Best Fairway Woods 2018

Published:

Best Fairway Woods 2018: We bring you our top 10 fairway woods of 2018 - tried and tested as part of our biggest ever golf club equipment guide, Top Gear.

In our biggest ever equipment test we reviewed hundreds of golf clubs, and when it came to selecting the best fairway woods of 2018, these were our top 10 on the market right now. 

  Longest Fairway
(Av Carry)
Ben Frost 245 yards (TaylorMade M4)
Chris Jones 228 yards (TaylorMade M4)
Simon Daddow

212 yards (TaylorMade M4)

Fairway Woods that created the most ball speed for our Test Pro 
➤ 150mph TaylorMade M4
➤ 149mph Cobra King F8
➤ 148mph Callaway Rogue, Srixon Z F65

Ping G400 Fairway Wood - £240

Website www.ping.com
Lofts #3 - 14.5° / #5 - 17.5° / #7 - 20.5° / #9 - 23.5°
Shafts  Ping Alta CB65 / Ping Tour 65
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How much loft change  +/- 1°

ping g400

You need to know:

The G400 has a new maraging steel face which Ping say is 20% stronger and 20% more flexible, alone they claim it delivers an extra 2mph of ball speed over the previous G model. 30% of the heads mass is located in the heads backweight (in the sole) which Ping reckon improves MOI and forgiveness by 25% - 44% over the competition.   

We say:

Ping are like Audi cars when it comes to fairway woods, solid, dependable and they go the distance. Our data spells out a spot-on performance to support our thinking too. Ball speed was a 1mph quicker than the test average, back spin was 250 rpm less than the competition (on average) which added up to a carry distance 3 yards further than our test average. The G400s lower but larger profile and stretched head looks great sat behind the ball, which is worth remembering if you’re not the most confident launching a fairway wood from the turf. Compared to the carbon clad models (Callaway Rogue, TaylorMade M3/M4 and Cobra F8) sound is a bit higher pitched, which Simon loved, as it gives a lively responsive impact sensation which isn’t there with all carbon crown models. We’re big fans of the array of loft options too, there’s enough to legitimately fill yardage gaps between a driver and set of irons, if you prefer fairway woods over hybrids.         

Verdict:

Ping have proven time and again their engineering brilliance and the G400 fairway is another triumph. It’s decent sized head is friendly to hit from the turf and tee box and thanks at an adjustable hosel it can be dialled in to fill specific yardage gaps within your own set. 

Cleveland Launcher HB Fairway Wood - £200

Website www.clevelandgolf.co.uk
Lofts

#3 - 15° / #5 - 18° 

Shafts Miyazaki C
Adjustable Hosel No

cleveland

You need to know:

The whole story with Launcher HB is simple distance with excellent forgiveness. Cleveland reckon by removing all adjustability and simply focusing on speed and playability they’ve hit the jackpot. A Hi-Bore crown lowers and deepens the centre of gravity, Flex-Fins in the sole direct more energy back at the golf ball for excellent distance and speed retention especially on off-centre hits.   

We say:

Removing adjustability from fairways isn’t the end of the world by our reckoning, we’ve listened to Cleveland and their argument (it means more weight to position to influence spin, forgiveness and shot bias) is compelling. But it means taking a massive punt on a single shaft which you hope suits hordes of golfers swing speeds and launch conditions. And that’s a tricky call to make. We reckon the Launcher is a decent looking fairway wood, if our testers had a niggle it’s how the white shaft looks longer than what it actually is, which for less confident golfers will undoubtedly zap a bit of confidence. Performance wise Launcher certainly didn’t produce the fastest ball speeds or longest carrying shots for any tester, but that wouldn’t stop us from recommending them, they’re a solid option from the deck and tee.                

Verdict:

Cleveland will hate us for saying it but we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t point out how TaylorMade’s excellent M4 fairway is just £29 further up the price ladder. If £200 is your absolute budget for a new fairway (and your game doesn’t warrant the offset Cobra F-Max).   then it’s an all-out fight between the Launcher and Cobra F8 in our book.

Cobra F-Max Fairway Wood - £169

Website www.cobragolf.co.uk
 Lofts  #3 - 16° / #5 - 20° / #7 - 23° 
 Shafts  Cobra Super Lite 60 
 Adjustable Hosel  No

cobra fmax

You need to know:

Cobra’s lightest and most forgiving fairway, it’s been specifically designed to perform at moderate swing speeds. A shallow profile and offset hosel promote easy up distance, and there’s plenty of draw bias thanks to heel weighting which will help keep a slice in check. Larger midsize grips are particularly well suited to golfers of a certain age.      

We say:

Cobra’s F-Max range is all about lightweight, offset and draw biased performance. Cobra might not want to say it, but the F-Max is very well suited to slow – average swing speed senior golfers who need maximum help to get shots up in the air and keep them there. None of our testers are the F-Max’s intended audience but Simon’s average swing speed had absolutely no problems launching the fairway higher, with more backspin than the other fairways on test. That means it wasn’t at the races when it comes to dishing out awards for longest or fastest shot averages, but we do applaud Cobra because the Max does everything they promised it would.    

Verdict:

The average age of golfers is creeping up year on year, so it makes sense we have clubs to help keep us all enjoying the game. Cobra aren’t the first brand to target senior golfers with a specific range, as Callaway do it to in the USA. In our book F-Max is a great option if your games at the crest of a slippery slope and slowly slipping towards lower club speeds and less distance. 

TaylorMade M3 Fairway Wood - £279

Website www.taylormadegolf.com
Lofts  3 – 15deg / 3HL P- 17deg / 5 – 19deg
Shaft Mitsubishi Tensei Blue 65 
Adjustable Hosel Yes 
How much loft change +/- 2deg 

taylormade m3

You need to know:

Improvements over the previous M1 include a 5-layer carbon crown, longer speed pocket and improved weight track system, giving you more weight (29g to 25g in M1) to position and better influence shot shape. TaylorMade say like a driver expect the low, forward CG to deliver high launch with low spin. An adjustable hosel means you can dial in a specific loft and lie to suit your own game and eye.     

We say:

Our friendly fitters over at The Belfry tell us for every 10 TaylorMade fairways they sell one’s M3 while nine are M4s. It tells a very important story to club golfers. Everything about the M3 is geared to the wants and desire of better players. The headsize is 37cc smaller than the M4 (3 wood), there’s an adjustable hosel, a sliding shot bias sole weight and full-length face grooves. To our minds we reckon it’s a cheeky little fairway which we love but there’s no hiding how it’s just too much (particularly when the excellent M4 is significantly cheaper) for the majority of club golfers. Thanks to our test data we reckon if you’re not trying to dial in a particular shot shape, locating the 29g sole weight behind your typical impact location is a really good shout for increasing ball speed.              

Verdict:

TaylorMade need to cater for a heck of a lot of tour players, the M3s adjustable hosel and sliding sole weight lets them, for certain players manipulate spin or shot bias in a way many club golfers don’t require. It’s a necessary part of their range, but unless you’re the 1 in 10 golfers looking for very specific launch conditions it’s highly likely the awesome M4 will perform better for you.   

Cobra King F8 Fairway Wood - £199

Website www.cobragolf.co.uk
Lofts  #3 - #4 (13deg – 16deg), #5 - #6 (17deg – 20deg),
#7 - #8 (21deg – 24deg)
Shafts Mitsubishi Tensei Blue 50, Aldila NV 2KXV Blue 70
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How much loft change  8 settings

cobra f8

You need to know:

Baffler sole rails get deeper as lofts increase to help cut through rough and launch shots from more challenging lies. Aero trips on the crown and toe area improve aerodynamic performance which is a theme running through Cobra’s 2018 woods. An Arccos sensor in the grip pairs with your phone to monitor where you hit every shot.  

We say:

How far you hit a three wood from the turf is really important. It can literally mean the difference between getting home in two on a par 5 and making a two-putt birdie or having to lay back and rely on your short game. So any fairway wood that rinses out every drop of juice from the next longest club to your driver should be grasped with both hands. Our test pro thought for him the F8 was a super distance club from the fairway. Averaged between three testers F8 posted our second highest fairway wood ball speed (just 1mph behind the TaylorMade M4) and it was only 3 yards down on the second longest fairway wood. Our testers agreed to disagree on the nardo grey colour and busy crown aerodynamics, as whilst Simon and Chris were both fans, our test pro thought they put him off.      

Verdict:

Cobra Baffler woods come with some serious pedigree and our data says the F8 is well equipped to perform at average and above swing speeds. If like us you want to squeeze every last yard out of your three wood, a Cobra fitting is an excellent idea, as there’s 20g of difference between the two stock shafts. Included in the £200 RRP you also get an Arccos shot tracker in the grip.    

Wilson Staff C300 Fairway Wood - £219

Website www.wilson.com
Lofts 13.5deg, 15deg, 18deg
Shaft Fujikura Speeder Pro 68
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How much loft change  +2/-1deg

wilson staff c300

You need to know:

Wilson say 6 power holes in the sole/toe and crown mean you get maximum face flex and rebound (speed and distance) when shots don’t impact the centre of the face. 3 sole weights (2 x 2g, 1 x 6g) can be interchanged to dial in either a neutral forgiving high flight, or 7- 8 yards of fade or draw bias.

We say:

There wasn’t a fairway wood closer to our test averages than the C300, it literally was bang on the money for ball speed, backspin and carry distance, which says it’s a solid performer. C300 isn’t really aimed at the mass market of golfers (14 handicappers and above) instead it’s pitched in at the niche crossover golfer between better players and game improvers. The stubby head is a fraction smaller than most, and our test pro in particular hit it really nicely. We can’t not mention the matt red colour, it will be divisive and ultimately likely to be the deciding factor in some golfers buying in or keeping their cash in their pocket. For us we didn’t have an issue with it, reckoning the matt paint cuts glare over some of the more traditional shiny crown fairways we tested.      

Verdict:

At over £200 the C300 doesn’t come cheap, it does though offer a decent degree of adjustability, which the glued hosel models can’t. With the excellent TaylorMade M4 being just another tenner, you don’t need to be Einstein to realise which fairway wood the majority of golfers will plump for in 2018.     

Mizuno ST180 Fairway Wood - £279

Website golf.mizunoeurope.com
Lofts 15deg, 18deg
Shaft Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue
Adjustable Hosel Yes
How much loft change +/- 2deg

mizuno jpx

You need to know:

A wave sole design and new 1770 maraging steel face contract and rebound together, transferring more energy to the ball at impact, increasing ball speed. Mizuno say the ST180 delivers a flatter, efficient ball flight yet the bigger than average profile is highly forgiving. For golfers who like the look of bigger wider heads but don’t want the spin usually associated with a stretched model the ST180 is an interesting proposition.   

We say:

Take nothing away from the ST180 it’s a cracking looking fairway wood. We love how by keeping the paint line back from the top edge, the face appears bigger and more lofted, which in our book is a brilliant look for a modern fairway wood. The heads a good mixture of low profile and wide body shaping which all three testers thought was a look a majority of golfers would really appreciate. Performance matched the looks, ST posted ball speeds 1mph above the test average and our second longest carry distance (tied with the Callaway Rogue), which says the STs well equipped to perform in the hands of a wide audience of golfers. The STs adjustable hosel (15deg model) means it can also be morphed into a 17deg 4 wood or 13deg fairway driver, which non-adjustable hosel models can’t quite match.    

Verdict:

Our issue with Mizuno’s woods this year are their prices. We’ve already had a roasting for writing the ST180 driver off in our drivers test because of the price tag. But as nice as the ST180 is when you bring clubs to market for more than the market leader it’s natural for people to ask why? What more am I getting? And that’s the bit we’re struggling to answer, if we’re to heartily recommend the ST over less expensive models this year.     

TaylorMade M4 Fairway Wood - £229

Website www.taylormadegolf.com
Lofts  3 – 15deg / 3HL – 16.5deg / 5 – 18 deg /
5HL – 21deg / 7HL – 24deg 
Shaft Fujikura Atmos Red 6/5
Adjustable Hosel No 

taylormade m4

You need to know:

TaylorMade’s most forgiving fairway woods have set the ball speed benchmark pretty much since the RocketBallz. Their engineers know a thing or two about rinsing ball speed and distance out of golfers swings, and they say the M4s longer speed pocket, internal split pad weighting reduces twisting so even more energy is transferred to the golf ball. Geocoustic engineering means the super sleek and slick aerodynamic head sounds and feels great.    

We say:

Wow, wow, wow. We don’t often see a club stand head and shoulders above the competition nowadays, as the tech used by most brands is so good, but the M4 stole the show when it came to fairway wood performance for 2018. Wind the clock back to our driver test and none of our testers quite got their best results using the M4s stock Atmos shaft, but the case was very different when it came to fairways. We reckon it’s exactly why TaylorMade have chosen the Atmos, because more golfers get fitted for a driver, butless botherwhen itcomes to fairway woods. M4 was the only club our test pro reached 150mph ball speed with (Cobra F8 was second with 149mph), and incredibly for our pro it was 9 yards further than the next longest fairway he hit, which is a significant gain considering the quality competition. M4 performed similarly well for the amateurs too, posting on extra 5 yards carry on average over the competition.              

Verdict:

If you’re looking to buy any new fairway woods in 2018 we reckon you’d be foolish to not look very closely at the M4, it was a revelation throughout our testing. The slightly wider footprint is forgiving, the speed pocket and fast face tech are super powerful and there’s enough lofts to cover off gaps between your driver and irons (and eliminate hybrids) if you really want too.   

Callaway Rogue Fairway Wood - £269

Website www.callawaygolf.com
Lofts 3+/13.5deg, 3/15deg, 4/17 deg, 5/19deg, 7/21deg, 9/23deg,
11/25deg 20deg Heavenwood 
Shaft Aldila Quaranta 50, Aldila Synergy 60, Project X Even Flow 70 
Adjustable Hosel No

callaway rogue

You need to know:

2018s the first year Callaway introduce “Jailbreak” technology to fairway’s, and they reckon it promotes higher ball speeds from a larger portion of the face. A carbon crown frees up weight to reposition to increase MOI as well as promote a high launch with low spin. A speed step crown reduces drag improving airflow efficiency and you get a choice of shaft weights from 40g – 70g.

We say:

‘Jailbreak’ tech was a decent leap forward in terms of increasing and protecting ball speeds in Callaway’s Epic drivers last year, fact. For 2018 the tech’s included in the fairways and hybrids, but we reckon it’s a much bigger ask getting heavy steel body fairways to flex and rebound like a driver, particularly when you want golfers to see the gains on a launch monitor. Our accurate hitting test pro’s 148mph ball speed was 2mph slower than the M4, but still good enough to make the top three fastest on test. Don’t get us the wrong we love the Rogue drivers, and the fairways are almost as powerful, but Rogue is a glued hosel fairway coming in for serious cash. A second longest average carry distance (236 yards tied with the Mizuno ST 180) is really impressive, and the appearance is a huge step forward over last years Epic which had a busy crown and appeared a bit open at address. 

Verdict:

Everything Rogue this year comes in for serious money, but even considering the cost, the driver and fairway are comfortably within our top three favourites of the year. Experience tells us the choice of shaft weights is a huge plus, and means the Rogue can easily be set up for a huge range of swing speeds and ball flight/feel preferences. 

Cobra King F8+ Fairway Wood - £199

Website www.cobragolf.co.uk
Lofts  #3 - #4 (12deg – 15deg), #4 - #5 (16deg – 19deg)
Shaft  Aldila NV 2KXV Green 75
Adjustable Hosel Yes 
How much loft change  8 settings

cobra f8+

You need to know:

A slightly smaller more compact head then the standard F8, this is the model Rickie Fowler has in his own bag. A more forward centre of gravity and green Aldila 2KXV shaft help reduce spin which is perfect for stronger, harder hitters.  

We say:

We don’t make a habit of recommending ‘tour profile’ clubs to the TG audience as very often they put forgiveness on the line, which virtually all club golfers can’t do without. But every now and again one sneaks through the net because we just can’t turn a blind eye to it. And that’s how the F8+ finds its way into our Top 10 fairways of 2018. Our test pro was a big fan, just as Cobra promised it delivered low spin (posting our pro’s lowest backspin numbers of any fairway wood), but it’s also powerful, posting a carry distance just a single yard behind the second longest fairway in our test. Our recommendation though comes as a cute little 4 or 5 wood not the three wood we tested. We reckon thanks to the smaller head and deeper Baffler rails stronger golfers will be able to rifle shots out of any lie or from the tee.

Verdict:

We’ve all heard Peter Alliss for years say how tour players are hitting a little ‘baffy’ well this is exactly the type of club he’s described. Compared to the standard F8 the head size is tiny, but it’s one of the cutest we’ve seen, and you can’t fail to like it. The size means it won’t be super forgiving (if you want forgiveness have a look at the standard F8 instead) but if like us you like to carry more than one fairway this is an excellent second more lofted option.