How To Hit Fairway Woods And Hybrids

In this video and article, Tour Coach Liam James offers some insight into how to hit fairway woods and hybrids

Tour coach Liam James hitting a fairway wood
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

With irons, you’re looking for a descending angle of attack with a lot of weight shifting towards the target. With your driver, you are looking for more of an upward hit. So where do fairway woods and hybrids fit in? Tour coach Liam James explains in the video and article below!

Fairway woods

With woods, you’re not looking to hit down on the ball and some key set-up changes will help you find the right angle of attack. Because of the low loft, many golfers are guilty of making changes as they swing to ‘help’ get the ball up. That’s the last thing you should do.

Ball position

Ball position is very important. Many golfers have the ball too far back in the stance so there’s not enough loft at impact. When it comes to your fairway wood ball position, make sure you have it just inside your left heel, which is far enough forward to help shallow out the angle of attack out a little.

Tour coach Liam James demonstrating the correct ball position for fairway woods

Set up with the ball just inside your lead hill when hitting a fairway wood

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

The second thing is that you need a nice wide base, so your stance should be shoulder-width or a fraction more. Too narrow here and you’re going to get too much weight towards the left foot. Your weight distribution at address should be evenly balanced between your feet – think 50/50.

Tour coach Liam James demonstrating how to set up properly to hit a fairway wood

Your upper body should be angled slightly away from the target

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Finally, if you get ball position and weight distribution right, you should find that your shirt buttons sit a little behind your belt buckle. This angle or tilt in your upper body and shoulders will help shallow out the angle of attack and get the golf ball launching up in the air.

Bruise the grass

For most fairway wood shots, you shouldn’t be creating much of a divot. Think of it more in terms of the club just bruising the top of the grass through impact.


Hybrids and utility irons have become very popular at the long end of the bag as their design makes them easier to hit than long irons. One of the key questions to ask is: What is the right ball positions for hybrids? 

The answer is not as far forward as with a fairway wood – more like a mid- to long-iron, so about one-and-a-half balls inside your left heel depending on loft. Despite their mini-wood head style, I would definitely recommend treating them much more like an iron than a wood when it comes to set-up and execution.

Tour coach Liam James demonstrating the proper ball position for hybrid clubs

Nudge the ball position slightly further back with your hyrbid(s)

(Image credit: Tom Miles)

Because the shaft is a little longer than in an iron, my advice would be to grip down half-an-inch to an inch to make you more comfortable and get it feeling more like an iron at set-up. This will also give you more control. The design of the club with its deeper head allows the centre of gravity to sit much further from the face, and it is this that make the best hybrid clubs so much easier to launch than the equivalent long iron.

Playing it more like an iron means you shouldn’t be afraid to hit the ground at impact and take a little divot – the head design with its broad sole helps to prevent the club from digging in. When the ball is sitting down a little in the rough, grip down a little bit more and narrow your stance a fraction. Making the club a little bit shorter will help you to hit down a little more, which is what you need from this kind of lie.

Added versatility

The design of these clubs means it is also possible to hit a hybrid out the rough, as the clubhead will glide through the turf more easily, making it one of the most versatile clubs a golfer can put in their bag.

Neil Tappin
Digital Editor

In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."

Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSR2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X