Golf Club 101: Average Wood Distance and Distance Chart

Published on 06/16/2023 · 6 min readGolf Expert Jorge Arteta details what exactly woods are, when they are typically used on the course, and what fairways woods should be in your bag.
Jorge Arteta, Golf Expert
By Golf Expert Jorge Arteta

Image courtesy of Pexels

Why Are They Called Woods?

Many years ago, woods were made of ash, beech wood, persimmon, or maple; that's where the name originated. Today, woods are made from carbon, scandium, and other metals. However, golf companies keep the traditional name of “woods” as a specific category of clubs.

Types of Woods

So what kind of woods are available? There is 3-wood, 4-wood, 5-wood, 7-wood, 9-wood, and 11-wood. Golfers use fairway woods on the golf course for approach shots, accuracy, tee shots, increased carry distance, lower trajectory, and par 5s. Hitting a 3-wood is common for a long par 3, long hitters trying to get on in two shots on a par 5, or the average golfer finds it easier to hit it off the tee instead of a driver.

Shaft lengths have become longer in recent years, making the 3-wood even more difficult for some to hit.

Men and Women’s Average Distance With Woods

For men, the average 3-wood distance is about 215 yards. For women, the average 3-wood distance is about 150 yards.

Average Wood Distances for Men

ClubShort HitterMid HitterLong Hitter
3 Wood180215235
5 Wood170195210

Data courtesy of GolfLink

Average Wood Distances for Women

ClubShort HitterMid HitterLong Hitter
3 Wood125150180
5 Wood115135170

Data courtesy of GolfLink

When Are Woods Used on the Course?

The decision on when to hit fairway woods is a personal decision. Golfers like to go to their fairway woods, especially on par 5’s. The challenge is that woods are not easy to hit and it’s difficult to be consistent. Some golfers actually hit a 5-wood better than their 3-wood, for a variety of reasons, but I believe it comes down to lack of practice.

Fairway woods are meant to be used on the fairway. For some golfers, getting on the fairway is tough, which is an issue. When in the rough, you’re hitting more hybrids or long irons trying to get out. Some golfers might use a 3-wood maybe once or twice in a round, do you need a club that you may only use a couple of times? Woods can be used off the green from the fringe—making for an easy bump-and-run shot. I also think that woods are a good option off the tee if you’re having issues with the driver.

As a golf teaching professional, there are a few situations when I would suggest not using a fairway wood. They would include when the ball is in the rough and when you're on certain uphill and downhill lies. Instead, it's easier to use clubs like the gap wedge, pitching wedge, 2-iron, 3-iron, 4-iron, 5-iron, 6-iron, or hybrid club.

Which Woods Should Be in Your Bag?

Image courtesy of Callaway

This is a tricky question. A PGA tour player will select a golf club based on the conditions of the course and driver distances needed to stay with the leaders. The mid to high handicapper will choose their clubs based on budget and want. Tour players generally don't have to pay for their equipment but can get anything they need based on the golf course. The other golfers will have a budget and determine what clubs they want to use.

So men or women. Low or high handicap. Consistency or daily adjustments. We all get 14 clubs in the golf bag, and since we won't be changing our equipment, we should take our time and choose what we like and can hit repeatedly.

As a golf professional and teacher, I use a 4-wood. I do not carry a 3-wood or 5-wood. The 4-wood is easier for me to hit, and I hit it well over and over. I sometimes have issues with a 3-wood. A 5-wood didn’t cut it on par 5’s.

However, I have not turned back since I’ve been with the 4-wood in my golf bag. The gap between my 4-wood and hybrid is a driving iron, which is fantastic during windy days. So when choosing new clubs, hopefully, you will have someone to help you, such as a club fitter, club professional, or someone at the golf store that can fit clubs.

You might like having a 3, 5, or 7 and 9-wood in the bag. It depends on what you test and what just feels more comfortable. A golf pro or club fitter can evaluate the gaps between the clubs.

Some golfers don’t even use a fairway wood. Instead, they might use a combination of driving irons and hybrids that work for optimal golf distances.

So depending on how well you can hit certain clubs, the choice of which woods to go with can be a wide variety. But let’s keep it simple. A standard golf set combination might look like this:

  • Driver
  • 3-wood
  • 5-wood
  • 4-hybrid
  • 5-hybrid
  • 5-iron
  • 6-iron
  • 7-iron
  • 8-iron
  • 9-iron
  • Pitching wedge
  • Gap wedge
  • Sand wedge
  • Putter

When deciding on one or two woods: try to recall the ones that were easiest to hit.

Fitting for Fairway Woods

Like there are many ways to fit a driver, this is also true for fairway woods. Things like shortening the shaft can help and one that is light and appropriate weight for your swing.

Ensure you test several fairway woods, just in case you lock onto something that may help your game. With so many woods in the market today, there’s bound to be something that you will like.

My favorite fairway woods brands include Tour Edge, Titleist, Ping, and Callaway. But as mentioned earlier, there are many companies to choose from, so be patient and test away.


You want to know your average distance for all your clubs. The standard golf set combination, mentioned above, could also have the average yards next to the club. That is how you can remember how you use your clubs.

Try as many fairway woods as possible. Find the one that feels easy to hit. You’ll need it on some shots off the tees in the future. Try to configure the gaps accordingly and see if there are gaps.

Try ones with short shafts too. These days longer shafts are used for distance, but they have less control over the accuracy, making it difficult for kids. So most of my student clubs are shortened just a bit for better accuracy. Have fun!

For additional help, chat with me or one of my fellow Golf Experts here on Curated for free, personalized recommendations on the best gear for your golf game.

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