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The Longer Fairway Wood
How to shorten a par 5, even if you're over 55.

A few years ago, Bernie Baymiller wrote a popular article on longdrivers for senior golfers. (senior longdrive article is here)

I've tried for the past few years to source the components to build a lightweight, longer fairway wood for seniors and finally found a quality lightweight fairway wood clubhead and superlight/flexible shaft that works. (component information is here)

Below you'll find an excerpt to the follow up article on longer and lighter fairway woods for seniors and women golfers written by Bernie.

Email me here if you have any questions.

John Muir
Clubmaker Online

Most golf courses today have four par 5 holes that range from about 480 yards from the senior tees to 525 yards. They may be your best chances for birdies because, with a good drive and fairway wood shot, you can get on or within a short wedge of the hole. Getting on in two makes that bird a lot easier and erases a mistake you might have made somewhere else. We’ve talked about how a longer driver can get you an extra 20 or 30 yards, but even if you’re now hitting a long driver 260 yards, you’ll still have 220+ yards to those shorter par 5s. Can you hit a 3W 220 yards? Not many seniors can with a high-faced, small-headed, 43” 3W. Yes, what is true about increasing distance with the driver is also as true with the fairway wood. A “lighter and longer” fairway club can get you additional yards. But some of the ideal specifications for a longer length fairway wood are certainly not the same as the driver when you have to hit the ball off the deck.

Don’t let the ground get in the way.

To me, the lie angle becomes very important. The club head should be level with the ground for any shot off the deck. If you build a longer fairway wood and the head sits toe-up when you address the ball, the heel of the head may catch the turf and turn over the club head on your downswing just before impact…especially when the ball is below your feet. That shot will go low and left. Fortunately, most fairway woods have a slightly rockered sole so the heel or toe won’t hang up on a hillside lie. Unfortunately, even with today’s standard 43” 3W, the club head will still sit a bit toe-up a bit for all but those players well over 6 feet tall. The lie angle for a 43” 3W today is usually about 58° to 59°…almost the same lie as a 39” #4 iron in many instances. Of course, there’s more toe droop swinging down with a wood shaft than with an iron shaft…but 4” of toe droop isn’t likely. For many players under 5’ 10” tall, the 3W club length needs to be shortened an inch or two for the head to consistently make a solid, square impact. The shorter length usually results in lost head speed and lost yards. But, reduce the lie angle to 55° and you have the potential to add at least an inch to the club length and still have a reasonably level lie.

A squashed driver head kind of describes it.

To me, the ideal body shape for a longer fairway wood is not the large, rounded, tall-face head I prefer on a long driver. It is wide and deep front to back, which is today’s “high MOI” shape, but has a semi-shallow face (32mm-34mm) to keep the center of gravity low and rearward. With a slightly flatter swing plane, the low CG easily gets the ball up to a trajectory height necessary for maximum distance. Heads from 195cc to 220cc volume will do the job and are both more forgiving and easier to hit off the fairway than smaller, taller heads.

The longer fairway club, like the longer driver, needs a head with a slightly lighter weight. Same with the shaft. A lighter head with a lighter shaft enables you to build a longer fairway wood with a swingweight and total weight similar to that of a shorter club. A reasonable weight for the head on a 44” 3W would be around 200-212 grams and the shaft should be somewhere in the low to mid-50 gram range. When you can swing the longer club under control and as fast as a shorter one, the larger arc results in a faster head speed and more distance. Use a grip that keeps the club in the swingweight range you prefer and best fits your release timing. Thanks,

Interested in trying a lightweight/longer fairway wood? I've put together a component list here for both do-it-yourselfers. I'd be happy to build one for you, too.

John Muir
Clubmaker Online

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