One of the beautiful things about a fairway wood is what it represents for different golfers. For some players, it equals safety – the club to use off the tee if a driver feels too risky. For others, it’s the go-to club on the fairway to keep the ball moving in the right direction towards the green and the hole. While there is even the element of the spectacular about a fairway wood. It could be a long shot into a green from the rough or an approach over the water. Get it wrong and the outcome could be disastrous. Get it right and this club can be spectacular.
My own personal favourite was Padraig Harrington at the 2008 Open. Playing Royal Birkdale’s par-five 17th, the Claret Jug was on the line. The Irishman was two strokes clear and took out his five-wood for his 272-yard approach shot. Bunkers, a narrow green on two levels, and out of bounds down the right playing into a left to right crosswind, the element of risk was high. But Harrington nailed his shot as it ran up to five feet. He rolled in the eagle putt and he had retained The Open. The fairway wood had paid dividends.
Here at AMERICAN GOLF, we have picked out ten of the best fairway woods for 2023. Let’s read through and see which one is best suited as we try to produce our own Harrington-type moment.
Top Fairway Woods 2023
Ping G430 Fairway Wood (£329):
Loft: 3 SFT, 5 SFT, 7 SFT Left-handed: Yes (3 SFT, 5 SFT, 7SFT)
Ping makes a bold claim with the G430 SFT, as SFT stands for Straight Flight Technology. The club makers are promising that every effort has been made for the ball to go straighter! To be one of the best fairway woods of 2023, the manufacturers have gone for a design with lighter structure that makes it easier to have a square face at impact. As any coach will tell us, that is the way to find the fairway most consistently, by striking the ball from the right position on the club.
That can help us to get higher and longer carries, making this fairway wood a good option off the tee for either length or safety. The Spinsistency technology used reduces spin and results in an improved performance across the face, particularly on thin shots. With a lightweight aerodynamic eight-position hosel and personal preferences on shaft, length and grip amongst other things, one of these custom-fitted fairway woods could be THE purchase of 2023 for our golf game.
TaylorMade STEALTH 2 (£299):
Loft: 15°, 16.5°, 18°, 21° Left-handed: Yes (15°, 18°)
TaylorMade has an impressive stable of the biggest names in golf, with Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, Nelly Korda and Charley Hull all part of the ‘family’. But this club is not just for elite players, but for everyone. The TaylorMade STEALTH 2 stands out as one of the best fairway woods because it is aimed at the widest possible range of players.
The manufacturers have recognised that most golfers need a nudge in the right direction and that is why they have produced a club that is big on playability and forgiveness. The crown has been lowered by 2mm, but it delivers a more central position for the centre of gravity, which helps to improve performance from the fairway. The lightweight carbon material in the crown has also had weight shifted more towards the heel in order to make the club even more forgiving. And the little TaylorMade logo etched onto the crown serves as the perfect alignment aid to get us in the right position to crunch a shot down the fairway or onto the green.
Callaway Paradym (£319):
Loft: 15°, 16.5°, 18° Left-handed: Yes (15°, 18°)
Over the years, Callaway clubs have been synonymous with their players. Think of Colin Montgomerie in his pomp and Spain’s Jon Rahm of the game’s current stars. Solid, consistent ball-strikers, and those are the qualities that jump out for one of the best fairway wood clubs.
Callaway proclaims the Paradym to be their ‘longest fairway wood’ to date. There have been unprecedented weight savings in the design to enhance distance, but allow for more forgiveness. A 23g high-density tungsten weight has been put into the club head so the centre of gravity has been pushed low and forward to help consistent, easy launches. The three-wood has an adjustable hosel, while the V on the topline of the club is a perfect visual aid to help with alignment.
Titleist TSR2 (£289):
Loft: 15°, 16.5°, 18°, 21° Left-handed: 15°, 16.5°, 18°
The engineers of this club are highlighting the lowest ever centre of gravity in an all-steel construction, which in turn creates a fast and high ball flight.
As one of the best fairway woods around, the TSR2 has a new sound and feel, so that the ball feels light and quick off the club face. That in turn generates confidence with the user as it will not feel like a big, hard swing will be required to get the ball heading in the right direction. The black club head and shaft is contrasted well by the white groove lines running the whole width of the face to highlight how much loft the club has. That minor detail can help visually with a player’s belief in getting the height they want from a fairway wood and it is also a good incentive to keep our clubs clean in between rounds!
COBRA AeroJet (£269):
Loft: 15°, 18.5°, 22.5° Left-handed: Yes (15°, 18.5°)
Of course, we all imagine that every shot we hit is a pure strike out of the middle of the club. Who are we kidding? Cobra recognises the flaws that amateur golfers have by producing this, one of the best fairway wood options of 2023.
With its HOT (Highly Optimised Topology) Face Technology, the face of this fairway wood has 15 strategic thicknesses to enhance speed and spin, but it also means that strikes off the toe and heel of the club go better – which is a godsend for handicap players. The ball feels good off the face, too, and with an adjustable loft setting of 1.5° either way from the standard mark, players can find the right loft to suit their own game.
Wilson Dynapower (£199):
Loft: 15°, 18°, 21° Left-handed: Yes (15°, 18°)
Given that it was a Wilson five-wood which Padraig Harrington hit for that memorable shot at Royal Birkdale, the manufacturers take a lot of pride in their fairway woods. They recognise the importance of a good fairway wood in a handicap golfer’s bag and that is why a player can decide on the loft, the shaft and length of the shaft, the flex, the grip and the thickness of the grip.
As one of the best fairway woods, Wilson have received input from Tour players into the design to produce a flatter head profile for a cleaner look in the address position. The addition of a rear 12g weight increases the forgiveness and can create a high-soaring ball flight while variable face thickness allows the player to generate greater ball speed.
Cobra LtdX (£189):
Loft: 15° Left-handed: No
This Cobra LtdX fairway wood is exclusive to American Golf. It is already proving popular with customers, who have praised its forgiveness and feel.
One of the best fairway woods around, this Cobra design has a thinner crown for a sleeker look so the ball does not feel dwarfed by the club at address. The mass weight is low and forwards in the club head to promote more distance and reduce the spin and the additional back weighting enhances the forgiveness and is great for a higher ball flight. To top it off, the Cobra logo on the top of the crown is the ideal alignment aid, so we can get ourselves in the perfect position to hit the shot we want.
Ping G425 Max (£279):
Loft: 3 SFT, 5 SFT Left-handed: Yes (3 SFT, 5 SFT)
We would all love to hit our shots with metronomic accuracy, but in reality that simply does not happen. And some of us go more off line, more often, than others. Taking that into account, the Ping G425 Max fairway wood could be the answer for golfers who lack consistency off the tee and in their longer approach shots.
Manufacturers have used technologies that combine to increase forgiveness such as high-density tungsten back weighting to provide a low centre of gravity and a more complex face curvature to help low mishit shots perform better. Players have described the club as being good from different lies as well as generating high ball speeds, a trend that is so important in modern golf. But that does not come at the cost of accuracy, as thanks to the clubface technology, the size of the sweet spot has increased. And every golfer wants to feel like they are striking the ball from the sweetest part of the club!
TaylorMade STEALTH (£249):
Loft: 15° Left-handed: Yes (18°)
Golfers who have already been lucky enough to get their hands on TaylorMade’s STEALTH fairway wood have not been disappointed. Buyers have praised how this club looks and feels before they even get to how it has added distance to their shots, both as an option off the tee or the fairway. Still not convinced yet?
As one of the best fairway woods of 2023, this club has a carbon crown which has seen weight moved to the heel of the club for more forgiveness and to make it as easy to use as possible. The special face curvature reduces sidespin and gets rid of those costly fades or draws that can lose us valuable distance and position, and with a depressed toe and heel, it is good in tight and difficult lies. As let’s be honest, there’s a chance most of us will have to play shots from those places once or twice a round!
About the Author
Adam Lanigan - Golf Writer
Adam is a freelance news and sports journalist who has written for the BBC, The Sunday Post, The I, The Times, The Telegraph and more. He has been writing about golf for nearly two decades and has covered 13 Open Championships and two Ryder Cups. Not only does Adam cover golf, but he has played golf for as long as he can remember. He was a member at Northenden Golf Club for around 25 years until his children arrived and his last official handicap was 11, although on any given day his form fluctuates anywhere between eight and 18.