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3 Wood vs Driver off the tee box...


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Last summer I started using my 3w off the tee, despite hitting my driver well. I would start the first 2-3 holes with the 3 then moved to the driver and i felt it improved my driver. I do not have 100% confidence in it yet but but plan on using it more when I need something in play vs blasting 250+ in trouble.

In contrast I have a friend that has a 2wood that he hits straighter than anything I can hit, yet he insist on using a driver despite hitting fairways maybe 10% of the time with it.

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For me, it just depends on the hole. If a solid 3-wood leaves me with more than a 6-iron into the green, I'd just hit driver.

The driver is the most forgiving club in the bag, the biggest face, and it's on a tee. For me, I have a much easier time with it and I've been hating fairway woods and hybrids lately. Better for me to

It depends.......on the hole and what was working or not during warm up or that week. What do I need to leave a 6 or less in, tight fairway, weird layout? It might be my driver, 3w, hybrid or iron off

The only time I use a driver is when the yardage is such that not hitting the driver is in effect conceding to bogie.  If the yardage is such I can't get there in regulation in any case I use the 3 wood.

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I hit my 3W just as erratically as Driver, or any other club in the bag for that matter!

Like many people, I tend to only use what I need off the tee in regards to distance to the green, avoiding bunkers etc.

I'm not a big hitter, but I do play with one guy in particular who can pump it. He's always between a 1 or +1 hc, and I find it interesting that we lay up on opposite holes. Some holes I hit Driver and he's hitting 3W or hybrid, then on shorter holes he's hitting Driver (trying to reach, I guess) where I'm hitting 3W or 2i.

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  • 1 year later...

I'm so glad you posted this.  I'm a true beginner--less than three months playing.  My worst hit is the tee.  I'm lucky to get 100 yards.  My fairway shots are almost as good--often better.  I'm looking into getting a driver with more loft (12.5+), but will probably just use my 3-wood for tomorrow's round.  Thanks for the confirmation on my thinking.

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Driver is my most reliable club. I can hit it 250y, but also an intentional 190. When there is water left of fairway and before the green of a short par 4 (like 330y), I take my driver, tee it low and hit a low fade. No fear of water and I8 to pw left to go to the green.

However, at the same hole. When I take a wood and try to give it a decent shot everything can happen.

I sometimes take my driver out on 210+y par 3's.

Once I saw an old guy hit a driver to a 145y par3, so I tried the same: GIR

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I totally agree here, last year i was bombing my drives this year i can still count the drivers that hit fairway. i now hit 3wood or 2iron hybrid of the tee and i get the ball in play more easy, and get to score better

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I think the bombing is what makes most golfers hitting it all over the place. When you hit it easy like Ernie you will get better and more sweetspot contact.

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Instead of just hitting a 3 wood, why not just learn to hit your driver accurately?  When I started I thought that driver was the only way to go and I was very inconsistent.  By the middle of my second year of golf I started to hit a 3 wood off the tee.  My scores drastically improved.  After a while I hit a snag.  I was constantly leaving myself 180-200 yard second shots.  I was hitting 3 wood, 3 wood, chip almost every hole.  I was tinkering around and started to learn to hit my driver.  Again I saw a huge improvement in my scores.

While I agree that weekend warriors and beginners will see drastic improvement by hitting clubs they can keep in play, eventually for great improvement you need to hit a driver.  The course I play the most has a majority of the holes in excess of 400 yards.  These holes would be very hard to score well if I could not hit my driver.

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In general.....I play the percentages and play a course strategy game.  I see my intended landing area, and choose a club accordingly.   On some holes, this doesn't apply and I blast away.  If the hole bends or there is trouble I want to stay short of....I choose a shorter club.  How many drivers I play depends on the course and the conditions.  I target the ideal landing areas designed into the course, and avoid shooting into the tiny gaps beyond these points.

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So today I tee'd off exclusively with the 3-wood.  I had better control and got more loft.  After the round I made my pilgrimage to a local club maker.  He told me my irons were 1 1/2" short, and he fitted me for a driver with 14.0 loft.  So, there are probably all sorts of reasons for my driving problems.  If I do another round before I get the clubs, I'm sticking with the 3-wood.  Long term, though, I know Trackster is right--gotta learn to make the driver sing, if the game is ever going to begin making some sense.

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14 degrees loft on a driver? That's basically a 3 wood! I started out 12 degrees, but everything was flying too high, now at 9.5 and love it. Regarding the original question: I'd rather swing driver easy than 3 wood hard, don't overswing and driver is pretty straight most of the time. Never understood why people can drop down to a 3 wood and lose distance, but they refuse to back off driver a little.
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Most people are hitting their driver with more loft than is stamped on the club (and I'm not talking about the AOA).

Most drivers sold today have more loft slightly above the center line than is stamped on the club, unless you have a smaller headed driver like a KZG.

The driver I play with is an R9 with 8.5 degrees of loft and I also have a KZG with 10.5 degrees of loft. I thought I might like to try a driver that was closer in looks to my 3 wood when I bought the KZG but I hit the ball much too low with it, and hit the ball much higher with the R9.

I do hit the KZG more consistently and on some golf courses that allow some roll out I would be getting about equal overall distance with it. The course I usually play doesn't lend itself for much (if any) roll out so it's a high ball hitter's course with carry being the most important factor.

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Originally Posted by trackster

Instead of just hitting a 3 wood, why not just learn to hit your driver accurately?  When I started I thought that driver was the only way to go and I was very inconsistent.  By the middle of my second year of golf I started to hit a 3 wood off the tee.  My scores drastically improved.  After a while I hit a snag.  I was constantly leaving myself 180-200 yard second shots.  I was hitting 3 wood, 3 wood, chip almost every hole.  I was tinkering around and started to learn to hit my driver.  Again I saw a huge improvement in my scores.

If you hit your driver well then it's seems logical that those of us that struggle with it should just practice more, but I'd argue there's more to it than just practice.  The loft, head size, shaft size all lend to make it a tougher club to hit, factor in muscle tension, swing thoughts, pressure from others watching your tee shot and no fairway seems wide enough.

If you watch the pro's they will miss the fairway fairly often, what makes them pro's is they can hit their 2nd shot from the rough, cart path, under trees much further and better than I can.  If they miss the fairway, they still have a shot at birdie or par, I typically don't.  I hit my driver pretty well at the range, when I take my time and there's no pressure to hit a great shot.  I'll still slice or hook a shot, but 80%+ of the time I'd hit it within my imaginary fairway.

On the course, with all the other distractions, etc, I'm closer to 40% - 50%.  For me, off the fairway becomes a mental fight, because in my head if my ball is sitting; in the water, lost in the woods, in deep rough, behind trees or buried in a fairway sand trap I know I'm losing at least a stroke for the mistake off the tee.  I'm trying to improve and lower my handicap and here I've just blown a hole on the first shot, it gets me frustrated with myself and I'll typically make another mistake or two on the hole for a total blowup.

I just picked up the Callaway X Hot 3Deep and if I catch it right, I'll hit it just as far as my driver, otherwise it's 10 - 20 yards shorter in carry but more rollout.  I've had it out for 3 rounds and my biggest miss was the second cut on the fairway.   This keeps me mentally in every hole and I've seen lower scores as a result.  If I was giving up a lot more yardage I might consider it more of a problem, but I'll take 225 in the fairway over 235 in the thick rough or trees.

I'm also experimenting with some old drivers like the Titleist 975D and 983J.  At the range I'm hitting them longer than the 3Deep and almost as accurately.  The smaller head, shorter shafts on these clubs seem to work better for me, so I doubt I'll be putting a 460cc, 46"+ shaft driver in my bag any time soon.

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Why is the consensus always something like "Ill take x number of yards in the fairway, instead of x number of yards plus 10 in the woods?"  If you can only hit your driver 10 yards farther than your 3 wood then 1) you might as well hit your 3 wood if it is more accurate and 2) you probably need a new driver, or driver swing.  For me the driver gives me about 30-40 yards over my persimmon 3 wood I have (I probably need a new 3 wood).  That means about 2 less clubs when hitting into the green.  It also gives me chances to reach par 5s that around 480 yards in 2.  I'm not downing anyone for constantly teeing off with a 3 wood.  There are 2 or 3 holes at my home course that I will tee off with a 6 iron.  What I'm advocating is that for real drastic improvement, the driver must be learned to hit.

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Originally Posted by trackster

Why is the consensus always something like "Ill take x number of yards in the fairway, instead of x number of yards plus 10 in the woods?"  If you can only hit your driver 10 yards farther than your 3 wood then 1) you might as well hit your 3 wood if it is more accurate and 2) you probably need a new driver, or driver swing.  For me the driver gives me about 30-40 yards over my persimmon 3 wood I have (I probably need a new 3 wood).  That means about 2 less clubs when hitting into the green.  It also gives me chances to reach par 5s that around 480 yards in 2.  I'm not downing anyone for constantly teeing off with a 3 wood.  There are 2 or 3 holes at my home course that I will tee off with a 6 iron.  What I'm advocating is that for real drastic improvement, the driver must be learned to hit.

Can't speak for everyone, but the Callaway 3Deep and Titleist Fd are not traditional 3W's so maybe that's why the yardage difference isn't as great for me as you're experiencing.  If your 3w is really made out of wood I'd suggest you give a newer one a test, they make them out of metal now.

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Personally, I'm satisfied to be getting a 14.0 driver.  My tee-offs are relatively low--even with the 3-wood.  Granted, I've not learned solid-hitting yet.  However, even with only about a half dozen rounds and three months under my golf belt, I see that I need the lift.  Part of the divide on this string may be a matter of skill, experience and competency.  Us newbies are trying to gain traction, and willing to try some short cuts until our competencies improve.  More experienced players will find aids like high-degree drivers to be a nuisance or hindrance to good play.  Some day, when I grow up, I may feel the same.  For now, I'd love to see my typical 60-80 yard hit reach 140 or so, because of the lift.

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  • 2 years later...

Something happened in the last couple weeks and now I am really struggling with my driver. This is despite lots of practice at the range over the off season with good results. 

I hit my 3-wood great though. It's consistent and reliable and I used it off the tee on most holes over the last couple rounds I played. I realize this is a temporary solution though and need to figure out what the issue is.

I might be over swinging. The miss is usually a slice or a pull. When I hit it well (historically) I am usually hitting a fade and very seldomly a slight draw. Will be hitting the range this week to troubleshoot.

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