If the driver costs you shots, over and over, leave it at home for now and find yourself a trusty fairway wood that can travel over 160 yards off the tee. That's your new secret weapon my friend. Oozing forgiveness and a soft-landing ball, fairway woods can quickly become your favorite club and allow you to play lots of different golf courses.
On top of that, for slower swingers, higher handicappers and beginners, a fairway wood with more loft will go further and straighter than a lower lofted wood and work much easier than the popular hybrids. You might find that the best fairway woods for high handicappers is the biggest reason you break 90 or 100 for the first time.
Best Fairway Woods for High Handicappers and Beginners
- Callaway Big Bertha B21 (easiest fairway wood to launch)
- PING G425 Fairway Wood (most forgiving fairway wood)
- Taylormade STEALTH Fairway wood (best Taylormade fairway wood)
- Cleveland Launcher XL Halo (best for stopping a slice)
- Cobra LTDx Max Black Fairway Wood (ideal option for slower swingers)
- Tour Edge Hot Launch E522 Fairway Wood (best high handicapper focused club)
Easiest fairway wood to launch
The Callaway Big Bertha B21 fairway wood is the easiest club to get into the air and keep it there for longer. I found it to be the easiest fairway wood to hit in a very long time.
The Callaway Big Bertha B21 fairway wood is offset but the neck is not so obviously offset like a lot of the draw-bias clubs on the market. What really makes this fairway wood one of my favorites is that it has a shallow face, similar to the Pings.
The effect of a shallow, low profile face cannot be overstated. When you have a very tall clubface, it can feel like you're hitting a big old driver off the ground. That is incredibly intimidating as you may know.
The shallow face automatically makes you think you can get under the golf ball without trying and that is its main advantage and why I prefer a shallow faced fairway wood. Because of the shallow face, you can hit this thing from every single lie you can imagine: fairway bunkers, hardpan, dry lies, as well as lush rough and fairway.
Along with the excellent face shape, the dark blue crown is a pleasant sight to look at - not black and boring but not bright like a Nike. The standard simple alignment aid rounds out the simplified look.
Despite this being a game improvement wood, the Jailbreak (artificial intelligence) tech that Callaway has in its high end models is in the B21, That means more distance, more forgiveness for you because of the lower spin rates and hot face.
This wood may not be as widely available this golf season, but if you can get your hands on one, you have to try it. I usually do not recommend many fairway woods from Callaway for beginners or high handicappers, but the B21 is a standout. It's easily up there with the Pings in my experience. I may even put it in my golf bag!
Forgiving PING quality for more distance and less dispersion
Available in 14.5,17.5, 20.5 and 23.5 degree lofts so you can pick any loft you need for the forgiveness of a PING fairway wood.
The look of the crown is a simple matte black and a traditional style head. The spikey things on the crown are gone now for alignment. They use three little dots on the crown making it a perfect and simple minimalist look to align the golf ball to the center of the face. A shallow face means it is not very tall.
The low profile clubface is not driver-esque and so it feels easier to get the ball airborne. Off the face, the sound of the clubface is high-pitched and everyone around will know you're hitting a PING. it's easy to hit the ball from many lies on the golf course - the rough, hardpan, soft grass, fairway and the tee.
PINGs G425 is a simple golf club but it's not as easy to launch as the TaylorMade options. The golf ball comes off the face hot and if you're a PING fan, you'll love it. I have recently started to play Ping fairway woods and I'm converted. I have the Ping G425 3 wood and a Ping G410 seven wood in my golf bag and I've fallen in love with the game again. The seven wood has replaced my once trusty two iron and I am using it for a wide variety of shots. The higher lofts and forgiving faces on these clubs allow me get the ball into play off the tee consistently and also hit greens from all lies and distances without too much trouble.
If you're looking for a fairway wood that will help you straighten up that slice or fade, the SFT version is going to be much nicer for you. The PING G425 is definitely a consistent, easy to hit club regardless.
Maximum tech to hit it easier off the deck
First off you can ignore the 15 degree version my good man. The loft is too low. In addition to the 15° woods, they do have the 16.5, 18, 21 and 24 degree versions.
What's interesting about that is that 24 degrees is the modern 6 iron! But it's the traditional 3 or 4 iron loft. So don't be put off by the 24 degree idea. It's much easier to get one of these in the air than a jacked up loft on a 5 or 6 iron in todays irons.
It would be hard to beat the near perfect TaylorMade SIM fairway wood, but the STEALTH does just that. The excellent V Steel feature is still in this head with the addition of a 3D Carbon Crown and advanced Laser alignment. This new crown moves mass from the high toe area to the back of the club to maximise MOI and forgiveness. A laser etched alignment aid on the top of the club makes lining the face up a breeze.
As with all TaylorMade clubs, the tech keeps coming. We still have Twist Face technology to help compensate for off center hits, keeping the ball straighter and reducing dispersion left and right. The head shape of the stealth is really appealing to the eye at address. The matte carbon fiber crown and slightly shiny black detailing make you just want to rip one right down the fairway!
Site contributor Joe tested this club on a launch monitor at the Belfry Golf Club in the UK and was blown away. He tested the ball off a driving rage matt and grass and the launch monitor was showing really consistent number for his swing speed and delivery. A high handicapper friend of his hit the high launch option with a regular graphite shaft and it was showing 20-30 yard gains on his current 3 wood, even at a higher loft! If you can, try to hit this club on a launch monitor, you won't believe the numbers!
Good for beginners and high handicappers who slice the ball
Cleveland are the kings of game improvement clubs but very sneaky popular. There's not much fanfare out there, but a lot of golfers at club level jam Cleveland woods and irons. Their fairway woods have always been easy to hit and the Launcher XL Halo is a dream.
The Launcher XL Halo 3 wood with 15 degrees is easy to launch but the 5 wood is where the game gets easy for the high handicappers. Cleveland have made a fairway wood that looks great and performs really easy because they moved attention away from developing the face.
They created variable stiffness and flexible areas of the sole and the crown to help focus more energy moving into the ball at impact with a bouncy face.
The rails on the bottom of the club are reminiscent of the Cobra T rails and help prevent the fat shots. The club prefers to bounce through the turf gliding over a fat shot so the club still contacts the ball instead of digging in.
The face and hosel are created to be draw-biased to help eliminate that pesky slice. Now if you're slashing across the ball heavily, it's best to fix that swing, but if you're a light slicer, the offset can really bring the ball more left.
BDog from the channel found it difficult to hit off the mats indoors and was just hitting hooks and big draws. He found it performed better on the grass and natural lies. For this reason, I think it works better on normal turf but not hardpan. But then again, which fairway woods do well on hardpan?
I found that at address, the toe and heel sit closer to the ground leaving more face area low down, where most golfers need help with fairway woods to get the ball airborne. The step-down shape of the crown also helps to get more weight lower, which also helps to get the ball in the air ASAP.
Ideal option for beginners and high handicappers with slower swings
Cobra golf clubs are always a hit with amateurs. The LTDx MAX is a really classic-looking fairway wood with a plain black carbon fiber head but with a touch of offset to get rid of a slice. The matte black crown looks inviting at address and stops any glare from the sun.
If you're a slower swinger, the Cobra LTDx Max is a good choice
The inclusion of two strategically placed tungsten weights in the head, combined with a very lightweight shaft will help you get some more mph on your swing. Cobra placed the weight low and forward in the sole to reduce that spin down and reduce the weight on top of the club.
More swing speed means more distance. The weights in the head are also designed to eliminate a slice, so swing free and aim right down the middle.
A very wide club face gives you a long surface area to make contact with. With more sweet spot areas to hit the ball, you'll find more forgiveness and straighter shots. I do not recommend getting a 3 wood in this range. It's a bit too big and cumbersome to hit off the deck especially as a higher handicapper.
You'll find the 3 wood good as a back-up driver but the 5 wood and up are going to be your best friend from the fairway. They are much easier to hit off the ground and at address, they just LOOK like they are easy to hit, giving you much more confidence.
I recommend the 16°, 20° and 23° fairway woods. Combining a higher loft than normal fairway woods with light weight and the perimeter head weights means less slice and in turn tons more distance. The head is also adjustable meaning you can dial in you preferred loft.
JMac from my YouTube channel is a Cobra fairway wood convert. Using them he has gone from a high handicapper to single figure player.
So easy to launch and play from anywhere
There are two options in the 522 range, C522 and E522. Tour Edge’s game-improvement metal-woods assist golfers who need some help (C522) and a lot of help (E522). The Tour Edge ranges of fairway woods is always top notch. If you like them, you should also check out the Exotics range once you level up your skills.
The E522 has a lot of offset, and a low center of gravity to help get the ball up and also, to stop the slice that cripples their games. I find the main purpose of the E522 to be to reduce the errors and be less crippling when we hit bad shots. The Tour Edge E-range is adept at getting the most out of a fat or thin shot.
The curved leading edge on the other side of the sole improves the friction with the ground, so you'll get cleaner contact and your club won't dig in behind the ball, instead gliding through the turf to make contact with the ball much cleaner.
On the E522, the Cup Face design is shallower than the previous model, so you can sweep the ball nice and easy and get it airborne off almost any lie. Tour Edge are the bosses of fairway play and these are superb.
The images you find on the websites do not do the clubs justice as they are very high quality finishes and look every bit as premium as any other "top" brand. The clubface is clean and alignment aids on the crown are understated and professional for a confident feel behind the ball.
Available in 20, 23, 25 and 27 degrees for a replacement all the way down to 6 or 7 iron! That's what I call winning.
The E522 uses slightly shorter shafts and higher lofts. It's just totally optimized to help you hit better, more accurate shots. Whether you hit it low in the face or in the sweet spot, the E522 range has been designed to forgive you.
Important information about fairway woods for high handicappers
Fairway woods for beginners and high handicappers are a tough subject. Because they're difficult to hit, I tried to simplify the whole process of finding the best fairway wood for you.
1. Distance isn't everything
Fairway woods don't need to be SMASHED and shouldn't be. A smooth swing with a slight downward hit on the ball will produce a nice consistent and accurate shot that will travel straighter and with more height.
Hitting a fairway wood HARD hurts your chances of that desired accuracy and consistency. My best advice for hitting a fairway wood is to relax and trust the club to do the work and swing EASSYYYYYYY. Trying to get the ball up in the air will result in a lot of slices and thinned shots.
The clubs are designed in a way to make your life easier. Trust them.
2. Loft is your best friend
Low lofted clubs produce much lower ball flight. Usually, we would associate a lower loft with more distance. That is the case if the swing speed is fast enough. A slower swing speed and lower loft means a very low short shot.
The more loft a club has, the more forgiveness it has. This can be seen with a 3 iron vs a 9 iron. The 9 iron is much easier to hit. The surprising thing is that a golfer with a slower swing speed could hit the ball further with a higher lofted wood than with a lower lofted.
For example, a high handicapper is often able to carry a 5 or 7 wood much further than 3 woods because the 3 wood flies lower with less forgiveness. The extra backspin and loft of a 5 or 7 wood produces much more elevation and in turn more carry distance, even on mishits.
3. Different skill levels for different clubs
- Higher handicappers and beginners usually swing a little slower and require a bit more loft than normal and so a FIVE WOOD would be the best place to start for most higher handicappers - that's usually 17° of loft.
- Lower and mid handicappers are more experienced and have developed a faster swing. They can play lower lofted fairway woods because the lower a loft, the more skill and speed you need to elevate the ball.
4. Fairway woods are better to start with than hybrids
In my opinion, newer golfers should learn to hit DOWN on a fairway wood before moving onto the hybrids. Hybrids have made long iron play much easier but I believe a 17°, 19° or 21° fairway wood is far more forgiving and easier to hit than a hybrid of the same loft.
Hitting hybrids requires a downward strike on the ball but learning to do that with a club that looks meatier like a fairway wood makes the transition to hitting hybrids so much easier.
Learning to hit a 3 or 4 hybrid immediately as a beginner or high handicapper will be difficult because essentially it is still a 3 or 4 iron but it just has a chunk of metal stuck on the back. And you and I both know how difficult it is to master a long iron!
5. Difference between fairway woods and hybrids
- Bigger clubhead
- More weight behind the ball in the clubhead
- Easier to hit especially when learning to hit down on the ball
- Longer shaft 42"
- Head volume between 150 and 180 cc
- Face resembles a driver
- Smaller clubhead with smaller footprint
- Looks like an iron from the top with a chunk of metal on the back
- Must have steeper swing into the ball
- Shorter shaft 40"
- Head volume around 110 cc
- Face resembles an iron
6. When should we use fairway woods?
- Long par 3s
- On approach shots where the fairway wood will reach the distance to the center of the green
- On the tees of holes or courses where accuracy is more important than distance
- When escaping rough because the round shape of a fairway woods head doesn't get tangled like the sharpness of an irons blade
- When we're 250 yards out and a fairway wood will 'get us somewhere up there' - it's better to divide the yardage into 2 shots you prefer. Something like 150 yards with 100 yards into the green. A blasted 185 yard 5 wood will leave us with the extremely difficult 65 yard pitch - partial shots are very difficult.
- When the distance to the green is in our range but the fairway wood won't CARRY the bunkers or water short of the green.
Why I selected these fairway woods for you
The best fairway woods for high handicappers and beginners must come in lofts higher than 17 degrees. You'll be able to hit them consistently and get them to travel longer distances. I also think you should have as many fairway woods as you like but never going below 17° of loft.
The fairway woods you see the pro's hitting from 13° to 15° are much more difficult to get airborne off the tee and even harder to do off the fairways. The caveat to this is PING. PING woods are so easy to launch, it will make your hair stand on end!
I absolutely recommend you start with fairway woods and add hybrids later - once you're used to hitting down on the ball. If you're looking for a beautiful driver to help you as a high handicapper looking for a driver guide helpful.
How I found golf zen with fairway woods
For months I struggled to get a 15 degree 3 wood into the air and carry more than 140 yards. At the time, I was still learning to play golf and someone told me 3 wood was better than driver to start off with. So I tried. And tried and tried and tried.
I practiced and practiced and nothing ever changed - I may as well have used a putter. I didn't have a great set of high handicapper irons.
Until one day, a retiree golfer at the course told me 'try a 5 wood or a 7 wood'. I never even knew there was such a thing as a 7 wood!
I saw the man again a few days later and he gave me a Slazenger 5 wood.
Let me tell you, it changed my whole universe. I hit that thing perfectly immediately! Carried 180 with a little draw! You read that right - a 19 degree fairway wood went further than a 15 degree 3 wood. Needless to say, I also got a 7 wood, dropped my handicap to 11 and since then I've been preaching the virtues of fairway woods to anyone who'll listen.
So as you can see, fairway woods come in handy and are made in a wide range of lofts to get you around the course easily. They're just so easy to hit and I hope the woods I've tried and found for you will change your game for the better too...
What's the best type face for a fairway wood?
Can I use a fairway wood off the tee?
If you want to use a fairway wood off the tee, you want a taller face. What that means is the distance from the bottom of the face to the top of the face is a longer distance.
This type of tall face club looks GREAT behind a tee and makes the club feel like a mini-driver. You can hit a shallow face fairway wood off the tee, of course. But if you're looking for a more dominant look, a taller face will serve you well.
Is a fairway wood easy to hit off the ground?
Most of us want a fairway wood that we can hit off the ground a lot. That is why I prefer a SHALLOW face. What I mean by a shallow face is that the distance between the bottom of the face and the top of the face is shorter.
It's easier to launch a shallower face fairway wood from a hard lie, a soft lie, a fairway lie or a lie in the rough. It's far more difficult mentally, to hit a tall-faced fairway wood because it feels like you have to 'help the ball' into the air.
Are the cheap fairway woods any good?
I prefer to be level with you so I can't send you to try the cheaper products like Pine Meadow or some other junk. Orlimar used to be good but they are junky nowadays. Adams is still a great brand so if you can find any of them online, I would give Adams Tight Lies a try.
When you see fairway woods like the Pine Meadow clubs at such a cheap price, there is something important to remember. Those clubs are cheap for a reason and it's because of the lower quality materials and manufacturing.
Tour Edge and Cleveland are well-priced because they do spend less on marketing and are a reputable brand. Their fairway woods will serve you well and you'll never regret purchasing from them. You make even use the same fairway wood for 5-10 years.
That will rarely, if ever, happen with a cheap brand that has thousands of reviews on it and under $75. There is no comparison between a decent brand and the cheap ones. You may enjoy the cheaper club but the day you switch it out for something better, only then will you realize what you've been missing.
If there's just one thing I can recommend to any newer player or higher handicap, is that you should start at an advantage with decent clubs rather than cheap, ugly, awful golf clubs. It gives you a better start to your experience in golf and will help you stay with the game. The technology in the pricier clubs makes your life infinitely more enjoyable.
I really suggest finding yourself a set of fairway woods that start at 16.5 or 17 degrees and work in intervals up to 24 degrees because these babies are going to be your new favorites!
You never have to be ashamed of how many of any club you have in your bag. Whatever gets the job done is what you play and with the assortment of woods and hybrids out there, you can practically fill your bag with them! Get out there and find the best fairway wood for your golf game.