Today, fairway woods have become longer, bigger and more powerful than ever. Hybrids, on the other hand, have become more specific, acting as either long-iron replacements or high-lofted fairway-wood replacements. The key is to begin analyzing your current set makeup in order to determine what’s missing. Need a club that goes 215 yards and stops on a dime? How about a 3-wood that flies almost as far as your driver, albeit a lot straighter? Maybe both? Discerning your needs is crucial to hitting better shots. And with today’s models, it’s hard to go wrong. Choosing the right set of woods and hybrids isn’t as daunting as it looks. With fairway woods, try and look for models that resemble your driver, complete with the same or a similar shaft and look. That will ease the transition from driver to fairway wood and vice versa. With hybrids, simply determine whether you’d like to replace a long iron or a shorter fairway wood. If you opt for long iron replacements, you might favor a hybrid shaped more like an iron. And if it’s fairway woods you want to replace, try a hybrid that looks more like a wood.
Understanding Our Charts
Key Features: What distinguishes this fairway wood from the rest.
What We Like: We have our preferences, too. Basically, what impressed us in our review.
Who It’s For: The type of player this fairway wood is made for.
Clubhead: The material used for head construction.
Clubface: Indicates the material used for the strike area.
Lofts: The lofts available in right-handed models. Left-handed models vary and can be found on each equipment manufacturer’s Website.
Custom Options: Whether or not custom options are available. This includes shafts, grips, weights, etc.
Shafts: The stock graphite offerings from the manufacturer. Other shafts may be available.
Adams Insight XTD a3
Key Feature: Is it a fairway wood or a hybrid? According to Adams, it’s both. Made for players who want the playability of a Boxer hybrid with the distance of a fairway wood.
Bobby Jones Player Series
Key Feature: The unique shape utilizes a forged Maraging Steel face insert that helps move weight low and deep in the clubhead. The result is more spin and a higher trajectory.
Key Feature: Traditionally shaped for better players, the J33 fairway woods feature an elastomer insert within the clubhead to reduce vibration for a greater transfer of energy at impact. They have a real tour-inspired look too.
Callaway FT Fairway
Key Feature: Using Callaway’s Fusion technology, the FTs have a stainless-steel face and body, with a tungsten-infused sole. Translation? Callaway really tinkered with its weight.
Callaway Ft-i Squareway
Key Feature: Borrowing from the square-shaped Ft-i Driver, the Squareways are the most forgiving Callaway woods ever. The carbon crown and stainless-steel design helps make hitting from the fairway as much fun as hitting from the tee. What’s next, square irons?
Key Feature: The biggest new wood from Callaway packs a driver-sized punch.
Cleveland HiBORE XLS
Key Feature: The new HiBORE XLS is 24-percent bigger than the original HiBORE and also features a redesigned crown section with “stability foils” for enhanced alignment. The MOI of these fairway woods is also very high, making it a stable club from just about any kind of lie.
Cobra Speed LD
Key Feature: The extended profile from front to back means the CG is going to be placed low and deep, helping golfers get the highest trajectory possible.
Key Feature: The Hex2 fairway woods have a carbon crown that’s fused with a Maraging Steel clubface, all wrapped up in the HEX2’s unique hexagonal shape.
Key Feature: Using what KZG calls “Gravitational Force Technology,” the GF2 enables clubfitters to adjust among 49 different weight configurations.
Macgregor MT Fairway
Key Feature: Even though it’s a steel clubhead, the MT features a Cup Face design that creates an enormous sweetspot and added strength behind the ball at impact.
Key Feature: Mizuno’s “Perimeter Weight Slot.” This feature distributes weight deep and toward the perimeter, raising the club’s MOI and COR.
Key Feature: Each 4DX fairway wood has a titanium crown that’s brazed with a stainless-steel body, resulting in added strength where it’s needed and less weight in the crown. Twin XW weights in the rear section of the clubhead bolster the MOI and deepen the CG.
Nike SQ SUMO2
Key Feature: A square shape (that, because of its Powerbow weighting, doesn’t look it) jacks up its MOI. The result is a higher launch and greater overall distance.
Key Feature: The new SasQuatch 2 fairway woods employ a Monorail sole design for reduced turf drag, and the bulk of the club’s weight is placed toward the rear perimeter of the clubhead. This means a high MOI and deep CG, which equals higher and farther golf shots.
Key Feature: The crown and the sole meet in the back, which means the G10 fairway woods have a low profile and low CG for higher shots.
Key Feature: Each Rapture has a plasma-welded titanium face that lightens the load up front and a weight pad directly below the CG to help promote a higher trajectory for more distance.
Key Feature: Called Impact Power Body technology, the Z-Steel has varying degrees of thickness across the face, crown and backwall for the utmost in energy transfer upon impact. The tungsten nickel insert lowers the CG for a high launch and more stability.
Key Feature: With an amazingly high MOI, the Burner is a must-have if you need stability and distance from both the tee and fairway.
Taylormade r7 CGB Max
Key Feature: A triangular head shape that features three adjustable weight screws (totaling 18 grams) for the utmost in perimeter weighting and MOI.
Key Feature: A Titleist fairway wood for the rest of us? This club has a low profile, high MOI and exceptionally hot face, for a solid blend of both distance and forgiveness.
Tour Edge Exotics XCG
Key Feature: Its titanium cupface. Trust us, you’ll notice the difference: faster ball speeds and an explosive launch. It’s a big 3-wood.
Golf industry experts say that for the first time ever, golfers are buying more hybrids than fairway woods this year. That phenomenon is happening for several reasons, the first being that manufacturers are mostly only making 3- and 5-woods, and some 7-woods, these days. When golfers play higher lofts, they typically seem to be opting for hybrids. “With fairway woods, the 15-degree is the most popular loft we sell,” says Mark Christensen, Cleveland Golf’s business unit leader of woods and hybrids. “The 19-degree wood still gets bought a lot, but we stopped the 22- and 25-degree models, due to lack of demand. Hybrids are eating up all of the higher loft sales.” Another reason for the shift: Now that people know all about hybrids, they want more performance from them, including high launch and trajectory, the ability to hit them off the tee, distance and more green-holding control. That’s why manufacturers have begun incorporating into woods and hybrids all of the same geometry and use of multiple materials that they’ve been building into drivers the past year, in an effort to lower the CG and increase the MOI. Because hybrids have shorter shafts than fairway woods, they’re easier to control. So this year, even more hybrids are bearing hybrid-specific shafts that are generally weighted accordingly and sport a tip section that balances flex and torque, producing the optimal trajectory and ball speed. Ultimately, choosing woods or hybrids comes down to having clubs that cover all distances at the long end of your set.
Adams Idea a3 Boxer
Although not square-shaped, the Boxer comes pretty close. Designed to help push the CG low and deep in the head and effectively boost the MOI, the Boxer is an easy-to-hit option from just about any lie. We especially like the cambered sole, and the stock Grafalloy ProLaunch Red shaft is a nice touch. So is the offset version for players who need to keep their slice at bay. All models are sneaky long, too.
Bridgestone J36 Hybrid
Designed for players who want both forgiveness and the ability to shape shots, the J36 Hybrids utilize a neat internal weighting structure to increase the MOI for resistance to twisting and loss of distance. Also innovative, the progressive leading edge design means the leading edge of the clubface gets sharper as loft goes up, making it a cinch to hit it solid. Better players will love the versatility of these clubs.
Callaway FT Hybrid
The next gen hybrid from Callaway features Fusion technology that doesn’t use carbon—instead, it’s a fusion of a stainless steel face and body with a tungsten-infused sole. This means the weight in the sole can be strategically manipulated, and depending on the model of choice, golfers can choose between a draw, fade or neutral design. By the way, the CG is low and the MOI is high for super forgiveness.