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I play around 3 times a week and usually score in the 78-83 range with a few outliers, both better and worse. In the last two weeks or so, I have seen the worst round in probably 5 years or more, a really unusual 111 (was 102 ESC'd) and it was the only score above 98 this year out of 100 rounds or so. After a redeeming 79, I shot another score in the 90s, at 95 (92 ESC'd). Both of the stinkers had some horrendous fairway woods, some even leading to penalty strokes (hit of the very end of the toe, dead right), with both the 5 wood and the 3 wood.

I spent some time on the range trying to work this out, putting the ball on a peg at first, and lowering it progressively until the ball sits on the ground. While I am able to hit somewhat decently from a tee somewhat raised (but not quite as nicely as I was able to before this ongoing episode), I am totally unable to hit the ball sitting on the ground. Nearly every shot is topped and some are nearly whiffed! The 5 wood is/was one of my favorite clubs...

I went out and played another round where the short game saved me with an 81, but once again mishit severely most of my fairway woods shots. For some reason, one was ok with the 5 wood. I am leaving the 3 wood in the bag until this is sorted out, but confidence has really taken a toll...

I went online and looked for "topped fairway wood" and found several things to be mindful of. Perhaps I am swaying a bit on the takeaway and not getting back to the ball or hanging back. Perhaps the ball position is too far forward or the strike too level or too steep? I am not feeling like I am doing anything different from before, when I had no problem with that shot. So what gives? All in my head?

Thanks for your insight.

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Obviously I can't offer much in the way of advice but in the last year my 5w has gone from one of my most trusted clubs to one that causes anxiety.

What has helped me is coming down at a slightly steeper angle of attack and simply concentrating on hitting a bit more down on the ball... not like an iron, but less of that "sweeping" attack as is often suggested.

Good luck and I hope someone can provide some useful advice.

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Boy! I REALLY am not qualified, but here goes...I do hit a bit down on the ball and the ball is played forward. But my best shots are when I make sure I turn my head at address and see the back of the ball. Almost feels like I am trying to get behind the ball to sweep it. Then the waggle is not wristy and is straight back. The back swing is short and feels as if I am going outside with the club for a moment.  And in all of this I stand tall.  The "feels" of course are not what they seem. Finally, when I shortened my fairway woods, I became better with them. Hope this helps. My buddy just gave up the 5W and went to a hybrid. -Marv

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Thank you both for replying. Yes, I have tried to come in a bit steeper, but it does not seem to help, or perhaps I feel that I am a bit steeper but I am really not. I am now thinking that it may be related to distance to the ball at setup (i.e. arms more or less extended) vs. a slight loss of balance towards my heels.

I played once more since my original post, and I only managed to hit a fairway wood properly twice, out of 6 or 7 tries (including two bad ones from a tee!). Perhaps there is progress, I don't know. I am paying a lot of attention to the setup, making sure I don't sway back, turn fully, give plenty of time for the backswing to finish, making sure I am not falling backwards in the downswing... Probably too many thoughts in my head at this point, so there I am, still totally confused... :hmm:

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59 minutes ago, sjduffers said:

Probably too many thoughts in my head at this point, so there I am, still totally confused... :hmm:

This may be. I started back in golf about a year ago as an old guy. I "expected" too much, wanting to be the mid-handicapper I used to be. With patience, my HI is slowly falling. And today as in the last few rounds my ball-striking is much improved. I believe, probably wrongly, improvement comes when I give equal time to physical practice and mental training so mind and body are in sync. I KNOW this sounds goofy, and you DO really need a technical answer, but Dr. Parent's Zen Golf was a great starting place for me. Just a thought. -Marv

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On 9/21/2017 at 7:52 PM, sjduffers said:

I play around 3 times a week and usually score in the 78-83 range with a few outliers, both better and worse. In the last two weeks or so, I have seen the worst round in probably 5 years or more, a really unusual 111 (was 102 ESC'd) and it was the only score above 98 this year out of 100 rounds or so. After a redeeming 79, I shot another score in the 90s, at 95 (92 ESC'd). Both of the stinkers had some horrendous fairway woods, some even leading to penalty strokes (hit of the very end of the toe, dead right), with both the 5 wood and the 3 wood.

I spent some time on the range trying to work this out, putting the ball on a peg at first, and lowering it progressively until the ball sits on the ground. While I am able to hit somewhat decently from a tee somewhat raised (but not quite as nicely as I was able to before this ongoing episode), I am totally unable to hit the ball sitting on the ground. Nearly every shot is topped and some are nearly whiffed! The 5 wood is/was one of my favorite clubs...

I went out and played another round where the short game saved me with an 81, but once again mishit severely most of my fairway woods shots. For some reason, one was ok with the 5 wood. I am leaving the 3 wood in the bag until this is sorted out, but confidence has really taken a toll...

I went online and looked for "topped fairway wood" and found several things to be mindful of. Perhaps I am swaying a bit on the takeaway and not getting back to the ball or hanging back. Perhaps the ball position is too far forward or the strike too level or too steep? I am not feeling like I am doing anything different from before, when I had no problem with that shot. So what gives? All in my head?

Thanks for your insight.

I had the same problem this summer for a while.  What a playing buddy noticed was that I was letting my ball position creep back in my stance for 3 wood and 7 wood. I didn't realize it until he said stop and look where your ball is in your stance right before I was about to start my backswing.  I was lining up to the ball about where I usually would hit a 7 iron.

I have had much better results lately since that was pointed out to me.  Might want to double check that.  

Before he pointed that I was thinking the same things you were.... am I not sweeping, do I need to be steeper etc.

Now I make double sure I have not let the ball creep back and then my usual swing thoughts. 

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20 hours ago, MarvChamp said:

I KNOW this sounds goofy, and you DO really need a technical answer, but Dr. Parent's Zen Golf was a great starting place for me. Just a thought. -Marv

Thanks. It's true that the more we get into our heads, the worse it gets. But I don't have too many other options until I find out what is mechanically wrong. No confidence at all on those shots in the mean time...

 

5 hours ago, Mr. Desmond said:

Are you turning your chest? Out of sequence?

I am paying attention to that, yes. I thought it might be a problem, but even slowing everything down and making sure my back is facing the target and pausing at the top, I still get the tops.

 

3 hours ago, scotth said:

I had the same problem this summer for a while.  What a playing buddy noticed was that I was letting my ball position creep back in my stance for 3 wood and 7 wood. I didn't realize it until he said stop and look where your ball is in your stance right before I was about to start my backswing.  I was lining up to the ball about where I usually would hit a 7 iron.

I have had much better results lately since that was pointed out to me.  Might want to double check that.  

Before he pointed that I was thinking the same things you were.... am I not sweeping, do I need to be steeper etc.

Now I make double sure I have not let the ball creep back and then my usual swing thoughts. 

Also @Don Golfo, very good point. I thought I double-checked that already, but I'll triple and quadruple-check it, even to the point of moving too far forward (at the range) to find out if "magically" there is a point where it is "fixed". Thanks!

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3 hours ago, scotth said:

I had the same problem this summer for a while.  What a playing buddy noticed was that I was letting my ball position creep back in my stance for 3 wood and 7 wood. I didn't realize it until he said stop and look where your ball is in your stance right before I was about to start my backswing.  I was lining up to the ball about where I usually would hit a 7 iron.

That's some useful advice. The 5W gives me anxiety also. It is a 50/50 club for me. 50% incredible, 50% heart stopping terrible. I only use it if I absolutely have to. 

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1 hour ago, sjduffers said:

Also @Don Golfo, very good point. I thought I double-checked that already, but I'll triple and quadruple-check it, even to the point of moving too far forward (at the range) to find out if "magically" there is a point where it is "fixed". Thanks!

That is what happened to me. I want to play most everything forward. I thought I had the ball forward; my instructor pointed out that our visual perspective will be off. A physical thing. -Marv

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1 hour ago, Kalnoky said:

That's some useful advice. The 5W gives me anxiety also. It is a 50/50 club for me. 50% incredible, 50% heart stopping terrible. I only use it if I absolutely have to. 

Some players with decent distance have trouble with fairway woods: often, they only hit one off the deck 2-3 times a round.

If you're hot and cold with FWs, try this: play a round using the FW off the tee. It won't go as far as your driver will, which also means you'll have twice as many approach shots requiring a FW. If you hit the FW 21 times round rather than just 3, this could help you get the hang of it.

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I meant the downswing sequence - hip slide to get weight forward and turn hips, turn chest and then get the arms sped up last. Sometimes, if you top, it can be because you did not get weight forward.

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2 hours ago, Mr. Desmond said:

I meant the downswing sequence - hip slide to get weight forward and turn hips, turn chest and then get the arms sped up last. Sometimes, if you top, it can be because you did not get weight forward.

Gotcha. Thanks. That's a possibility too. I don't feel like I am hanging back but as you know feel ain't real. ;-)

Most likely my problem is a combination of things (maybe ball too far back combined with hanging back?).

This started happening out of the blue and has been going on for about 2 weeks (5-6 rounds), and even with range work i have not been able to shake it off... yet!

Thank you all for the suggestions. I'll try to double check them one at a time until I can tell for sure whether my not implementing them is the culprit. It shouldn't be too hard to recover from this, but it sure is annoying...

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7 hours ago, sjduffers said:

Gotcha. Thanks. That's a possibility too. I don't feel like I am hanging back but as you know feel ain't real. ;-)

Most likely my problem is a combination of things (maybe ball too far back combined with hanging back?).

This started happening out of the blue and has been going on for about 2 weeks (5-6 rounds), and even with range work i have not been able to shake it off... yet!

Thank you all for the suggestions. I'll try to double check them one at a time until I can tell for sure whether my not implementing them is the culprit. It shouldn't be too hard to recover from this, but it sure is annoying...

I run into the same issue.

Often I don't get enough weight into the back heel at the top and then have no ground forces to transfer the weight to the front toes and then front heel. You might feel forward at the finish but it was too late.

Or the right leg crashes, bends, causing the right shoulder/side to dip.

Or both

Edited by Mr. Desmond

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Good news. I think it is mostly fixed. Thank you all! I still can't quite predict whether the ball will draw or fade with the 5 wood, but it will now get airborne. So progress. The rest should come back easily with time and reps.

I went to the range again and after getting loose with a few PW and 6 irons, proceeded to work on the 5 wood. I started by putting the ball in my stance where my driver would be, knowing full well that it's too far forward, but forcing me to really slide the hips and then turn. I managed to get a few airborne and mostly straight, although that was not the concern. I think it also forced me to keep my balance on the ball of my feet with the chest covering the ball, just to reach the ball at impact.

I then progressively moved the ball further back in my stance, to the point where it was in the middle of the stance, like a 6 or 7 iron. I was still able to make decent contact as long as I kept covering the ball, but the moment I started with a more upright posture, it was all back to the topped shots. So, I hit a few more with the ball where it is supposed to be in the stance (closer to the lead heel, but not quite there), and by varying the balance point on my feet, more into the heels or into the toes, I could drastically alter the flight (or non-flight as the case may be) of the shot.

I played one round after that, and was able to hit nearly all 5 woods (and even a couple 3 woods for good measure, with one from the tee) reasonably, with just one being marginal. So, success.

In summary, ball forward, don't sway in the backswing, make sure the hips slide forward and then turn, keeping the ball covered with the chest and the balance on the balls of the feet. Nothing surprising, really. But it doesn't take a whole lot of being off on either one of those points to not be able to hit a faiway wood. Just say'n. :whistle:

I think I was off a little bit on each of these 3 points (ball position, hip slide and covered ball). Thanks!!

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often times it is something very simple. Try standing a little closer or farther from the ball and see what happens. Distance from the ball will sometimes gradually change without your realizing it. Here is where alignment sticks come in handy.

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