Fully Equipped mailbag: How to pick the perfect 3-wood for your game

justin thomas titleist

Justin Thomas requires his Titleist TS3 3-wood to execute a variety of shots.

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Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped mailbag, an interactive GOLF.com series in which our resident dimplehead (a.k.a., GOLF’s managing editor of equipment, Jonathan Wall) fields your hard-hitting gear questions. 

I’m trying to find the perfect 3-wood for my game. I have it down to a 13-degree with a mid-launch shaft or a 15-degree with a low-launch shaft. Should I focus on spin and flight apex? — @W_Murphy (Instagram)

It really depends on how you plan to use the 3-wood. Everyone wants a 3-wood they can hit off the tee and from the fairway, but most golfers tend to use it in one of those situations more than the other. We’ve highlighted fairway woods that are better suited for the tee and fairway — based on robot and player testing data from GOLF’s 2020 ClubTest — if you’re looking for a good place to start your search.

Because we don’t have access to your launch monitor numbers, I can tell you making a selection from one of those two options is going to be difficult. That being said, it’s worth noting most tour players aren’t employing low-launch shafts in their 3-wood, although exceptions do exist.

Two golf fairway woods and two golf hybirds.
ClubTest 2020: 19 new hybrids and 23 fairway woods tested and reviewed
By: GOLF Editors

As Tim Briand, Fully Equipped co-host and Executive Vice President of GOLF.com’s sister company, True Spec Golf, mentioned on a recent podcast, the mid-launch shaft in a 15-degree 3-wood is far more common for elite-level players who want the launch to attack a par-5 or hit the fairway without worrying about massive runout.

In your case, the fairway builds you mentioned are the opposite of what we normally see from the best players in the world. You may be looking for something completely different with this club. Focusing on apex and spin are important if you’re trying to mold a fairway wood for a specific shot. You may want a lower apex and more rollout if it’s used predominantly off the tee. Just remember carry distance is a far better indicator of distance potential than the unpredictability of rollout.

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I’d also recommend concentrating more on the shaft and less on the loft. With so many adjustable options in the marketplace, it’s possible to get a 13-degree head that goes all the way up to 15 degrees. Concentrate on finding a shaft that delivers a tight dispersion and playable spin rate for your game.

Even with all of this information, go ahead and get a certified club-fitter involved — and test both on the course before making a final decision. You’ll get a far more accurate picture based on how they handle a true game situation.

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Jonathan Wall


Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour.