In the hierarchy of golf equipment, drivers and putters are the superstars, while irons and easy-to-hit hybrids play supporting roles. With the growing popularity of hybrids in recent years, fairway woods have been relegated to bit parts, if any parts at all, for many golfers. But the versatile clubs are reclaiming their space in golf bags thanks to new designs from top manufacturers that promise longer distance and more forgiveness.
One of the latest techniques in golf-club design is cutting a slot into the crown or sole (or both), close behind the face, allowing for more flex and power at impact. The slot design was pioneered by Adams Golf, which has incorporated the feature into its new line of XTD Ti woods ($300 each). The clubs also benefit from lightweight titanium faces that vary in thickness to make the most of less-than-perfect contact.
Callaway Golf’s new X2 Hot Fairway Wood ($230) also features a more forgiving clubface, made with a thin steel surface that offers additional flex at impact and, the company says, is especially effective when golfers strike the ball low on the face, as many amateurs tend to do. A deep-face model is available for more accomplished golfers, such as Phil Mickelson, who used an X2 Hot to great effect in his British Open victory last year.
Ping’s brand-new Rapture 3-wood ($495) pairs a titanium face with a heavy tungsten sole that positions weight low (thus launching balls high). The club, whose loft can be adjusted by half a degree, is designed to perform both on the fairway and as a powerful alternative for golfers who struggle with hitting their drivers from the tee.
An adjustable hosel on Titleist’s new 913F.d Low Spin ($279) allows golfers to change loft and lie settings to dial in the ideal combination of height, distance, and control. The club features a large, pear-shaped head that has been weighted to produce a penetrating ball flight.
TourEdge, meanwhile, has focused its attention on the ground. The company’s CB Pro wood ($500) has an unusual wave-shaped SlipStream sole designed to minimize turf contact and maximize swing speed at impact. Meant for better players, the CB Pro has an old-fashioned small head. But the club’s beta-titanium face and heavy sole produce modern magic in the form of long, straight shots—which play a critical role for any golfer.