Best Fairway Woods for High Handicappers & Beginners

 I'll tell you a secret

If you want to break 100 or even 90, fairway woods will get you there.

Leave the driver at home for now and find yourself a trusty fairway wood that can travel over 160 yards off the tee into the fairway every time. That's your new secret weapon my friend. Oozing forgiveness and a soft-landing ball, fairway woods are my favorite club bar none.

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.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a club that you know will go long and straight every time? You bet it would! I know first hand...keep reading to learn more about which clubs give you the most forgiveness and a more in-depth look at fairway woods as a club.

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. Until one day, a retiree golfer at the course told me 'try a 5 wood or a 7 wood'. I never even knew you got a 7 wood! He also told me to massage my handicap to win more prizes!

I saw the man again a few days later and he gave me a Slazenger 5 wood!

Let me tell you, it changed my world. 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 with 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...

Top fairway wood pick: Taylormade M2 HL

The HL means High Loft because these fairway woods from Taylormade offer an extra couple degrees loft to get the ball airborne quicker and stay airborne longer. Really easy to hit and straight shooter, they're perfect for high handicappers struggling with the long game.

Best Fairway Woods for High Handicappers & Beginners

  1. 2017 Taylormade M2 HL Fairway Wood  (Best of the best fairway woods)
  2. Tour Edge Hot Launch 3 (best for stopping a slice)
  3. Cobra F Max Fairway Wood (Value option for slower swingers)
  4. Adams Tight Lies Fairway Wood (Budget option for struggling golfers)
  5. Taylormade RBZ Black Fairway Wood (best high handicapper focused club)

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. 

I absolutely recommend you start with fairway woods and add hybrids later - once you're used to hitting down on the ball. (Yes, you should be hitting down on the ball with your fairway woods)

6 Need-to-know things about fairway woods

Fairway woods for beginners and high handicappers are a tough subject. Because they're difficult to hit, we think it's best to simplify the whole process of finding decent ones. 

Too Long; Didn't Read version

Learn to hit fairway woods first, then hybrids. Get a higher lofted fairway wood, starting from 17° and up. Swing smooth and hit down on the ball with the fairway wood. Trust the loft of the club to get the ball in the air. Only hit a fairway wood on an approach shot if it will reach the center of the green.

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. Our best advice for hitting a fairway wood is to relax and trust the club to do the work and swing EASSYYYYYYY. 

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.

How fairway woods look for beginners and high handicappers - more loft means better shots

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 a 3 wood 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 skills 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.
  • 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 we 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

Modern example of a fairway wood

  • 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

Modern example of a hybrid

  • 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

Fairway wood vs hybrid in the same range of Nike clubs

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 in two and hit two 125 yard shots. A blasted 175 yard 5 wood will leave us with the extremely difficult 75 yard pitch.
    • 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

Best Fairway Woods for High Handicappers and Beginners Reviews

2017 Taylormade M2 HL Fairway Wood

Simply the best of the best

One of the best fairway woods produced by Taylormade. There's no need to splash the extra cash and get a 2018 M4 model - this one works great!

The M2 is the Game Improvement option in the M fairway wood range. Taylormade's M1 is for more advanced players while the M2 provides oodles of forgiveness and could not be simpler to hit.

2017's M2 packs one hell of a punch with great distance and big sweet spot. It almost feels like you're not hitting a ball when you find the sweet spot while on mishits, the ball loses a moderate amount of distance but stays on target. The white on black crown is semi-attractive but the best part is it makes lining your shot up very easy because of the contrasting colors between the white and the black of the rest of the crown.

I recommend the 3 wood HL and 5 wood HL models for their ease of use and superb distance from the well designed club head. The ball just wants to go straight and long.

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    Ball flight cuts through the wind easily
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    Goes a LONG ​​​​way
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    Many loft options to make a nice set
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    Forgiving on mishits - very minor distance and direction loss
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    Sound is very muted
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    Quite difficult to hit out of the rough

Tour Edge Hot Launch 3 Fairway Wood (Offset)

Good for beginners and high handicappers who slice the ball

Here's one you won't see on the Hot Lists but provides big time bang for your buck and is one of the best fairway woods for the money right now.

The Tour Edge Hot Launch 3 Offset fairway wood is the best option in this budget price range.

Tour Edge are famous for their fairway woods and with the offset design of this latest edition you can counter that pesky slice in your game. They've got a crazy good selection from 3, 5, 7 and even a 9 wood! If you're having a difficult time hitting your 3, 4 or 5 hybrid, I really recommend you give the 7 ad 9 wood a try. 

•  I love the:   4 wood 17°      5 wood 19°      7 wood 22°

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    Offset to counter slices and fades
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    Great value from a company famous for fairway woods
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    Lightweight with sturdy feel and extra forgiveness
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    Non-offset also available for golfers who don't want to hit right to left
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    Low brand recognition
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    Not a big bomber - more for accuracy and consistency

Cobra F-Max Fairway Wood (Offset)

Value option for beginners and high handicappers with slower swings

Cobra golf clubs are always a hit with amateurs. The F Max  is a really classic-looking fairway wood with a plain black head but with a touch of offset to get rid of a slice. 

If you're a slower swinger, the Cobra F Max might be just what the doctor ordered.

The lightweight head combined with a very lightweight shaft will help you get some more mph on the old swing. And more swing speed means more distance.

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 recommend the 16°  20° and 23° fairway woods. Combining a higher loft than normal fairway woods with light weight and the offset face means less slice and in turn tons more distance.

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    Lands softly on approach shots with a medium high flight
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    Slower swingers show best results distance and flight-wise
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    Buttery soft feeling at impact
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    Faster swingers should avoid

Adams Tight Lies Fairway Wood

Ultra value for beginners and high handicappers on a budget

Adams are famous for their fairway woods and in the budget conscious golfers mind, this one should be at the top of the pile.

I can confidently prescribe a 19° Adams Tight Lies fairway wood. Forget the Equipment Hot Lists you see in golfing mags with all the most expensive stuff you don't need. This baby will help you from anywhere on the course.

A lot of golfers have taken a chance on these and never looked back or looked at other fairway wood options since. Like getting married, but with the Adams, it doesn't argue and actually saves you money!

Not convinced that Adams make some of the easiest to hit fairway options on the market? Learn more here.

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    Easy to get the ball in the air​​​
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    Solid feel and contact
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    Quality exceeds the price
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    Very easy to hit from any lie
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    Light weight for more club head speed and distance
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    Black finish wears off​​​
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    No alignment stamp on the crown
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    Grip is too hard - replace with something softer

Taylormade RBZ Black Fairway Wood

Super light for more distance

The amount of the old-time favorite white Taylormade RBZ I've seen jammed by my high handicapper friends will astound you. Taylormade have revamped it with the phasing out of the white golf club trend by introducing the RBZ in black.

The shaft is only 55 grams so you can expect a lighter feeling and more club speed. With a shallower face, it feels like it gets under the ball much easier from the fairway than previous versions. Ball flight off the ground is much higher with softer landing, meaning less roll out on the greens.

Available in 16.5° and 18°, they'll make excellent woods from the tee or fairway.

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    Speed pocket for more distance and better sound
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    Shaft is very light for more swing speed and distance
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    Well-priced big brand name product
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    Perfect 16.5 and 18 degree lofts for more forgiveness
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    Not for fast swingers
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    Paint scratches off the club head easily


There are so many fairway woods out there to benefit the beginner and high handicapper it's difficult to choose. But the Taylormade 16.5 degree 3 wood in combination with another two fairway woods from Tour Edge and you'll have an excellent set of woods to last you for many years. 

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!

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
Gary Stacey says

My favorite wood is an older club, has a 23 deg loft 7 wood head by ASHTON X ID, (moly forged head) and a 60 gr high launch graphite shaft by True Ace. The face is not wide and has a round bottom to reduce turf interaction. An east swing will produce a high flight. This is old school stuff, but it works. Ashton has ceased to make the heavier heads.
The point here is that the graphite shaft has to have a lot of flex for the slower 85 mph swing speed of a senior golfer to achieve the high ball flight and the 23 degree loft. I have much more control versus a 3 or 5 wood. I also use a similar 3 wood.
It should be said the shaft flex and bend point needs to be selected for your type swing.

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