ClubTest 2021: 19 reliable new fairway woods tested and reviewed
With the help of GOLF’s research partner True Spec Golf, we asked 40 testers to hit more than 150 different clubs over three days to deliver the most inclusive and in-depth review of new gear in the 30-year history of our ClubTest franchise. Fact: The perfect drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges and putters for you are out there — and working with a custom fitter is the fastest way to find them.
For this installment of ClubTest 2021, our testers examined all the new fairway woods from the top manufacturers to help us put together 19 robust fairway-wood reviews. If you need a solid option off the tee or a reliable club to reach par 5s in two, these high-tech beauties have you covered.
Check out all the new fairway woods we reviewed below, then click through to read the test results and see photos and videos to help you learn everything you need to know to find the perfect woods for your game.
Whichever fairway wood you choose, you can purchase it with one click, or better yet, get custom fit for new clubs by GOLF’s sister company True Spec Golf.
Callaway Big Bertha B21
Our take: Testers found it easy to work the ball in both directions with the Big Bertha B21. “I’m hitting a draw on command,” said one tester. “I can’t tell you when I even considered using the other side of the course with a fairway wood.”
Our take: It’s good to have options. With Callaway’s new-look Epic Max and Epic Speed, testers found two equally appealing packages: one geared for those who need a bit more forgiveness and another for the better player craving a penetrating launch. “I could put both in the bag,” said a tester. “Both were fantastic on misses, and the flatter flight of the Speed was very consistent. I could totally see myself throwing in a strong-lofted Speed and Max 5-wood to launch it high. That sounds really appealing.” Don’t be surprised if other golfers follow suit.
Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo
Our take: If you’re a fan of the Launcher HB Turbo driver, you’ll surely love the fairway woods since they pack much of the same technology, albeit in a slightly more diminutive size. They’re made for speed, which means if you’re looking for a solid driver alternative off the tee and/or really want a fairway wood that will help you get after those par 5s, the HB Turbo is an excellent choice.
Our take: Club designers know they have a winner when golfers are raving about the head shape. “It’s amazing,” said one tester. “I’m obsessed with the clean look,” said another. You get the point. If a fairway wood looks clunky, it’s going to get the Heisman. In this case, testers couldn’t get enough of RadSpeed’s sleek profile. Praise was also heaped on Cobra’s Baffler Hollow Split Rail sole design, which is made to keep the club from digging into the turf at impact.
Honma T//World GS
Our take: With ‘GS’ standing for ‘gaining speed,’ Honma looked to give players an easy way to increase distance just by changing clubs. It seems as though they did just that. “It feels like I added speed without even changing my swing,” one tester told us. And with a sleek look, this line will look great no matter your style.
Our take: Like the new drivers, the ST-Z fairway packs more punch than we’ve ever seen in a Mizuno wood, further proving the brand is taking its metalwood design philosophy very seriously. This time, though, the technology is hidden within a throwback shape, appealing to golfers who want a traditional-looking fairway that they can use to hit a variety of shots.
Our take: This year, Ping loses its familiar Turbulators from the crowns of its fairway woods and hybrids, replacing them with three alignment dots. How did our testers like the new look? “This alignment aid is so much better,” one tester declared. Testers also found that the low-profile designs made getting the ball in the air much easier than with other clubs.
Our take: The PXG 0211 fairway woods prove that hitting bombs isn’t exclusive to the tee box anymore. According to a pleased tester, “These woods feel incredibly solid, and the ball jumps off the face in a hurry. They look good, feel good and perform great.” We concur, having experienced these woods to be among the leading candidates for the best driver alternative out there.
PXG 0341 X Proto
Our take: When a manufacturer uses the word “Proto” in a product category, we take immediate notice. Enter the O341 X, which includes a slew of newfound technology including a low-profile sole design, a carbon-fiber crown and customizable weights for the finely tuned trajectory of your choice. Said a tester, “Once again, I love the matte finish, and the ball flew low and with a piercing trajectory. These feel great.”
Our take: The ZX woods are made to be just as at home off the tee as they are on the fairway, as they tout big distance and forgiveness. According to one tester, “These woods have a great pop sound and make it easy to get the ball airborne. The ball jumps off the face in a hurry.” The stepped crown may take some getting used to if you prefer sleekly shaped woods, but you’ll soon dismiss it when you see the ball fly long and straight.
Our take: “I love the high launch.” With that simple statement, one of our testers summed up exactly what TaylorMade was striving for with its SIM2 fairways. While the overall look is comparable to the original SIM heads, our GOLF testers repeatedly commented on the higher trajectories they were seeing. “Even my mishits are towering — the ball just flies,” another tester said. “It feels lively and easy to hit off the ground.”
Our take: Today’s fairway wood models are so long and forgiving, it’s not surprising to see them used more often from off the tee. Said one of our surprised testers of the new Titleist TSi2 fairways, “The TSi2 woods have a creamy feel and are easier to hit than some other models we’ve tried.” Speaking of the TSi3, “Mishits weren’t as penal as I expected from such a traditional head shape. It felt money and promoted a solid ball flight. It’s the best-looking fairway wood head in the bunch.”
Tour Edge Hot Launch C521/E521
Our take: As with its C521 and E521 drivers, Tour Edge’s game-improvement metal-woods of the same name serve players in need of help (C521) and a lot of help (E521). The C521 has a more traditional shape, with less offset, and allows for more shot-shaping. “Feel was really good,” one tester noted. “Comes off really nicely.” The E521, with considerably more offset, and a low, deep center of gravity is geared for players who need help tempering a slice and getting their balls up and off the fairway.
Tour Edge Exotics EXS Pro
Our take: This “sleeper” pick, according to one tester, excels because of something you won’t find in most metalwoods: a titanium face. The titanium saves weight and adds ball speed, resulting in “great feel and flight,” a tester noted. The compact, workable head will appeal to the better players for whom the clubs are designed. There’s a reason these models are a common sight on the PGA Tour Champions.
Wilson Staff Launch Pad
Our take: Even for skilled golfers, hitting fairways woods can be a handful. Wilson’s Launch Pad line helps simplify the task. Our testers reported that the clubs made it easier to get shots from the short grass airborne, while their offset hosels and other draw-promoting features minimized weak flares to the right. “Feels fast,” one respondent remarked. “High launching, said another, who described the performance as “surprisingly good.”
Wilson Staff D9
Our take: Sophisticated clubs with a beautifully simple look. That was the consensus among our testers, who singled out the D9s for their “clean top” and “good neutral acoustics.” Performance wasn’t shabby, either. The clubs produced long and penetrating shots, thanks in part to its PKR face technology, an innovative, computer-generated design that creates hot spots across the entire face.
Our take: Color research (yes, it’s a thing) tells us that blue is considered a cool, calming and soothing tone, and on XXIO’s Eleven fairway woods it looks fantastic. But we aren’t fooled — these woods are red hot, making it easy to hit bombs from the fairway and, for that matter, from the tee as well. They’re particularly useful for golfers with moderate swing speeds who want to add some extra oomph simply by switching to a lighter club.
Our take: XXIO has solid footing in the luxury club market, thanks in part to its Prime collection of ultralight fairway woods that make it easier to get the ball airborne—especially for players with moderate swing speeds. They’re easy to swing and, because they’re light, it’s easy to tack on a few extra mph to your swing without exerting any extra effort. Isn’t that what we all want?
XXIO X Black
Our take: Heeding the same strategy as the driver in the X Black Series, the X fairway woods aim to provide more distance and forgiveness to golfers with moderate swing speeds, without having to give up on the shotmaking playability that better players prefer. The payoff here is a fairway wood that makes the game easier, without sacrificing the maneuverability required to hit a variety of shots from the fairway or tee.