Fairway Woods - Where to Position the Ball
Fairway woods are one of the more useful utility clubs in a golfer's bag. They can be used off the tee, in the fairway or rough, even around the green and in a bunker. Each of those circumstances requires a different setup and use of the club, however we are only focusing on the fairway/rough shot in this article.
Most people think fairway woods are difficult to hit consistently because you are using a club out of its normal "element" (thinking goes you hit woods off the tee, irons off the ground). This may be true if you try to hit your oversized driver out of light rough, but a fairway wood is designed to do just that...hit out of the fairway. Fairway woods may have a less steep angle than a driver or 3-wood, and are able to slice through the grass and dirt better. And, because they are larger than irons and may have a bigger clubface, you may get more distance and more accuracy with a fairway wood.
The common mistake golfers make though is thinking that they need to hit the ball on their upswing, and try to flick or scoop the ball off the ground. This is wrong, as you want to strike the ball at the very end of your downswing, at the lowest point in your swing. Reason being that the angle of the clubface will take care of the trajectory. It will cause the ball to spin with under/over spin as opposed to an over/under spin. If you were looking at the ball from behind, the top of the ball would be turning directly towards you promoting loft.
One great way to practice is to use two tees placed one in front of the other. Set up a tee in the ground the normal height you would use if using a driver. Now, step up to the tee and line it up just outside your leading foot's pinky toe. Now put another tee in the ground, only this time just inside the big toe of your leading foot. Dig the second tee all the way into the ground so that if you put a ball on it, the ball lies as if it were on the ground. The object of the drill is to hit both tees while you swing. If you hit the second tee, but not the first, the you are most likely hitting the ball on your upswing. You should just dig into the first tee, and graze the second tee on your upswing.
With a bit of practice you'll soon be hitting powerful, accurate shots with a fairway wood with better results than a 4 or 3-iron.