Driver vs 3 Wood – When do you Pull Each One?Sep 29, 2022
There is constant debate between golfers about going driver vs 3 wood, and even more debate in your own head. One is often considered the smart play, but it’s not always that obvious. To settle the debate between driver vs 3 wood on a hole-to-hole basis, there’s questions you need to ask yourself and things you need to know.
Club selection is essential to success. It’s why pros use caddies and amateurs use GPS units that tell them what to hit. If you’ve ever tried to use one of those, you know that it gets you into more trouble than it helps you out of.
Run through this list before each tee shot and you’ll be on your way to the most effective and successful shots possible.
Which club goes farther?
A driver will always go farther than a 3 wood. There’s too much working for drivers and against 3 woods to have it any other way.
Even if you make a driver and 3 wood the same loft, volume, weight distribution, shape, and a few other factors all give the driver the edge in distance. However, the debate between driver and 3 wood is not centered on how far the ball goes, it’s focused on control and placement.
Which club is easier to launch?
It is easier to launch a 3 wood. Because of the increased loft, a 3 wood off the tee will usually go higher than a driver off the tee.
If you are unclear whether you can clear an obstacle vertically, but you know both driver and 3 wood have enough distance, you choose 3 wood. There might be a chance you can do it with driver as well and get added distance, but the likelihood of success is lower.
If the 3 wood shot is automatic, you choose 3 wood. If you gamble with a driver and come out on the losing end, you add unnecessary strokes to your round.
Is a 3 wood easier to control?
You do not increase your odds of hitting the fairway when you hit 3 wood instead of driver. According to data collected by Arccos, you are just as likely to hit the fairway with a driver as you are with a wood.
If you’re trying to hit the ball as far as possible, there is no discernible benefit of hitting a 3 wood. If you need to place the ball at a certain distance and the wood is closer to it, then you should hit a wood.
Do not use your driver anywhere but the tee
I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will. The driver vs 3 wood debate is on the tee only. Driver off the deck is exclusively for rounds that mean nothing and it doesn’t matter when it inevitably fails. Use the driver when you’re on the tee and a fairway wood wherever you want.
Know your carry distances
Sand traps and water hazards spell doom for players getting off the tee. Sometimes you need to clear them and other times you want to stop the ball before them.
Suppose there is a creek 200 yards out and you carry the 3 wood 195. Should be fine, right? Not so fast. If you carry the 3 wood 195 and get 20 yards of roll, you’re setting yourself up for failure. When you know your carry distance isn’t enough, you have to take the driver (or hit a club that comes up short entirely).
If you feel like you're more accurate with your 3 wood, then it's sometimes better to be shorter of the tee and then just hit 1 or 2 more clubs with your approach shot. It's still better to be in the fairway than in rough or hazard. But if you see that the accuracy with your driver is nearly the same as with a 3 wood, then just go with your driver and stretch it out for some extra yards😉