The Best Fairway Woods for High Handicappers & Beginners Guide

Best Fairway Woods for High Handicappers & Beginners 2024

Last Updated on January 2, 2024 by Matt Greene
*Read our review guidelines.

A  great fairway wood can revolutionize your game. It did for me when I started playing golf. 

I started this game with a 3 wood, but changed to a 5 wood after my friends dad told me it's easier and more fun to hit. He was right. No more topping the 3 wood, or slicing it into the water. That fairway wood laid the foundation for my love of golf.

Nowadays, you can get fairway woods that are so easy to hit, it would put my 5 wood from 1995 to shame!

Important to remember: the best fairway woods for high handicappers and beginners have high loft (more than 17°) which makes them fly higher and LONGER than lower lofted woods. The other thing is that you should buy the best equipment you can afford. Look for second hand versions if you like, but avoid the VERY cheap stuff you see online. 

Best Fairway Woods for High Handicappers and Beginners

  1. Titleist TSR 2 (best looking and easiest fairway wood to launch)
  2. PING G430 Max (most forgiving fairway wood)
  3. TaylorMade Stealth (best budget fairway wood - get it used)
  4. Cleveland Launcher XL Halo (best for stopping a slice)
  5. Cobra LTDx Max (ideal option for slower swingers)
  6. Callaway B21 (best high handicapper focused club)

Titleist TSR2

Easiest fairway wood to launch and best looking on the market

titleist tsr2 forgiving fairway wood for high handicap

The Titleist TSR2 fairway wood has the lowest center of gravity of any woods from Titleist because they removed the channel cut in the front of the club to make a fairway wood that is easy to hit high in the sky. That's why the TSR2 is my number one recommendation for high handicappers.

My experience with the TSR2:

The look of the TSR2 is traditional and clean. The club stands out from the competition instantly.

Titleist fairway woods are never loud and always make a subdued metallic pop that comes as quickly as it goes. The new low center of gravity on the fairway woods makes a center strike feel soft and light. When I mis-hit the ball, the club resisted twisting in my hands and the ball flew on target, with minimal distance loss. 

I was mostly impressed with the 16.5 degree and 18 degree TSR2. That's the correct loft for beginners and high handicappers. It was so easy to hit the ball into the air from any lie, fluffy or where there was minimal grass.

While there are so many low spin clubs, the TSR2 is a medium spin fairway wood. It was easy to keep the ball in play even on the worst strikes.

 I recommend the 16.5°, 18° and 21° Titleist TSR2 as the top pick for high handicappers  and beginners.


  • Easiest fairway wood to launch high
  • Low center of gravity makes hitting any shot of any lie easier
  • Thin shots still flew high and made 80% of the distance
  • Medium spin for control and not only focused on distance
  • The best looking fairway wood in recent memory
  • 16 loft and lie settings so you can be fitted to your specs


  • I cannot find any

PING G430 Max

Best fairway wood for forgiveness

ping g430 max fairway

I game the 21 degree Ping G430 Max in my bag. I highly recommend either the 18 or 21 degree in the G430 range.

The low profile club face looks more like a hybrid than a driver which makes it incredibly easy to hit off the turf. The Ping G430 Max is easy to hit down with or sweep the ball off the turf.  

Off the face, the sound of the clubface is high-pitched and everyone around will know you're hitting a Ping. I enjoyed hitting the 18 degree from every lie on the golf course. It's easy to both elevate over trees or punch under branches. The 21 degree is one of the easiest fairway woods I have ever hit.

The higher lofts  and forgiving faces on these clubs allow me get the ball into play off the tee consistently with a baby draw. It's easy to hit on or near the greens from all lies and distances. The most impressive part is the soft landing when the ball comes down to earth. You can hit the Ping G430 Max all over the club face and get a towering shot that lands softly. 

Ping is known for consistency and ease of use. The G430 Max is in my bag because even as a low handicap, it simplifies my game so much. 

The Ping G430 Max comes in 15, 18 and 21 degree lofts but I would recommend only the 18 and 21 degree for high handicappers and beginners.


  • Consistent spin, and distance from any lie on the golf course
  • Excellent stock fitted shafts for high launching, soft landing shots
  • Higher spin in my experience which leads to much more control of the distance


  • May not be as long as other woods if you want distance only

Taylormade STEALTH

Older model that you can find at bargain prices that WORKS

Taylormade STEALTH driver

The Stealth is the prior model to the Stealth 2. I have tested both but don't believe you need to go for the latest TaylorMade Stealth 2 because the Stealth works perfectly. You may even find it cheap second hand.  

I felt confident with the ball teed up, and off the deck with the Stealth. Thin shots are not punished and I didn't hit many big slices.

The Stealth's looks are a very understated black color, with a V Steel sole that I find glides through the ground so easily. 

Recommendation: It's a very simple fairway wood to be honest. There are no special frills other than it is and always will be easy to hit. The ball flies off the face nice and high. Mainly, you can pick these up for a bargain as a high handicapper or beginner and that makes a difference. Cheap clubs with GREAT technology. 

I really believe you will get as much enjoyment out of this club as the newer model. 


  • Good choice for those who hit it low in the face
  • Easiest to hit off the deck
  • High-launching and glides through the turf
  • Packed with modern technology
  • Stunning looks - especially the head shape


  • Not for golfers who want to shape the ball flight

Cleveland Launcher XL Halo

Good for beginners and high handicappers who slice the ball

Cleveland Launcher XL Halo wood

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. 


  • Fights the slice with an offset hosel
  • Nice and light to increase swing speed because there is no adjustable hosel
  • High-launching and glides through the turf thanks to rails on the sole
  • Crisp sound at contact
  • Looks very attractive at address, one of the prime factors for selecting a club


  • Matte finish means scratches are much more pronounced.

Cobra LTDx Max 

Ideal option for beginners and high handicappers with slower swings

Cobra LTDx Max Black fairway

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. 


  • Lands softly on approach shots with medium high flight
  • Slower swingers show best results in distance and flight
  • Buttery soft feel at impact
  • Crisp sound at contact
  • Adjustable head so you can fine tune you preferred loft


  • Faster swingers should avoid this

Callaway Big Bertha 21

Easiest club to launch and eliminates big fades

Callaway Big Bertha B21 Wood

The Callaway Big Bertha B21 fairway wood is the easiest-to-launch fairway wood that I’ve ever hit.  I highly recommend the Callaway Big Bertha B21 to any high handicapper or beginner who cannot get the ball into the air easily with fairway woods.

My experience with the B21:

When I put the B21 behind the ball, I noticed that the face is not big from top to bottom. It looks almost hybrid-like. 

On center strikes, the ball flies high and lands softly and when I hit the ball a bit thin, it flew a bit lower than normal but rolled out to just short of full shot distance. That is a common shot for high handicappers and this club solves that issue.

I always fight a duck hook, so I was worried about the B21 because it is made to eliminate slices. At address, you can see the offset but when I played the B21 on the course, I noticed I did hit the ball more left, but it was never a hook. It was a controlled right to left shot, very consistent.

Out on the course, the first thing that I noticed was just how easy the B21 was to launch and hit, particularly off the tee. Callaway had made some big claims about this and I think the lightweight shaft combined with the added weight at the back of the club head really help to get the ball up and going.

Recommendation: If you have trouble getting the ball airborne with a fairway wood, the B21 is easy to launch. The other benefit is that if you hit ballooning shots with fairway woods, the B21 removes that shot from your arsenal with the strong offset, forcing the ball more right to left instead of high spinning ballon shots.

If you don't need help removing a slice, you should check the Callaway Paradym X fairway wood.  It is as easy to launch, without the big offset. 


  • Offset to stop the big slices
  • Helps getting the ball airborne and easy to play from many lies
  • Excellent if you struggle with a slice
  • Lightweight shafts promotes faster swing speed


  • Not adjustable

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 a reliable wood for you.

best fairway woods for high handicappers and beginners

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 accuracy and consistency because you lose control of the club and hit the ball all over the face, sometimes missing the ball completely.

My best advice for hitting a fairway wood is to relax and trust the club to do the work and swing EASY and SMOOTH. Trying to 'help' the ball up into the air will result in a lot of slices and thinned shots. The club has loft to do the work for you.

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 your swing speed is fast enough. A slower swing speed and lower loft means a very low short shot.

Fairway wood loft explained

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. If the swing speed is not adequate, then the 3 wood will only be airborne for a short time. 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° or 18° of loft.

Lower and mid handicappers are more experienced and have developed a controlled faster swing because of their confidence and skill. They can play lower lofted fairway woods because the lower the loft, the more skill and speed you need to elevate the ball.

4. Fairway woods and hybrids can both help you

In my opinion, newer golfers should learn to hit DOWN on a fairway wood or hybrid as soon as possible. Hybrids have made long iron play much easier by blending an iron and a fairway wood into one club. I believe a 17°, 19° or 21° fairway wood is far more forgiving than a hybrid to start, 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

Fairway woods

  •  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?

Appropriate times

  • 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

Inappropriate times

  • 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 these woods to travel longer distances. I also think you should have as many fairway woods as you can 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!

What's the best type face for a fairway wood?

When I look at fairway woods, I notice the depth of the face. You'll hear or read someone mention 'tall' or 'shallow' faces on club heads. Tall means a long distance from the leading edge of the club to where the face meets the crown of the club. Shallow face means that the distance between the leading edge and the crown is shorter as illustrated in the picture below.

two fairway wood golf clbus - explaining the difference between shallow and deep faces

Should I use a fairway wood off the tee?

Yes you can and very often for beginners, it is easier to keep the ball in play with a fairway wood off the tee.

If you want to use a fairway wood off the tee, you want a taller face so you can tee it higher. If you have a shallow face, you must tee it lower.

Is a fairway wood easy to hit off the ground?

The fairway woods in my list above definitely are the easiest to hit off the ground. It's very difficult for a lot of golfers to hit fairway woods 'off the deck' but I've tested every single one possible and I selected only the most forgiving woods for you.

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., so I tried to find the shallower faced fairway woods.

Are the cheap fairway woods any good?

I prefer to be honest with you instead of selling you on some junk, so I can't send you to the cheaper products like Pine Meadow or 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. Tour Edge and Cleveland are well-priced because they spend less on marketing but are highly reputable. Their fairway woods are top quality and will serve you well. You can keep one of their woods in your bag for 10 years easy.

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. They will often not give you the same performance and will sometimes even break.


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 clubs are going to be your new favorites! High, long, floating shots instead of topping the ball and trying to help the ball inot the air.

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 what works for you!

Last Updated on January 2, 2024 by Matt Greene


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