When 3-Wood Is Good

November 25, 2012

Using a 3-wood off the tee can be effective. It produces more backspin than a driver, which helps straighten the ball flight. Coming down the stretch, I've relied on my 3-wood to hit the fairway, and I've won major championships as a result.

For example, I drove with a 3-wood on the final hole of the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, to keep it in the widest part of the landing area. It was to lessen risk, but I made birdie and won.

Jack Nicklaus says it's easier to hit the ball higher and carry it farther with a 3-wood. That's especially true if you don't generate a lot of clubhead speed. If you do go with a 3-wood, don't push the tee all the way down (bottom inset). You'll risk hitting the ball too low on the clubface. Tee it up at least a quarter inch (top inset).


My keys for better driving: Make a full shoulder turn on the backswing; clear my left side on the downswing; and be sure to get 90 percent of my weight to my left foot at impact.

Tom Watson is a Golf Digest Playing Editor and the golf professional emeritus at The Greenbrier, in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.