One of the beautiful things about track wood is what it represents to different golfers. For some players this equates to safety – a club to use the tee if a driver feels too risky. For others, it’s the perfect fairway stick to keep the ball moving in the right direction towards the green and the hole. Although there is even an element of spectacularity in the forest on the fairway. This can be a long shot at the green from rough terrain or an approach over water. Get it wrong and the outcome can be disastrous. Get it right and this club could be spectacular.
My personal favorite was Padraig Harrington at the Open 2008. Playing Royal Birkdale par-five 17p. Claret Jug was on the line. The Irishman had a two-stroke advantage and pulled out his high five with a shot from a 272-yard approach. Bunkers, a narrow green on two levels and out of bounds on the right, playing against a crosswind from left to right, the element of risk was high. But Harrington nailed his shot as he ran to five feet. He rolled in an eagle push and retained The Open. The timber of the fairway paid off.
Here at AMERICAN GOLF, we’ve picked the top ten fairway forests for 2023. Let’s read on and see which one is the best fit as you try to create your own Harrington-style moment.
Best Fairway Woods 2023
Ping G430 Fairway Wood (£329):
Loft: 3 SFT, 5 SFT, 7 SFT Left Handed: Yes (3 SFT, 5 SFT, 7 SFT)
Ping boldly bets on the G430 SFT because SFT stands for Straight Flight Technology. The creators of the club promise that they have made every effort to ensure that the ball flies straight! To be one of the best fairway woods in 2023, manufacturers have opted for a construction with a lighter structure that makes it easier to get square on impact. Any coach will tell you that this is the most consistent way to find the fairway by hitting the ball from the correct position on the club.
This can help us get higher and longer lead, making this fairway wood a good tee option for both length and safety. The Spinsency technology used reduces rotation and provides better performance on the face, especially on thin strokes. With a lightweight, aerodynamic eight-position hose and personal preference for shank, length and grip, among other things, one of these specially tailored fairway canes could be the 2023 buy for our golf game.
TaylorMade STEALTH 2 (£299):
Loft: 15°, 16.5°, 18°, 21° Left-handed: Yes (15°, 18°)
TaylorMade has an impressive stable of golf’s biggest names, with Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, Nelly Korda and Charley Hull all part of the “family”. But this club is not just for elite players, but for everyone. TaylorMade STEALTH 2 stands out as one of the best fairway forests because it is aimed at the widest possible range of players.
Manufacturers have recognized that most golfers need a push in the right direction and so have produced a club that is great in terms of playability and forgiveness. The crown has been lowered by 2mm but provides a more central center of gravity position which helps improve fairway performance. The lightweight carbon material in the crown has also been moved further towards the heel to make the club even more forgiving. And the small TaylorMade logo etched into the crown serves as the perfect alignment aid to get you in the right position to make your shot on the fairway or on the green.
Callaway Paradym (£319):
Loft: 15°, 16.5°, 18° Left-handed: Yes (15°, 18°)
For years, Callaway clubs have been synonymous with their players. Think of Colin Montgomerie in his glamor and Spanish Jon Rahm of the game’s current stars. Solid, consistent ball hitters, and these are the qualities that jump out of one of the best fairway lumber sticks.
Callaway announces that Paradym is their “longest fairway forest” so far. Unprecedented weight savings have been made in the design to increase distance but allow for more forgiveness. A high-density 23g tungsten weight is placed in the head of the stick, so the center of gravity is moved low and forward to help with consistent and easy starts. The three-wood has an adjustable hose while the V on the top line of the mace is a great visual aid to help with alignment.
The title TSR2 (£289):
Loft: 15°, 16.5°, 18°, 21° Left-handed: 15°, 16.5°, 18°
The club’s engineers emphasize the lowest ever center of gravity in an all-steel construction, which in turn ensures a fast and high flight of the ball.
As one of the best fairway woods, the TSR2 has a new sound and feel that makes the ball feel light and fast off the club surface. This in turn inspires the user’s confidence as they won’t need a big, hard swing to get the ball in the right direction. The black head and shaft contrast well with the white groove lines that run the full width of the face to emphasize how large the loft is. This small detail can visually help the player to get the desired height from the wood in the fairway, and is also a good incentive to keep the clubs clean between rounds!
COBRA AeroJet (£269):
Loft: 15°, 18.5°, 22.5° Left-handed: Yes (15°, 18.5°)
Of course, we all imagine that every shot we take is a clean strike from inside the club. Who are we kidding? Cobra recognizes the shortcomings of amateur golfers, creating one of the best fairway wood options in 2023.
Thanks to HOT (Highly Optimized Topology) technology, the face of this fairway wood has 15 strategic thicknesses that improve speed and spin, but it also means that toe and heel strikes go better – a godsend for handicap players. The ball also feels good off the face, and with an adjustable loft setting of 1.5° either way from the standard mark, players can find the right loft to suit their own play.
Wilson Dynapower (£199):
Loft: 15°, 18°, 21° Left-handed: Yes (15°, 18°)
Given that Padraig Harrington hit that memorable shot at Royal Birkdale, it was a Wilson five-wood, the manufacturers are very proud of their fairway woods. They recognize the importance of good fairway wood in a handicap golfer’s bag and therefore the player can decide on loft, shank and shank length, flex, grip and grip thickness.
As one of the best woods on the fairway, the Wilson has received design input from Tour players to give a flatter head profile for a cleaner look in the address position. The addition of a 12g rear weight increases tolerance and can provide high ball flight while the variable face thickness allows the player to generate more ball speed.
Cobra LtdX (£189):
Loft: 15° Left-handed: No
This Cobra LtdX fairway wood is exclusive to American Golf. It is already popular with customers who praise its forgiveness and feel.
One of the best woods on the fairway, this Cobra model has a thinner crown for a sleeker look, so the ball doesn’t seem overshadowed by the club at the address. The weight is low and forward in the club head to promote more distance and reduce spin, while the extra weight on the back increases forgiveness and is great for higher ball flight. What’s more, the Cobra logo on the top of the crown is the perfect alignment aid so we can get ourselves in the perfect position to get the shot we want.
Ping G425 max (£279):
Loft: 3 SFT, 5 SFT Left-handed: Yes (3 SFT, 5 SFT)
We all wish we could hit our shots with metronomic accuracy, but in reality it just doesn’t happen. And some of us switch off more, more often than others. With this in mind, the Ping G425 Max fairway wood could be the answer for golfers who lack consistency off the tee and on longer strokes.
Manufacturers have used technologies that combine to increase forgiveness, such as a high-density tungsten backload to provide a low center of gravity and a more complex face curve to help with better shots with low errors. Players have described the club as being good at a variety of lies as well as generating high ball speeds, a trend so important in modern golf. But that doesn’t come at the expense of accuracy, as clubface technology has increased the size of the sweet spot. And every golfer wants to feel like they’re hitting the ball from the sweetest part of the clubhouse!
TaylorMade STEALTH (£249):
Loft: 15° Left-handed: Yes (18°)
Golfers who were already lucky enough to get TaylorMade’s STEALTH fairway wood were not disappointed. Buyers have been praising how this club looks and feels before even figuring out how it increased the distance to their shots, both as a tee option and in the fairway. Still not convinced?
As one of the best fairway woods in 2023, this stick has a carbon crown where the weight has been transferred to the stick’s heel for more forgiveness and to make it as easy to use as possible. The special curvature of the face reduces lateral rotation and eliminates those costly fades or draws that can lose valuable distance and position, and with a lowered toe and heel, it works well for tight and difficult lies. Let’s be honest, chances are most of us will have to take shots from these spots once or twice per round!
about the author
Adam Lanigan – golf writer
Adam is a freelance news and sports journalist who has written for the BBC, The Sunday Post, The I, The Times, The Telegraph and others. He has been writing about golf for nearly two decades and has covered 13 Open Championships and two Ryder Cups. Adam not only golfs, but has been playing golf for as long as he can remember. He was a member of Northenden Golf Club for around 25 years until the arrival of his children and his last official handicap was 11, although his form varies from eight to 18 each day.