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OUR JOB IS YOUR GAME
We’ve got your Most Wanted fairway wood!
Fairway woods are arguably the most difficult golf club to hit consistently so getting one that fits your game is paramount.
This is the most intensive data-driven fairway wood review you will find anywhere so let’s take a look at the best fairway woods of 2022!
MOST WANTED SCORING
We have reformulated our 2022 Most Wanted results to a 100-point scoring system. This new system better identifies golf clubs to potentially help you shoot lower scores.
For fairway woods, we’ve split our key metrics into three categories: accuracy, forgiveness and distance. Each category is weighted through proprietary methodologies.
Data was collected using Foresight GCQuad Launch monitors. To minimize variables, all testers hit Titleist Pro V1 golf balls. Outliers were removed and data was aggregated before scores were calculated.
The accuracy category plays a vital role in every Most Wanted Test. Our accuracy score for fairway woods is determined by one sole metric: Strokes Gained.
Forgiveness is a measure of consistency. As such, our forgiveness metric seeks to identify clubs that provide the most consistent result. Note: “Consistent” doesn’t always mean “consistently good.” Our forgiveness metrics include:
- Ball speed consistency
- Spin consistency
- Carry consistency
- Dispersion area
Without question, distance is always a priority for most golfers. Our distance metrics are simple:
- Carry distance
- Total distance
BEST FAIRWAY WOODS OVERALL
Top of the Board
- COBRA KING LTDx blends accuracy, distance and forgiveness to claim the title of 2022’s Most Wanted Fairway Wood.
- Tour Edge Exotics Pro 721 performance centers around its accuracy which propels it to second overall.
- Callaway Rogue ST Max get third place due to its accuracy score.
- TaylorMade rounds out the top five with Stealth Plus and Stealth, respectively.
BEST FAIRWAY WOODS FOR DISTANCE
- TaylorMade continues to push the distance envelope. Stealth Plus gains the best for distance title.
- Following closely is COBRA KING LTDx.
- TaylorMade Stealth rounds out the top three.
- Callaway Rogue ST LS finishes fourth.
- XXIO 12 sneaks into the top five and boasts the best ball speed throughout testing.
BEST FAIRWAY WOODS FOR FORGIVENESS
- Tour Edge Exotics E722 is the best for forgiveness in the 2022 Most Wanted Fairway Wood test.
- Although the Launch Pad 2 is lacking in some areas, forgiveness is its strength as it ranks second.
- PXG 0311 XF Gen5 is third, one ahead of Adams Tight Lies.
- PXG 0311 Gen5 closes out the top five, capping off a impressive performance for the brand in terms of forgiveness.
BEST FAIRWAY WOODS FOR ACCURACY
- Accuracy is a game changer and Tour Edge Exotics Pro 721 ranks the best for accuracy.
- Not far behind is COBRA KING LTDx.
- Callaway Rogue ST Max narrowly beat out Stealth Plus.
- COBRA makes another appearance in the top five with LTDx LS.
Performance should be your primary concern when buying a new fairway wood but there are some additional considerations you may want to think about before you make your purchasing decision.
Fairway wood loft is an intriguing component. Most fairway woods are 15 degrees. However, 14.5 degrees, 15.5 degrees and 16 degrees are options, depending on the manufacturer. Loft plays a role in your launch conditions. If you’re looking to reduce spin, go with a lower-lofted fairway wood. If you need some more height and spin, go with a higher-lofted fairway wood. There are low-spinning heads and higher-spinning heads as well, so keep this on your radar, too.
Not only does loft play a vital role in fairway wood performance but so does shaft selection. Since each golfer swings differently, one generic stock shaft offering most likely won’t be the golden ticket for most golfers. Consider aspects such as shaft flex, weight, material and bend profile. All can have an impact on how the shaft performs. A professional fitting will reveal which shaft works best for you.
Much like drivers, there is a plethora of fairway woods that offer adjustability. Adjustability provides greater flexibility to dial in your preferred launch conditions. Furthermore, it can assist with bridging the gap between your driver and your longest iron or hybrid. At the end of the day, adjustability can be your greatest friend. Utilize it if it is an option.
During each test, we look for trends that provide insight into where the market is moving as well as what noteworthy changes manufacturers have made to improve year-to-year performance. Additionally, we solicit feedback from our testers. We want to understand what they liked, what they didn’t like and why. Although we obtain their feedback, their subjective opinions do not influence, dictate or determine our testing rankings.
Trends and Tweaks
- TaylorMade, COBRA and Callaway continue to shine in the fairway wood category. With PING G430 and Titleist TSR lineups on the horizon, it’ll be interesting to see next year’s offering from TaylorMade, COBRA and Callaway.
- XXIO metalwoods continue to impress from a ball speed perspective. Their fairway woods and hybrids offer tremendous upside with ball speed. Do not sleep on them.
Notes From the Testing Pool
The following section details subjective feedback from our pool of 20 testers. Gathering feedback is an important aspect of any test. We use their feedback as a representation of what golfers like and dislike about the product we test. That being said, the feedback is strictly subjective. It does not play a factor in the rankings.
- We preach about performance but golfers love an attractive golf club. According to our testing pool, these are the best fairway woods for profile and looks: COBRA KING (LTDx, LTDx Max and LTDx LS), Callaway Rogue ST (Max, Max D, and LS), TaylorMade Stealth and Stealth Plus, Tour Edge Exotics E722, PXG 0311 Gen5 and Srixon ZX.
- Looks aren’t the only subjective characteristic that impacts golfers’ buying habits. Feel is another aspect. Our testing pool rate these fairway woods highly for feel: TaylorMade Stealth and Stealth Plus, COBRA KING LTDx lineup, Callaway Rogue ST lineup, Mizuno ST-X 220, Wilson Launch Pad 2 and Tour Edge Exotics E722.
2022 MOST WANTED FAIRWAY WOOD SCORES
Most Wanted Tests are dedicated to the newest golf clubs available at retail. If your golf club of choice is not listed, please check out the previous year’s test.
2022 Most Wanted Fairway Wood Scores
|PRODUCT||OVERALL SCORE||DISTANCE SCORE||ACCURACY SCORE||FORGIVENESS SCORE|
|COBRA KING LTDx|
|Tour Edge Exotics Pro 721|
|Callaway Rogue ST Max|
|TaylorMade Stealth Plus|
|COBRA KING LTDx Max|
|Callaway Rogue ST Max D|
|COBRA KING LTDx LS|
|Callaway Rogue ST LS|
|Tommy Armour 845 Max|
|PXG 0311 XF Gen5|
|Tour Edge Exotics E722|
|Tour Edge Exotics C722|
|PXG 0311 Gen5|
|Sub 70 949X|
|Adams Tight Lies|
|Mizuno ST-X 220|
|Wilson Launch Pad 2|
2022 MOST WANTED FAIRWAY WOOD DATA COMING SOON
BUYING A NEW FAIRWAY WOOD
Q: How often should I buy a new fairway wood?
A: While on rare occasions there are quantifiable year-over-year breakthroughs, typically it takes three to five years for manufacturers to make any significant performance gains. With the USGA further tightening restrictions on manufacturers, it’s possible, even likely, that it will take longer still moving forward. Our recommendation is to buy a new fairway wood only when it appreciably outperforms what is already in your bag. Of course, if you want new fairway wood because you want a new fairway wood, that’s fine, too.
Q: How do I determine the right fairway wood for me?
A: A proper club fitting with a professional will help determine what fairway wood will suit your unique game. However, you can assess your own needs by determining what kind of shots you need to hit with your fairway wood. Do you take hit the 3-wood primarily off the tee or off the turf? If you primarily use the fairway wood off the tee, a deeper face can help promote solid contact on the tee. Conversely, shallower-faced, slightly elongated fairway woods can help with turf interaction, allowing you the best chance at solid contact off the fairway or out of the rough. Make sure to fully evaluate your game in advance of a professional fitting to help the fitter understand what you’re looking for in a fairway wood.
Q: Does the shaft matter?
A: Absolutely. While changes to spin and launch and spin differences are rarely substantial, shaft changes frequently lead to improved accuracy, tighter dispersion and greater overall consistency.
Q: What should I look for when testing fairway woods?
A: While golfers have been conditioned to consider distance to the exclusion of nearly everything else, we recommended looking at the little numbers and looking for small circles. When comparing metrics like distance and ball speed, be sure to look at your standard deviations (the small numbers usually found under the big ones on the data screen). Smaller numbers mean better consistency which will usually mean more than an extra yard or two on the golf course. Similarly, look for tighter dispersion ellipses (small circles). We can’t overstate the importance of consistency with fairway woods.
Q: How are the fairway woods in the test fitted to each golfer?
A: We use a fitting process that we call fit from stock. Fairway woods are fitted to each tester using the stock, no up-charge options from each manufacturer. Our 2022 Most Wanted Fairway Wood test included fairway woods with stamped lofts ranging from 14.5 to 16 degrees. Some offer adjustability features (loft and CG) and we make use of all available adjustability options to optimize trajectory. Furthermore, we fit to flex for each tester in the pool. Occasionally, manufacturers will send multiple sets with different stock shafts that we can utilize to improve launch conditions.
Q: How is the “Most Wanted Fairway Wood” determined?
A: To determine the Most Wanted Fairway Wood, we collect performance metrics with Foresight GCQuad Launch Monitors. To determine our overall rankings, we don’t just focus on averages. Instead, through proprietary methodologies, we determine the winner based on three key metrics: accuracy, distance and forgiveness.
Q: How is the “Longest Fairway Wood” determined?
A: To determine the Longest Fairway Wood, we again look past the raw averages to consider the average total yards across the test pool along with the statistical reliability of that data.
Q: How is the “Most Forgiving Fairway Wood” determined?
A: To determine the Most Forgiving Fairway Wood, we focus on a narrower set of metrics that includes:
- Ball speed consistency
- Spin consistency
- Carry consistency
- Dispersion area
Q: How much does subjective feedback like looks, sound and feel factor into your rankings?
A: ZERO. Our rankings are based purely on launch monitor data and quantifiable performance metrics.