How to Sweep the Fairway Woods

By Robert Lee
Maintain good posture and alignment for a successful fairway wood shot.
Maintain good posture and alignment for a successful fairway wood shot.

Fairway woods such as the 3-wood are among the most powerful clubs in golf after the driver. It's possible for a skilled amateur player to hit a golf ball more than 200 yards from the fairway with the 3-wood -- rivaling distances available on a tee with a driver. The key to sweeping the ball with all fairway woods is striking the ball while the head of the club is still relatively parallel to the ground. Golf instructor Butch Harmon, who has taught pros such as Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, maintains that some amateurs make the mistake of trying to help the ball into the air while swinging fairway woods. Harmon maintains that a good strike with a fairway wood actually begins with a descending blow. The ball sweeps off the fairway as you continue your follow-through.

Place the ball forward in your stance. Golf.com recommends placing the ball a few inches inside your forward heel. You should be able to draw an imaginary line reaching from your armpit straight ahead to the ball.

Begin the backswing by sweeping the clubhead along the ground to start creating a wide arc. If you're right-handed, naturally turning your left shoulder and hips will eventually lead to you bringing your left arm up over your right shoulder.

Start the downswing after you've made a natural shoulder turn, your left arm is fully extended and your back is to the target. Your wrists should be naturally cocked at the top of the backswing for maximum power. Use the wide arc created by your arms to sweep the club back to the ball, catching it with a slightly descending blow. According to Harmon, great pros such as Woods and the late Ben Hogan often take a slight divot when hitting a fairway wood. Complete the swing by continuing to turn as you sweep the ball into the air and end the shot with a balanced finish.

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