How to Play Fairway Woods

Written by bill herrfeldt
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How to Play Fairway Woods
Lower your golf score by hitting your fairway woods better. (Golfer in action image by Sean Wallace-Jones from

If you are a typical golfer, you might hit your fairway woods a dozen times during an 18-hole round. And if you're like most golfers, you probably will mishit them more often than not. Although the fundamentals of a golf swing are fairly well-known, hitting a fairway wood requires a somewhat different swing than shorter shots do. It takes a lot of work to hit fairway woods well, but doing so can make a real difference in your score.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Spread your feet shoulder-width apart and position the golf ball just inside the left heel, if you are right-handed. That's different than with a short iron, where the ball is placed in the centre of your stance. By positioning the ball inside your left heel, you stretch your arms more, resulting in the wider swing arc needed for the shot.

  2. 2

    Turn your upper body, but keep your head still, as you take the club back. High-handicap players tend to move their heads away from the target, which affects the distance, quality and accuracy of their shots. Rotate your hips, but not quite as much as your shoulders.

  3. 3

    Make a wider swing and bigger arc than you would with a short iron to account for the fact that fairway woods are longer.

  4. 4

    Maintain your wrist cock as long as you can. At the top of your swing, your wrists should be cocked as much as possible. By maintaining that angle closer to the impact zone, you will hit your fairway woods farther.

  5. 5

    Visualise hitting about an inch behind the golf ball and through about 2 inches past the contact point. Unlike your short irons, don't hit down on the ball. Instead, hit the ball with a sweeping motion. Don't try to lift the ball.

  6. 6

    There's no substitute for practicing fairway wood shots as much as possible. Over time, you will become more comfortable with them, resulting in lower scores.

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