Mar 11th, 2016
6 Of The Best Fairway Woods For 2016
Little Rocket Launchers
Words: Daniel Owen
The hardest club in the bag to replace? For our money it's the three wood. It needs to be a monster off the tee, and launch high and land it soft from the deck. Essentially you're looking for one club to do two totally contradictory jobs. When you find one keep it in the bag for as long as you can. But if you haven't changed in the last couple of years, you might be missing out on loads of distance and forgiveness.
Cobra King F6
If you are after adjustability, Cobra might have the answer with the King F6 Fairway wood. The F6 is a mid sized fairway wood designed for all golfers. It combines loft adjustments with front and back CG settings.
The front CG position delivers a penetrating ball flight with more roll, while a back CG position offers a higher, more towering ball flight with greater forgiveness. With eight adjustable loft settings, that’s 16 possible combinations. If you can’t get one of those to work for you, we’re unsure if any fairway wood will!
The fairways feature Cobra’s Speed Channel design around the perimeter of the face. It’s thin around the perimeter allowing the face to flex more at impact, increasing ball speed especially on miss hits. Oh and it comes in a selection of colours, so there’s really no excuse not to find one you like.
Callaway XR 16
Callaway have been on a great run with their fairway woods since the X Hot. The XR16 and XR 16 Pro will be in loads of tour bags this year. These aren’t adjustable, they aren’t built for dialing in, they’re just built for straight up distance.
Bigger than last years XR, it has a combination of highest MOI, low Centre of Gravity, and the highest ever COR in a Callaway fairway wood. The ultra lightweight lightest crown allows them to move the weight where they wanted it. This fairway wood is easy to hit and highly versatile with its cambered sole provides playability from all lies. The XR 16 Pro is more compact, but is still very inviting at address, and easy to hit for its size.
It’s faster off the face too, they’ve updated their Forged Hyper Speed Face Cup and made it hotter and thinner for even more ball speed and to increase the size of the sweet spot. The aerodynamics on this head have been improved, creating more club head speed, which will help you create more ball speed and longer shots.
Like the TaylorMade M1, the M2 fairway features a carbon crown design. By saving the five grams – as well as taking away the weight track – the designers were able to create a really low centre of gravity which helps the ball get up and away, especially off the deck.
Then there’s the Speed Pocket. Originally part of the RocketBallz design, the Speed Pocket has been refined and made bigger. This one is the most flexible, providing ball-speed across the face, but especially from shots hit low on the face. The ball just gets up and flies off of the deck.
All that power had a detrimental effect on the sound and feel though. Tour players have long preferred a longer hosel on their woods because of its traditional look, but also because it improves sound and feel. It also uses up a lot of weight that club designers hate wasting. So they came up with the fluted-hosel design which saves weight without losing strength, and helps the club feel better in the process. We’ve been super impressed by this three wood.
Ping’s engineers have looked at what worked with previous fairway woods and made some changes. The most important one is that the leading edge on the G fairway has been moved closer to the ground. While seemingly only a small thing, this means the ball makes contact higher up on the face which helps get the ball airborne more easily off the deck.
The G features the thinnest crown of any steel fairway wood Ping have produced. While it doesn’t have the DragonFly tech, it still means more weight can be put lower and further back in the club head, making it easier to get the ball airborne. The 455 Carpenter steel face is the thinnest Ping have ever used, while inside the head where it can’t be seen there is a cascading sole design. Between them this allows for faster ball speeds as the head can compress and spring back more at impact.
There three F fairway models. There’s a standard head that is a like for like replacement to the G30. The SF Tec is lighter, and heel biased to help hit draws, while also featuring a little more loft. Then there is the new Stretch. It’s lower lofted at 13 degree, and features a slightly larger head. The face is a fraction deeper, and it’s a club designed to eek out every last bit of yardage off the deck or tee The weight is little further forward as well for a flatter trajectory than a standard three wood.
Nike Vapor Fly
The Vapor Fly Fairway Wood uses Nike’s tour favoured head shape with upgraded technology to drive performance. Utilising the same technology found within the drivers, the club features an extremely thin and light Flightweight Crown to move weight lower for a higher launch angle, with less spin. The Flightweight Crown features a 30 percent reduction in crown weight versus last year’s model, resulting in a lower centre of gravity and higher MOI for higher launch, less spin, and more forgiveness.
The HyperFlight face is thinned out around the perimeter to produce extreme ball speed across the entire face for better performance on off-centre hits.
The re-engineered Compression Channel enables a springboard effect to amplify performance on miss hits.
The FlyBeam Reinforced Covert Cavity Back dramatically stiffens the clubhead while redistributing weight to the heel and toe for maximum impact efficiency, tuned acoustics and forgiveness.
The FlexLoft Fairway hosel offers the unique ability to adjust loft and lie angle independently, offering six individual settings in each of five models to achieve optimal flight, more distance and enhanced workability.
Mizuno JPX EZ
Mizuno have gone down the EZ route with their new Fairway Woods. Distance is important but not at the expense of being easy to use.
“We recognised that modern fairway woods, especially those with adjustability, have started to favour the stronger ball-striker. But most of us don’t generate the club head speed needed to flight the ball properly,” says Chris Voshall, Club Engineer at Mizuno. “So we’ve gone back to the drawing board and created a larger, flatter head with a tendency to generate more backspin. It’s not just ability dependent - there will be tour players and professionals who prefer the softer landing trajectory.”
Mizuno use their shockwave sole, which allows the club to contract and expand at impact like a concertina to increase ball speeds off the turf and higher ball flight. The fairways feature a waffle crown that saves weight that can be put lower in the club head for a low centre of gravity. A Quick Switch hosel allows the loft to be adjusted on the fairways although a fixed hosel version is also available.