If someone asked you to tell them why golf woods are called woods you would probably guess that it is because they are made of wood. With this response you would be sort of correct. Traditionally the wood was made from wood but fairly recently they began to be made of metal. Usually this will be steel or an alloy of titanium.
Most people tend to think of their golf bags as containing only a couple of woods or maybe three. They would definitely have a driver in their bag, otherwise known as a 1 wood for driving off the tee and most people would consider having a couple of fairway woods too. However you might be surprised to learn that there is a whole range of woods to choose from that enable players of different abilities to still choose the right club for their purpose. For example, older players and female players may consider adding a 7 or a 9 wood to their bags. You could even go for an 11 wood if you thought it was necessary.
As with irons, the numbers refer to the degree of loft achieved when the ball is hit. The higher the number then the higher into the air the ball will go. However, because of this, you sacrifice distance. The problem is though that as you come back down the numbers in order to achieve greater distance you lose a little control. This is because as you go down the numbers the length of the club increases which affects your ability to maintain control of the swing.
The driver may be therefore the hardest club of all to master, but as the name suggests, once you do master it, then this is the club to hit long balls with off the tee. Technically it is possible to hit balls from the fairway with a driver, but this is exceptionally difficult to accomplish. You are better off sticking with something like a 5 wood to ensure you get the ball in the air if you want to use a wood from the fairway.
Most players find that they will end up with a 1, 3 and 5 wood in their bags. There is a 2 wood but this tends to be the least used club and so therefore is hardly ever to be found in a golfer’s bag.
There is an argument to suggest that a player, especially a relative newcomer may want to swap a couple of irons out of their bag in favour of a couple of extra woods. The reason for this would be that the larger club head of a fairway wood makes the ball easier to hit than when using an iron. Also, a fairway wood is used slightly differently to an iron in that the ball should be hit at the very bottom of the swing arc, rather than on the downward portion of the swing. This means the player will be stood slightly behind the ball making the task of hitting it slightly easier.
Again, as with irons, there is no specific distance attributed to a specific number wood. You should get comfortable with what YOU can achieve with each club, and then learn to adjust the distance you achieve by using different clubs, not by using differing amounts of muscle. This means that every shot you play should be as comfortable as the previous one with regard to the swing, meaning that you should be able to achieve a consistent level of control and accuracy.
To give you an idea though of the distances achievable when using different clubs, a driver will typically travel 20 yards or so further than a 3 wood and the same difference in distance would be achieved by a 3 wood over a 5 wood. The five wood itself is about equivalent to a 2 iron and so may be the right option for some players as it is likely to be more controllable than the 2.
So, the story for golf woods is the same as the one for golf irons. There is a club for every purpose and over time you will learn to select the right one for the job. It’s just worth bearing in mind though that the shot from the fairway may not have to be played with an iron. Try a fairway wood every now and then and you might surprise yourself.
Wayne Armstrong is the owner of GBGolf.com, a Golf resource website which includes lots of information on improving your game and links to some of the best golf equipment and clothing at some of the best prices you will find.
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