The first fairway wood was called thus because as the name suggests, it was initially made of wood. Fairway woods are designed for long distance golf shot. For the initial golf shot, a classification of wood called the driver is used.
What's In Your Bag?
A golfer's bag will typically have around 1 or 2 fairway woods plus a driver; usually it would either be a 3 fairway wood and/or a 5 fairway wood. There are some golfers who may occasionally carry an 11 fairway wood, seniors and women with a weaker fairway shot may find it beneficial to add a 9-wood or 7-wood to their golf sets.
To someone who has been playing golf for a short time, it is difficult to master the lowest loft and longest wood called the driver or the 1 wood. Drivers usually have a deep face and a large club head designed to hit long distances right off the tee and into the golf fairway. Drivers are the primary wood and the most difficult to harness. They are usually made of titanium, or graphite, and sometimes a combination of a titanium club head with a graphite shaft. The club heads are designed to maximize ball flight in order to achieve more distance. The complexity stems from the fact that because drivers are quite long, its golf shots are often inaccurate.
The Scoring Clubs
Fairway woods are considered the scoring clubs because they cover great distances in the golf fairway. They generally have smaller club heads than a driver. A 3 fairway wood is next to the driver when it comes to length, but fairway woods club head are smaller and the shafts shorter then gets progressively even more so as the numbers go higher. Meaning a 3-wood is longer than a 4-wood and so on.
Construction And Design
A fairway wood's club head is shaped spherically with a flattened sole and a faintly stuffed looking club face which is designed so as not to dig on the fairway during a swing. In the past the club heads where made of wood (hence the name) but nowadays club heads are either made of titanium, steel, or fairway metal which is a composite of a number of metals. A typical driver has a loft of 10 degrees while a regular fairway wood like the 3-wood has about a 14-15 degree loft.
Fairway wood shafts are the most important part of this golf club. The right shaft is important to increase in accuracy and distance. At the same time it is also crucial to match the shaft flex with a person's swing speed in order to utilize the features of your fairway wood.
Generally a steel fairway wood is not advisable for women. Ladies fairway woods should have a titanium shaft so that it's lighter and easier to control. Fairway wood graphite shafts with a titanium club head is also a good choice especially for those who are just learning the game.
Callaway drivers and the big bertha fairway woods are responsible for the super sized or oversized club head trend. This "bigger is better" trend paved the way for perimeter weighting that allows for the adjustment of the CG which gives more shot consistency. There are a lot of fairway wood models, and of course there's the offset fairway wood to help cure slices; and the fairway wood hybrid and utility woods which are designed for stability and aiming.
This year (2008), fairway wood brands are revolutionizing the market once again. Callaway is coming up with the x fairways hybrid clubs which offers unsurpassed forgiveness, distance and play ability.
Ping is also coming up with the G5 fairways which was deliberately engineered to make the hitting area more responsive therefore more distance and accuracy.
However, new golf clubs won't make you play any better than you already do. It takes practice and perhaps some advice from your playing partner or a professional clubmaker to become a better golf player. You can start by practicing on a utility wood to try and improve your game before moving onto drivers. After all, a great golf swing is only as good as the kind of fairway wood you are using.