How to Hit a 3 Wood – Consistently & Effectively
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A Love/Hate Relationship with The 3 Wood
I have to admit that I have an interesting love/hate relationship with my 3 wood. If you do too, we’re in the same boat and we’re not alone.
I have many friends who have the same feelings about this club. When it works, the distance you can get from a 3 wood is amazing and you might think, “I should be using this club more” or “how can I make this shot every time?”.
But alas, the relationship is a rocky one.
When it doesn’t work, you might then wonder why you even use it. My 3 wood often gets some serious time-outs in my golf bag, sometimes even in the garage so I am not even tempted to bring it out.
Let’s talk about why this club is so hard to hit and a little later, talk about how to hit a 3 wood so it can be more consistent for you.
Why Is a 3 Wood So Hard to Hit?
A 3 wood often times can be hard to hit because it is one of the longest golf clubs with the exception of the driver and the loft is very low comparatively.
Both factors make the 3 wood such a challenge to hit consistently.
3 Wood Shaft Length
With a 3 wood shaft length being the longest of the fairway woods, these shaft lengths can differ greatly depending on what type of club you are using. A women’s club versus senior men’s shaft versus a men’s regular shaft will measure at different lengths. Make sure you are using the right length that is most suitable for you.
The length of a 3 wood ranges from 42 – 43 inches. Just to give you a sense of the difference in length, a 7 iron is around 35 – 37 inches. When you consider trying to control the golf club in motion as it swings around your body, a 7-inch difference is a lot.
3 Wood Loft
In addition to the longer length of a 3 wood, factor in the loft of a 3 wood. The 3 wood golf club is designed to provide a lower trajectory or loft than most other golf clubs. The golf ball won’t get as much height as a higher lofted club like a 5 wood or a hybrid.
The loft of a 3 wood is usually around 15 – 16 degrees. Again, compare that to a 7 iron, which is 34 – 35 degrees and you can see the difference. Remember that usually the higher loft a club is, the easier it will be to get the ball off the ground.
When Should I Use a 3 Wood?
Technically, you can use a 3 wood anywhere on the course. However, there are several places are more common to use a 3 wood.
In the Fairway
A 3 wood is a fairway wood, so naturally, golfers like to use it in the fairway. Usually reserved for a 2nd or even 3rd shot depending on whether the hole is a par 4 or a par 5.
Using it here in the short grass is the most common place to use the 3 wood and when hit well, can help provide the needed distance.
Off the Tee
A 3 wood can also be used off the tee.
Some golfers prefer to hit the 3 wood instead of their driver off the tee because the 3 wood can provide more consistency here.
You are probably thinking to yourself “What? I thought you said the 3 wood provides less consistency and is harder to hit?”
Yes, in the fairway or when hitting off the ground or off the deck.
But, hitting the 3 wood off a tee where the ball is elevated is a whole different story. Here, the 3 wood can be a blessing. Off the tee, hitting a 3 wood may be easier to control than hitting a driver.
If you are comparing the 3 wood vs driver and trying to decide which one to hit, most golfers do prefer to hit the driver when they want more distance.
But watch the tour professionals when they have a narrow fairway – many of them will pull out their 3 woods to tee off with.
When There is a Lot of Wind
Other times you may want to use the 3 wood is if there is a lot of wind and you don’t want the golf ball to travel as high in the air and be affected by the wind.
A low stinger or punch shot might be the best strategy in this scenario.
Can I Hit a 3 Wood From the Rough?
It is not the best choice to hit a 3 wood from the rough.
Especially if the grass is long or thick.
Hitting woods out of the rough can be a challenge. The club has a hard time getting through longer grass as well as under the ball to get it up in the air.
Combining this with the lower loft of a 3 wood, it is going to be hard to hit it well and not duff it.
I have had many experiences trying to do this as I needed more distance and thought hitting a 3 wood out of the rough might work.
Most of these shots ended up as dribblers…going just a few yards and still having to hit from the rough on my next shot.
Do I Need a 3 Wood?
The age-old question. Especially these days with so many other clubs and options to choose from.
Technically, you don’t need a 3 wood.
It is a preference and a personal choice each golfer has to make. Finding the right club that works for you and your game is what is important.
The beauty and allure of the 3 wood is that it is designed to provide the maximum distance aside from the driver. So the temptation is great, but it is known to be harder to hit than other clubs like the 5 wood, or let’s say a 4 hybrid.
Here are some other clubs that are oftentimes used in place of the 3 wood.
3 Wood vs Driver
When I first started golfing, I preferred using my 3 wood off the tee. My driver tended to get me into trouble and I found that there wasn’t much difference between the two in the driving distance as a beginner.
Today, I love using my driver off the tee and the gained distance compared to my 3 wood is pretty tangible.
However, I still drive with my 3 wood on long par 3’s or where I need to be more accurate on the drive to avoid trouble.
3 Wood vs 5 Wood
Every year I wonder if this is the year I should just keep my 3 wood in the bag when hitting from the fairway.
The quandry of using my 3 wood versus 5 wood is real. I am always tempted to pull out the 3 wood. The risk reward is what needs to be considered when using a 3 wood instead of 5 wood or other club. A well hit 3 wood will gain you some yardage…if you hit it well.
However, if you hit your 5 wood consistently, then it might make more sense to use the 5 wood instead of the 3 wood. A 3 wood that you hit inconsistently will put you in more trouble than using an easier more consistent club like the 5 wood.
3 Wood vs Hybrid
The same holds true for using a 3 wood versus hybrid golf club. If you hit a hybrid really well and are consistent with it, why not use the hybrid?
As far as distance, a 3 or 4 hybrid might not be quite as long in distance as the 3 wood.
However, think about the height, trajectory, and consistency of your longest hybrid and whether this outweighs the extra 10 yards or so in distance.
Remember that hybrids are designed to be easier to hit than fairway woods as they provide more loft, and are shorter in length than a 3 wood.
How to Hit a 3 Wood
Because the 3 wood provides a good deal of distance, using it can be a great asset to your golf game.
If you want to learn how to hit the 3 wood consistently and effectively and practice with the club, use these tips.
How to Hit a 3 Wood Off the Tee
- One of the biggest mistakes with golfers using the 3 wood off the tee is teeing the ball up too high. Because the 3 wood has a small club head, the ball doesn’t need to sit up as high as when hitting a driver.
- Be sure to align the tee and ball off the heel of your front foot just like the position of a driver.
- Make a nice easy swing and let it fly.
How to Hit a 3 Wood Off the Fairway or Off the Deck
- You don’t want to feel as though you are hitting up on the ball like a driver. This will deloft the club even more and provide less loft. What this means is that it will be even harder to get the ball up into the air.
- Practice a sweeping motion and brush the ground. There is a small bit of hitting down on the ball, but only enough to allow you to get under the ball as you make contact.
- At address, line the golf ball up with the heel of your front foot.
- One common mistake is rushing the swing and trying to hit the ball hard as you can to to get maximum distance. Remember to slow it down and keep a good tempo. Slowing down and swinging steady actually helps keep the arms, hands and body from becoming too tense and tight as you are swinging and hitting the ball. And this relaxing movement will help the club do the work.
- Keep your head down and don’t bring the eyes up to watch where the ball goes. This usually ends up with the golfer topping the ball which is common when hitting a 3 wood off the fairway.
- Here’s a great drill that I have been using to help me with my 3 wood. Practice hitting your driver off the deck or from the fairway. Yep, you heard that right. It’s hard to do, but since the driver has even less loft than a 3 wood, it has helped improve my ability to get under the ball.
Drill for Hitting the 3 Wood From the Fairway
Except for going to the driving range and practicing with your 3 wood. The drill that I have used that has really helped me in getting a better contact with my 3 wood is one that I tried practicing a year or so ago.
Drill: Practice hitting your driver off the deck or from the ground. Yep, you heard that right. It’s hard to do, so do it carefully. Since the driver has even less loft than a 3 wood, it has helped improve my ability to get under the ball. And being able to get under the ball has improved my loft or airtime with the 3 wood.
Best Golf Instruction Video on How to Hit a 3 Wood
I like how Me & My Golf talks about “brushing” the ground in practice drills. “Holding the finish” is really important as well because it helps golfers stay in control and not overhit, keeping them on balance at the end of the swing.
The opportunities are great if we can learn how to hit our 3 wood effectively and consistently.
The temptation to use it when it is a challenging club to hit is hard to walk away from even though we have other options and choices that might make more sense.
But, the lure is great. I am still trying to figure this one out as distance has become important in my own golf game.
So, I still am out practicing and trying to improve my consistency with the 3 wood. Hoping that if I can learn how to hit it pure more times than not, it will improve my game.