How To Hit A 3-Wood Off The Fairway

Golf Monthly Top 50 Coach Dan Grieve offers his top tips and advice to help you strike your fairway woods sweetly

How To Hit A 3-Wood Off The Fairway
(Image credit: Howard Boylan)

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How To Hit A 3-Wood Off The Fairway

A lot of club golfers find it difficult to hit solid fairway wood shots, to the point that they stop trying. As a result, the 3-wood becomes redundant, which just limits your scoring potential. In the video and article below, PGA pro Dan Grieve demonstrates how to hit your fairway woods sweetly, and offers some tips and advice for you to take to the course and lower your scores. 

The quality of the strike is won and lost with the set-up position. Incorrect 3-wood ball position is often the first mistake amateur golfers make – it’s typically too far forward, which often leads to a top, because your angle of attack is too far on the up. 

If you watch the best players on the world, they tend to take a little bit of a divot, so I would suggest putting the ball position a ball back of where you would have it for your driver, and making sure that your shaft is in the middle of the ball. This will help you to get that little ‘pinch’ and elevation that’s required.

One of the other fairway wood keys is to let the arms hang naturally. Those who find this shot difficult, tend to tense up and grip the club really tightly, which makes it very difficult to get the flow and release in the swing. 

Try letting your arms hang to get used to that feeling of being more relaxed. Note the good angles that I’ve created at address in the picture below. I’m standing nice and tall – no slouching, which is another very common mistake.

In terms of weight distribution, I’m looking to set myself so it’s fairly even. With the driver, you’re looking for a little extra weight on the back foot, but with fairways, I like to feel very much 50/50.

Fairway wood basics

Club golfers tend to tense up with a fairway wood, but it's important to stay relaxed

(Image credit: Howard Boylan)

What you may also find useful is to grip half an inch or so down on the club, which should give you an extra bit of control and encourage you to find the middle of the clubface more often. Don’t worry… doing so isn’t going to sacrifice too much distance.

The swing itself is all about balance. Generally, because you’re trying to search for distance with this shot, players tend to go at the ball way too hard, particularly from the top of the swing. Rhythm is the key for this shot. Trust your set-up and the timing of the strike to get you that distance you’re after.

Fairway wood basics

Club golfers have a tendency to go hard at the ball because they're thinking 'distance', but rhythm is the key for this shot

(Image credit: Howard Boylan)

Think about starting the swing smoothly in the takeaway, completing your backswing and making sure that your transition isn't rushed, so you get the speed after the ball. Finally, work on holding that balance in the follow-through.

Dan Grieve
Top 50 Coach

Location: Woburn GC  

Dan is one of the leading coaches in the UK, a Fellow of the PGA and a short-game virtuoso. He has had considerable success with a collection of tour pros, helping them to Order of Merit titles and major victories, and his Short Game School is the most attended in the UK. His students, past and present, include Charley Hull, Georgia Hall, Inci Mehmet and Iona Stephen.

Most common problem:

Swing – over the top , help by getting the basics correct at address and making them aware how to get the club online coming down.

Short game – creating spin and feel around the greens, help by educating on what the short game actually is (weak on purpose) and understand bounce and how they can apply it to different lies/situations.

Greatest success story:

Helping Georgia Hall from World No. 450 to No. 6 and winning a Major, two Order of Merits and Solheim Cup appearances.

Greatest teacher:

Alex Hay was a great influence during my first few years at Woburn. In sport more generally Sir Clive Woodward has taught me how to deliver at the highest level.

Most common fault:

Flipped right hand (hands behind the ball). Understand a correct coil/load going back and how to sequence better coming down so the chest opens up and gives the arms space to deliver a stronger impact. Lots of body action drills to enhance the feel, with and without the ball.