of a 3 wood is 15 degrees, give or take 1. Make sure that the loft of your 3 wood is what you want and do not be afraid to add a degree or 2 for enhanced ball flight and control.
- Cost. As club manufacturers continue to pour technology into longer fairway woods, the price continues to rise. Many 3 woods contain much of the same technology and many of the same features as their driver counterparts and so the price can be fairly similar as well.
Do I Really Need a 3 Wood?
Of course you do not “need” a 3 wood in your bag, but even for beginning players it is a great club to carry. As a beginner, your driver is so inconsistent that there are times (even weeks or months in a row) when you just cannot afford to take your driver out on the course with you. When you are starting out, landing in the fairway 200 yards out is a lot better than landing in the woods or the water 250 yards away. While you are working on your driver on the range, it is good to know that you have a shorter and more accurate club that can get you off of the tee in your 3 wood.
The other thing is that most people find it difficult to hit your driver off the deck. The loft is so low and the head is so big that any driver off of the deck is nothing more than a worm burner. Your 3 wood, on the other hand, is designed and setup to be hit from the ground. It cuts through the turf better, has a higher loft, and a smaller head all that help you make solid contact with the ball even without a tee.
I am all for hybrids in place of higher lofted woods and long irons, but a 3 wood still has a lot of utility especially on par-5 holes and when your driver is not working. You may replace a 5 wood and a 3 iron with a hybrid, but a 3 wood is still a club that you want to keep in your bag.
Best 3 Wood in 2020
You really cannot go wrong with a wood from TaylorMade. The V-shape sole design on the SIM 3 woods looks great at setup and inspires confidence that your shot will fly high and straight.
The “Twist Face” technology found on these 3 woods may be one of the best addition to a club series in a long time. The Twist Face technology uses corrective face angles all over the hitting surface so that mishits fly almost as far and straight as the shots you hit on the nose.
The SIM Max is a slightly larger head and bigger sweet spot than the SIM. The SIM Max D moves up to 190cc with a draw-biased package that many elite players and beginners will love.
- The “Twist Face” technology make this club one of the most forgiving our there.
- The V steel sole allows for both great turf interaction and a lower center of gravity to promote solid contact a high ball flight.
- The SIM 3 woods are some of the easiest to hit off of the turf on the market.
- The titanium face is both strong and flexible and produces a high ball speed without losing the incredible feel.
- The club looks great at setup. The V shape sole gives you the confidence that you can get the ball into the air and the face technology takes away the fear of a mishit.
- A slightly more expensive options than some of the others on the list.
- Better off of the ground than the tee.
The first thing you notice about this club is that it looks more technologically advanced than most of its competition. The hitting area is huge, the club head looks like it was developed in the future, and when you set it up next to the ball you know you are going to hit a great shot. Callaway also uses its Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to develop an extremely fast face that produces some of the best distance out there.
The Sub Zero is a more compact club with no draw bias and less spin produced. The Mavrik Max is an oversized head (190cc) with a max draw bias. The original Mavrik is the only one without the capability to adjust the weight.
- A midline price for an upscale club.
- AI technology has allowed Callaway to develop one of the fastest and most forgiving club faces on the market.
- Feels and sounds solid at impact.
- A very adjustable club. You can change weights to create different swing speeds and face angles.
- The “progressive leading edge” gets under the ball and promotes a high ball flight.
- A huge sweet spot, almost the entire face.
- If you have a natural draw or hook, this club may not be for you.
- The club head, especially on the Mavrik Max, may be too large for some golfers.
If you are looking for increased ball speed, the Titleist TS2 and TS3 are your club. The TS2 is designed with max forgiveness so that you can swing your hardest knowing that the results will be flawless. The TS3, on the other hand, offers an adjustable sweet spot that you can change to suit your stroke. Both designs were created for speed and distance.
- The “TS” stands for Titleist Speed and every feature and detail was produced toward that end.
- The adjustability of the TS3 is simple and extremely effective depending on the type of shot you are trying to hit.
- The “speed chassis” is a combination of an ultra thin crown, a thinner face, and optimized weight distribution. Each of these new features maximize some aspect of the club for the greatest speed possible.
- It interacts well with the turf.
- One of the best performing clubs off of the tee, mainly because of the focus on speed.
- A large and forgiving head on both models.
- One of the less expensive high end models.
- Performs better from the tee than the turf.
- Focuses on speed at the expense of feel and forgiveness.
The Cobra SpeedZone 3 wood does exactly what the name suggests, focuses on speed. With “rail technology” that is visible on the perimeter of the club, there is a huge sweet spot and the bottom of the club glides through the turf very well. The combination of the price, distance, and forgiveness make this club great for any skill level.
- One of the less expensive options.
- Weighted on the back bottom of the club to promote a higher ball flight.
- The “hollow rail” technology creates a much larger sweet spot and few mishits.
- The baffler rails cut through the turf and greatly reduce drag especially for more precarious lies.
- Produces as much ball speed as any club on this list.
- Cobra has taken their driver technology and created a fairway wood that performs almost as well.
- The club looks as good at setup as it performs. The face of this club inspires confidence and the sweet spot definitely looks as bit as it performs.
- While it is forgiving, it is not as easy to control and shape as some of the other clubs on the list.
- Even with the baffler rails, the club performs better from the tee than the turf.
The Launcher HB Turbo looks great at setup and gives you the confidence that your next swing is going to be a good one. Cleveland has focused on a high trajectory shot and making it easy to get the ball off of the ground and that is exactly what this club does. If you struggle getting that high and straight ball flight, the Launcher HB Turbo may be the club you have been looking for.
- A very inexpensive club for the features offered.
- The focus is on the launch, and this club gets the ball off of the ground quickly and with ease.
- The combination of the top-of-the-line graphite shaft and weighting of the clubhead creates a fluidity to the club that feels natural.
- Setup with a draw bias.
- Produces a very straight and accurate ball flight.
- Better off of the turf than the tee.
- Not as long as some of the other clubs on the list.
The Tour Edge Exotics 3 wood has as much or more technology packed into the club face than any other club on this list and at a great price. The launch angle and forgiveness of this club really set it apart
- One of the least expensive clubs on the list.
- An underrated club and brand that incorporates much of the same technology as the more established and expensive club manufacturers.
- The “sweet spot” covers a huge percentage of the face of the club making mishits and off target shots much less common.
- 3 different loft options for the 3 wood, the highest at 16.5 degrees and the lowest is 13.5.
- This club focuses on 2 things: launch angle and forgiveness. It produces results for both.
- The diamond face technology produces a trampoline effect behind the face of the club increasing ball speeds.
- The max MOI (moment of inertia) design makes this one of the most forgiving and straightest fairway woods out there.
- The “Slipstream Sole” is what makes this a great club from the deck.
- Today’s game is becoming more and more about ball speed and distance, and this club lags a little behind in that category.
- Not a great club from the tee.
The Ping G410 series of woods are the result of Tour players asking for less spin, more distance, and a better ball trajectory. A lower center of gravity was created with a weight that runs parallel to the face of the club. This increased weight lowered the center of gravity significantly and the placement of the weight created an even bigger sweet spot. The Ping G410 fairway woods produce some of the highest ball flights and longest shots.
The SFT version has a rounder and larger profile than the other 2 along with a slightly lower club weight. The LST is a smaller club head and is more pear-shaped. It lessens spin to an even greater extent than the other 2 and is built more for tour players.
- Adjustability of the club allows you to go up and down 1.5 degrees depending on your swing.
- The thinner crown of the club allows for the weight to be placed further back in the head producing a center of gravity that promotes higher ball flight and forgiveness.
- A very low spinning wood.
- The ball flight is straight and penetrating.
- The launch angle is one of the best in the fairway wood market.
- Just as good and long from the tee as it is from the turf.
- The forged maraging steel face provides high ball speeds.
- Focused on the needs of elite golfers, does not work as well for beginners and high handicappers.
- Not as forgiving as many of the other options.
The Mizuno ST drivers have been a big success in testing and out on the course, and that success has transitioned well into their 3 wood. This club produces great ball speed and tremendous feel while maintaining forgiveness so that off center shots do not hurt as much as they used to. This 3 wood actually performs well across handicaps because of the great combination of distance and forgiveness.
The TS model is slightly smaller and adjust from 13 to 17 degrees.
- A nicely priced option for a high quality 3 wood.
- Impressive ball speed.
- Has some of the best feel of any 3 wood on the list.
- Plays well across handicaps.
- Great distance make it a great driving 3 wood.
- It looks great at set up and gives you the confidence to hit the ball well.
- Adjustable loft.
- Multi-thickness maraging steel face produces very high initial ball speeds and it translates into playable distance.
- Not the best 3 wood off of the turf.
- Not as accurate or as straight as some of the other clubs.
Our Choices For The Best 3 Wood in 2020
Best Overall Choice
Our choice for best overall 3 wood, just beating out the Callaway Mavrik, is the TaylorMade SIM. It is great for pros and beginners alike as the club combines game improvement aspects with great feel and a great look at setup. These clubs are especially potent off of the deck as their low center of gravity and Twist Face technology combine to promote a high and straight ball flight.
TaylorMade brought back the V shape sole design to really help players get under the ball and to interact with the turf well. Not to mention that the club is at least as long as any of the other options on the list. Other than the price being relatively high, there is not much negative to say about this club.
Best for Beginners and High Handicappers
Beginning players and high handicappers are looking for 2 things: distance and forgiveness. You find both of those 2 things in abundance in the Cobra King SpeedZone, our choice for best 3 wood for beginners and high handicappers.
Best for Mid and Low Handicappers
The name of today’s game is speed, and the Titleist TS2 produces more speed than any other club on the list with a decent amount of forgiveness.