A look at some of the best performing fairway woods on the market in 2021 – versatile clubs to suit differing golfing requirements.
Best Fairway Woods
The fairway wood has evolved in recent years to be one of the most versatile clubs you can buy.
With enhanced materials and technologies, the best fairway woods can help you find distance and consistency from the tee, they are also playable from the short grass and can even be effective from the rough or around the greens.
This is often the toughest part of the bag to fill.
We know what type of driver we like the look and sound of and irons can soon be fitted into position but, if you’re able to find some insurance off the tee (and some of these might outpace your current driver) and/or some more lofted woods, then you can look at your home course through new eyes.
In this video, technical editor Joel Tadman tests and compares 13 of the latest fairway woods and picks his favourites
Below we have looked at some of the best fairway woods currently on the market to help you narrow your search.
From our testing indoors on the Foresight Sports GCQuad launch monitor using Titleist Pro V1x golf balls, here is how the best fairway woods perform on average.
Alternatively we also recommend taking a look at our other guides on the most forgiving fairway woods, the best fairway woods for mid handicappers, or the best women’s fairway woods.
Best Fairway Woods – Best 3 Woods and Best 5 Woods
Cobra Radspeed Fairway
Top Overall Performer
RRP: £229/$279.99 Lofts: 14.5°, 18.5°, 22.5°
+ Baffler rails aid turf interaction, especially out of bad lies
+ Four models to suit every player
+ Excellent value for money
– Limited improvements over previous generation
This year’s Cobra Radspeed features a quartet of fairway woods, meaning Cobra have every golfer covered this year. Each new fairway wood features Cobra’s signature Baffler Hollow Split Rails, which increases flexion on the leading edge by 70 per cent to increase speed while still providing excellent turf interaction.
The four heads include the standard Radspeed, the larger Radspeed Big Tour, the draw bias Radspeed Draw and a more compact Tour five wood.
The standard Radspeed fairway features CNC Milled Infinity Face for the first time as well as 16g and 7g weights in the front and back respectively. This gives you quite a scope for adjusting the preferred ball flight, whether you want forward for lower spin or back for higher launch.
Titleist TSi2 Fairway Wood
RRP: £279/$299.99 Lofts: 15°, 16.5°, 18°, 21°
+ Classic, traditional shape and aesthetics
+ Excellent all-round performance
– More compact look may be intimidating for some
Simplicity is key with the Titleist TSi2 fairway wood. A classic, clean black look at address is accompanied by a nice size head that inspires plenty of confidence off a tee or off a fairway lie.
It launches nice and high and is super forgiving across the face, thanks to the deeper and lower CG. This makes it a thoroughly playable fairway wood for golfers up and down the handicap range. Plenty of adjustment in the hosel and five different lofts mean it’s easy to find the right fit. For the slower swinger, we would recommend the Titleist TSi1 as a great option.
TaylorMade SIM2 Max Fairway
Best Confidence Inspiring Model
RRP: £279/$299.99 Lofts: 14°, 15°, 19°
+ Oversize profile boosts confidence over the ball.
+ Very easy to align
– Larger head makes it harder to flight off the deck from iffy lies.
The new SIM2 fairway wood family comes with three options, the SIM2 Max, SIM2 Titanium and the SIM2 D-Type. TaylorMade brought back the iconic V-Steel design for last year’s SIM models and that carries through into the SIM2.
The SIM2 Max offers a slightly larger head for the higher handicap golfer. Also at a more traditional 15-degree loft, the SIM2 Max also comes with TaylorMade’s Twist Face technology, a technology that was introduced in the M3 and M4 driver series, that reduces the effect of off-centre shots in the toe and heel.
The SIM2 D-Type fairway wood is perfect for those golfers who tend to slice the ball. The D-Type has a strategically placed internal heel-bias weight, making the face look more open and helping golfers close the face at impact, all with the help of Twist Face technology too.
Ping G425 Max Fairway Wood
Best For Forgiveness
RRP: £299/$339 Lofts: 14.5°, 17.5°, 20.5°, 23.5°
+ Extremely forgiving all-round
+ Three models to suit different player types.
– Dot system on the crown won’t suit everyone’s eye
Unlike its predecessor, the Ping G425 fairway wood has a one-piece face, rather than a steel face insert, which has increased ball speeds on the G425 by up to 1.5mph.
This has translated into one of the most forgiving woods on the market gaining a decent amount of distance.
This year’s lineup again features three different heads, the Max, LST and SFT, meaning there is a head for every golfer. The Max head is the all-rounder and Ping have removed the turbulators from the crown, making for a much cleaner, matte aesthetic.
The LST, Low Spin, and SFT, Straight Flight, heads are a great option for the golfer who wants a lower spinning head or a draw-bias head respectively.
The adjustable hosel with eight settings allows you to change both loft and lie, meaning you can tweak the G425 to more precise specifications.
Mizuno ST-Z Fairway
Best Classic Aesthetic
RRP: £279/$299.95 Lofts: 15°, 18°
+ Hosel adjustability for the first time in a Mizuno fairway wood
+ Clean, classic crown with carbon fibre details
– Limited model options
Mizuno fairway woods are some of the most criminally underrated woods on the market and the new ST-Z has shown marked improvements on last year’s ST2000 model.
We love this model for how high it launches, making it a great fairway wood for those who use them to approach greens, especially as a second shot attacking a par 5.
The ST-Z also has plenty of adjustability, which the ST2000 didn’t have, allowing you to get just the right kind of ball flight and distance.
The ST-X model is only other option in the new Mizuno range, offering all the benefits of the ST-Z with a draw-bias weight embedded into the head
Callaway Epic Speed Fairway Wood
Best For Strong Ball Flight
RRP: £299/$299.99 Lofts: 13.5° (RH only) 15°, 16.5° (RH only) 18°, 21°
+ Forgiving from off-centre hits
+ Strong, consistent ball flight
– No hosel adjustability
Launched to sit alongside last year’s Mavrik fairway woods, the Epic 21 fairway woods come in either a Max and Speed head.
The Epic 21 woods feature Callaway’s new Jailbreak A.I. Velocity Blades which have produced even faster ball speeds across the whole face. Flash Face SS21 is also incorporated on these woods and keeps ball speed up even on off-centre hits.
The Epic Speed fairway wood contains a much farther forward CG, aimed at golfers who want a strong ball flight, less spin and consistent shot shape dispersion.
Titleist TSi3 Fairway Wood
Best For Adjustability
RRP: £269/$299.99 Lofts: 13.5° (RH only), 15°, 16.5°, 18° (RH only)
+ Varied adjustability
+ Great for shaping and improved acoustics
– Lacks off-centre forgiveness
This is more for the player who wants speed and accuracy. There is an adjustable weight track on the back – you can move to the heel, toe or keep it neutral – and they have moved away from simply moving it to the heel for a draw and toe for a fade etc.
They’ve now repositioned it to help with the CG placement so if you are more of a consistent striker, and you always hit it in the heel, you can now move the CG to move your sweet spot.
The beauty of the track is the attention to detail. They have worked with a screw vendor so in the space of just two clicks it will come all the way out and, two clicks later, it is back in place.
When you are stood over the ball it’s hard to decipher which is the TSi2 or the TSi3, both classic and smallish looking, which says a lot about the genius of the design as they offer different benefits. Unquestionably one of the best fairway woods on sale right now.
Honma TR21 Ti Fairway
Aimed At Lower Handicap Players
RRP: £349/$Varies Lofts: 14°, 15°, 16.5°, 18°, 21°
+ Strong flight better suited to tee shots.
+ Adjustable hosel to fine tune launch conditions
– You’ll need to be a strong player to make the most of this
Honma has recently extended its premium performance line with the introduction of the TR21 family, TR standing for Tour Release, and this is aimed at the better player.
Furthermore to the custom-fitting options a patented non-rotating hosel means the loft and lie can be altered without changing the position of the shaft’s spine so it remains in the six o’clock position when you’re making your adjustments.
TaylorMade SIM2 Ti Fairway
Best Premium Model
RRP: £369/$399.99 Lofts: 14°, 15°, 19°
+ Driver-like feel
+ Very high launching
– Premium price will put some off
The TaylorMade SIM2 Ti Fairway Wood offers a fantastic combination of compact, aesthetically pleasing looks with high launch and reasonable forgiveness across the face.
The 170cc tour-inspired head is just the sort of compact look mid handicappers want at address but this club still performs with the forgiveness of the SIM2 Max thanks to the V-Steel sole and Twist Face technology in the face.
It comes in a ‘rocket’ 13.5° option, allowing you to use it almost as a driver off the tee and as a great attacking option on a par 5. For an even more compact head, the 19° 5-wood is another great option for the mid handicapper looking for penetrating ball flight and excellent distance.
Srixon ZX Fairway
Best For Simple Performance
RRP: £249/$269.99 Lofts: 13.5°, 15°, 18°, 21° (13.5 and 21 both RH only)
+ You won’t struggle for distance with this club
+ Looks excellent
– There’s no adjustability help here
Srixon say this is their most advanced fairway yet thanks to their ‘rebound frame’ technology.
This provides a more efficient transfer of energy by focusing more energy into the ball. Put simply(ish) it works by layering alternating zones of flexible and stiff material which then transports the correct energy into the ball.
This comes in four options with the 3+ and 3 using a lightweight carbon crown to push the MOI up and increase forgiveness in the lofts where you may need it.
At address this looks classy, clean and simple.
Callaway Big Bertha B21 Fairway Wood
Ideal For Higher Handicap Players
RRP: £279/$299.99 Lofts: 15°, 18°, 21°, 24° (24 RH only)
+ The high launch will benefit plenty of players
+ Definitely starts the ball more left than most
– The offset looks might take a bit of getting used to
This easy-to-hit fairway wood features a shallower face, progressive lengths and an oversized Bertha shape to promote consistent contact and smooth turf interaction.
The extra offset helps combat your slice while the advanced A.I. design promotes faster ball speeds across a wider area, so you can get away with a poor swing.
We like this model so much it also featured in our best fairway woods for high handicappers guide too.
Honma T//World GS Fairway
Best For Slicers
RRP: £279/$Varies Lofts: 15°, 16.5°, 18°, 21°
+ Great for golfers with a moderate to slow swing
+ Built in draw-bias
– Not suitable for those who swing it quickly
Honma introduced its GS line in early 2021 aimed at golfers with a slower swing speed. The GS stands for Gain Speed and extra ball speed is certainly something we found in these fairway woods.
The head is aerodynamically designed to create quicker club head speeds, even for golfers who swing the club at a moderate to slow speed.
It also comes with a built in draw-bias to alleviate slice and create a more consistent and penetrating ball flight. We found very little drop in ball speeds from off-centre hits, making this a very forgiving fairway wood off the tee and off the deck.
Wilson Staff D9 Fairway
For Moderate Swing Speeds
RRP: £179/$239.99 Lofts: 15°, 18°
+ Classic, sleek design
+ Offset inspires confidence at address
– No adjustability
For the first time ever, Wilson Staff fairway woods feature Variable Face Technology, which seeks to deliver high ball speeds and high launch angles regardless of strike location on the face.
The Wilson D9 fairway strikes a classic looking pose at address and inspires confidence with a slight amount of offset and useful alignment tool on the crown.
At a modest retail price too, this fairway wood is ideal for those who swing the club at moderate speeds and want maximum forgiveness from a fairway wood.
Callaway Mavrik Fairway
Models To Suit Every Level Of Player
RRP: £199/$199.99 Lofts: 13.5°, 15°, 16.5°, 18°, 21°
+ Hot feel and high launch
+ Three models to suit different player types.
– No loft or lie adjustability
Along with the standard Mavrik fairway that has generous heel camber for versatility, there’s the draw-biased Max model, which is a new shape that is larger and 30 per cent more forgiving than Epic Flash and has a lower leading edge for better results from the deck.
There’s also a Sub Zero model that features a tour profile and adjustable front/back weighting.
Much like the Callaway Mavrik drivers, the Mavrik fairways also feature A.I.-designed Flash Faces specific to the three models, promoting optimum speed and spin. A high-strength C300 Maraging Steel face combined with Jailbreak maximizes ball speed.
How we test the best fairway woods
When it comes to Golf Monthly’s testing procedure, we use the same ethos and methodology for all golf products to make sure they are as insightful, honest and comprehensive as possible.
When it comes to golf clubs, we usually attend product launches so we can meet with the manufacturer’s R&D experts to understand the new technology.
After we have an understanding here, our first port of call when hitting clubs is usually the indoor simulator at Foresight Sports, where the team can test in a controlled environment using premium balls and the GCQuad launch monitor.
Specifically for fairway woods, product testing is headed up by technical editor Joel Tadman, ably assisted by digital editor Neil Tappin.
Both have been testing clubs for many years, both play off five, and both can efficiently test the vast majority of the biggest product releases and convey the pros and cons eloquently.
What to consider when buying a fairway wood
What factors do you need to consider when trying to fill the fairway wood slot in your bag? Let’s take a look.
Loft – You need to know the specific gap you are trying to fill in your golf bag. How far does your driver go, and how far do your longest irons or hybrids go? Knowing this will then dictate what loft your fairway wood needs to be to fill the gap.
Forgiveness – Some fairway woods are more forgiving than others, especially because many manufacturers create different models for different levels of player. For example there are four different Cobra Radspeed fairways with different head sizes, shapes and they are designed for different golfers. If you need as much help as possible, a larger head will work for you, whilst if you are a better player and strike is more consistent, then forgiveness may not be a key factor for you.
Adjustability – Most models these days come with a degree of adjustability whether it be loft, weight movement, shaft and so on. Therefore have a think about how important adjustability is to you because you can change the characteristics of a club if you want to. Alternatively you can just keep things simple with other models as well.
Versatility – Fairway woods need to be able to work off the tee, on the ground in different lies, and also occasionally around the green. If you have a model that works in only one of these ways, then there are definitely models out there to help you improve.
Looks – You have to like how a golf club looks especially when looking down on the golf ball. The fairway wood is one of the most difficult clubs to hit and therefore you need something that gives you confidence and makes your playing partners jealous with envy. Therefore go and pick several models and see how they look and feel in your hands.
Budget – Finally be aware of your budget. You can go for more premium models, such as the TaylorMade SIM2 Ti, or you can go for cheaper designs like the Wilson Staff D9. Wherever you fall in terms of price point, there is something for everyone.
What are fairway woods?
Fairway woods are similar to drivers but there are some key characteristics that are different.
Traditionally the size of a driver head ranges from roughly 440cc to 460cc, whereas a fairway wood often is from 140cc to 180cc. Basically fairway woods look similar in appearance to drivers but have smaller heads.
They also do a slightly different job because fairway woods are clubs that have to be able to perform off the tee like a driver, but also from the fairway or rough. Therefore the face of fairway woods are much shallower than a driver, which keeps the center of gravity lower, allowing you to get the ball airborne.
Fairway woods are also more forgiving than long irons so pretty much every single Tour player puts a fairway wood or two in the bag.
What fairway woods should I carry?
This will depend on three factors really.
First what level are you? Because fairway woods are more forgiving than long irons if you are a beginner or a high handicap player we would recommend trying to get as many fairway woods in the bag as possible, providing the lofts and gapping are correct. If you are a better player, then which woods you carry will depend on the next two factors.
Loft and gapping is the next point to mention. Fairway woods have to be able to fill the gap in the bag from the driver, to your irons. Therefore having a real understanding of how far you hit each club will therefore give you insight into which yardages you need to fill with a fairway. The best way of doing this is to get on a launch monitor yourself and hit balls, or get a custom fitting.
The final factor is what kind of golf course do you play on? If you play a lot of links golf, then you tend to play more lower shots, whereas if you play more parkland golf, then these require shots that fly higher and land softer on the fairway or green. Fairway woods are definitely more suited to the latter style of golf.
The same logic applies to playing golf in regularly windy conditions. Fairway woods are usually designed to give higher launch which makes them difficult to control in the wind, especially when compared to long irons.
What loft should a fairway wood be?
So this is a similar answer to the question above. You need to know how far you hit each club in the bag, especially the driver and longer irons, so you can know what loft your fairway wood needs to be to fill that gap.
If you enjoyed this guide on the best fairway woods, check out the Golf Monthly website.
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