Best Fairway Woods For High Handicappers 2022

We take a look at some of the best fairway woods for higher handicap golfers

fairway woods for high handicappers
(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

Fairway woods are arguably the toughest clubs to hit well. Not only is the sweet spot minimal but, off the fairway, they can be difficult to launch. Therefore, it's important that you can get all the help to hit a high launching shot that keeps straight and on the target.

With their being an array of options available for the higher handicapper, it's crucial that you find a model which provides a high level of forgiveness on off-centre strikes. By providing forgiveness, it will increase your confidence at address, as well as improve the consistency of the strike and distance.

We at Golf Monthly have tested a number of the best fairway woods on the market, with the video below picking out some of the high-level performers that would make a great addition to your golf bag.

Watch us put the leading fairway woods of 2022 to the test

Importantly, the models listed will help the ball in play more often, which is a common issue for those at the higher end of the handicap spectrum. Acknowledging all of this, here are some of the best fairway woods for high handicappers. Additionally we also recommend checking out our guide on most forgiving fairway woods or best fairway woods for mid handicappers.

Best Fairway Woods For High Handicappers

TaylorMade Stealth FairwayEditors Choice 2022

(Image credit: Matthew Moore)
Top overall performer

Specifications

Lofts: 15°, 16.5°, 18°, 21°, 24°

Reasons to buy

+
Serious distance and impressive accuracy
+
Very forgiving on off-centre hits

Reasons to avoid

-
Non-adjustable, lack of custom shaft options

For higher handicappers who struggle to get fairway woods up in the air quickly and easily, the Stealth fairway wood is an ideal solution and can be used to equal effect off the tee and off the deck.

The 190cc Stealth Head comes in five options from 3-wood through to 9-wood, is non-adjustable and fitted with a Fujikura Ventus shaft as stock. What's more, the red and black Stealth colorway is highly aspirational and, under the hood, you’ll find TaylorMade’s most trusted tech, including V Steel sole, Twist Face and the Speed Pocket.

The striking 3D carbon coated head looks great at address and a new laser-etched alignment aid on the clubface makes it easy to line up. In our fairway wood testing, the Stealth was one of the top performing clubs and was especially forgiving on off-centre hits, delivering strong distance and dependable control for anyone who doesn't always middle it.

Cobra LTDx Max Fairway

(Image credit: Matthew Moore)
Best feeling face

Specifications

Lofts: 14.0°, 14.5°, 14.5° Draw, 15.5°, 15.5° Draw, 16.5°, 16.5° Draw, 17.5°

Reasons to buy

+
Superior feeling face is a joy to play
+
Heel draw-bias weighting will help golfers who tend to slice their fairway woods
+
Adjustable with a choice of two premium lightweight mid-high launch shafts

Reasons to avoid

-
Not quite as long as the other Cobra LTDx models tested

Cobra LTDx fairway woods are packed with innovative technology, including a carbon fiber crown and Cobra’s PWR-COR and H.O.T. FACE technologies. Engineers also redistributed weight and moved the CG lower and forward in the head for faster ball speeds and higher MOI for greater forgiveness.

There are two adjustable weights (12g and 3g), one positioned back for a higher launch and the other deep towards the heel for a draw-biased shot shape. This is the kind of help that makes the ball easier to launch, dampen down a slice or create a high powerful draw.

For anyone struggling with consistency of strike, a low ball flight or too much slice, the Cobra LTDx fairway is a great option. The feel off the face is outstanding and it was among the most accurate fairway metals we’ve tested this year.

Titleist TSR3 Fairway Wood Review

(Image credit: Future)

Titleist have made significant changes to its TSR3 fairway wood, with the ARC (Active Recoil Channel) being removed for 2022. In its place, Titleist have reconfigured the way the hosel enters the clubhead and made significant weight savings. What's more, the sole plate has also been made thicker, which makes the centre of gravity lower and deeper - a key ingredient for fairway wood performance, especially from the deck.

There is also the addition of the new SureFit CG weight track system that now has five positions instead of three, providing more adjustability for golfers seeking greater assistance in managing their ball flight and launch characteristics.

It's not just the weighting system that has been improved, with the company introducing full face scorelines that undoubtedly make aligning the club face easier and makes it look more inviting to hit behind the ball. This means it is perfect for higher handicappers who are wanting to launch the ball higher, as well as align their tee and second shots.

Mizuno fairway wood

(Image credit: Matthew Moore)
Great for adjustability and high launch

Specifications

Lofts: 15°, 18°

Reasons to buy

+
Beautiful, classic look with carbon crown
+
Very forgiving off centre

Reasons to avoid

-
There are only two loft options, but they are adjustable

Mizuno fairway woods are some of the most criminally underrated woods on the market and the new ST-Z has shown marked improvements on last year’s ST2000 model.

We love this model for how high it launches, making it a great fairway wood for those who use them to approach greens, especially as a second shot attacking a par 5. The ST-Z also has plenty of adjustability, which the ST2000 didn’t have, allowing you to get just the right kind of ball flight and distance.

Callaway Rogue ST MAX D

(Image credit: Matthew Moore)
Best for slicers

Specifications

Lofts: 16°, 19°, 22°

Reasons to buy

+
 Classy compact matte black head
+
Long and forgiving with excellent ball speeds
+
Can counter balance a tendency to slice or cut the ball

Reasons to avoid

-
The upright lie angle and closed face might not suit players who are shorter in height
-
Non-adjustable head limits shaft and loft options

The Rogue ST MAX D Fairway is Callaway’s first-ever dedicated draw fairway wood and is specifically aimed at golfers looking to correct or neutralise a slice in their game.

Rated as one of Callaway's best fairway woods, it has a slightly closed face at address with vertical and horizontal grooves giving a more upright lie angle. On the sole, there’s a 27g Tungsten speed cartridge and more weight located toward the heel to create that high launching, powerful draw flight. The matt black finish also provides a classic, compact look which feels very premium.

For a forgiving anti-slice fairway wood, the MAX D played nicely on the course and was especially playable from the fairway and short rough, with the flight being high and towering. While not as long or as accurate as the other Rogue ST fairways, the MAX D is packed with forgiveness and will benefit any golfer who slices the ball consistently.

Ping G425 SFT

Great for accuracy and draw flight

Specifications

Lofts: 16°, 19°, 22°

Reasons to buy

+
Faster ball speeds across the face against last year’s model while keeping the forgiveness
+
Three dot alignment system helps frame the ball nicely

Reasons to avoid

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Loud impact sound most please all

Ping is renowned for its forgiveness across its range and the new Ping G425 fairway wood family is no different. Without a doubt, the Ping G425 SFT fairway wood is the best of the bunch for higher handicappers.

The weight is positioned slightly more towards to the heel to encourage a draw shape and the one-piece face makes for very fast ball speeds, 1.5mph quicker than last year’s Ping G410.

The G425 SFT is lofted at 16° for extra forgiveness and playability, but its adjustable 1.5° up or down so this club can be fine-tuned to suit any needs. If you are a Ping fan, we also think you will like our guide on the best Ping fairway woods too.

A Wilson fairway wood

(Image credit: Matthew Moore)
Ideal for low-ball hitters & slicers

Specifications

Lofts: 16°, 19°, 22°

Reasons to buy

+
Draw bias will help combat a slice
+
Affordable alternative to premium brands
+
Quality Project X Evenflow shaft

Reasons to avoid

-
No loft adjustability and only a few loft options 
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55g shaft is lightweight for a fairway

The Wilson Launch Pad fairway wood does exactly what it says on the tin and would make a great addition to any high handicappers golf bag. To begin with, the fairway woods are simple, uncomplicated and designed for improving golfers that want clubs that are easy to use and which correct some of their swing faults. In this case, the Wilson Launch Pad fairway will help dampen down a slice.

The most obvious thing you notice about the Wilson LP fairways is that they sit very closed and have an obvious draw bias. This naturally benefits the golfer who slices and helps straighten up ball flight for the majority of mid to high handicap golfers who come over the top on the downswing, hit across the ball and promote a left to right flight.

What's more, the Evenflow shaft is light at 55g, but adds a premium touch to a value driven product. The Launch Pad inevitably flies high but has plenty of forward momentum suggesting that the shaft and head are well set up to keep spin rate down. A great option for any golfer seeking to dampen down a slice.

Srixon ZX Fairway, srixon fairway wood with grass background

(Image credit: Future)
Great for hitting off the deck

Specifications

Lofts: 13.5°, 15°, 18°, 21° (13.5 and 21 both RH only)

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic distance
+
Clean and quick through the turf

Reasons to avoid

-
No adjustability limits the appeal somewhat

Srixon say this is their most advanced fairway yet thanks to their ‘rebound frame’ technology. This provides a more efficient transfer of energy by focusing more energy into the ball. Put simply(ish), it works by layering alternating zones of flexible and stiff material which then transports the correct energy into the ball.

This fairway wood features in four options, with the 3+ and 3 using a lightweight carbon crown to push the MOI up and increase forgiveness in the lofts where higher handicappers need it most.

Titleist-TSi1-fairway-wood-web

Titleist TSi1 Fairway Wood

Great for approach play

Specifications

Lofts: 15°, 18°, 20°, 23°

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight shaft makes it easy to swing
+
Ideal for golfers that struggle to flight the ball from the deck

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly smaller head than other forgiving fairway woods on the market

This fairway wood is a great option if you have a moderate to slow swing speed and are looking for ultimate forgiveness. Offering all the same technology benefits that were introduced in the TSi2, you also get the added benefit of it being super-lightweight. It is 50g lighter than the average fairway wood currently on the market.

As a result, it is the ideal fairway wood for a golfer who tends to approach a lot of lot of the greens with a wood. This is because it has added height and spin to help stop the ball.

How we test fairway woods

When it comes to Golf Monthly's testing procedure, we use the same ethos and methodology for all golf products to make sure they are as insightful, honest and comprehensive as possible.

When it comes to golf clubs, we usually attend product launches so we can meet with the manufacturer’s R&D experts to understand the new technology.

After we have an understanding here, our first port of call when hitting clubs is usually the indoor simulator at Foresight Sports, where the team can test in a controlled environment using premium balls and the GCQuad launch monitor. We also use TrackMan at golf facilities across the UK.

We then do outdoor testing, usually on ranges at West Hill Golf Club, Surrey, The Wynyard Club in Teesside and at Brancepeth Castle Golf Club in Durham. We then put the clubs into play out on these golf courses.

Specifically for fairway woods, product testing is headed up by Matthew Moore, supported by technical editor Joel Tadman.

Both are competitive low handicap golfers, able to efficiently test the biggest product releases and successfully communicate equipment technology and product features to a wide golfing audience.

What to consider when selecting a new fairway wood

Let's take a look.

Loft -  Figure out the specific gap to be filled in your golf bag. Ask yourself how far does my driver go, and how far do your longest irons or hybrids go? Knowing this will dictate the ideal loft for your fairway wood.

Forgiveness - Some fairway woods are more forgiving than others, especially because many manufacturers create different models for different levels of player. For example, there are four different Cobra LTDx fairways with different head sizes, shapes and they are designed for different golfers. If you need as much help as possible, a larger head will work for you, whilst if you are a better player and strike is more consistent, then forgiveness may not be a key factor for you.

Adjustability - Most modern fairway woods come with a degree of adjustability, whether that’s loft, moveable weights or shaft fittings. Think about how important adjustability is to you, because you can change the characteristics of a club’s performance with a turn of a wrench. Or, you can keep things simple and opt for a non-adjustable model with a stock shaft you hit well.

Versatility - Fairway woods must work well off the tee, on the ground from different lies and even around the green. If you have a model that works in only one of these areas, then there may be plenty of improvement and flexibility in upgrading your fairway woods.

Looks - You have to like how a golf club looks, especially when looking down on the golf ball. The fairway wood is one of the most difficult clubs to hit, which is why you need something that gives you confidence and may even spark a pang of jealousy in your playing partners. Our advice is go and pick several models, see how they look and feel in your hands and test them in a variety of situations and lies.

Budget - Be aware of your budget. You can go for more premium models, such as the TaylorMade Stealth Plus or Callaway Rogue ST LS or you can opt for cheaper designs like the Wilson Launch Pad. Wherever you fall in budget, this guide will present you with good advice on buying a new fairway wood.

What are fairway woods?

Fairway woods are versatile distance clubs that are designed to be hit from the tee, off the fairway and even from light rough, similar to a mini or small headed driver but with slightly more loft and a shallower face.

Traditionally, the size of a driver head ranges from roughly 440cc to 460cc, whereas a fairway wood often is from 140cc to 180cc. Fairway woods look similar in appearance to drivers but have smaller heads.

Fairway wood faces are much shallower than a driver, which keeps the COG (centre of gravity) lower, helping you to get the ball airborne.

Fairway woods are more forgiving than long irons and almost every Tour player puts one or two fairway woods in the bag.

What fairway woods should I carry?

From rocket 3-woods to soft-landing 11-woods, we help you decide!

This depends on three factors.

First, what ability level are you? Fairway woods are more forgiving than long irons, so if you are a beginner or a high handicap player we’d recommend putting as many fairway woods in the bag as possible, providing the lofts and gapping are correct. If you are a better player, then which woods you carry will depend on the following two factors.

Loft and gapping is the next point to mention. Fairway woods have to be able to fill the gap in the bag from the driver to your irons. Therefore, knowing how far you hit each club gives you insight into which yardages you need to fill with fairway woods. The best way of doing this is on a launch monitor with an experienced PGA professional or custom-fitter.

The final factor is the type of golf course do you play on? If you play a lot of links golf, then you’ll likely need to hit lower penetrating shots, whereas inland or parkland golf requires you to hit shots that fly higher and land softer on the fairway or green. Fairway woods are definitely more suited to target parkland golf rather than fast-running firm linksland golf.

The same logic applies to playing golf in windy conditions. Fairway woods are usually designed to give higher launch which makes them difficult to control in the wind, especially when compared to long irons or driving and utility irons.

What loft should a fairway wood be?

Manufacturers offer a range of fairway wood head styles and lofts, ranging from super-strong three woods at 13.5° to 7,9 or 11-woods which are designed for golfers who struggle to launch mid and long irons and want more confidence inspiring equipment to hit the ball further.

Each golfer is different, in their physical fitness, ability and approach to the game. A wide range of fairway wood lofts can provide options for senior players, women and juniors who want alternatives to hitting longer irons. Many established Tour winners have carried 7-woods when course conditions required high flying soft-landing ball flights on key par-5 holes and at long par-3’s.

If you enjoyed this guide on the best fairway woods for high handicappers, check out the Golf Monthly website