This is a review of the best fairway woods for high handicappers and beginners in 2023.
One of the best pieces of advice you can get as a high handicapper or beginner is to tee off with a fairway wood instead of a driver.
The fairway wood is a serious weapon when used effectively on a golf course. It’s the farthest hitting club designed for the fairway, and it’s also the best club to tee off with when you’re in need of accuracy without sacrificing too much distance.
Having been high handicappers ourselves, we believe that having a fairway wood is one of the best solutions to lowering your score. However, to get the benefits from the fairway wood as a high handicapper or beginner, you need one that is focused on forgiveness: a larger sweet spot, a low center of gravity (CG), a high moment of inertia (MOI), adjustable, and so on.
We found that the TaylorMade SIM MAX Fairway Wood had all these key features making it our top pick for the best fairway wood for high handicappers and beginners right now.
This post will show you the 7 best fairway woods you can get as a high handicapper. We’ll also end the post with some advice on choosing the right fairway wood for you as well as answer some common questions about this golf club.
Let’s get started!
Our Top 7 Picks
- TaylorMade SIM MAX (Winner: Best Fairway Woods for High Handicappers)
- Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo (Runner-Up: Best Anti-Slice Fairway Wood)
- Cobra Golf 2019 F9 Men’s Speedback (Runner-Up 2: Best Adjustable Fairway Wood)
- Callaway Golf 2018 Rogue (Best High-Tech Fairway Wood)
- TaylorMade M4 (Best Budget Fairway Wood)
- TaylorMade M6 D-Type (Another Fantastic Anti-slice Option)
- Ping G425 Max (Best Premium Fairway Wood For Distance)
7 Best Fairway Woods For High Handicappers & Beginners
Every option in this list meets most of the criteria in our fairway wood’s buying guide covered below.
1. TaylorMade SIM MAX Fairway Wood (Winner: Best Fairway Wood for High-Handicappers)
- Exceptionally forgiving
- Twice Face tech – High MOI
- Thru Slot Speed Pockets: Fast and Powerful with
- Multi-Material Composites: C300 steel, Composite Carbon, and V Steel
- Bang for your buck
- Not the newest model
It’s not surprising that one of TaylorMade’s fairway woods makes it to our number 1 pick for the best fairway wood for high-handicappers. They’ve dominated the woods market for decades and have been one of the largest, if not the largest, and best golf manufacturers to date.
The 2020 TaylorMade SIM Max Fairway Wood is the best fairway wood you can get as an amateur golfer. This golf club is exceptionally forgiving, well-built, high-quality, powerful, and budget-friendly.
Its Thru Slot Speed Pockets allow you to maximize your club head speed, giving you power in your swing and distance with your golf shots.
Of course, what’s an amateur-friendly club without forgiveness? Mishits on the toe or heel are straightened for you by TaylorMade’s famous Twist Face technology, giving you a high moment of inertia (MOI) on impact.
Finally, this club is made from top-of-the-line multi-composite materials, with C300 steel, composite carbon, and V Steel to make the club head extremely durable and slightly heavier to help you generate a lot of power.
From the loft options available, we recommend high handicappers and any beginner to go with an 18, 21, or even 24 degrees. More loft means more forgiveness and as someone with a high score in golf, you need all the forgiveness you can get!
We should also mention that this is not the newest SIM MAS model from TaylorMade. There is also the SIM MAX 2 that was released in 2021, though we don’t think you need to pay that extra few bucks for a new model that offers similar performance, the choice is up to you.
Okay, seriously the last thing. If you’re really struggling with hitting a slice you can also consider the SIM MAX D or SIM MAX 2 D with the D-type representing TaylorMade’s traditional draw face design. These are relatively the same clubs as the standard SIM MAX models have just a bit more offset to allow you to hit your shots straighter while sacrificing some distance.
2. Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo Fairway Wood (Runner Up: Best Anti-Slice Fairway Wood)
- Great for those looking for an anti-slice fairway wood
- Hi-Bore crown design
- Low CG
- Custom Shaft
- Very forgiving
- Natural draw bias
- Not adjustable
One of the most forgiving series of woods out right now is Cleveland’s Launcher HB Turbo.
Well-known for its iron set and driver, the Launcher HB Turbo fairway wood is also one you should pay attention to, especially if you’re already using and finding success with the iron set and driver counterparts.
The fairway wood comes with Cleveland’s Hi-Bore crown design where the club head is aerodynamically shaped to allow even more speed through impact while lowering the weight on the front of the head to allow an easier time for golfers to launch the ball.
As a result, the center of gravity (CG) of this golf club is lower at the rear of the club head, which is what every high handicapper wants. This, coupled with its own custom shaft designed to increase the club’s MOI, makes it a very forgiving fairway wood.
The offset club head and hosel design give it a natural draw bias, helping those who struggle with a slice to hit the ball straight.
Finally, the Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo fairway wood comes with a good 3-wood. Though it’s 15 degrees, it’s surprisingly good to hit with! However, our favorite is its 5-wood with 18 degrees of loft, it is easily the favorite go-to 5-wood for many golfers looking for an easier time to hit the ball far.
However, the downside to the Launcher HB Turbo woods is that they are completely unadjustable. Meaning, what you buy is what you get.
3. Cobra 2019 F9 Men’s Speedback Fairway Wood (Runner-Up 2: Best Adjustable Fairway Wood)
- Very adjustable
- Adjustable loft sleeve
- Interchangeable tungsten weight
- Easy to launch the ball
- Very Forgiving
- Cobra’s Connect technology
- High-quality Fujikura shafts.
- MOI is not as high but still decent
One of Cobra’s best lines of fairway woods is the F9 Speedback they released in 2019.
This Cobra 2019 F9 Speedback Fairway Wood is the definition of adjustability. With eight loft options for you to choose from combined with its Smart Pad technology to keep the face square, you’ve got as much control as you can get no matter which setting you want to go with on this golf club.
Not to mention, the fairway wood comes with three different customizable options: 3-4 wood, 5-6 wood, and 7-8 wood. This means if you want to adjust your 3-wood to a 4-wood, you can, and it’s easy!
The 3-4 wood also has shallower rail features at the sole of the club head which is designed for those who prefer a smooth sweep-like motion with their fairway wood. This makes it easy to hit the ball out of the rough.
While the 5-6 wood and 7-8 wood, will still give you a good sweep-like feel, but they have more loft and is more focused on helping golfers launch the ball easier. That’s why we suggest high handicappers and beginners to purchase either the 5-6 wood or 7-8 wood for that extra bit of forgiveness.
You think that’s all? There’s also an interchangeable rear tungsten weight at the rear of the club. This acts to make the CG lower and back of the club helping golfers launch the ball easier.
Finally, this fairway wood is equipped with Cobra’s Connect technology which allows you to log into your phone and track how all those settings affect your golf shots.
Available in a black/yellow or black/grey(avalanche) color combo with high-quality Fujikura shafts.
Now that we’ve shown you our top 3 best fairway woods high handicappers, let’s dive a bit deeper and review some other really great fairway woods with their own unique features.
4. Callaway 2018 Rogue Fairway Wood (Best High-Tech Fairway Wood)
- Boeing’s aerodynamic design
- Very long fairway wood
- Distance optimized
- One-year warranty from Callaway
- Jailbreak Technology
- Relatively low perimeter weighting
A 2018 club taking the spot for most high-tech? Yes, that’s right. Callaway’s Rogue golf clubs are by far one of the most popular Callaway clubs right now, with some of Callaway’s fanciest and high-tech designs incorporated into the Rogue Fairway Wood’s club head.
The Callaway Rogue woods are designed with the collaboration of Boeing, giving it some of the most trusted and effective aerodynamic features. Plus, this is one of the longest fairway woods on this list. What does this mean? If you’ve got a relatively straight golf shot and want a bit more distance, the 2018 Callaway Rogue Fairway Wood will give you some of the fastest swing speeds when compared to all the fairway woods in this list.
It’s also fitted with Callaway’s Jailbreak Technology, where two titanium bars connect the sole and crown together resulting in more energy transfer, ball speed, and distance.
Another thing about these clubs is that it comes with a full one-year warranty by Callaway when bought brand new!
The downside with this fairway wood is that its perimeter weighting isn’t as high. Though still decent enough to be considered forgiving, off-center hits tend to not be as straightened out for you. Therefore, beginners should not get this fairway wood.
5. TaylorMade M4 Fairway Wood (Best Budget Fairway Wood)
- Best club in 2018
- Still popular and a great club
- Very forgiving
- High MOI
- Released in 2018
- Not adjustable
By now, you already know how great TaylorMade’s wood clubs are. In 2018, TaylorMade released their M4 golf set and was by far the most desired set of golf clubs 2018.
To this day, TaylorMade still can’t move on from their M4 series just because of how high the demand for these clubs still is.
The TaylorMade M4 Fairway Wood is the best fairway wood in 2018. With TaylorMade’s speed pocket technology you won’t need to worry about hitting the ball far even when you hit the ball at the toe or heel. The perimeter weighting of the face will make sure that mishits will be straightened out for you, giving you optimal forgiveness.
The design of the sole also makes the M4 feel less drag when you’re hitting out of the rough. That, and a more toe and heel curved design, makes it easier for you to get the club under the ball to launch it.
6. TaylorMade M6 D-Type Fairway Wood (Another Fantastic Anti-slice option)
- Highly sought after
- Very forgiving
- Not adjustable
- Doesn’t hit as far as the standard M6
Considering how popular the M4 was in 2018, TaylorMade’s M6 golf set quickly became the go-to club in 2019. And, like its younger brother, the TaylorMade M6 set is still highly sought for today, particularly for its driver and fairway wood.
The TaylorMade M6 D-Type Fairway Wood looks almost the same as the standard M6. The main difference is the D-Type has more offset and a slightly higher loft. Thus, it’s much more tailored for those looking for forgiveness as these features allow you to launch the ball even easier and not worry about slicing the golf ball.
In fact, that’s the exact reason why the D-Type was made, to encourage more spin on the ball and allow the club to square more naturally to hit the ball straighter than ever.
It’s also got those speed-injected pockets to optimize its club head speed and the twist face technology to increase the club’s MOI.
If you’re looking for a budget anti-slice fairway wood, then this is the club you should get!
7. PING G425 Max Fairway Wood (Best Premium Fairway Wood For Distance)
- Beautifully designed – a big confidence booster
- Decent forgiveness
- Many loft options: 14.5, 17.5, 20.5, and 23.5 degrees
- Tungsten weighting for more power and launch
- Some may not like its high-pitched sound on impact
If you’re a fan of PING’s dark matted golf clubs and want that on a fairway wood that plays great, then you should take a hard look at the PING G425 Max Fairway Wood.
The G425 Max is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to delivering incredible distances with your golf ball. It has a tungsten weight positioned at the center-rear sole of the golf club, allowing you to generate more power, and more importantly, launch the ball easier.
Due to this weight, it’s also easier for high handicappers to hit out of the rough and most lies, especially off the tee.
The design of the face also allows for a minimal spin with the golf ball. That means, if you’re not looking for more accuracy but want more distance on your fairway wood, you’ll get it with the G425 Max.
Finally, the PING G425 Max Fairway Wood comes in 14.5, 17.5, 20.5, and 23.5 degrees options, giving you a lot of options to choose from!
Some may not like the high-pitched sound created from most PING woods, but if you’re a fan of those high-pitched golf shots, then you’ll love this club!
If you’re a PING fan but want a fairway wood that looks like a PING but helps more with fixing slices and fades, you may want to consider the PING G425 SFT instead.
Things to consider in the best fairway woods for high handicappers and beginners
Here’s a run-down on what you should look for in a good fairway wood. Of course, as a high handicapper, you’ll want different features than a scratch golfer. Here it is.
A Fairway Wood Designed With Forgiveness In Mind
We’ve mentioned this many times, as a beginner or high handicapper, you’ll get more out of your clubs if they’re designed for forgiveness.
Golf is a long-term sport, you may want to skip to the slickest, best on-paper distance-generating fairway woods right now, but they’ll often do more harm than good as they’re often too hard for you to hit.
As a high handicapper, your fairway wood should: 1) Be a backup club to hit off the tee with when a particular hole requires more accuracy rather than distance, and 2) Be your go-to golf club when you’re too far from the green while you’re on the fairway.
To achieve this, your fairway wood needs to be forgiving while still having the features and technology to perform. Here are some of the key features you should be looking for:
- High moment of inertia (MOI): reduces any twisting or jerking of your club when you hit off-center, allowing you to still have a relatively straightened shot.
- Well-distributed perimeter weighting: places the weight of the club face on the edges of the face, increasing your sweet spot.
- Big club head: improve your confidence from a larger club footprint, also better to hit out of rough with due to the shapeless edgy shape of the club head.
- Higher loft: for high handicappers, look for fairway woods that allow you to have a 17-degree loft or more. This will allow you to launch the ball easier.
- Low-and-deep center of gravity (CG): allows you to launch the ball easier, something every beginner needs.
- Adjustability: who doesn’t like an adjustable golf club? Buying an adjustable club saves you money and allows amateur golfers to find which spec on a golf club works best for them.
- Equipped with modern golf technology: many golf clubs today are equipped with distance-generating technology. Something any golfer should take advantage of.
Of course, there are more aspects that make a fairway wood forgiving, these are just some of the important ones. Let’s dive a bit deeper.
A Higher Loft
We’ve mentioned briefly about the loft just now, but let’s be more specific here.
The loft is the gateway to golf heaven for high handicappers and beginner golfers. What most of us struggle with at this stage of golf, is the ability to launch the ball. Much of this is from a golf swing that still needs a lot of improvement.
You may have heard of this at some point: the lower the loft, the farther you can hit, but the harder to hit. That’s why most of us struggle with the driver and long-irons because they’ve got the lowest lofts in all your golf clubs!
As a high handicapper, most of us just don’t have the right angle of attack and fast enough club head speed to perform well with a lower loft club!
In fact, if you can’t swing fast enough but still hit the ball dead center, you’ll end up carrying the golf ball way shorter with a low loft golf club (in this case the fairway wood) than a club with more loft.
That said, for your fairway wood, you should get one that either comes with a higher loft or can adjust to give you more loft. A safe number on your fairway wood is at least 17 degrees or more, fortunately, all of the fairway woods in this list offer different loft options for you to choose from.
Remember the higher the number, the higher the loft, the shorter the club. With that in mind, here’s a handy guide to the range of lofts on different fairway woods:
- Standard 3-wood comes with a loft of 14 to 16 degrees.
- Standard 5-wood comes with a loft of 17 to 20 degrees.
- Woods higher than the 5-wood are called specialty or utility woods (7-, 9-, 11-, etc), these are all options you can also consider as they have high lofts.
Club Head Material
There are three types of materials used to make the club head of a fairway wood: stainless steel, titanium, or a multi-material composite. Let’s break it down a bit.
Stainless steel is the cheapest and heaviest material used to make the club head. It’s more old-fashioned and still the most common material used to make club heads.
They’re relatively strong, but because of their weight, there’s a limit to how big you can make the club head. Therefore, it’s not always the most quality and forgiving club to go with, but definitely the cheapest.
Titanium is extremely strong relative to stainless steel and lighter too. As a result, golf manufacturers are able to make the club head bigger, allowing them to place the CG of the club low-and-deeper back, which is something we’re looking for in a forgiving wood.
Due to its stronger material, the face is also usually thinner allowing for more ball speed on impact!
The top-of-the-line material used to make club heads. Here, golf manufacturers mix carbon with titanium or stainless steel to make a super hard and lightweight club head.
This allows them to make the club head even larger, with more MOI, and perimeter weighting. As a result, these perform the best but are also the most expensive.
Just like for every club, we need to pay attention to how stiff we want our shaft to be and how long it should be.
Ultimately, the shaft you go with will affect your posture, alignment, impact quality, and golf swing.
Should the shaft flex for your fairway wood be the same as your driver?
It may seem that since both clubs look relatively the same and are both considered ‘woods’, they should have the same shaft flex. However, that’s not always the case as it’s completely up to preference.
Like your driver, the fairway wood comes with the standard five shaft options (from stiffest to least stiff): Extra Stiff (X), Stiff (S), Regular (R), Senior (A), and Ladies (L). Generally, the faster you swing the club, the stiffer you’d want your club to be.
For high handicappers, you probably don’t know how fast you can swing. However, it’s most likely not too fast and may be different from how you swing with your driver. Regardless, most high handicappers will find the Regular (R) to be the better shaft flex to start with.
That said, if your driver is a Stiff (S), you may want to try a stiff flex on your fairway wood too. That is, if your swing is fast, but also on tempo and consistent. However, if the stiff flex on the fairway wood feels off or too hard to hit with, it’s fine swapping to a shaft flex different from your driver.
The higher the number of the club, the shorter the shaft. For your 3-wood you’ll need more shaft length to generate more club head speed. Meanwhile, your 5-wood has more loft, therefore, it’s usually paired with a shorter shaft.
Technologically Advanced + Adjustability
Who doesn’t love a modern, high-performing golf club?
Golfer’s today need to take advantage of all the new resources available to them to excel in their playing abilities.
With all your woods, look for features that improve forgiveness, distance, launching abilities, and adjustability.
We’ve mentioned a lot about how a fairway wood can be designed to be more forgiving already so let’s talk about the importance of adjustability.
Though fairway woods aren’t as adjustable as a driver, they still have many options. Ideally, as a high handicapper you should pick a fairway wood that offers a/an:
- Adjustable Loft: in most cases the hosel of the club is where you can adjust the loft..
- Adjustable Face Angle: this can also be done by adjusting the hosel or in other fairway woods, there is also a shifting weight that runs from the toe to the heel of the wood.
- Movable Weights: weights that can be shifted to help you change the CG of the club.
Pick One That Looks Nice
As you become a better golfer over time, you’ll realize that golf starts to become more of a mental sport than a physical one.
Golf manufacturers know this and pay a hefty amount in making sure that their golf clubs not only perform great but look amazing.
Don’t underestimate how the look of the club affects your confidence. Having a good-looking club will give you more confidence that this club will perform. With that thought, you’re less likely to think too much and hit a smoother golf swing.
Therefore, if you’re stuck between two clubs with similar features and prices. Go with the one that you think looks better.
As a high handicapper, you don’t need to dump too much on your fairway wood. You’d think a more expensive golf club will give you dramatically more distance, but that’s not always the case.
If you’re on a tighter budget feel free to go for the cheaper fairway woods and invest the rest of your money in other golf clubs.
Fairway Wood FAQ
What’s the difference between a fairway wood and a hybrid? Which should I use?
The fairway wood tends to be longer and has a larger club head than your hybrids. Also, they come in different loft options.
By now, you should also know that both golf clubs aren’t particularly a replacement for one another. In fact, it’s good if you have a mix of both in your bag.
The fairway wood is better for hitting the ball far off the fairway and can be your savior if you’re struggling to hit off the tee with the driver.
On the other hand, hybrids were made more to replace hard-hitting irons like the 3- and 4-iron. Distance-wise, they often don’t hit as far as the fairway woods.
For instance a 3-hybrid has an average distance of 190 yards, while a 5-wood has an average of 195 yards and a 3-wood has an average of 210 yards.
How many fairway woods can I have in my bag?
According to the USGA rules, you’re allowed a maximum of 14 golf clubs in your bag. That means you can have 14 fairway woods if you’d like.
Of course, we’re smart golfers, so we aren’t doing that. That said, we recommend high handicappers and beginners to try adding the 5-wood and 7-wood in their bag. The higher loft of these two clubs is ideal for amateur golfers to play efficiently at the golf course.
The 3-wood is optional. If you hit well with it, then use it for sure. But, we tend to find that most high handicappers struggle with the 3-wood. If you’re getting one it’s best the loft is over 17 degrees.
Whatever you do, only have clubs that you will use in your bag.
When Should I use the Fairway Wood?
By now, you should already know why you’d want to use the fairway wood. That’s great and all, but when should you use it? We can think of a couple of situations where the fairway wood can be useful, such as:
- Teeing off at a hole that demands more accuracy than distance.
- Using the fairway wood to tee off if you struggle with the driver.
- At long par 3s.
- Approaching shot when you know the fairway wood has the distance to reach the center of the green.
- Getting out of the rough, with still a long way to go to the green.
- When you need to hit as far as you can while your ball is on the fairway.
When Should I not use the Fairway Wood?
As much as we love this club, the fairway wood isn’t great for everything. Here’s when you shouldn’t use the fairway wood.
- When hitting the fairway wood will give you a harder approaching second shot to the green. For instance, if after your fairway wood shot you got a 70 yard approaching shot, it’ll be better to use a hybrid in the first place and get a 100-yard approach shot. That’s because most high handicappers struggle with chipping and their short game approach.
- When water hazard is behind the green and you think your fairway wood has just the right distance to hit the green. Don’t risk overhitting and letting your ball fall into the water. Remember, the ball will roll a decent amount, won’t just stop on the green like with your wedges.
- This is obvious, but to putt. Please don’t putt with your fairway wood.
Should I tee off with my driver or fairway wood?
For high handicappers and beginners, we recommend you try teeing off with the fairway wood. At least give it a try and practice it a little. Most amateurs struggle with the driver, especially at the golf course, and don’t know that you can use other clubs to tee off instead of the driver.
With the fairway wood, it’s not only easier to hit with, but it’ll also launch the ball easier, give you more accuracy, and still hit decently far. Here are the average distances you can get with your fairway woods:
|Club Type||Average Distance For Men(Yards)|
As you can see, the 3-wood isn’t far off in distance from the driver. That said, you can have both clubs in your bag. If you play at a hole that requires more accuracy than distance, then go with the fairway wood.
Conclusion: Best 3 Wood for High handicappers
Once again, TaylorMade seems to dominate every other brand in the woods category. Even with all the great features offered by Cobra, Callaway, and Cleveland, the TaylorMade SIM MAX Fairway Wood is still the best fairway wood for high handicappers right now.
Although this golf club came out in 2020, the SIM MAX Fairway will remain on this list for a long time. Rest assured, you’ll get the most bang for your buck with this golf club. Get the club and follow the tips we’ve given you above about the fairway wood. We promise you’ll start seeing significant improvements in your game! Good luck!
As always, feel free to contact us with any of your questions.