The avid golf fan may take note that more and more players are hitting 3-woods off tees. Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia led the “fairway metal brigade” at The Players Championships and looking ahead it’s safe to say that from the Memorial tournament to the U.S. Open at Merion, there ain’t gonna be a lot of drivers being played.
Personally, about five years ago I received a Tour Edge Exotics 3-wood with 15-degrees of loft. It’s now the oldest club in my bag and it regularly gets its own plane ticket next to me when I travel for golf assignments.
The appeal of these clubs—once only the province of risk-it-all second shots to par-5s—stems in part in their technology. Advances in design include the slot behind the face like in the Adams Golf Speedline, or the lightweight Rocketbalz 3-wood by TaylorMade Golf with its super-thin Carpenter steel face. Also, part of their success stems from the players themselves. They're bigger, hence longer.
If you’re looking for a way to lower scores, however, consider teeing off even on longer par-4s with a 3-wood like the Adams, TaylorMade, Tour Edge models, or even the Callaway Golf FT-iZ (hyperbolic face for generates consistently high ball speeds). Why?
1) 3-woods are 43 to 43.5 inches at most, allowing you to stand closer to ball, which induces better contact and timing.
2) The faces of today’s high-tech 3-woods have nearly as much flex as that in 460cc titanium drivers.
3) Instead of a 9- or 10.5-degree face loft, the 3-woods have face lofts of 15- to 17-degrees. More loft induces more backspin for workability – draws and fades on demand due to ball staying on face milliseconds longer.
4) Smaller heads concentrate more mass behind the ball, also adding more “control” by making it easier to hit just a little outside or inside the center of the face for desired draws and fades. (Can't do that as easily with today's big-headed drivers.)
The deep-faced 9-degree, 45-inch driver isn’t extinct. It’s just that the technology in these “metal” siblings are getting better.