News & ToursJune 12, 2008

Johnson: Is 3-Wood a Better Choice?

LA JOLLA, Calif. --  Phil Mickelson's strategy of going driverless appeared to be a decent call after an even-par 71 at Torrey Pines in the opening round. However, the move does bring with it some questions.

First, the facts. Mickelson's pseudo driver is a 13-degree Callaway FT Tour 3-wood that was bent to 11.5 degrees. The club has a 43-inch (standard for Lefty's 3-wood) Mitsubishi Diamana White Board shaft.

But was it the right call? Although amateurs often hit 3-wood off the tee when fairways are tight and control is needed, that's not necessarily the case for better players who are more consistent.

Testing by Golf Digest revealed just a slight benefit for the 3-wood over the driver for better players with faster swings.

Still, some pros use the 3-wood or even a hybrid off the tee as a position club because the driver simply brings more trouble into play. Mickelson likely falls into that group and we'll see how it plays out over the next three rounds.

But if you're wondering if you should adopt a similar strategy, consider this Golf Digest survey of 33 men's tour pros, including 10 major championship winners, when asked the following:

With today's more forgiving drivers, should amateurs hit driver off every tee, or is 3-wood sometimes the better play?

Their answer: Driver 94 percent/3-wood 6 percent.

-- E. Michael Johnson

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