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Best Fairway Woods for Beginners and High Handicappers in 2020

fairway wood golf club sitting behind ball in fairway

If you’re in a hurry and just want to find the Best Fairway Woods for Beginners and High Handicappers in 2020, then we recommend the Callaway Epic Flash.

**UPDATE FOR 2020** If you’re looking for the latest reviews of brand new products released in 2020, we’ll be updating this post as we do our research and should be finished by the summer.  Please make sure to check back then!

Sitting in the fairway on a par 5 after hitting a great drive opens up the door for a great scoring opportunity. If you’re confident with your 3 wood, you’re probably thinking, if I hit my 3 wood solid, I can get on in two and 2 putt for a birdie.

On the flip side, are you coming up to your ball and immediately thinking I’m hitting an iron to lay up because there’s absolutely no chance I’ll ever hit my 3 wood close!

Or maybe the driver has been letting you down lately and you just need to keep your tee shot in play or maybe you’re playing smart to leave yourself an approach shot with a distance you’re comfortable with.

Whatever the case may be, having a fairway wood you can trust is great option to have!

In this article we want to help you consider a few things and also review a few clubs so that you can select the best fairway wood for beginners and high handicappers.

In this article, we’re going to be reviewing the following fairway woods:

Why Should I Buy A Fairway Wood?

 

A fairway wood is a good option when you need it to fill the gap. For example, say you’re in the fairway or very light rough but your too far out for a long iron hybrid to hit the green and you still want to get as close as possible. The fairway wood is a great option since a driver off the deck is probably not in your wheelhouse yet (or it isn’t for most amateurs!).

Another option where a fairway wood makes sense is off the tee box when the “Big Dog”, aka driver, is too much club or it’s just been flat out letting you down lately. Let’s be honest it’s always the clubs fault, not the golfers!

If you been having a tendency to hit a nasty slice or duck hook with your driver but you still need to get the ball out a good distance, then a fairway can make sense.

Or maybe it’s a really short par 4 and hitting a driver might leave you an approach shot distance you’re not too good at, say 70 yards. It may make sense to hit a fairway wood and leave you a 100 yards out for the perfect wedge distance you have dialed in.

To be completely honest though, for a beginner or someone with a high handicap, a fairway wood is probably the least essential club in your bag. For most of you, it might make more sense to bypass the 3 wood and invest it in a hybrid or a better driver. For those of you that insist on getting a fairway wood, here are some things to consider.

What To Consider When Choosing The Best Fairway Wood for Beginners and High Handicappers

 

Low and Away CG

CG or center of gravity is very common term thrown around when it comes to golf club design. Now we could go into a whole dissertation about what it is and how it works but for the sake of simplicity and your sanity we won’t.

Here’s the cliff notes version of what you need to know, the lower (closer to the sole or bottom of the club) and farther (away from the club face) it is, the easier it will be to get the ball into the air.

This is especially important for beginners and high handicappers because one of the most difficult things for them to achieve is getting enough height on the lower lofted clubs.

And generally speaking (and yes there is a balance), the more height you can get, the farther the ball will travel.

Finally, throw in the fact that you might be hitting this from the fairway (without the added help of a golf tee) you can see how having a low CG will help you get the ball in the air easier.

More Forgiveness

As with any other club, the most difficult thing to do is consistently hit the sweet spot. Even if you’re off by a centimeter or two, it can have huge impacts on the distance and ball flight.

Another science concept that helps minimize the side effect of missing the sweet spot is something called MOI or moment of inertia. This is another very common term thrown around golf especially when it comes to putters (insert link here).

As with putters, the concept is the same. So to make it as simple as possible, a high MOI reduces the amount of club head twisting at impact and the less club head twists, the more energy is transferred to the ball, and the more energy transferred to the ball, the farther the ball will travel.

Now since a fairway wood will probably be the 2nd longest club in your bag (next to your driver), the more difficult it will be to hit the sweet spot and therefore more forgiveness is something very important for beginners.

More Shaft Flex

The shaft flex plays a significant factor on creating the ideal upward angle at which the ball leaves the clubface on impact (launch angle).

Too much flex and your ball may go too high or too far left (right handed golfer). Too little flex and your ball is going too low or too far right (right handed golfer). Whatever the case may be with you, you’re robbing yourself of distance and accuracy.

Not to beat a dead horse but since beginners and high handicappers normally have slower swing speeds, having more shaft flex will generally help create the ideal launch angle and get the maximum distance from your shots.

Loft and Adjustability

The standard fairway woods are a 3 and 5 wood but there are also 7 and 9 woods as well. The standard lofts for these clubs normally have the following ranges:

  • 3 Wood – 14 to 16 degrees
  • 5 Wood – 17 to 19 degrees
  • 7 Wood – 20 to 22 degrees
  • 9 Wood – 23 to 25 degrees

What loft you select for your fairway woods really depends on what’s the application. For example, if you’re going to be using your 3 wood to primarily hit tee shots, then maybe a lower lofted 14 degree 3 wood makes sense. If you’re going to use your 3 wood primarily from the fairway or light rough, then maybe a 16 degree 3 wood is better. Finally, if you feel it’s going to be used for both, then something like a 15 degree 3 wood could be the best option.

Keep one thing in mind though, as a general rule, the lower the loft the harder it is to hit.

This leads to the 2nd aspect of adjustability. Many of the modern 3 woods today have the ability to adjust the loft with a simple turn of a torque wrench. This allows you to easily adjust your 15 degree 3 wood to maybe a 14 degree.

Finally, some models allow you to adjust the face angle as well to make them more draw, neutral, or fade biased for total customization.

Cost

As we mentioned earlier, in our opinion, the fairway wood is probably the least needed club in your bag but will probably be the 2nd or 3rd most expensive club in your bag next to your driver and putter. You can expect to shell out several hundreds of dollars on a single fairway wood.

An important question to ask yourself is should I invest in a new fairway wood or put money towards a better driver, putter, or set of wedges?

The good thing is that with modern golf technology, it makes the game much easier to hit good shots but the bad thing is that it’s expensive.

Now there’s a couple ways you can approach buying a fairway wood; buy new or buy used.

When you buy used you’ll definitely pay less but a drawback is that you won’t be getting the latest and greatest technology. Tough decision to make, we know!

The good news though is that there’s a large second hand market for used clubs so you’ll always be able to trade in that old fairway wood in the future.

Whatever way you decide to go, pick something that can fit within your budget.

Best Fairway Woods for Beginners and High Handicappers Reviewed

 

Tour Edge Exotics CBX

Tour Edge engineers have once again taken distance gains to another level with the CBX fairway wood.

Building on their Exotics line, they have created new benchmarks for distance and power in a fairway wood.

Featuring a beta-titanium cup face with variable face thickness and carbon sole weighting, the CBX is a low spin, long distance fairway wood.

In addition to great distance, this club was fairly accurate with a tight shot dispersion.

Pros

  • Outstanding distance in a fairway wood
  • Good forgiveness, leading to tighter shot dispersion and less distance lost on off center hits
  • Lower price point

Cons

  • No alignment aid on crown can be unappealing
  • No ability to adjust and customize your club settings

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Callaway Epic Flash

Callaway takes its Flash Face and Jailbreak technology to its fairway woods to create an outstanding club that is not just long but forgiving.

Callaway’s Flash Face tech uses artificial intelligence to create the optimal face design that maximizes ball speed from the face to create an incredibly long and forgiving club.

The Jailbreak technology, utilizes 2 internal bars inside the clubhead to stabilize it during impact, that again leads to high ball speeds at impact and long distance.

Finally the OptiFit hosel allows for plenty of adjustability and customization to create a club specifically for your game and swing.

Pros

  • Outstanding distance and great forgiveness
  • Easy alignment aid on crown
  • Comes standard with a grip alignment aid
  • Incredibly easy to hit off tight fairway lies and light rough
  • Great sound and feel feedback on a variety of shots
  • Plenty of shaft and customization options come standard

Cons

  • Bright green and yellow colors on sole can be unappealing to some
  • Clubhead may feel slightly closed at address

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Cobra F9 Speedback

The 2019 Cobra King F9 fairways are the first fairway woods to feature a CNC-milled face to create explosive distance.

Speedback Technology uses rails and a low, back tungsten weight to optimize turf interaction and lower the CG for better launch and faster club head speed from a variety of lies.

An ultralight carbon fiber crown allow more weight to be placed towards the sole to generate higher launch and more forgiveness.

A fixed weight is positioned low and back in the club head to create a back CG position that promotes high ball flight and increased forgiveness.

Finally like all modern Cobra clubs, thet F9 Speedback features Cobra Connect powered by Arccos to access more than 40,000 golf courses and help track performance.

Pros

  • Great feel on solidly hit shots and very forgiving on off center strikes
  • Outstanding feedback on all types of contact so you know how you’re striking the ball
  • Highly adjustable
  • Good ability to shape shots as well
  • Rails allow for good contact and high launch on tight lies and even out of divots

Cons

  • Crown looks a little busy at address
  • On tight lies, the rails can make the club feel like it’s sitting up too high

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Srixon Z F85

This is Srixon’s most advanced fairway wood yet with a classic look and profile.

Featuring advanced crown step design, this club promotes consistent and increased distance and a low CG. In addition, this lightweight carbon crown moves mass to the outside of the club head for greater forgiveness and stability.

Although the design of Srixon Z F85 fairway woods are ideal for the better golfers who demand a powerful, penetrating trajectory, the club was still surprisingly easy to get the ball in the air off of tight lies.

Pros

  • Great distance with explosive feel off the face
  • Larger than normal club head gives confidence and is very forgiving on off center strikes, especially heel strikes
  • Very easy to get ball in the air off of tight fairway lies
  • Beautifully classic designed head

Cons

  • Hosel is in a fixed position so no ability to adjust or customize club
  • At address, club face can feel a little closed and is definitely a draw biased club

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TaylorMade M5

Featuring Twist Face technology, applied to a fairway wood for the first time, that has a unique face curvature engineered to decrease side spin and correct the face angle on off-center hits to deliver straighter shots.

A titanium face and body combined with a carbon crown, frees up weight to be placed in a 65-gram movable weight on the sole which allows for maximum adjustability.

Combined with a sleek, 12-position loft sleeve gives you +/-2° of adjustability and is therefore ideal for golfers who want adjustability and customization in their fairway wood.

Pros

  • Most customization options in a fairway wood
  • Incredibly forgiving, especially on heel strikes
  • Easy to hit off of the fairway and get in the air
  • Great sound and feel
  • Overall well designed club that sits nicely behind the club

Cons

  • All the customization comes with a higher than average cost
  • Sole of the club looks very busy
  • Not the longest club

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Our Choice

When it comes to the best fairway woods for beginners and high handicappers, there are multiple options available from a variety of manufacturers. The 5 fairway woods reviewed above are some of the best options available on the market in 2019.

Since this article is targeted to the beginner and high handicapper, we feel that the single most important feature is forgiveness on off center shots without compromising distance.

After that, the ability to customize comes in a close second. As you know, golf is a difficult game and can take years to create a consistent, repeatable swing.

Selecting a fairway wood that has adjustability and customization is a wise purchase since you will be able to make adjustments as your swing evolves.

With this in mind, we decided the best choice is the Callaway Epic Flash.

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Although the Epic Flash bright colors can be a little too flashy and its face alignment can feel a bit closed at address, it did have ample customization. The explosive distance on sweet spot contact, tight shot dispersion on mishits, and ease to hit off of tight lies made the Callaway Epic Flash the favorite.

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