Most Forgiving Fairway Woods 2022

Forgiving fairway woods to help you play better from the tee and short grass

most forgiving fairway woods
(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

Hitting a well struck fairway wood requires skill and precision. The modern trend among club designers is to make fairway woods that are as forgiving and playable as possible for the widest cross section of golfers.

The best fairway woods (opens in new tab) for forgiveness help players in specific ways using innovative technologies, from multi-material crown and face constructions to moveable weighting and loft/shaft adjustability. Club manufacturers know that most recreational golfers hit it left to right, attack steeply without enough loft on the face and struggle to get these longer clubs airborne.

Their solution is to design fairway woods with a draw bias, slight offset and weighting technology designed to create higher launch angles. The most forgiving fairway woods have larger heads than compact better player models. This gives players more confidence at address, looking down at the ball. Larger heads increase the strike zone and help with quality of contact.

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

Even if you’re a better and stronger player, you find useful benefits by testing some of our selection of the most forgiving fairway woods on the market today. After all, why make the game harder for ourselves? Additionally, take a look at our other guides on the best fairway woods for high handicappers (opens in new tab) or the best fairway woods for mid handicappers (opens in new tab).

Most Forgiving Fairway Woods

Callaway Rogue ST MAX FairwayEditors Choice 2022

(Image credit: Matthew Moore)
Fast and forgiving

Specifications

Lofts: 15°, 16.5°, 18°, 20°, 21°, 24°, 27°

Reasons to buy

+
Attractive premium looks
+
Offset face and slight draw bias for greater forgiveness
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The highest ball speed of any fairway we’ve tested to date in 2022

Reasons to avoid

-
Speedometer graphics on crown aren’t needed

Callaway has released the Rogue ST MAX Fairway to appeal to a wide range of golfers looking for distance, forgiveness and all-around performance in fairway woods. It’s available in 3-wood to 11-wood heads, the biggest selection in Callaway history.

It’s one of three Rogue ST fairways, alongside Rogue ST LS and Rogue ST MAX D, replacing the Mavrik range. ST stands for Speed Tuned, which refers to Callaway using A.I (artificial intelligence) to optimise its Flash Face designs for the best possible launch, spin and ball speed. There’s a redeveloped Jailbreak system in the ST heads, where the dual ‘batwings’ have been pushed further out to the perimeter of the face, creating more face flex for better ball speeds.

Rogue ST MAX comes off with a deeper muted sound compared to the metallic ting of the Mavrik. On test, Rogue ST MAX’s average ball speed was 152.7 mph, the highest of any club on our test and total average distance was 247.3 yards. Even better, dispersion and accuracy were outstanding. The combination of length, accuracy and speed makes Rogue ST MAX one of the best Callaway fairway woods on the market today.

titleist tsi2 fairway woodEditors Choice 2022


(Image credit: Golf Monthly)
Simple design impressive results

Specifications

Lofts: 15°, 16.5°, 18°, 21°

Reasons to buy

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Great off the deck, sounds good and produces a lovely flight
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Classic, traditional shape

Reasons to avoid

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The smallish head size might not be what you want for a bit of help

This is designed more for forgiveness and to get the ball in the air easier than the TSi3. And unlike its sibling it doesn’t feature the weight track – the flat weight at the back here gets the CG as far back and as low as possible to improve the launch.

There is speed and accuracy across the entire face rather than a specific strike position which will be music to many ears.

An interesting stat about the new TSi2 and TSi3 is that the discrepancy between the drivers on tour is about 85 per cent in favour of the TSi3 whereas in the fairway woods it’s almost 50-50 so don’t see this as the option for the mid to high-handicapper, it’s just a great sounding, looking and feeling club.

TaylorMade Stealth FairwayEditors Choice 2022

(Image credit: Matthew Moore)
Power meets playability

Specifications

Lofts: 15°, 16.5°, 18°, 21°, 24°

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

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Non-adjustable, lack of custom shafts may put better players off

The TaylorMade Stealth fairway family has two models, the Stealth and Stealth Plus. 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. The red and black Stealth colour story 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.

The Stealth model performed brilliantly in our testing, even outperforming the Stealth Plus model aimed at lower handicappers. It led several data categories on average, including clubhead speed (103.7 mph), ball speed (150.9) and spin rate (3780 avg). It was also forgiving on mishits and had one of the tightest dispersion patterns of all new 2022 fairway releases.

Ping G425 SFT Fairway Wood

(Image credit: Ping)

Ping G425 SFT Fairway Wood

Reasons to buy

+
Faster ball speeds across the face versus last year’s model while maintaining forgiveness

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the flashiest looking club

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 new family for forgiveness.

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. Adding forgiveness across the face can often mean a tradeoff with distance, but that certainly isn’t the case here.

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.

Cobra LTDx Max Fairway

(Image credit: Matthew Moore)
Feel and forgiveness combined

Specifications

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

Reasons to buy

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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

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Not as long as the other Cobra LTDx models tested

Cobra LTDx fairways feature are packed with innovative technology including a carbon fibre crown and Cobra’s PWR-COR and H.O.T. FACE technologies. Engineers redistributed the 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 it easier to launch the ball higher, 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's among the most accurate fairway metals we’ve tested this year.

Srixon ZX Fairway, srixon fairway wood with grass background

(Image credit: Future)
Great all-rounder

Specifications

Lofts: 13.5°, 15°, 18°, 21°

Reasons to buy

+
Competitive distance
+
Powerful feel 
+
Pleasing aesthetic at address

Reasons to avoid

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Some may prefer a slightly larger hitting area
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Fixed hosel limits versatility.

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 comes in four options with the 3+ and 3 using a lightweight carbon crown to push the MOI up and increase forgiveness in the lofts, which makes it one of the best fairway woods for higher handicappers (opens in new tab) who struggle to get the ball airborne.

Wilson staff launchpad fairway wood

(Image credit: Wilson Staff)

Wilson Launch Pad Fairway

Best for low ball hitters

Specifications

Lofts: 16°, 19°, 22°

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

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55g shaft is lightweight for a fairway
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Non-adjustable

Wilson’s new Launch Pad fairways are part of a range of super game-improvement clubs designed to help high handicap golfers play better and enjoy the game more.

At £200, the Wilson Launch Pad fairway is a significant saving on the most premium fairway woods we tested. The high-strength Carpenter Custom 455 face is super thin in order to increase ball speed for more distance. The head sits closed at address due to its draw bias design which can take some getting used to when lining up.

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.

mizuno st-z fairway

(Image credit: Golf Monthly)

Mizuno ST-Z Fairway Wood

Good for high launch and adjustability

Specifications

Lofts: 15°, 18°

Reasons to buy

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Beautiful, classic look with a carbon crown
+
Hosel adjustability for the first time in a Mizuno fairway wood

Reasons to avoid

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Limited model options

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.

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 (opens in new tab), a 1-handicapper with many years of experience in the golf industry. He is ably assisted by technical editor Joel Tadman, and digital editor Neil Tappin.

All three have been testing clubs for many years, and can efficiently test the vast majority of the biggest product releases and convey the pros and cons eloquently.

What to consider when buying a 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, our guides will present you with good advice on buying a new fairway wood.

We hope you enjoyed this guide on the most forgiving fairway woods. 

FAQ's

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?

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 our guide to the most forgiving fairway woods, check out the rest of the Golf Monthly website.

Matthew Moore fell in love with golf hitting an old 3-iron around his school playing field imagining rugby posts were flags and long jump pits as bunkers.

He earned golf scholarships to the University of St Andrews and Emory University, Atlanta, U.S.A and dreamed of playing professionally before training as a journalist.

He has worked at Golf Monthly and CNN Sports as well as covering golf news, features, products and travel as a freelance writer and TV presenter for newspapers, magazines and corporate clients. Matthew has interviewed Ryder Cup Captains, Major Champions and legends of the game and rates sharing a glass of rioja and a bowl of nuts with Miguel Angel Jimenez as his favourite moment. Matthew plays off 1, has won five club championships and aced the first hole of Augusta National’s Par-3 course in 2002.