When Should You Hit 3-Wood Vs. Driver

Gary Gilchrist

Gary Gilchrist

Head Coach, Golf Digest Top 50 in America, Golf Magazine Top 100 in America

A lot of players want to know, “When do I hit a driver and when do I hit a 3-wood?”

For me, it all depends on the hole because if it’s a straight drive, I usually take a driver, but when the hole doglegs to the left or to the right, and I need some shaping, and if I hit my driver, I’ll roll through the fairway, I always go to my trusty 3-wood because then I can swing it at 80% and not worry.

Also with a 3-wood, I can really shape it a lot better. So again, I’d rather hit it on the fairway’ that’s an easier shot to the green with an iron shot than missing a fairway and having to hit out of a fairway bunker or out of rough, which makes it way tougher to hold the greens.

If you get to a par-5 and the fairway is wide and it’s straight away, you take out the drive and you just bomb it. Or you can go to your 3-wood on those par-4s that are short, and you just want to put in the fairway.

Even some of my pros, they got a 3-iron, they can go to a driving iron and they really look at strategy because once you hit a short par-4 in the fairway then you only got a wedge into the green.

Let me show you with my 3-wood. I take my stance and I make a nice smooth swing. All I want to do is place it in the fairway.

If it’s a dogleg to the right, I could hit a fade. If it’s a dogleg to the left, I can hit more of a draw. Then with my driver, I can get way more aggressive. I can set up to it, widen my stance, waggle the club. And now I can go a little harder at it and I can hit a little further and get to those par fives in two.

So think about strategy, think about the hole and what is needed to get in the fairway.