There are 13 clubs that top our 2016 Hot List collection of the best fairway woods in the game. Whether you’re looking for a backup driver, or a club that’s going to take the place of a long iron or hybrid, you’ll find it here.
There are 13 clubs that top our collection of the best fairway woods in the game this year – but it feels like more.
A lot of that comes from the amount of adjustability there is in this category. And it's not just loft adjustability: moveable weights on several of these fairway woods can change ball flight to the point you think you have two different clubs in one. While we’d all like to be able to hit a small headed, workable fairway wood – and there are a few of those on the list – there are woods on this list that have larger heads, geared towards forgiveness and ease of getting the ball in the air. A few of these clubs even have two options on offer: a more compact or deeper-faced model for the lower handicapper that doesn’t need help launching the ball but wants to control his flight, and a more oversized, shallow-faced version for the average player who needs more forgiveness for his off-center strikes.
Several models have worked especially hard to make those dreaded thin shots still rebound off the face with center-hit-like enthusiasm. Larger heads aren't the only things this category does to make clubs more forgiving. You're not always going to hit the middle of the clubface, so technologies like wrap-around faces, sole and crown flexibility, perimeter weighting, and deeper centers of gravity make it so missing the sweet spot won't be detrimental to your shot.
The weight saved from having thinner, lighter faces and historically thinned out crowns makes it possible to put more weight low in the club. This helps lower spin, which produces the same kind of high-launch/low- spin combo that fuels more distance in drivers. One thing to note that we've found in our testing: With fairway woods yielding less spin these days, you should be looking at a higher-lofted fairway wood to maximize distance. Good news: More companies are offering lofts more similar to 4-woods than ever before.
So whether you're looking for a backup driver, or a club that’s going to take the place of a long iron or hybrid, you’ll find it here.