Struggle with fairway woods? Try these 3 tips to hit them like a pro

si woo kim hits 3 wood

Si Woo Kim displayed a mastery of fairway woods during the American Express.

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The PGA Tour’s return to the mainland is always a signal to me. A signal that pro golf in the new year is in full swing.

The Bob Hope has long been one of my favorite stops on Tour. The weather, the courses, the glitterati who have graced the event, they all stir my emotions as I’m taken back to the golden age of Hollywood.

While many things remain the same, one thing certainly is different from the events back in the day. Unlike yesteryear, the lion’s share of the field nowadays propels the ball so far it makes holes like the 16th at the PGA West’s Stadium course routinely within reach of everybody in the field.

Indeed, tournament-winner Si Woo Kim hit two glorious fairway-metal shots onto the par-5 green over the weekend. Both led to two-putt birdies that helped seal the title.

While hitting fairway woods can seem daunting at times, it’s easier than you think. Here are a few things Kim does that you can learn from.

1. Get a lofted fairway wood

A number of the game’s best are adding an extra fairway wood to the bag. Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa and Joaquin Niemann all carry 7-woods, and Kim has a 5-wood alongside the 3-wood in his makeup. (Kim used the 5-wood for his second shot in the third round and the 3-wood in the final round.)

Adding more loft to your fairway metals will make life a whole lot easier. They are naturally easier to elevate and the shorter shaft makes it easier to hit the ball consistently solid. To that end, a more lofted fairway-metal shot will approach from a higher apex, so the angle of descent will be steeper, making it easier to stop the ball on the greens. And contrary to popular belief, you will not sacrifice very much distance at all.

Give it a try, you are likely to be pleasantly surprised.

2. Get the correct ball position

It’s commonplace for golfers to play the fairway wood shot from too far back in their stance.  Whereas that seems like a security blanket, as it lulls the golfer into thinking that it will negate the chances of hitting the shot fat, it actually does exactly the opposite.

A ball position that is too far back in the stance promotes a steeper angle of attack and a less lofted clubface. Both of these elements are in opposition to what the fairway wood requires and the golfer’s athletic reaction is to stand up, stall rotation and force a weakened flip of the wrists through contact.

Don’t make that error! Move the ball forward in your stance. For right-handers, somewhere under your heart would suffice. This will allow you to move forward, yet still stay behind the ball in the downswing. The end result is a better angle of attack and more speed at the correct time.

3. “Bounce” the club off the ground

The rounded sole of a fairway metal is designed to bounce off the ground as it passes through impact. This is advantageous, but precious few golfers actually employ the sole of the club correctly. 

As you address the shot, remind yourself that the club is unlikely to dig into the ground and you can go ahead and strike the turf aggressively. Instead of hanging back in an effort to lift the ball into the air, strike the ground (in fact try and make a small divot) and allow the loft to lift the ball. 

Need more help? Get a fairway-wood fitting from the experts at our sister company, True Spec Golf.

NEWSLETTER Contributor

On-course announcer and analyst Mark Immelman is passionate about the game of golf. As a decorated instructor, award-winning NCAA college golf coach, and an accomplished golfer, Mark brings a robust knowledge and vast experience to his role as a television broadcaster and golf instructor. He is currently a Golf Analyst for CBS Sports HQ, and an Analyst and On-course Announcer for CBS Sports and Golf on CBS. He currently also serves as a Studio Analyst and an On-course Announcer for PGA TOUR Live  for PGA TOUR Live.

The older brother to 2008 Masters Champion, Trevor Immelman, Mark grew up in Somerset West, South Africa. After a successful amateur career in South Africa he was offered a golf scholarship to Columbus State University (Columbus , GA). He enjoyed a prolific collegiate tenure highlighted by his four-time All-America selections, two-time Academic All-America awards, and two NCAA Div. II National Championship victories. After graduation, Mark had a short season as a playing professional, but quickly turned his attention to his true passion – golf teaching.

As a golf instructor, Mark believes in cultivating ability and talent by providing comprehensive, holistic golf instruction that is easily understandable and of the highest quality to golfers of all abilities and skill levels. His passionate approach and keen knowledge of the game have led to him being a sought-after mind by leading Professional and Amateur golfers alike. Through his career he has taught and/or consulted to PGA TOUR and European Tour professionals and tournament winners such as: Larry Mize, Loren Roberts, Trevor Immelman, Scott Brown, Patton Kizzire, Louis Oosthuizen and Will Wilcox. He has been recognized as one of “Golf Digest’s Top 20 Instructors Under 40”, Golf Digest’s “Best Teachers in the State of Georgia” and Georgia Trend Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40 – Georgia’s Best and Brightest”.

As a NCAA College Coach at Columbus State University (since 2001) Mark continues to coach the Columbus State Men’s Golf Team and his program is a perennial contender for Conference and National Titles. He is a two-time NCAA Div. II Atlantic/Southeast Region Coach of the Year, two-time Peachbelt Conference Coach of the Year, and the 2009 NCAA Div. II National Coach of the Year.

In 2019 Mark was selected as Captain and Coach of the (Arnold) Palmer Cup International Team. His team triumphed over the United States Team in the Palmer Cup Matches held at The Alotian Club outside of Little Rock, AR.

Mark’s additional broadcast duties include being a guest analyst on the CBS Sports “First Cut Podcast”. CBS Sports also uses Mark’s unique voice for audio and promotional PGA TOUR advertisements and promotional reads.

He has also served a 6-year tenure as a Play-by-Play Announcer for Sirius/XM PGA TOUR Radio.

Additionally, Mark hosts “On the Mark”, a PGA TOUR Podcast, which to date has been downloaded more than 3 million times in more than 125 countries.

He has also written golf instructional columns and articles for Golf Digest SA, Golf Digest USA and is currently penning instructional pieces for Golf Magazine. As an author, Mark has published two e-Books on golf instruction: “Scandalously SImple – The Easy Way to Accurate Golf Shots” and “Golf is a Game of Recovery”.

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