‘This club has changed my game’: Why a 9-wood could be the answer to lower scores

TaylorMade's Stealth 2 9-wood filled a much-needed hole in Barath's equipment setup.

Ryan Barath

I don’t like to throw the term “game-changing” around very often, and even when I do it’s usually at something that is going to make the game a lot easier for beginner golfers. Now, I’m no beginner golfer and I’ve tested a fair share of clubs in my life, but the one thing I had never tried until recently was a 9-wood — it’s a game-changer! Or at least for me, it is.

As much as I want to say that this is a revelation that just came to me, trying a 9-wood is something that I have been considering for a long time going back years. Long irons are hard to hit, and whether you play a lot or not, trying to hit an iron that is going to carry at least 185 yards can be a tall order.

Not only that but using a higher lofted fairway wood to get out of the rough and advance the ball is something that can help make the game easier for any golfer, including professionals at the highest level.

After attending the PGA Championship a few weeks ago and witnessing tour players testing and putting 7- and 9-woods into play, I realized it was high time that I at least gave it a shot. The results have been spectacular thus far. First, let’s take a look at the specs: a 24-degree TaylorMade Stealth 2 with a ProjectX HZRDUZ Black 70-gram shaft. It’s important to note all options are available directly from TaylorMade, so there’s no special treatment for yours truly.

TaylorMade Stealth 2, Stealth 2 HD and Stealth 2 Plus Fairway Woods

Click through to purchase a new TaylorMade Stealth 2 fairway wood from Fairway Jockey.

The results

As you might expect, having a 9-wood makes hitting the ball higher and farther so much easier. The biggest improvement in my game has come from par-3 proximity, especially on holes in the 200-210 yard range. Rather than seeing mostly inconsistent results with my longest iron, the 9-wood makes getting 200 yards of carry feel almost effortless, and on top of that, the ball also has a much higher peak height, leading to a steeper angle of descent that stops my pellet on a dime.

Stealth 2 9-wood from the address position. Ryan Barath

Before you assume the higher loft makes a 9-wood a one-dimensional club, it’s actually the opposite. You can use it to execute fairway bunker shots, hit bump-and-runs and even flight the ball, when needed. To quote something a greater fitter once said to me, “It’s easier to make up come down than it is to make down go up.” What he meant was it’s easier to lower flight with a higher lofted club than is it to make a lower lofted club go higher because you are fighting what that club is designed to do along with gravity.

So if you’re like me and have always struggled to gain confidence on long par 3s and other approach shots in and around the 200-yard range, give a 7- or 9-wood a try because the results may shock you. At the end of the day, shooting lower scores is a lot more fun, especially when you have the proper gear setup to make things easier.

For more of the latest gear news check out GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast, or if you’re looking to get fit for your own perfect set, find a True Spec Golf fitting studio near you.

Ryan Barath

Golf.com Editor

Ryan Barath is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s senior editor for equipment. He has an extensive club-fitting and -building background with more than 20 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. Before joining the staff, he was the lead content strategist for Tour Experience Golf, in Toronto, Canada.