Set-Up Breakthrough: Fairway Woods

For the past few weeks, I have had trouble hitting my 3-wood off the fairway. I think most golf instructors will tell you that fairway woods are some of the hardest clubs to get up in the air off of tight fairway lies because of the loft. I agree.

I think Tiger Woods' How I Play Golf is one of the best golf instructional books ever written.
I think Tiger Woods’ How I Play Golf is one of the best golf instructional books ever written.

I have actually been hitting my 3-wood a little fat lately, which is resulting in a low hook. It’s been especially frustrating because I smoke my 3-wood off the tee more often than not.

From time to time, I will pull out Tiger Woods’ How I Play Golf when I am struggling with different aspects of my game. I think it’s one of the best instructional books ever written. It was written when Tiger was still working with Butch Harmon and was still at the peak of his game. It’s also full of a ton of great pictures taken by Golf Digest photographers.

I turned to Chapter 6, “How to Nail Fairway Woods,” and read what Tiger had to say about the address position for a fairway wood. One thing really jumped out at me right away : the position of Tiger’s right shoulder. His right shoulder is significantly lower than his left (or lead shoulder) at address. When I was working with PGA Instructor Mike Barnett at Bear Creek Golf Course in Chandler, he got me to play the ball more forward in my stance with my 3-wood so I would sweep it right off the grass. Even though I felt like I was going to completely miss the ball at first, it seemed to work. But like anything else, I got to working on other things and have gotten away from that particular swing thought.

Notice the position of my shoulders at address with my 3-wood. 

This morning, I was back on the range with three thoughts in mind: keeping my right shoulder lower than my left, playing the ball more forward in my stance than I’m used to, and feeling like my spine is tilted away from the golf ball at address. Boy did that help! I started hitting nice, high draws off the deck. I realize now that because my shoulders were more level at address, it was forcing my swing arc to bottom out prematurely and causing me to smother or hook the ball. Give this tip a try. I think you’ll be surprised at how well it can work for you.

I changed the position of my shoulders so that my right shoulder was lower than my left and my spine was tilted more away from the target.
I changed the position of my shoulders so that my right shoulder was lower than my left and my spine was tilted more away from the target.

Blogger’s Note, 3.20.15:
After a lot of trial and error, I went back to Campus Director Tim Eberlein and told him I was having a hard time getting my 3-wood up in the air off the fairway with any consistency. I got on our TrackMan launch monitor, and it turn out, the shaft I’m using is to blame. The Fujikura shaft that came with the 3-wood I’m hitting is a High-Kick shaft. I need more of a Mid-Kick shaft to help get the ball up in the air. The Cobra Amp Cell that I’m hitting is a couple of years old now, and I can’t find another shaft just like this one. In fact, the only Fujikura shaft that Cobra sold with a Mid-Kick at the time was a regular flex, and I need a stiff flex.

Because the Amp Cell series features MyFly technology, you can adjust the loft and face angle of the club with the quick turn of a wrench. Tim says for every degree you close the face angle, it actually increases the loft of the face at impact the same amount. Because we closed the face angle two degrees, I now have to more degrees of loft at impact. My launch angle immediately improved, and now, I’m getting the ball a lot higher up in the air.

This article has 1 Comment

  1. Dan, each of your putting drills makes a lot of sense, and your instructional style makes it easy to follow. Coincidentally, this past weekend Toni and I worked on her putting, so your tips are timely. We’ll be sure to take them to the practice green – I’m sure we will benefit from them. Hope all is going well for you.

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