Toy Box: Fairway Woods

Somehow fairway woods have gotten lost in the shuffle. They have been around for decades, but longevity hasn’t prevented them from being overshadowed by hybrids in recent years.

As golfers have become enamored with hybrids, fairway woods have been something of an afterthought. Manufacturers began adding full lines of hybrids, so today it is possible to buy, for example, a Nike SQ Sumo2 hybrid with as little as 17 degrees of loft and as much as 34 degrees.

Consider, however, that Tiger Woods does not carry a hybrid. Here at the U.S. Open,

he has Nike SQ2 fairway woods of 13 and 19 degrees.

If the best player in the world has two fairway woods, perhaps we should consider the advantages of these clubs over hybrids.

Fairway woods have longer shafts than hybrids and thus launch the ball higher and farther. A 21-degree fairway wood almost always will produce a loftier, longer shot than a 21-degree hybrid.

On the other hand, hybrids tend to be more accurate than fairway woods because of their shorter length. Most hybrids essentially are irons with wood-like heads.

Nearly every player in the U.S. Open has a 3-wood in his bag, but 5-woods also have a long history among skilled players. Raymond Floyd famously used his 5-wood to lap the field by eight shots in the 1976 Masters.

Today’s 3-woods have lofts of 13 to 15 degrees. Contemporary 5-woods generally are 18 to 19 degrees.

Some PGA Tour players carry fairway woods with additional loft. For years, Vijay Singh used a Callaway Steelhead 9-wood that was bent slightly strong.

A variety of fairway-wood lofts are evident in Ping’s popular G10 series, which features a strong 3 (14 degrees), 3 (15.5), 4 (17), 5 (18.5), 7 (21.5) and 9 (24.5). The price of these clubs recently has been reduced, with each selling for $169.99 (graphite shaft) in many locations.

Another bargain: Nike SQ Dymo fairway woods at $149.99.

Cobra’s S9-1 F fairway woods, priced at $179, are designed as companions to the S9-1 family of drivers.

The heads of most fairway woods are made of stainless steel. Titanium, which is considerably lighter than stainless steel, is used for massive driver heads. Some fairway woods utilize titanium in the face.

TITLEIST 909F2

The skinny: Zach Johnson, one of the best fairway-wood players in golf, carries 13.5- and 18.5-degree clubs from the 909F2 line (15.5 also is available). They are designed for a high launch with mid spin, while the 909F3 offers a mid launch with low spin. These fairway woods are companions to the 909D2 and 909D3 Titleist drivers.

Cost: $199

Available: Immediate

CALLAWAY BIG BERTHA DIABLO

The skinny: These stainless-steel clubs are available in draw and neutral versions. Those who like the draw model will be impressed with the choices – 3 (16 degrees), 5 (18.5), 7 (21) and 9 (23.5). Phil Mickelson uses a Diablo 3-wood,

Cost: $199.95

Available: Immediate

ADAMS SPEEDLINE 9032TI HYBRID-FAIRWAY WOODS

The skinny: Bucking the trend, these new woods have titanium heads, not stainless steel. They are slightly bigger and deeper than traditional fairway woods, and feature two 40-gram tungsten sole inserts. Available in strong 3 (13 degrees), 3 (14.5) and 5 (18).

Cost: $329.99

Available: July 1

TAYLORMADE R9

The skinny: TaylorMade won the fairway-wood count at the U.S. Open, and the R9 is the company’s newest fairway wood. Just like the R9 driver, it features interchangeable shafts with adjustable hosel positions. Available in strong 3 (13 degrees), 3 (15), 4 (17) and 5 (19).

Cost: $165 (standard version), $215 (TP version with upgraded shaft)

Available: Immediate

TOUR EDGE XCG-V TOUR SPEC

The skinny: The new fairway version of the popular XCG-V driver, these clubs feature heads with a magnesium crown, titanium cup face and steel body. They will appeal to excellent players because they are 2 degrees open. Available in strong 3 (13 degrees), 3 (15), 4 (16.5) and 5 (18).

Cost: $369

Available: July 1

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