Fairwaywood vs. Driver off the deck

Who has not been in this situation? You lie on the fairway and still have a long way to go to reach the green. And now you ask yourself how you can actually get the maximum out of it. Should you use your 3-wood or your driver? Admittedly, this question is only asked by players with a lot of self-confidence. Because a driver off the deck is anything but easy to play and feels just awful. But let's assume that the player has the courage and the technical talent to do so: Should he rather use the driver or the fairway wood?

It is time to look into it and for this we will do a simple test. Our player has the task of attacking a green 225m away. He can choose between a 3-wood and a driver. What do the results look like?

First of all, we see very good values for the fairway wood with which you can reach the green even from a long distance. With a club head speed of 100mph, 1.43 efficiency, a launch of almost 14° and a backspin of just under 3500rpm, we can definitely speak of good values. The ball launches quite steeply, does not generate too much spin to fly far and lands relatively steeply and with sufficient spin on the green. That is hard to top.

With the driver, however, the situation is completely different: The launch is extremely flat at 9°, the player has difficulty getting the ball in the air at all. The spin is also very high at 3800rpm, which is clearly at the expense of distance. And so the player ends up about 10m shorter than with the wood.

Fairway wood or driver off the deck?

For this player, the driver would be out of the question. It is very inefficient, does not add any distance and is harder to control. Not to mention that the landing angle into the green is too shallow to be controlled. In this case, it would be pure ego show to pull the driver from this spot...

But there is also a but. This player's club head speed was only 0.5mph faster with the driver. That should be higher, but on the other hand it feels very strange to play the driver off the deck and you prefer to concentrate on not breaking anything and hitting the ball reasonably than on speed. So it may well be that another player can generate more club head speed here.

But even then, the driver still has three big problems: The spin is basically always very high because the ball is hit much too far down on the face. A fairway wood is constructed differently and has a different centre of gravity. For this test, we took a driver that can handle such hits extremely well and still generates little spin. With other drivers, the difference in spin would be much more pronounced, which would offset the possible increase in club head speed, for example. The second problem is simply control. Dispersion with a driver off the deck is also bigger. And the third problem is the very low ball flight which makes it difficult to keep the ball on the green.

In short: Even with better conditions for the driver and more club head speed, hardly any distance would be gained against a well-optimised 3-wood, but definitely accuracy would be lost. One should therefore think carefully about whether such a choice makes sense or not.

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