Rather than us tell you what to look for in a fairway wood, we’ll let four-time major champion and world No.1 Rory McIlroy take the floor.
“They have to be pretty versatile, good off the tee and the deck,” he told TG at the recent opening of the world-first Nike Performance Fitting Centre at Archerfield Links. “They tend to slide through the rough easier than irons so you can play different shots with them. I want to be able to hit it low, high, right to left, left to right, land it soft on par-5 greens. You have to get the right launch conditions – a combination of launch and spin to get it to do what you want it to do in the air.”
With Rory’s words ringing loudly in our ears, we took 16 of the best fairway woods of 2014 to The Belfry to test and review. Use our insight to make your most informed purchase ever.
How we tested the best fairway woods
We tested fairway woods in one of The Belfry’s custom-fitting bays. We asked the leading fairway woods manufacturers for samples to be sent in the stock stiff shaft and a loft as close to 15° as possible. Where applicable, we adjusted the loft as close to 15° as possible, the Ping G30 being a prime example. In the results, the loft is 15° unless stated otherwise. Our pro James Ridyard was joined by Joel Tadman and nine-handicapper Ian Meredith.
To collect the TrackMan data, we hit shots from a very low tee for consistency purposes. To assess how versatile each fairway wood was (how effective the design works from different lies) we hit shots off the range mat and out of semi-rough, trying to replicate the same lie for each club as closely as possible. Testers had access to TrackMan data for the shots off the mat, but these stats weren’t used when forming the Performance mark.
TG doesn’t shy away from rating and ranking products. So, we awarded two Bronze, a Silver and Gold awards to the top four fairway woods. Note that some non-award winning clubs may have the same overall rating when rounded to the nearest half-star total.
TrackMan is the industry-leading launch monitor of choice for the PGA Tour, the R&A and USGA testing as well as swing and ball flight analysis.
The best fairway woods - tested
The fairway woods below are ranked from highest-scoring to lowest - click through to read our full reviews.
GOLD AWARD: TaylorMade SLDR/SLDR TP: 4.75/5
SILVER AWARD: Callaway Big Bertha: 4.5/5
BRONZE AWARD: Ping i25: 4.25/5
BRONZE AWARD: TaylorMade JetSpeed: 4.25/5
Ping G30: 4.25/5
Adams Tight Lies: 4.25/5
Mizuno JPX EZ: 4.25/5
Nike VRS Covert 2.0/Tour: 4.25/5
Tour Edge Exotics CB PRO: 4.25/5
Yonex EZONE XP: 4/5
Cleveland Golf 588: 3.75/5
John Letters TR47: 3.75/5
Benross RIP SPEED 2: 3.75/5
Wilson Staff FG TOUR M3: 3.75/5