Beginner Series: How To Hit A 3 Wood

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If you can hit your 3 wood off of the tee and the turf well then you have a huge advantage over the majority of amateur players. Your 3 wood is a great option off the tee when the fairways are narrow or your driver is not working, but this article will focus on hitting your 3 wood from the deck, an equally important skill.

Reaching a par 5 in 2 or following up a mishit on a drive are huge things for beginners and having that skill could save you quite a few strokes every round.

Our hope is that by reading the rest of this article you will learn a lot about how to hit a 3 wood.

Of course you will need practice and real-life experience to really hit your 3 wood well, but reading and learning these things will give you a great foundation for how to hit a 3 wood.

Step By Step Instructions

In reality, you will hit your 3 wood from the tee about as often as you will hit it off of the turf. For the purposes of this tutorial, however, we will focus on hitting the ball from the turf. To find step by step instructions for hitting your 3 wood from the tee, just follow the previous article about how to hit your driver and they will be the same.

1. Check Your Equipment

The first question you have to ask yourself is if you are using the right equipment. Is your 3 wood forgiving enough, long enough, and does it help you hit the ball as straight as possible. Are you using golf balls that are made for your skill level in terms of spin rate, distance, and forgiveness? We have some articles that might help you choose the best 3 wood and the best golf balls out there:

2. Find Your Target

Aiming at a specific target is more important than you may realize, especially with longer clubs. The closer you get to the hole, the more specific you get about your target because it is easy to see. When you are hitting the ball from farther away, like what you would do with a 3 wood, it is much easier to just aim, hit, and hope. Find a small target and aim for it rather than just pointing in a general direction and swinging.

3. Consider Your Most Consistent Shot Shape

The vast majority of golfers either slice or fade the ball more often than not. While in the long run you will want to fix that type of ball flight, especially the dreaded slice, to begin with you have to learn to play that shot shape. If the ball goes to the right, play it that way. If the ball goes straight or from right to left, then set up for whatever ball flight you most consistently produce.

4. Setup

At setup you want to slightly bend your knees, spread your legs just over shoulder width, and play the ball off of your front foot. One of the most common mistakes amateurs make at setup is they put more of their weight on their back foot to try and get the ball off of the ground more. Once your weight is evenly distributed, then you can focus on your arms, making sure they are relaxed hanging down over the ball. Getting things correct at setup is vital for a good shot.

5. Grip

Your tendency will be to grip the club much more tightly than you need to. The truth is, holding the club too tight will cause tension in your arms and it can throw off the timing in the rest of your swing. The goal is to feel confident, relaxed, free, and athletic at setup and all of that starts with your grip.

6. Takeaway

Now it is time to move your club, and your takeaway is a very important aspect of hitting your 3 wood well. As you are taking the club back, think low and wide to get your tempo right, get your club in the correct position, and get the most distance out of your shot.

7. Make a Full Turn

Making a full turn is important for every club, but it is especially important for your longer woods, hybrids, and irons. It is that turn that gives you the extra distance and makes sure that you get your club in the right spot prior to the downswing and contact. Your club should be perpendicular to your back right before transitioning into your downswing.

8. Downswing

The biggest error that most golfers make with their 3 wood is that they “thin” the ball. That means that they do not get down far enough to make solid contact and instead they hit the top or middle of the ball with the bottom of their club. When hitting a 3 wood off the ground, you have to make contact down and through the ball rather than coming straight into it. That means that even your fairway woods should leave small divots that start right past where the ball was lying prior to contact.

9. Maintain Your Balance and Hold Your Finish

If you watch golf on television, then you have seen this 1,000 times. A golfer finishes this powerful swing and holds his finish as he watches the ball sail. That balance and finish is something that can really change your game for the better and it is something that you have to work on from the beginning. The first thing that you should do is hold every finish for at least 2 seconds so that you feel what it is like to be in control at the end of your swing.

Check out this video from Chris Ryan Golf for a great beginner’s tutorial called “How To Hit A 3 Wood”:

3 Keys On Using Your 3 Wood


How Many Fairway Woods Should I Carry?

This is a good question, and it depends on how many hybrids you carry and what type of golfer you are. Almost everyone should carry at least a 3 wood and a few hybrids. Some people like hitting higher lofted fairway woods like a 9 or 7 wood, and these usually work pretty well for higher handicappers and slower swingers. For the majority of golfers, we would suggest carrying a driver, 3 wood, and 5 wood along with 1-2 hybrids. Your 3 wood is extremely flexible and its use from the tee and the turf almost always means players will carry one.

When Should I Use a 3 Wood Off The Tee?

There are many reasons to use a 3 wood off the tee, but the following 3 reasons are the primary ones. There are some courses where, especially for amateurs, a driver is one of the least important clubs in your bag and it is in those cases where a good 3 wood is needed.

The first and most usual reason is when you are playing a course with tight fairways. 3 woods are considerably more accurate and easier to shape than drivers and generally perform well under these conditions. 

The second reason is that your driver just is not working that day and you are tired of hitting unplayable shots off the tee. When your driver is not working, it is better to lose a little distance while moving to a club that is easier to hit off the tee and still gives you some decent distance.

The third reason is when you are playing more target golf and need more control and less distance from the tee. Some courses force you to lay up and really take your driver out of your hand, and when that happens you want to make sure you are ready with your 3 wood. 

Lay Up or Go For it On a Par 5?

Most of the time amateurs should lay up and professionals should go for it on a par 5. The pressure that we put on ourselves to hit a good, long shot into a par 5 green means we usually over swing and lose the control that makes our swing good.

That does not mean that you should not take out your 3 wood after a good drive on a par 5. It does mean that you do not have to go for the green. Pick a more realistic target that you can reach with a controlled and easy swing and get yourself as close as possible without over swinging and wasting the good drive that got you there.

Here’s a great video from Rick Shields Golf that gives you tips and instructions on how to hit a 3 wood off the deck:

Final Thoughts on How To Hit a 3 Wood

We hoped that you enjoyed the tutorial and learned a lot from it. The videos provided should help a lot, and the advice and step by step instructions will be a good foundation for good 3 wood play.

Your 3 wood is one of your most versatile clubs which makes it one of your most important. Whether you are hitting it from the tee or the turf, your 3 wood can really shave some strokes off of your score if you learn to hit it well and in the right circumstances. 

If you enjoyed this article, please share it on social media and let your friends know how much it helped your game. Also, comment and like this post and share a picture or a story about your 3 wood and why it is one of the favorite clubs in your bag.


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