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Make Sure Every Club You Carry in Your Bag Counts

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Rory McIlroy fired a sensational 8-under par 64 in the opening round of the BMW Championship. The highlight shot of his tournament-leading round was a majestic 3-wood he struck on the Par 5 sixteenth hole. The flighted fairway wood reached the uphill 600-yard hole in two and led to an eagle.
The shot was a surprise considering the stories surrounding Rory’s 3-wood this week. When asked by the press why his practice range sessions were so lengthy in the Baltimore heat, McIlroy responded he needed to select a new fairway wood. 
Too many times the average male or female golfer just grabs a replacement club and goes onto the next round. Rory’s ridiculous tale has a moral, choosing a fairway wood takes a thoughtful approach. Even if you were equally as quick as the Irishman to discard the last one.
When selecting a new fairway wood for your set, make sure you consider the following:
The Loft
Don’t just grab a 3-wood because everyone carries a 3-wood. Loft is very important when selecting a club this long in length. You don’t have the benefit of a tee when you use this club. You have to launch it from the ground. The standard 3-wood has 15-degrees of loft.  That’s not enough for the average player. Make sure you select a club that allows you to hit long, high shots. Many companies have 4-woods and 5-woods available. Try all your options and see which one works best.
The Shaft
Goes hand in hand with the loft. Long clubs are meant to hit long flighted shots. They are not meant to roll a long way. Get a shaft that propels the ball into the air. The shaft may end up being different from the flex on your driver. That’s very common on tour. More flex is needed to lift the ball off the ground; embrace it.
The Decision
Standard sets historically came with two or three fairway woods. You only get 14 clubs total. Most golfers only need one fairway wood. Measure your carry distances with each of your metals. If their carry distance is less than ten yards apart, you only need the higher lofted one. Drop the other fairway wood and pick up another scoring wedge.
Details matter in golf. Any PGA Coach would argue more for you than Rory McIlroy. Selecting the best fairway metal for your game is not a quick decision. You have many options. Equipment manufacturers love giving us choices; take advantage. Make sure you choose a club that “fits” your game. It should fly high and far. Try to limit how many you have, adding more scoring clubs will lower your overall score more than multiple fairway woods.
Most of all, have fun with building your bag. Don’t fear the fairway wood, rather chuck away that old mindset and get yourself a new rocket launcher. Nothing feels better than a towering shot from the turf!

Keith Stewart is a 5-time award-winning PGA Professional with 25 years of experience in the golf industry. His network of players, coaches and insiders provide him with a unique perspective on the game. He's a writer on PGA.com and host of the ProShow on ESPN 920 AM Friday afternoons at 3:00pm EDT. Check out his PGA Coaching articles archived here or his conversations on air with this link to his website The ProShow.

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