Picture this: you just hit a straight shot off the tee box on a par 5 and you are about to make your second shot. You take out your 4 or 5 iron to get closer to the green. You may be thinking how great it would be to either make the green on your second shot or be close enough that you can chip on for your birdie shot.
This is where your fairway woods come into play. A well-hit fairway wood can give you added distance to your shots on the fairway for better scoring opportunities. We’ve broken down what you need to do to learn how to hit fairway woods better. Grab your 3 or 5 wood, get a bucket of balls, and head to your practice range and let’s learn!
Here is everything you need to know on how to hit fairway woods:
The ball’s position in your stance when you set up your shot will determine how well you hit the ball. Think back to the position of your ball when hitting with irons or your driver. With your driver, the ball is positioned far forward in your stance because the goal is to hit up on the ball. With your irons, the ball is in the middle of your stance to encourage hitting down on the ball.
When hitting a fairway wood, the ball should be slightly forward in your stance. Hitting a fairway wood is almost a blend between an iron and driver shot. Having the ball slightly forward in your stance will allow you to hit down on the ball.
Remember that a fairway wood is one of the longer clubs in your bag. During your swing, a club like a fairway wood is going to take longer to bring back around the ball. Having the ball forward in your stance will give your club enough time to come back around to the ball.
With the ball slightly forward in your stance, it is important to widen your stance enough to promote more stability and a more shallow swing. Remember that while our swing may be more shallow, we still need to focus on hitting down on the ball.
When thinking about a shallow swing, it may be easier to think about the opposite of a shallow swing. If you try a steep swing, your arms and club will have a top-to-bottom trajectory which will cause you to naturally lift your body to avoid hitting the shot fat. This will lead to overcompensating and topping the ball. A shallow swing will allow you to bring the club in your upswing to a point where your downswing will be slightly more right to left.
Know The Lie
Before you grab the fairway wood out of your bag, take a moment and evaluate the lie of your ball. If the lie of the ball is too much, you should opt for a hybrid or long iron for the shot. When dealing with more lie, your shot will require greater loft.
To determine if there is a high amount of lie for your shot, take out a club and line up the club face to the ball. If you can see that the club face is naturally pointing left or right, it is a good indication that you are dealing with a lot of lie.
The golden rule for deciding to hit fairways woods is the more lie, the more likely you should use an iron or hybrid club. The purpose of hitting your fairway woods is to get you closer to the green faster. It is just as important to know when you should refrain from using your fairway wood.
Shoulders & Upper Body
To hit a fairway wood well, you need to focus on making contact with the ball before making contact with the ground. There are two techniques you can apply to your fairway wood shot to help make solid contact with the ball:
- Slightly drop your lead shoulder to encourage making contact with the ball first. If you do not drop your lead shoulder, you may find that you hit the ball thin or top the ball.
- Square shoulders parallel to the ball will encourage a swing path that is shallow enough that you can hit down on the ball to make solid contact. If you were to open one of your shoulders, your downswing will be steeper.
Drills To Help Hit Fairway Woods
Now that you know the fundamentals of hitting a fairway wood, let’s look at some drills that you can try at the range. Our goal with these drills is to get more and more comfortable with hitting a fairway wood.
- The first drill is a simple one. Take a number of practice swings and observe where the bottom of your fairway wood hits the ground. As you familiarize yourself with where your club hits the ground, you can make the proper adjustments. The goal is for the club to not hit the ground too early, but also not too late. Begin to introduce the ball to your practice swings and start visualizing contact with the ball right before you hit the ground.
- This next drill is known as the T-Peg drill. This builds upon the first drill by making sure your fairway wood hits the ground at the right time. You will start by grabbing a tee from your bag and sticking it into the ground 1 ½ inches in front of the ball. Then, set up to take a shot and focus on trying to skim the tee out of the ground. This drill will also assist you in taking a more shallow swing while still hitting down on the ball. If you are not skimming the tee during this drill, try to make adjustments based on the fundamentals covered above.
- A drill to help you avoid lifting your body up and away from the ball is known as the knuckle dragger. The purpose of this drill is to help keep your hands in front of the club head when you make contact with the ball. If the club head is hitting the ball before your hands pass the ball, then you are casting the club. You will lose a majority of the power in your swing when casting the club. To do this drill, take slow practice swings and pretend as if your knuckles are scraping the ground through your downswing. As you practice this drill, you will notice that your body is staying closer to the ground and the ball rather than lifting away. The practice swings for this drill will feel exaggerated. When you finally take a practice shot, use this form in a normal speed with less exaggeration. You should notice that your hands are passing the ball before your club head makes contact. Your body should not be lifting up, but rather be closer to the ball through the swing.
The distance you can achieve with a well-hit fairway wood can go a long way in improving your score on the golf course. As long as you know the right ball placement, stance, and swing pattern, you can take the fairway wood out of your bag and hit it with confidence. Try to practice hitting fairway woods off the ground at the practice range and develop the proper habits for these shots.
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