Selecting a Golf Driver, Fairway Wood and Hybrid
Knowing which driver, fairway and hybrid golf club is best for you will get you started golfing on the right foot. This buying guide will help you understand more about each club and which will be best for you. To help you improve your game even more, we have licensed PGA/LPGA Professionals in each Dick's Sporting Goods store to aid you in selecting the clubs that are right for you.
The driver is most commonly the longest club in the bag and the lowest loft club in the bag, with the exception of the putter. It is generally the club of choice from the teeing ground (with the ball teed up) on Par 4 and Par 5 holes. The driver is designed to produce the most distance of any club in the bag.
Size and Material
Modern driver club heads are made of Titanium and may have multiple materials in their make-up. Titanium and composite is the most common multi-material combination. The strength-to-weight ratio of Titanium and Ti / composite heads allow the heads to be manufactured to the maximum USGA allowable size of 460 cc's. The basic benefit of this size is the increase in Moment of Inertia (resistance to twisting) it provides, resulting in more forgiveness on off-center hits. This is often referred to by manufacturers as "providing a larger sweet spot". Some of the best golf drivers have a larger sweet spot than others.
Drivers are available in a variety of lofts, usually ranging from 8° - 15° for men and 10° - 15° for women. Each manufacturer determines the options available for their individual models. The loft is the angle of the head of the club. The lower the loft on the club, the lower the ball flight. The higher the on a club, the higher the trajectory. Those who are new to golf and want more flight should go with a loft that is higher, whereas experienced golfers may want a lower loft.
Today, drivers are made with graphite shafts with unique flexes. The golf driver shaft that comes in stock in a company's driver is often determined by the club head manufacturer and is chosen based on performance testing of the product. Also, each driver manufacturer chooses what flexes are made available for their drivers.
- Shafts are available in R (Men's Regular), S (Men's Stiff), X (Men's Extra Stiff) also referred to as "tour", A (Men's Senior) and L (Ladies). In order to choose the correct shaft and flex, you should be properly fitted by a certified PGA/LPGA Professional or club fitter.
Golf drivers have become increasingly lighter in order to promote more club head speed and more distance. They generally range from 275 - 310 grams, with some as light as 265 grams in total weight. Most players will benefit from having a lighter driver in order to produce the most distance off the tee.
Drivers have become longer in recent years as well. Modern Drivers range from 45" - 46" compared to 44" - 44.5" just a few years ago. With a longer the club, it is more difficult to square the clubface at impact. In order to choose the correct length for you, it is important to be properly fitted.
Being Fit for a Driver
In order to choose the driver that is best for you, it is important to be properly fitted by a certified PGA/LPGA Professional or Certified Club Fitting Professional. They can recommend the correct length, loft, shaft, and club head based on your specific launch characteristics such as spin, launch angle, dispersion and distance. Contact your local Dick's Sporting Goods
store to be fitted by one of our certified PGA/LPGA Professionals.
Shop our great assortment of Men's Golf Drivers
and Women's Golf Drivers.
Fairway woods have a higher loft than drivers. They have smaller profile wood designs that can be used from the tee (for more control than drivers) or from the fairway (for more distance than modern hybrids or long irons).
Fairway Wood Characteristics
Material and Design
Fairway woods are about 1/3 the size of drivers and are designed with lower profiles (face heights) and have higher lofts to aid in getting the ball airborne from fairway lies. Many players use fairway woods off the tee for control, from the fairway for second shots on par 5 holes, for long approaches on longer par 4 holes and from the tee on long par 3 holes.
Men's fairway woods are usually designated as #3 wood (13° - 15° lofts), #5 wood (17° - 19° lofts), and #7 wood (20° - 22° lofts). Women's fairway woods usually will have a higher loft than men's models. Specifications will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Fairway Woods are designed to provide a distance and trajectory transition from the driver to the hybrids or long irons. Woods are manufactured with progressive lengths, with the #3 wood being the longest fairway wood (usually 43" - 42"), the #5 wood (42" - 41") and the #7 wood (41" - 40"). Length specifications will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Fairway woods almost always come with graphite shafts. They are usually the same weight or slightly heavier than the matching driver shaft. Fairway wood shafts are manufactured in R (Men's Regular), S (Men's Stiff), X or "tour" (Men's Extra Stiff), A (Men's Senior) and L (Ladies).
Shop our great assortment of Men's Fairway Woods and Women's Fairway Woods.
Golf clubs designated as "hybrids" are designed to be a transition club between fairway woods and irons. They are designed with characteristics that make them easier to hit than traditional long irons. These characteristics include lower profiles (lower face heights), wider soles and a lower center of gravity. These features make hybrid golf clubs easier to hit the intended distance and trajectory on the longer fairway approach shots.
- Hybrids can be designated as "3H", "4H", "5H" etc. and have lofts ranging from 18° - 20° on the lower lofted Hybrids and 25° - 30° on the higher lofted hybrids.
- Club lengths of hybrids are usually equal to or slightly longer than the long irons they replace, and shorter than the modern standards of fairway woods.
Material and Design
Hybrids feature flight faces (like irons), lower face profiles (face height), wider soles and lower center of gravity than traditional long irons. Club specifications are designed to provide distance and trajectory progression transition between the irons and fairway woods.
Hybrids can be part of a complete set design from the manufacturer (3H, 4H, 5H, 6i through PW), or can stand alone and replace the harder to hit long irons in traditional set make ups (3i thru PW).
Club lengths are equal to or slightly longer than traditional long irons. Club lengths will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but generally will progress from 38" on the shortest, highest lofted hybrid, to 41" on the longest, lowest lofted hybrid.
Modern Hybrids almost always come with graphite shafts that are usually the same weight or slightly heavier than their matching fairway wood shafts. Shafts are manufactured in R (Men's Regular), S (Men's Stiff), X "tour" (Men's Extra Stiff), A (Men's Senior) and L (Ladies).
Shop our great assortment of Men's Hybrid Golf Clubs and Women's Hybrid Golf Clubs.
Golf Club Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Loft angle? The amount that a clubface deviates from perpendicular to the ground as measured in degrees. Loft angle is crucial in determining the golf ball's trajectory and spin. If all other factors (shaft flex, flex point, etc.) remain equal, then the greater the loft angle, the higher the ball flies and the faster it spins.
2. What is "Lie" angle? The "lie," or "lie angle," of a golf club is defined as the angle made between the shaft and the clubhead with the sole touching the ground at the club head's center. It is important to be custom fitted for lie angle by a certified club fitter because improper lie on a golf club can cause unintentional directional control problems. If the club is too upright, the ball will miss left of target. If the lie is too flat, the ball will miss to the right of the target.
3. What is "bounce?" Bounce is the angle of flange, or how much the back edge of the club head drops below the leading edge. Different degrees of bounce help players handle varying turf conditions. More bounce is better for soft turf or sand conditions where the club can be allowed to "dig." Less bounce will promote crisp contact on hard sand, turf or tighter lies.
4. What is "offset?" Offset is a club design characteristic that builds the club so the leading edge is set slightly behind the shaft. This allows the player to more easily square the face at impact by combating the average players tendency to leave the face open through the hitting area.
5. What is swingweight? Swingweight is the club weights distribution around a fixed fulcrum point, or the weight distribution of the grip, shaft, and head through a given club length. It is measured in alpha-numeric units (i.e. D-1, D-2, etc.) with higher letter-number measures indicating more club head weight, relative to the grip end.
6. What is the "center of gravity?" The Center of Gravity, or CG, is the point in the club head at which all of the points of balance intersect. The lower the CG of a club, the higher the ball flight and the easier the club is to hit. The higher the CG the lower the ball flight and the harder the club is to hit.
7. What does COR stand for? COR stands for "Coefficient of Restitution" and it is the efficiency percentage of a collision. In golf, it is used to measure the "spring like effect," or how fast a golf ball leaves the face of a club in woods. For example: If a golf ball is struck at 100 MPH and the ball leaves the face at 83 MPH, the club is said to have a COR of .830. The maximum limit allowed by the USGA is .830 COR on clubs.
8. What is the different between Forged and Cast irons? Forged irons are clubs that are manufactured by stamping red-hot metal bars into shapes between a pair of dies multiple times. These clubs are generally made of carbon-steel and are usually made for more advanced players. Cast irons are made by pouring molten steel (usually stainless steel) into ceramic molds and then cooled to form their shape. Cast irons can be made into any shape and designs range from those for high-handicap players to more blade designs for better players.
9. What is MOI? MOI is the Moment of Inertia, or the resistance to twisting of any golf club head when the golf ball is impacted off center.
10. What is shaft flex? Shaft flex is the measurement of the shaft's willingness to bend under a given stress or weight. Shafts are available in Senior/Flexible (A), Ladies (L), Regular (R), Stiff (S), Extra Stiff (X) and Double Extra Stiff (XX). As a general rule, the stiffer the flex the more strength and club head speed are needed to make the shaft straighten out at impact. Shaft flex has a direct impact on ball flight and direction.
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