Fairway woods are notorious among high handicap players as the hardest clubs in golf to hit. Even the pros struggle at times with woods, so how are amateurs expected to get along with these clubs? In fact, with the rise of hybrids and easy-to-hit long irons, the fairway wood has dropped out of many player’s bags altogether.
With the exponential growth in technology over the last few decades however, golf club manufacturers have been releasing new products year upon year that are improving the performance of all golfers. This is seen perhaps most clearly in the fairway wood, as the infamous clubs have become much easier to strike in recent times. Perhaps the greatest miracle in modern golfing technology is that these clubs allow even the biggest hackers to get the majority of their shots airborne.
Throughout this article then, we’ll be taking a look at the best new fairway woods for high handicappers on the market. We’ll also be checking out the very best fairway woods over the last 5 years, as we take a deep look into the best fairway woods for high handicappers.
5 Best Fairway Woods for High Handicappers in 2020
1. Cobra Speedzone Fairway Wood
Lofts: 14.5° 18.5° 22.5° (All Adjustable)
With the F9 models from last year, Cobra struck gold. A truly magnificent set of clubs, with the driver and fairway woods earning the most vocal acclaim, the F9 models elevated Cobra from a periphery equipment brand into one of the biggest players in the market, especially for wooden clubs.
The follow up to the F9 then has been hotly anticipated for nearly a full year. What would Cobra do next? The answer is the Speedzone range, meaning more of the same. That’s a pretty good thing in my book. Keeping with the brilliance of the F9, Cobra are sticking with the now iconic yellow design (still with a white option) for the Speedzone range. The tech too, is pretty similar, with Hollow Split Rails retaining the hot face of the F9 and putting the Speedzone supposedly at the legal limit of speed.
Cobra woods usually send the ball flying off the face at incredible speed, with the F7, F8 and F9 all conforming to this trend, and the Speedzone is no different. There is always an extra zip from Cobra woods, which higher handicappers will absolutely love off the tee with the Speedzone. The power of this club also helps in the fairway, as golfers will have confidence that a slow and easy arms-swing to make better contact won’t mean a short shot!
The Speedzone comes with Tour and Big Tour versions, but if you’re reading this article then you will want to stay away from those. The Tour version particularly won’t look nice to you at address if you can’t get fairway woods airborne consistently.
The Final Word: A great follow up to an all-time great club with better value than the big rivals. In this writer’s opinion, Cobra make the best fairway woods, and the Speedzone does nothing to change that sentiment.
Longest Shot Golf Rating Price:3/5 – Looks:5/5 – Performance:5/5 – Overall:13/15
2. TaylorMade SIM Titanium Fairway Wood
Lofts: 14° 15° 19° (All Adjustable)
TaylorMade have long been specialists in big-headed clubs. Whether it’s their driver models or their fairway wood options, such as the classic M2 and AeroBurner woods, TaylorMade have always been in the conversation for the best longer clubs money can buy. They have however, received a bit of criticism for the last few models in the M range, so were under pressure this year to deliver a great new product.
With the SIM, TaylorMade have certainly done that. Through using TaylorMade’s twist face technology and a more pronounced and sleeker V Steel sole, the SIM is the perfect club for a higher handicapper to get the ball in the air from the fairway and send it miles from the tee. The SIM, meaning ‘Shape in Motion’, is a return to form for the classic TaylorMade formula of easy-to-hit distance clubs that suit the higher handicapper so well. The club is also a throwback in terms of looks, and is sure to win over nostalgic hearts with its Burner style head.
The SIM comes in a variety of lofts from 3 to 5 wood and is of course, like most premium clubs nowadays, fully adjustable. There is also an alternative SIM Max range that offer far beefier clubheads. The Max may suit your game more, but don’t assume so without testing.
The Final Word: The SIM has an extremely steep price for a fairway wood, but if you can get the performance you need then to some it is worth it. The SIM offers that performance and looks great to boot, it’s up to you whether that’s worth the money.
Longest Shot Golf Rating Price:1/5 – Looks:4/5 – Performance:5/5 – Overall:10/15
3. Callaway MAVRIK Fairway Wood
Lofts: 14° 15.5° 16.5° 18° 21° (Non-Adjustable)
While TaylorMade have had a lot of success with woods in recent years, they are not the only brand with a claim to the ‘Wooden Throne’ (Mizuno own the Iron Throne). Callaway are another brand with a rich history in fairway woods, and the Big Bertha brand to this day is many people’s favourite fairway wood line in history.
The new Callaway MAVRIK lines however are a radical departure aesthetically to the previous Epic and Rogue models, let alone the classic Big Bertha. The racing orange colour, strange font and very unique name are all part of what Callaway claim is their longest club yet. While this may not be true for everyone, the MAVRIK certainly is a strong fairway wood in 2020 and as a cheaper alternative to the SIM, potentially a more economical candidate too.
Coming in three options, the MAVRIK, MAVRIK Max and MAVRIK Sub-Zero, there is no shortage of choice for potential buyers, with the MAVRIK and MAVRIK Max being the best options for high-handicap players.
The Final Word: While claims of supreme distance appear to be unfounded and deceiving, this club is solid and to some will look awesome in their bag.
Longest Shot Golf Rating Price:2/5 – Looks:3/5 – Performance:4/5 – Overall:9/15
4. Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo Fairway Wood
Lofts: 15° 18° (Non-Adjustable)
Every brand has one club, or group of clubs, associated with it more than any other. If you think of TaylorMade for example, you think drivers. If you think of putters, you think of Titleist, or more specifically, Scotty Cameron. When you think of Cleveland, you think of wedges, not fairway woods, and you would be forgiven for doing so too, given the sustained quality Cleveland has produced in the short game department over the years. But Cleveland do make other clubs too, and how.
The Launcher HB Turbo range, across the bag, is a very solid range of clubs. The fairway wood options in particular are superb, and for a very respectable price, at least in today’s market. This club offers superb performance pound-for-pound.
Crucially, for higher handicappers, the HB Turbo’s forgiving technology and a lower centre of gravity means that regardless of how you hit the ball, it is more likely to go in the air. This is fantastic news for those who find every part of the clubface other than the screws, and can really help a lot of higher handicappers improve their games.
The club comes in just two lofts and only one specification but that’s to be expected at nearly half the price of the SIM.
The Final Word: A very solid club for a very good price. Don’t forget about Cleveland when you’re thinking of your next fairway wood.
Longest Shot Golf Rating Price:4/5 – Looks:3/5 – Performance:4/5 – Overall:11/15
5. Tour Edge Exotics EXS 220 Fairway Wood
Lofts: 13.5° 15° 16.5° 18° 21° (Non-Adjustable)
You might have never heard of Tour Edge, but they have been around for over 30 years and make a lot of good products. They have two lines of clubs at the moment, the Exotics and the Hot Launch. The Exotics this year is particularly good, especially the fairway wood.
The quality stems from the new ‘diamond face’ technology, which acts as a propulsion agent straight off the face. The ‘diamond’ pattern behind the face is said to both reduce your miss and increase your distance, adding playability to higher handicapper’s games.
Also a delight for higher handicappers is the sole of the club. As well as the head looking great, the sole has slipstream and sound diffusion technology, ensuring that it is easier to get your shots airborne and sounding epic at the same time. If anything, this club is the easiest to hit from the grass of all the clubs on this list, which will do wonders for your confidence.
The EXS 220 is loaded with tech and comes in a variety of lofts. Those of you who don’t know about Tour Edge just yet, might want to start learning soon!
The Final Word: Great for those who really struggle to hit a fairway wood off grass, and especially for those looking for a classically designed, reasonably priced option.
Longest Shot Golf Rating Price:3/5 – Looks:3/5 – Performance:4/5 – Overall:10/15
Top 7 Fairway Woods for High Handicappers – Last 5 Years
1. 2017 – Cleveland Golf Men’s Launcher HB Fairway Wood
Lofts: 15° 18° (Non-Adjustable)
With the name HB standing for ‘high ball’, it is no surprise that this club is designed to launch it high and hit it straight. And boy does the Cleveland HB Launcher do just that, perhaps even more so than this year’s Turbo edition, as this club is one of the best designed specifically for high handicap golfers over the past decade.
Players that want a better combination of performance and simplicity with a focus on higher launch, straighter shots and more forgiveness, need look no further.
Like the 2020 Turbo, the HB Launcher comes in two lofts and isn’t adjustable, but that’s not what this club represents. The Cleveland HB Launcher is about making the game more fun and easier for the average player. If you are that average player, this club may be for you.
The Final Word: A confidence-inspiring club with a great amount of performance for a cheap price, this club still holds up three years after its release.
Longest Shot Golf Rating Price:5/5 – Looks:3/5 – Performance:4/5 – Overall:12/15
2. 2018 – Callaway Rogue Fairway Wood
Lofts: 13° 15° 17° 19° (Non-Adjustable)
The Rogue was designed to promote increased ball speed and distance, which translates perfectly for high handicappers who need faster ball speed. The size, shape and position of the head helps players get better airflow and more club speed, allowing the Jailbreak technology to work its distance magic.
Face Cup technology also promotes more speed, on both centre and off-centre hits, that enables beginner golfers to achieve fast ball speed and long, straight shots regardless of how well the ball is struck.
The Final Word: This club is super easy to launch very far on a strong and straight flight. A classic range from Callaway, that some have called a perfectly legal ‘cheat club’!
Longest Shot Golf Rating Price:3/5 – Looks:5/5 – Performance:5/5 – Overall:13/15
3. 2015 – TaylorMade Aeroburner Black Fairway Wood
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Lofts: 15° 16.5° 18° 21° 23° (Non-Adjustable)
When the TaylorMade AeroBurner fairway wood came out, it went astronomical distances. To this day, even with all the new technology available, the AeroBurner still goes astronomical distances, and for a much lower price.
Any high handicap golfer who is struggling with slicing their fairway wood can gain a lot from the slight draw bias this club brings, while the lack of adjustability is in this case a good thing as it shows distance and ease of hitting were prioritised in the club design by TaylorMade.
Even the alignment is easy with this fairway wood because the crown graphics make it so simple, whether you purchase in white or the super slick black finish.
The Final Word: The AeroBurner has stood the test of time in terms of distance, and with distance restraints soon coming into play, it may go down as one of the longest fairway woods ever designed. Good for those of you who don’t like hitting your driver!
Longest Shot Golf Rating Price:4/5 – Looks:4/5 – Performance:4/5 – Overall:12/15
4. 2017 – TaylorMade M2 Fairway Wood
Lofts: 15° 16.5° 18° 21° 24° (Non-Adjustable)
The iconic design that, along with the M1, ushered in the new era of TaylorMade’s highly successful M range. This club looks beautiful, harking back to the days of the R11 where the world went crazy over white topped clubs, and performs beautifully too.
Many professionals love this club, but it offers just as much to the weekend golfer as to the Tour player. The club is shallow and it’s easy to send the ball sky high, it’s extremely powerful as TaylorMade would want, and it is super forgiving too.
Also, now that there have are three new sets of products on the market since the M2 came out, the club is much more reasonably priced than at the time of its original release.
The Final Word: An iconic club that offers as much to high handicappers today as it did to professionals three years ago.
Longest Shot Golf Rating Price:3/5 – Looks:4/5 – Performance:5/5 – Overall:12/15
5. 2017 – Cobra KING F7 Fairway Wood
Lofts: 14.5° 18.5° 22.5° (Adjustable)
I’ve mentioned many times in this article how I believe Cobra make the best fairway woods, at least in recent times. The F7 seemed to be the club to start that trend.
To gain precision, the Cobra F7 comes with an eight-position adjustable hosel and a range of 3-degrees of loft, giving it huge adjustability that the F9 and Speedzone implement still to this day.
But the main feature of the F7 fairway wood is the implementation of the Baffler Dual Rail design, and the adjustable weight system to control the centre of the gravity of the head. This means that the club glides across the turf much better, helping high handicappers get the ball in the air.
The Final Word: I have this club in my bag. I didn’t have a fairway wood for a while because I couldn’t hit them higher than two feet. This club converted me, and it’s an absolute rocket-ship to boot.
Longest Shot Golf Rating Price:4/5 – Looks:3/5 – Performance:5/5 – Overall:12/15
6. 2016 – Callaway XR 16 Fairway Wood
Lofts: 15° 17° 19° 21° 23° 25° (Non-Adjustable)
When you look at the XR 16 clubhead, the first impression you would get is that this fairway wood is easy to hit – and you wouldn’t be wrong.
When you hit the ball, you’ll see how easy it is to bomb high and straight shots, all while achieving extended carry and maximum distance. Simply put, this club is the Callaway precursor to the ‘cheat club’ Rogue.
The Final Word: A wonderfully easy club to hit with great technology and a decent price. It may well be between this and the F7 for the second best high handicapper fairway wood to come out in the last five years.
Longest Shot Golf Rating Price:4/5 – Looks:4/5 – Performance:5/5 – Overall:13/15
7. 2019 – Cobra KING F9 Speedback Fairway Wood
Lofts: 14.5° 18.5° 22.5° (Adjustable)
I’ve teased this club numerous times throughout this article, not least when talking about this year’s Cobra Speedzone model, which is of course a continuation of this club. I also mentioned that the XR 16 was in contention for the second best club of the past five years.
And while the F9 driver took all the headlines, every big headed club released by Cobra last year was excellent. The KING F9 fairway wood however, might have been the best of all, and indeed the best fairway wood in the last five years.
The milled face design is rare among big manufacturers and truly does give extra forgiveness and some serious heat off the face. It is so easy to hit and goes so far. Easier swings seem to go further, while it is very difficult to send shots with this club off the planet left or right.
The club also remains the most adjustable on the market and comes in white if for some reason you don’t love the yellow design, which I think is amazing!
The Final Word: In this writer’s opinion, the KING F9 is the best fairway wood available for purchase anywhere on the market. Now is perhaps the time to get fitted for an F9 while the price is lower and fitting is still available.
Longest Shot Golf Rating Price:4/5 – Looks:5/5 – Performance:5/5 – Overall:14/15
Things you should know before buying
Some of you reading this will take this section for granted, but in reality many golfers looking at buying equipment, particularly those just starting the game, don’t know the value of custom fitting.
If you were going to an exclusive dinner party, and you wanted to network with some important people, would you buy a suit or dress from off the shelf, particularly without trying it? Of course not! You would go to a tailor or a dressmaker and get a suit or dress made to fit your exact body size. The act of purchasing a golf club is no different.
Every aspect of your swing is unique and makes a difference in your clubs, whether you swing it fast or slow, in-to-out or out-to-in, steep or shallow. Your height and even your weight matter too, as does personal preference. It is vital then that you go and have a fitting session at a driving range or pro shop.
I recommend just paying for the fitting session by itself, because you don’t have the option of custom fitting some older clubs. Once you know your ideal specifications, you can then buy golf clubs online, be it on Amazon or eBay, safe in the knowledge that you aren’t buying an XXL suit when you need a Medium. You can comfortably search for cheaper clubs by your specs, and improve your game in doing so.
Hint: It is more than likely that if you are a high handicapper reading this article, your swing speed will require a regular shaft. This is not always the case however, so make sure you get custom fit. Your fairway wood will also likely need a touch more loft to help give you extra confidence of getting the ball in the air.
Swing Faults or Equipment Faults?
It’s easy to blame bad shots on equipment,especially with the wooden clubs off the ground. However, it is more than likely that your swing is the issue, not your current club. After all, a good workman never blames his tools.
While there is no doubt that a new Cobra F9 or a TaylorMade M2 can elevate your game, good players should be able to hit any club well, regardless of its age.
The most common fault with high handicappers and fairway woods, that I have mentioned on numerous occasions, is getting the ball in the air. Although this won’t work for all, the easiest way to fix that is to press your hands slightly forward at address, swing back normally, and then just swing with your arms on the way through. Don’t let your body rotate too much, and your arms should send that ball sky high!
In the past, fairway woods would come with a wooden head, hence where the name was derived. Today, you should know that there are three types of club heads, and despite the name ‘fairway wood’, none of them are wooden anymore.
You will find that many modern fairway woods have a steel face. Steel is not expensive, but is a durable material that gives a robust and forgiving element to the fairway wood. Also, thanks to the steel face, the clubhead doesn’t have to be as big as a driver, which considering the size of some drivers nowadays is a blessing.
The next clubhead material is titanium. Titanium has half the weight of steel, and this lightweight material provides manufacturers with the ability to push the centre of gravity further back in the head.
The outcome is the possibility to make the ball become airborne earlier while reaching the maximum distance. This, as you may well know, is crucial for high handicappers.
There are also multi-material clubs that combine modern materials like steel, titanium and carbon. These clubheads are similar to titanium heads because they can provide better launch and reduce twisting on off-center hits, which is now less prominent among fairway woods than irons.
Finally, you should know that the materials used in golf clubs today are premium products, and therefore the finished product will come at a price. You can still get quality clubs for a decent price however, so pay attention to our price rating on each club review!
Today, it appears that graphite fairway wood shafts represent the norm, while manufacturers still make steel shafts on some products. This is due to steel shafts being the best option for better players, primarily because they offer a lower and more penetrating ball flight.
Some players are claiming that steel shaft clubs can offer a little more accuracy, but it is hard to determine that because the use of fairway woods, more so than irons for instance, is dependent on distance more than accuracy.
If you are a beginner or you just don’t get along with steel shafts however, then the best choice for you is a more flexible graphite shaft. You can also get graphite shafts in multiple flexes and lengths, meaning no matter how you swing, you can find the right shaft, and club, for you. Again, custom fitting is the best way to learn what you need.
Finally, we recommend that you read the shaft performance guide on each manufacturer’s website. This will give you additional info related to the weight, launch and spin specifications of each available shaft, as well as a side-by-side comparison.
While fairway woods might be getting replaced with hybrids in some players bags, they remain integral to others who can’t hit their driver so well or who have always loved their 3 wood.
These clubs then are crucial all over the course, as they provide the highest distance reasonably achievable when not on the tee. For some shorter hitters, this means they are the most important club in the bag. It’s vital then, to have a fairway wood that you can hit consistently well and long.
The 12 clubs reviewed above showcase just how many options there are for players looking for a new fairway wood, and with the offerings from so many manufacturers, there is bound to be something for everyone on this list.
Personally, I recommend looking at Cobra. The F9 in particular offers the best value for money, the most adjustable clubhead, the best looks and the best performance for many including myself. There is no aspect that Cobra does not perform well in when it comes to fairway woods, and they might even lead the field in every single category. Also, as a great bonus, Cobra’s stock shaft is a Project X HZRDUS, which is an incredibly high quality, light and fast graphite shaft.
And you? What is your best fairway woods for high handicappers?
Whether you go for Cobra, TaylorMade, Callaway, Cleveland or any other brand, it is vital you make the right decision for your fairway wood.
This article will help you make that decision!