Equipment Tips

Fairway woods – the buying guide with all the information

Choosing a fairway wood is a bit like buying a new car. Looks and image are important, no question. But it’s best to try out the new piece first. In the end, deciding which fairway wood or fairway woods you really want can be harder than choosing a driver. With more choices in terms of loft, grip and head size, it’s not as easy to find the right club for your game.

Fairway woods at a glance – what do I need to know as a golfer?

  • Main task of the fairway wood – tee shot, fairway or approach to the green?
  • The decision – fairway wood or hybrid?
  • As with the driver – the settings on the fairway wood?
  • Material – What components should the fairway wood be made of?
  • Shaft – what is important for the fairway wood?

If you are looking for a fairway wood, you first have to decide what you need it for. Do I want to generate more height on my shots? Do I need a club to replace my 3-iron? Do I want a new club to hit off the tee or do I simply need a club to hit out of the rough?

Main task of the fairway wood – tee shot, fairway or approach to the green?

As fairway woods have more loft and a shorter shaft than a driver, it is easier to hit the ball with them and the shots can be executed more precisely. Sometimes a 3-wood – in the right hands – can hit the ball just as far as a driver.

Before buying a club, you should think about what the main purpose of the fairway wood is. Do I want to cover a longer distance with my club or should it be more of an approach shot to the green? If the latter, it makes sense to have a fairway wood with a higher loft in your bag so that the ball lands from a steeper angle and stops more quickly after impact.

Our experts at HIO Fitting advise golfers to have realistic expectations when using woods. Especially woods with little loft (e.g. wood#3 with 15°) will only really go up from the tee for a minority players. From the fairway, there is often not enough power in the swing to maneuver the ball – with a very flat launch angle (due to the low loft) – to an efficient height for a decent carry distance. For many, a 3 wood “off the deck” will fly rather flat and you have to rely on a lot of roll. Therefore, when choosing a club, you should always consider whether the current set-up makes sense. If you can reach the green with a lot of roll in the summer on hard ground, the same shot may no longer make sense in the fall or spring on a soft fairway. Without roll, a 3 wood can then also fly shorter in terms of total distance than, for example, a 5 wood which flies higher and achieves more distance “carry”.

This should also be accepted. Unfortunately, golfers often adapt their swing to a trajectory that is too flat. Although a “open clubface” or creates more height, this is only because a high “dynamic loft” has been created at impact. So you could have gone straight for a 5 wood or even a hybrid 5 and taken significantly less risk and also not adjusted your swing to the wrong loft of the club.

As a fairway wood has a more “bulbous” head than an iron, more backspin is generally generated at impact. This helps the ball to gain height or “stay in the air”. Of course, the lighter head in combination with a longer shaft also enables the fairway wood to achieve a higher club head speed than an iron.

The nomenclature of the clubs is therefore somewhat confusing. A 5-wood flies significantly further and should never be used interchangeably with a 5-iron.

Some guidelines for clubs that should fly a similar distance. Of course, this varies from person to person:

  • a 4-wood roughly replaces a 2-iron,
  • a 5-wood replaces a 3-iron,
  • a 7-wood replaces the 4-iron and
  • a 9-iron replaces a 5-iron.

The challenge of reaching the par-5 hole in two strokes

If you really want to know: some holes are simply too far away to reach with a skillful drive and an iron shot. This is where the fairway wood comes into play. If you plan to do this more often, i.e. hit with the wood from the fairway, you should make sure that the head of the fairway wood is fairly flat. This is one of the biggest advantages of a new purchase. According to our experts at HIO Fitting, all modern fairway woods are equipped with a “flat design” and are therefore much easier to hit than clubs that are 10 years old or more.

Of course, you are still able to hit from the tee, but the flatter club head makes it easier to hit from difficult positions on the fairway.

The flatter the wood, the easier the shot from the fairway. (Photo: Callaway)

Fairway wood or hybrid club?

Whether the fairway wood or the hybrid is the right one is different for every player and always depends on what exactly you expect from the golf club set. Most players have a driver in their bag, then one or two fairway woods and then one or two hybrid clubs.

Fairway woods are better suited for shots from the tee. However, if the ball lands in the rough, it is wiser to go for a hybrid. The smaller and heavier heads of these clubs can go through the ball better from this unfavorable position, making the shot easier for you. However, it is important to remember that you can hit further with a 19° fairway club than with a 19° hybrid because the head can generate more speed and the shaft is usually longer.

Adjustability of the fairway wood

Many manufacturers now also rely on the individual adjustability of the wood to give players the opportunity to adapt their club to their swing. The individual adjustability of fairway woods can be divided into three categories:


With modern heads, golfers can usually adjust the loft of the club using an adjustable hosel (connecting piece between the club head and shaft). To adjust the loft, a screw on the golf heel (part of the club head closest to the shaft) is loosened, connecting the shaft to the club head, and then the angle of inclination is adjusted. This allows the loft to be made either higher or lower. The loft can usually be adjusted up or down by up to two degrees.

Adjustable clubs are designed to optimize the trajectory of the ball. It is therefore very important to make sure that the loft and lie angle of the fairway wood are adjusted to suit the shot behavior.

Adjustable fairway wood


Perhaps not quite as widespread as with drivers, but some manufacturers now offer the option of manipulating the overall weight of the club head in their fairway woods and hybrids with smaller weights and thus adjusting the trajectory of the ball. However, this is usually only done during a professional fitting, which is why you should check beforehand to what extent this fine-tuning option is available at all and rely on the support of an expert when fine-tuning.

Conclusion on fine-tuning from our experts at HIO Fitting

It is important to classify the influence correctly. If you adjust the loft of the fairway wood by one degree or change the weighting, you should not expect any huge changes in the ball flight. If you play a handicap over 5, the influence of the adjustment will not be visible to the naked eye. The influence on the ball flight of the path and clubface (= golf swing) is much greater and as long as you don’t have absolutely consistent golf shots, you shouldn’t expect much from fine-tuning.

Similarly, a ball flight that is too high, for example, should not always be automatically corrected with a lower loft. The error could be in the swing and so you would adjust the angle to a faulty movement.
Ideally, you find a setting where your swing fits the material perfectly and play with it “all summer”. However, “raising” the angle for the cold season is still recommended for all golfers. You then deliberately forego roll in order to generate a little more carry distance.

Material – What components should the fairway wood be made of?


Most fairway woods on the market have a steel club head, mainly because the head does not have to be as large as on a driver. Steel provides a strong and yielding element for the club and can be processed as a relatively inexpensive material.


The light weight of titanium makes it a useful material for fairway woods or as a club face material and is being used more and more in the production of clubs.

Due to the light weight, the weight of the club can be kept lower. At the same time, the center of gravity of the club is lower and wider and can be moved further back. This makes it possible to produce clubs that can be hit a long way and at the same time are forgiving of minor errors. Like most titanium clubs, this is of course often reflected in the high price.

Carbon, tungsten and blends

Modern fairway woods are usually made of different materials. Lighter materials, such as carbon, which is used on the crown or sole of the club head, are intended to reduce the weight of the head. The weight thus saved can then be strategically repositioned in the club head with heavy metals (e.g. tungsten screws). This allows the club to tolerate poorly hit balls much better or tendencies to draw or fade can be adjusted.

Shaft – what is important for a fairway wood?

The shaft is clearly an indispensable part of the club and is even more important in a fairway wood than usual. Many hybrid and utility clubs tend to have a shorter shaft in play and therefore have the advantage that these clubs can be played more like an iron and therefore offer more control. The shaft of the fairway wood is longer and lighter so that more speed can be generated.

All fairway woods now come with a graphite shaft, as this makes them lighter and allows different bends to be adapted to all swing speeds.

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What golf ball fits you best to achieve your goals – Performance or Distance

“I only ever play balls that I find in the rough”, this statement sounds familiar to you or you could be behind this statement yourself? In any case, this behaviour is deadly for consistent shots. You wouldn’t play with different golf clubs every time, would you?

Play with one ball

Golf balls can be vastly different from each other. This means that consistent reproducibility of shots is impossible if you use different golf ball models over and over again. Some balls are designed for distance, some deliver more spin – with one and the same movement there is then a difference of 10 to 15 metres in the hitting distance. Therefore, it is best to choose only one golf ball.

Performance golf balls

All professionals play performance golf balls. The manufacturers pay the most for these models, but they deliver the total package of playing advantages. Spin in the short game, distance on long shots, stop function on shots into the green, long durability and pleasant feel – all combined in one golf ball.

The most successful balls in history are the Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x. No other balls have won so many tournaments. (Photo: Titleist)

This mixture of advantages is made possible by a multi-layer construction. This is known as 3-piece, 4-piece or even 5-piece construction. Several core and cover layers are combined under the shell to cover as many playing characteristics as possible. Performance golf balls therefore score above average in every discipline, which is why they are played by all the stars.

What also unites performance balls is the last layer, the shell. This is made of urethane, which kills several birds with one stone. The durability is increased, the feel is softer and more spin is made possible. The latter happens because the soft urethane is easier to press into the grooves of the clubs, resulting in more friction and more spin. As a rule, every golf ball manufacturer has a performance ball in its product range. Contract players then use these balls.

Professionals use performance golf balls. (Photo: Getty)

The one-ball rule

In almost all professional tournaments, this rule applies, which prohibits the playing of different golf ball models. For example, Martin Kaymer plays with the white 2019 TaylorMade TP5x golf ball. For the entire tournament, he is only allowed to use balls of exactly this model type. He is not allowed to use the TP5, a coloured TP5x or a TP5x golf ball from 2017. Professionals would not change balls anyway because they rely on the consistent results of their preferred ball model, but it is still prohibited.

Distance golf balls

Three guesses as to what sets Distance balls apart. The technologies used are designed to get the maximum distance out of a shot. However, this is at the expense of other game advantages, such as spin. In direct comparison to the higher-priced performance golf balls, distance balls rank in the lower price segments.

Distance golf balls are usually available in colourful models in addition to the classic white. (Photo: Titleist)

A large core serves as the motor for fast golf balls, which is why distance balls often consist of “only” two layers. This leaves more room for only the one large core. Furthermore, the spin generated is lower on all shots, so that the balls still roll out after impact. The problem with distance golf balls is the short game. There is significantly less spin delivered and the feel is harder. If distance is the most important thing for you, distance golf balls are just right for you.

To clear things up.

In summary, it can be said that Performance golf balls deliver the total package. These balls perform in every aspect of the game. Due to the multi-layer construction and the urethane shell, which is expensive to produce, the balls are more expensive than distance golf balls. The latter convince with a lower price and provide you with more length. Between the two extremes (distance and performance), there are an almost infinite number of other options on the market that offer a middle ground between the two worlds.

However, you should only trust one golf ball model to bring consistency into your game. It is up to you to decide which advantages you want and how much money you want to spend. Whether it is a low-priced distance ball, a high-end performance ball or a golf ball from the mid-range segment – the main thing is that you choose a golf ball.

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The Golf ball – New out of the box or recycled from the lake?

When it comes to golf balls, opinions differ. While some golfers simply play the balls they find in the rough, others rely exclusively on brand new balls out of the box. The pros exemplify the latter, because completely new balls deliver the consistency and quality that are crucial in the game of millimetres.

New balls are the optimum

This much in advance: New golf balls fresh out of the box are the best in terms of quality, consistency and performance. Whether the high price justifies these characteristics for one’s own golf game is something everyone has to decide for themselves. However, if you only look at the performance, this is where you will find the best golf balls. It would be ideal if you always played the same ball model from one manufacturer. That’s what all the professionals in the world do. Coincidence? Hardly!

The same manufacturer, the same model – professionals always rely on just one golf ball model. (Photo: Getty)

Lakeballs – the solution to the problem?

The main problem with lake balls is the uncertainty of how good the ball really is. It borders on a lottery whether you get good balls or they are of inferior quality. Depending on how long a golf ball has been in the water, it takes more or less damage. Here it also depends on the temperature, the substrate and the water – all factors that are impossible to determine when the balls are fished out of a pond.

After a certain amount of time, the water penetrates the golf balls, causing damage to the cover layers and/or cores. How extensive this is is anyone’s guess. Usually, lake balls are classified into different categories that are supposed to reflect the quality. However, optical parameters such as markings, shine and abrasion are emphasised here. Sometimes a distinction is also made as to whether there are cuts in the shell. What the inside of the golf ball looks like, however, is not taken into account.

How damaged a ball is out of the water cannot be determined. (Photo: Getty)

When it comes to lakeballs, you can get lucky and get your hands on a high-quality or flawless ball at an unbeatable price. However, this can backfire just as badly – you simply don’t know. For those who see the price factor as the decisive criterion, this alternative is ideal if you are prepared to accept compromises in quality.

Refinished with new lacquer

Some lakeballs receive a refinish before they are sold. In the refinishing process, the ball is repainted and a new logo is applied. However, since the balls were originally intended by the manufacturers with a different paint finish, which then influences the dimple depth, refinished golf balls cannot be compared with the original golf balls. Often, the new coating is not even enough because it is applied to golf balls that have already been used.

Without wanting to offend the manufacturers of the refinished golf balls – but there are indeed some black sheep here. A name of an expensive golf ball is simply printed on cheap golf balls to suggest higher quality. For example, you buy a Pro V1x Refinished and underneath is a cheap two-piece ball. Therefore, you should always keep your eyes open or your fingers off Refinished golf balls.

Practice and X-Out balls

There are also Practice and X-Out balls. These have either small defects in the colour, the markings or the ink, so that they do not quite meet the quality standards of the ball manufacturer 100%. Sometimes there are also minor physical deviations, so that the performance is reduced, even if only very slightly. This is why they are labelled Practice or X-Out, while some manufacturers simply destroy these balls and they do not even enter circulation.

Professionals use practice balls on the driving range and pitching greens. (Photo: Getty)

Due to the minor defects, the sales price naturally drops, which is why money can be saved here. But watch out! Not every practice or X-Out ball is officially approved and complies with the rules. For tournaments, it is therefore better to play it safe and use the “normal” golf balls. However, for practice and fun rounds as well as for training on the pitching green, these balls offer a quality alternative at lower prices.

To conclude

With Practice and X-Out balls you can save money and get new golf balls in high quality that have only minimal deviations from the standard – ideal for practice rounds. With lake balls or refinished balls, you run the risk of getting poorer quality balls that could have a negative impact on your golf game, but this is where your wallet will be the happiest. If you want to invest more money, brand new golf balls are the best choice.

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How to look after your clubs – Cleaning tips for golfers

The golf clubs are still dirty from the last round in bad weather? The mud sticks to the clubs and the grooves are barely recognisable. In the meantime, a dusty brown tone has settled over the clubs. But how do you get your clubs clean again and what should you keep in mind? Who hasn’t experienced it when the ball on the course is full of mud, but has to be played as it lies? You get annoyed because the shot becomes a lottery.

The mud on the ball influences the ball flight immensely and this is also the case with dirty clubs. In a game where centimetres or even millimetres matter in some situations, you don’t want to leave your good scores up to fate. Spoiler alert: taking care of your golf clubs is a factor that should not be underestimated.

Household products fight dirt

To rid the clubs of simple dirt, it is often enough to go over the dirty area with a toothbrush or a simple brush. In tougher cases, where cleaning with water is no longer sufficient, a conventional household remedy can be used to help.

Try to clean your clubs after every round played, preferably after every single shot – even the grips need regular care. (Photo: Getty)

Dishwashing liquid not only cleans your cutlery, plates and cups at home, but also your golf clubs in the future. To do this, simply pour some dishwashing liquid into a bucket full of water. Then, just immerse the golf club in it so that the clubface is no longer visible. It is important not to immerse the hosel, as the club is glued there and the glue is not resistant to the dishwashing liquid.

In general, you should try to clean the rough dirt off your golf clubs after each use to avoid consequential damage. Also make sure that you clean the grips with a cloth. Usually, machines for cleaning clubs are not the best option from numerous experiences, as they contribute to the detachment of the glue on the golf club.

Cleaning grooves as the key to more spin?

Surely, every golfer knows that millimetres are important in golf. That’s why you should leave nothing to chance and give the ball the best possible spin by cleaning the face of your clubs. But when cleaning the grooves, you must make sure that you do not make them deeper. For instance, it can happen with conventional tools that the grooves then change in such a way that they no longer comply with the regulations.

Miracle cure for flash rust

Have you not cleaned and cared for your clubs properly over the winter? A light rust film has already formed. But you can get rid of it quickly with simple remedies. To begin with, you should try using a wet cloth, as it is possible that the rust can be removed by this means. If this is not the case, you will have to resort to harder solutions.

A familiar sight for professionals: After each shot, the clubs are cleaned of dirt. (Photo: Getty)

Pour vinegar essence into a glass and rub it over the clubface again and again so that the flash rust goes away. Many golf coaches rely on a real miracle remedy in the fight against rust on golf clubs. A little sewing machine oil is said to work wonders. By the way, the latter is also suitable as a thin protective layer for putters to prevent rusting.