Within literal hours, I think, of the first time we published driver CG data, we began fielding requests for similar data for fairway woods. Because you guys asked for it, and because we think it’s generally good info regardless, today we’re providing that information.
Which Fairway CG Location is Right for You?
Like drivers (and pretty much every club in the bag), there’s no single fairway wood CG location that’s ideal for every golfer. And even when your swing characteristics dictate a theoretical ideal, there’s no guarantee it will actually work for you. An aggressive swinger with a negative angle of attack has a high probability of fitting into forward CG driver. With fairway woods, it’s less cut and dry.
One R&D contact inside one of the major OEMs we work with often believes there’s a bit less science in fairway woods fittings. Regardless of the golfer’s individual swing characteristics, golfers to who struggle to hit fairways woods well, or need the proverbial help getting the ball in the air will often see better performance from rear CG clubs, while competent fairway wood players will often see better results with more forward CG offerings.
As with everything else, your actual mileage may very.
Before we get to the charts, let’s make sure we’re all good with our fundamentals.
For those of you who are stumbling across our CG charts for the first time, you should know that these charts are an excellent resource for comparing arguably the most important element of metalwood design (CG location) between different manufacturers and models. Having this information at your fingertips can help you identify the clubs that are most likely to perform well for you. Of course, before you can leverage our info you will need to understand a bit about what you’re looking at.
If Center of Gravity or CG, the Neutral Axis, or any of the other terminology in our charts is new to you, before digging in any deeper, I would encourage you to check out any and all of our previous posts on the topic.:
- Golf Geeks – How Center of Gravity Makes a Huge Difference
- 2015 Driver CG Data
- 2016 Driver CG Data & 2016 Driver CG Update
About the Charts
Included in the charts below is Center of Gravity location data for 21 fairway woods released in 2015 and 2016. We’ve created a set of consistent filters across all of the charts that will allow you to filter by Model Year, Manufacturer, or Model Name. You can select as many or as few fairways as you like. Clicking on a model name from the list below the charts will highlight only that model.
Clicking on any dot on the chart itself will reveal more data tied to that model.
ATTENTION MOBILE USERS: We’ve done what we can to make these charts more accessible for mobile users, however, if you are on a mobile device, you’re going to want to rotate your phone to landscape mode.
Lie, Loft, and Head Weight
Before we get to the CG stuff, let’s first take a look at our basic measurements for loft, lie, and weight. For obvious reasons, loft matters, but what about lie angle?
Lie angle contributes to the starting direction of your shot. Guys who start the ball too far right may benefit from a more upright lie angle, while guys who start it too far left will often benefit from a flatter lie angle.
The chart also compares actual measured loft to the stamped loft, which gives us an indication of which companies do the most vanity lofting, and which come closest to aligning actual loft with stated loft.
Finally, we should mention that each of the clubs measured is designated as a 3 Wood by its manufacturer.
- While the actual loft of the majority of samples tested is reasonably close to the stamped loft, it’s not unusual, particularly in models designed to be easy to hit for lofts to be a degree or more above the stated number
- At just over 221 grams, TaylorMade’s M1 is the heaviest head measured, while Callaway’s Big Bertha V-Series (208.1g) is the lightest
- The Nike Vapor Fly has the most upright lie angle we measured
- The Big Bertha Alpha 815 has the flattest lie angle of any fairway measured. Callaway’s Alpha 816 is the flattest of the 2016 models
Front to Back CG (CG YZ)
The chart below shows the front to back Center of Gravity locations of the fairways measured relative to face center. As we’ve discussed previously, both low CG and rear CG will generally increase dynamic loft which leads to increased launch angle, while high and forward CGs will decrease dynamic loft (on a comparative basis) and ultimately launch angle.
Heads with CGs located farther back are generally easier to square at impact, and are often billed as being easier to hit, or easier to get in the air.
- The four most forward CG fairway woods are all produced by TaylorMade
- Not surprisingly, PING’s models all have relatively rear CGs; however, Cobra, Callaway, PXG each have offerings that can be defined as rear CG.
- While most models are clustered in the middle, notable outliers include:
CG Relative the Neutral Axis & MOI
Woods with Center of Gravity locations closer to the neutral axis will provide better performance on true center strikes. Additionally, the portion of the face (above the CG) that produces lower spin due to the gear effect will be larger, while the portion (below the CG) that produces higher spin (also due to the gear effect) will be smaller.
Golfers who consistently strike the ball on or below the center of the face will likely see more distance from golf clubs with CG locations closer to the neutral axis, while consistent high face strikers may see better performance with higher CG clubs.
The farther right a club falls along the X-axis, the higher the MOI or Forgiveness. While the correlation is not absolute (there are other factors), clubs with more rearward CGs (as shown on the previous YZ chart) generally offer higher MOI.
- All but four of the models measured fall between 2mm and 5mm from the neutral axis, and most models have a MOI between 2400 and 2900
- The Cobra KING LTD is the only fairway model with a CG location anywhere close to the the neutral axis
- Not surprisingly, 4 of the 5 most forgiving models are produced by PING. It’s worth noting that the SF Tec’s extreme high CG (relative to the neutral axis) is due to its 16.3° of measured loft. With the data normalized, the SF Tec would sit slightly lower than the Nike Vapor Fly
- Though billed as extremely easy to hit, the Adams Tight Lies Titanium has, by far, the lowest MOI of any fairway wood measured
Heel / Toe CG (XY CG)
This chart comes with a disclaimer of sorts. Determining XY CG location is not straight-forward. We might find woods with similar XY CG locations, yet very different face heights, face shapes, crown curvatures, bulge and roll radii, etc.. XY CG similarities aside, those other design considerations may cause two similarly appearing clubs to play quite differently from one another. So while this chart can give us some indication of draw or fade bias, the CG NA and MOI chart will provide a better indicator of total performance.
- All but 3 models/configurations tested have at least a slightly heel-biased center of gravity location.
- The XR 16 is the most heel (or draw) biased club measured, which will benefit some slicers
- TaylorMade’s R15 and M1, along with the PXG 0341, when properly configured may benefit hookers, and other toe-centric ball strikers
As always we enjoy hearing your feedback (mostly). If there’s anything else similar you’d like to see, please let us know.