Fairway Woods – A Brief History

Playing golf today is very much like going to do battle. Equipped yourself with the proper “weapons” and you might visit the golf course again but choose the wrong ones and your first game could be your last one. There are so many “weapons” to choose from and it is becoming so difficult to keep up with golf technology that pretty soon you will need a university degree to understand which club does what.

Fairway woods are becoming more and more popular these days as manufacturers find new ways to allow the average golfer to feel like golf professionals. Well, that’s what the manufacturers would want you to believe but that is not entirely true obviously.

Fairway Woods

Basically, woods are a lot easier to hit than long irons. They have a bigger sweet spot due to the size of the club heads being larger and they have a lower centre of gravity because more weight can be packed lower and deeper inside a wood than in an iron. Both these factors result in being able to get the ball airborne easier, for shots to be a lot straighter and for distance or length to be reasonable and acceptable. Today, the high handicapper is able to enjoy the game a lot more than in days gone by. Gone are the days of the 2 irons and in most cases, even 3 irons. Purchase a beginners set nowadays, and you will probably find that the 3 iron has been replaced with a fairway hybrid.

So how did this all start?

To start off with, woods are called woods because back in the day, they were solely made of wood but in the early 80’s this all changed when metal was introduced as an alternative. This discovery caused a huge shift in golf club making and basically spelt the end for wooden fairway clubs.

Talk about a marketers dream. Woods were now cheaper to produce, lighter in weight, more forgiving and allowed for greater distance. The last part of this equation is probably the key to this revolution because simply, distance sells and don’t they know it.

Over the years, as technology improved, the lighter metal Titanium was introduced as a replacement for steel. At first, only the club face was fitted with Titanium but today, you can purchase fairway woods that are 100% made of Titanium. Being 45% lighter but as strong than steel, Titanium gave the added option of reducing the overall weight of the club thus lowering the centre of gravity even more. A thinner face meant a more penetrating ball flight due to a bigger “explosion” off the club face and a bigger club face meant a bigger sweet spot. It also meant that a lighter club resulted in faster swing speeds and you guessed it, more distance.

It is also good to note that the golf club shafts have also had a solid make over through the years. Today, most fairway woods are fitted with graphite shafts. Depending on your swing speed and how good a golfer you are, there are countless of shafts to suit everyone. From your 80 year old die hard to kids as young as 5 years old. Most fairway woods do come with “stock” shafts that are predetermined by the manufacturers but custom made ones are also on offer.

In this never ending pursuit of distance and forgiveness and ultimately our dollar, golf club manufacturers, are throwing everything except the kitchen sink at the average golfer. If you walk in your local golf store today, you will see fairway woods in all sort of shapes and sizes and all promising you extra distance and accuracy.

Where or when will this revolution stop?  It’s hard to say.  But never has it been easier to play probably the most difficult and frustrating game ever created by mankind and that, my fellow golfers, can only be a good thing.