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Woods 101 - The Basics of Golf Club Woods

Aug 14, 2008
Woods are used to drive long shots. If a hole is 400 yards from the tee to the green, most players use a wood to swing from the tee. Simply put, woods provide maximum distance. You should always be using your woods when you are at least 175 yards away from the green.

A wood is a hollowed shaft with a large club head made of steel or a titanium alloy. So, why do we call them woods? Well, about 30 years ago the club heads used to be made of wood.

The Driver (also known as the 1 wood) has a loft that is lower than that of any other wood. Loft is the angle of the club face. The higher the degree of the angle, the more the ball will arc (loft) when it's hit. The 1 wood has a very low loft, usually it's between 7 and 12 degrees. Golfers that have a lot of experience on the green traditionally favor lower lofted drivers (less than a 10 degree loft). Remember this, a lower lofted club face is much more difficult to hit with than a club face with a higher loft.

Over the past few years pro golfers are choosing slightly higher lofted drivers with a much larger head. These clubs have a loft of around 10 - 11 degrees. Why? The combination of the higher degree in loft and larger head produce the longest drives. Couple this with the fact that solid core golf balls have much less spin and you have a huge increase in accuracy and distance.

Almost all the pros play with drivers that have loft 8 to 10 degrees (or more). If you are not a professional golfer then sticking with a loft of 10 degrees or higher is recommended. The 1 wood (driver) is usually the hardest club to master due to it's immense length (45").

Besides bringing a 1 wood with you to your game, a 3 and 5 wood are also going to come along for the ride. First, the 3 wood has a loft of about 15/18 degrees and is 1/2" shorter than the 1 wood. Next, the 5 wood has a loft of about 20/22 degrees and again, it shorter than the 3 wood. Remember this, the higher the wood number, the higher the loft degree and the shorter the club length. Shorter club lengths make the club easier to handle and swing. Some women and seniors may carry a 7 or 9 wood simply because they require much less of a physical swing.

The 3 wood and 5 wood are also known as the fairway woods, since they are usually used on the second shot of play. Woods that have a higher loft (7, 9, 11 and beyond) are usually referred to as the utility woods. These utility woods are mostly used by women, children and seniors.

Lot's of new golfers expect that a driver (1 wood) will allow them to crack a ball about 300+ yards with minimal effort, however this is often far from the truth. New golfers can expect a driver wood (or 1 wood) to launch a ball about 100-200 yards.
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