Friday, May 11, 2012

Thinking Man's Guide to Finding Your WITB: Part II

In part II I’ll discuss the 3-wood. Here’s my current 3-wood specs:


Wishon 949MC
15° Loft
57.5° Lie Angle
UST Mamiya VTS Red 75 shaft (X-Stiff)
43-inches long
342 grams (static weight)
D-4 swingweight
2,805 kg/cm2 MOI

These days, even PGA Tour pros consider the 3-wood to be the most difficult club in the bag to hit. This is partially due to the fact that players no longer carry 1 and 2-irons in their bag. The other part is that the golf equipment industry has never quite figured out how to master the 3-wood with the advent of titanium woods. After giving up on titanium for fairway woods, they have resorted to using a more manageable high-strength steel. But, they still struggle with finding a club that reacts well with the turf and that they can hit amply far enough so there is not a humongous gap in yardage between how far they hit the driver and the 3-wood.

With that, I think the focus with the 3-wood should be more along the lines of consistency and accuracy first, then work to figure out the distance. I would also concentrate on being able to hit the 3-wood off the deck. I do believe it’s important for better players to be able to comfortably hit a 3-wood off the tee as too many times they’ll find themselves where they need that 240-260 yard tee shot that doesn’t go further or shorter than that distance and that they can hit very accurately. However, if they can hit it off the deck well, they can always use it on those par-4’s off the tee…they just don’t have to tee it up. I have found with every 3-wood I have ever owned, you will hit it further off the tee than off the deck.

Also, the times we use the 3-wood favor consistency and accuracy as well. We usually use it on par-5’s where we are looking to advance the ball, but generally have enough room that as long as we don’t hit an awful shot, we’ll be okay and can make a birdie. And on those par-4 tee shots with the 3-wood, it’s still a situation where they are typically used on short holes and as long as we don’t leave ourselves with an impeded approach shot, we’ll have an easy short iron into the green.

CLUBHEAD (Wishon 949MC)


With a 3-wood, I think the size and the CoG of the clubhead become much more important. You need a 3-wood clubhead size that you are comfortable with and a CoG that works with your swing to get the ball to launch the right amount.

I chose the 949MC from Wishon Golf because I prefer more of a mid-size 3-wood head. I have the 929HS from Wishon Golf and I actually think I hit that a little further, but again, it’s about consistency and accuracy first. The 929HS has a smaller, shallower head, which I’m not quite accustomed to.

The 949MC and 929HS are designed to have that high-COR head that companies like Taylor Made and Tour Edge advertise. It’s definitely ‘hotter’ off the face. The CoG fits my swing and is a smidgeon higher than the CoG on the 929HS. My problem with the Taylor Made RBZ 3-wood is that it’s a huge head. So I was looking for something in between the 929HS and the Taylor Made RBZ and found a great match in the 949MC. It also has a weight port for me to be able to add weight to the club as well.

LIE AND LOFT (15° & 57.5°)

With the driver, the loft is more important than the lie angle. I would say that they are both about equal with the 3-wood.

The loft is important. Most golfers usually go with a 15° loft or something like a 13° loft. The 13° lofts are often referred to as a ‘3+ wood.’ You should hit the 13° loft further than the 15° loft. And that can make a difference. Since I’m able to hit the driver off the deck very well, it does make a big difference for me to be able to hit that driver about 260-280 off the deck on a par-5. For starters, I no longer have the urged to really go after one on the par-5 tee shot. I can practically reach a lot of par-5’s in 2 shots that are 580 yards or less in length. So, if you can add distance with the 3+ wood and hit it consistently and accurately, go for it.

The only problem with the 3+ wood, even if you hit it accurately and consistently is that you may hit it too far. If you hit it 275 off the tee, you may face par-4’s where you can’t hit it over 265 yards without going into trouble. And from there, your next club…be it a hybrid or long iron…you may not hit long enough to leave yourself with a comfortable second shot. So for me, my bag setup allows me to hit the ball the following in distance:

Driver (off tee): 290-300 yards
Driver (off grass): 260-280 yards
3-wood (off tee): 250-270 yards
3-wood (off grass): 240-260 yards
Hybrid (off tee): 235-250 yards
Hybrid (off grass): 230-245 yards
3-iron: 215-225 yards

So from a gapping standpoint, I have pretty much the yardages all covered about the best I can possibly cover them.

Of course, the lie angle is important as well. However, it’s still not as important as it is with the irons. Why? The 3-wood’s clubhead will have a greater MOI on shots that miss that sweetspot than an iron will. So for the most part, the 3-wood lie angle will probably not vary much from 57° to 58°.

SHAFT (UST Mamiya VTS Red 75 X-Stiff)


I ‘fitted’ myself for this shaft the same way I fitted myself for the driver shaft…I went and used their online system. Although it’s not overly scientific, it did work for me. I think the driver shaft (UST VTS Silver 65x) fits me well and 3-wood shaft was probably easy to match up.

Again, this is where understanding the Shaft Bend Profile helps. If you have trouble launching it up in the air, you will probably need a softer tip section. Trouble hitting it too soft and spinny, you probably need a stiffer tip-section. The weight of the shaft is also crucial here as well, which I will go into a bit.


I find the length to be important as well. Usually 3-woods are made around 43 inches long with roughly the same lie angle as the driver. So, we don’t have to worry so much about the waist bend we get at address with the 3-wood too much. However, the length of the shaft can affect the weight of the shaft and the static weight of the club, along with the very important MOI-weight of the club. Remember, the 3-wood is now known as the ‘hardest club in the bag to hit’, so we need to do what we can to improve its consistency. Thus, the length of the 3-wood is very important.

And according to Wishon, you will see NO difference in clubhead speed until the length in the shaft is more than ½-inch. I would recommend for most golfer to NOT have a 3-wood over 43-inches long. In fact, I would go with something about 2-inches shorter than your driver. So, if you hit a 44-1/2” long driver, you may want to look at 42-1/2” 3-woods.


As with the driver (and other clubs), you can swing a club faster if the static weight is lighter (provided everything else is the same). However, how far you want to hit the 3-wood and at what cost of losing accuracy and consistency is up to you.

MOI (2,805 kg/cm2)

When fitting for total club MOI (*not* clubhead MOI), we want to fit the driver separately from the fairway woods and the hybrids separately along with the set of irons separately. Most of this has to do with the shaft being used along with the length of the shaft. While the shafts in the driver and 3-wood are similar models made by the same company, they do have different weights and balance points. With the irons, we typically use the same shaft throughout the set. So that’s why we ‘MOI Match’ the irons…making the MOI of all of the irons the same.

As the club gets longer, that will cause the optimal MOI for your swing…if anything…to go up. So, you won’t see the MOI of the 3-wood being more than the MOI of the driver. Or the MOI of the irons being more than the MOI of the 3-wood.

I have been told occasionally that some golfers have found that they hit their 3-wood better when it matches the MOI of their driver. As you can see, my optimal MOI with the 3-wood was only 20 kg/cm2 less than my driver.

As much as I love MOI fitting, I find it the most important in the 3-wood thru 5-iron because that’s where golfers get thrown off the most by clubs whose MOI does not fit their swing. Like I mentioned before, MOI fitting does what swingweight was supposed to do, it just does a far more accurate job.

The MOI of the club is tied into the weight of the clubhead (in this case, 208 grams) and the weight of the shaft (79 grams), along with the length (43 inches) and the balance point of the shaft.

You don’t want to have to add too much weight to the head or hosel because it can throw off the balance of the club. Wishon Golf estimates that you start to see a difference when you add about 12 grams of weight to the head or hosel. That’s a LOT of weight to add.

So, if you look to trim a 3-wood shaft shorter, your MOI will go down. That’s great if you don’t require a lot of MOI to swing the club. But for me, my optimal MOI is at 2,805. I needed to add a little under 9 grams of weight. They don’t make weight ports under 9 grams. I tried 9-grams but that came out about 10 kg/cm2 too heavy. And because I wanted to be EXACT, I wound up adding a 6-gram weight and then about 3 grams of lead tape on the hosel. That’s how I got this:


Although, I cannot see that when I put the club down. But all that has helped me hit the 3-wood consistently well with ample distance. Furthermore, I can hit it from somewhat difficult lies, like downhill and divot lies. The only thing I tend to struggle with is more extreme sidehill lies, but I think that’s due to the length of the club. Either way, for the most part I can consistently advance the ball with this club along with using my driver off the deck. And I think that makes a difference at the end of the day.

Up Next, The Hybrid


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