What do you use when you want a full-on punch of fairway distance, but you don’t want to dabble with a hybrid just yet?
Yep – you pull your trusty 3 wood. But many 3 woods work like a cannon. They boom and your ball whizzes away from you at speed, over a long distance, but there’s little more sophisticated than that built into their design. They’re not that far evolved from an actual tree branch.That’s not really good enough in the 21st century, is it?
What you need these days is a 3 wood that combines power and distance with a forgiving nature, in case you slice that ball up like a lemon for an ice tea.
You want a 3 wood that understands what you meant to do, and has enough forgiveness and technological design to translate that intention to the ball. That’s how you end up playing the shot you meant to play, rather than the shot physics insists you actually played.
Step into our clubhouse. We’ve found you the best, most forgiving 3 woods available on the market today. To heck with physics. Be the golfer you’re meant to be.
In a hurry? Here’s our top pick.
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Best Most Forgiving 3 Woods - Reviews
We were too. The RBZ Fairway Black from TaylorMade is not the hottest, freshest thing off the golfing production line. But in some respects, that’s the point. Firstly, the RBZ has been around the course a few times, and every time it’s played, golfers have loved it. It has many, many fans, for a handful of solid golfing reasons, which we’ll come to directly.
Also, the fact that it’s been around a while means it’s not priced like the latest iPhone, but is a couple of iterations and upgrades behind. That in turn means when it does the things it does, it’s an absolute steal at the price.
The RBZ is a club that can save overthinkers from hours of debate with themselves over which adjustment their 3 wood needs. It does that by the simple expedient of…having no adjustments. Just straightforward honest-to-goodness 3 woodedness. Swing it, hit it, win.
But while it comes without the fancy adjustments and acts as a grab-and-go 3 wood, it would be wrong to think the RBZ is a simple club.
Oh no, no, no.
You get plenty of tech and design for your money with the TaylorMade RBZ. The lightweight RocketFuel 55 shaft gives you a whack of impressive speed and launch.
There’s an additional mass pad in the clubhead for optimal launch, which gives the RBZ an extra whoosh of loft compared to most 3 woods. And in case you weren’t sure, oh yes – this is the fairway wood that first revealed TaylorMade’s Speed Pocket technology to the world. Speed Pocket technology gives the RBZ extra speed on top of that delivered by the RocketFuel shaft.
None of which in itself makes the RBZ especially forgiving. That extra forgiveness though comes from the club’s shallow profile, which lowers its center of gravity. That makes the club more playable, matching its speed and power with a controlled stroke, time and time again.
The black version of the RBZ (it was previously only available in a white version), gives a pleasing alignment boost too, helping those less sure of their 3 wood play an advantage when it comes to addressing the ball confidently.
In addition to which, the RBZ comes with an extra option, which is a high loft (HL) version. That means even high handicappers can use the RBZ, because it comes with 1.5 degrees extra loft (16.5 degrees, as opposed to the 15 degree standard version) and has a broader sweet spot, which mitigates some potential slice. That makes for a kinder, faster blasting 3 wood than many on the market. That’s why, even though it’s not the newest club on the market, the RBZ takes our top spot as the best most forgiving 3 wood available right now.
In traditional Catholicism, there are venial sins, and there are mortal sins.
In traditional fairway wood play, there are venial slices, and then there are mortal slices.
Mortal slices are the kind of slices that can make you the butt of clubhouse jokes and legend. The kind that can endlessly, endlessly add to your stroke count, your handicap, and the weight of non-golfer guilt on your shoulders. Mortal slices, if you let them, can convince you to give up the game altogether, bend every club you have and dedicate your life to beer pong instead.
Don’t do that. Nobody needs more beer pong in their life.
And besides, the Pinemeadow PGX Offset fairway woods exist. They want you to succeed.
Think of them as intercessory saints, if you like, standing between the impressive nature of your slice and the option of giving up golf.
They’re the secret weapon that people with extreme slices need. That makes them one of the most forgiving 3 wood options available right now.
On the other hand, they’re a specialized secret weapon. If you have less than a mortal slice, be aware that there are 3 woods with less corrective technology which might suit you better. But for those who need the most forgiveness in their 3 woods, accept no substitutes. The Pinemeadow PGX Offset 3 wood has a real offfffffffset. Yes, absolutely, it’s an offset so offset it comes with its own Doppler effect. You’ll know if you need the Pinemeadow PGX Offset 3 wood. And you’ll also know if you don’t.
When aligning your shot with the PGX Offset, there is a series of small arrows to keep in line. While they’re relatively clear, you need to remember the level of the offset, or you might accidentally overcorrect your shot. That means that even though it’s designed to correct your slice and give you maximum forgiveness, it’s not the easiest club to pick up and use. It might well take a little while to learn the particular range of play the PGX Offset can give you. Once you understand it though, that offset will kick in sleekly and give you a golfing experience you’ve never had before.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the PGX Offset is designed specifically to correct extreme slicing, so it may well not give you the distance you might expect of a 3 wood. There’s little of the technology that comes in the RBZ here, so it’s not a speed demon or a long distance runner. But in the PGX Offset, those are trade-offs for the extreme level of slice forgiveness that comes front and center in the club’s skillset.
The PGX Offset is a club that will give you good loft and high spin, so it will deliver good air and extreme slice forgiveness. If you need it, it’s a club that can drive down your high stroke count. For golfers with an extreme slice issue, it’s worth the money to get that level of forgiveness in a 3 wood.
The TaylorMade M4, like the RBZ, is a hot, fast 3 wood with no adjustability.
Also like the RBZ, that means it’s great for those with higher handicaps, and those who don’t want to overthink their loft options. If you want a grab-and-go 3 wood that has a combination of speed and forgiveness, you should really take a look at the M4.
In particular, check out the sole of the club. It’s shaped to give you a good solid strike, even from the rough. Like the RBZ, it’s a club that dedicatedly delivers longer, higher shots. The M4 features an evolution of the Speed Pocket technology which means whether you hit the ball in the sweet spot or whether you mis-hit the shot, the club will give you impressive distance for a 3 wood.
An extra element of the M4’s performance is its lowered center of gravity, pulled forward for a combination of a springy launch and low spin. With a higher launch and a lower spin, you get an agreeable combination of distance shots and forgiveness of both slices and hooks.
As with the RBZ, the M4 comes with the option of a high loft version with a 16.5 degree loft. That’s an alternative to the adjustable loft options on many modern 3 woods, and lets you get the combination of speed, sweet spots and higher loft without the complication of having to adjust the loft levels manually. It’s a highly forgiving 3 wood, and it’s well worth a look.
The Callaway XR brings a degree of choice to our list of most forgiving 3 woods. It comes with a graphite shaft in three varieties, so you can choose between stiff, regular and senior. The Callaway also comes in three loft options (17, 18 and 19 degrees), meaning you can choose the loft you want for a true mix-and-match experience.
The XR also brings an oversized clubhead to your golf bag. That translates into a larger moment of inertia, which means less twisting or slicing when you strike the ball. Like some other clubs on our list, the XR’s center of gravity has been lowered, giving you more loft, more speed and more distance.
The XR’s center of gravity is altered by the Internal Standing Wave – a metal ridge inside the clubhead. In the newer version of the XR, it’s been lowered 20% on the previous iteration, reducing spin by 200 rpm. The face cup has also been redesigned for thinness and lightness. That gives you a face speed as high as many drivers – which in a 3 wood means a lot more power and speed than usual.
A lot of clever design has gone into the Callaway XR, and unlike many forgiving 3 woods, it puts the choice of some crucial elements in your hands. That means it’s a 3 wood for a more experienced golfer, rather than a grab-and-go option for high handicappers. It’s been designed to boost speed, power and especially, with its larger head and larger MOI, forgiveness.
As you’ll guess from the name, the Pinemeadow Yukon 3 Wood (High Loft) is a 3 wood that has a higher loft angle than many on the market. The 3 wood comes with 16 degrees of loft as standard – making it easier to hit than most standard 3 woods, which come with 15 degree loft.
Interestingly, while some other clubs benefit from oversized club-heads, the Yukon 3 goes the other way, with a smaller-than-usual clubhead, giving it a hybrid feel.
For golfers who have a hard time hitting their standard 3 woods hard and straight, the Yukon 3 Wood (High Loft) uses a graphite shaft to increase swing speed and attack on the ball. That leads to a satisfying contact and a forgiving stroke, so that slice and hook are lessened shot by shot.
Best Most Forgiving 3 Woods - Buyers Guide
When buying a forgiving 3 wood, there are a handful of things to take into account.
How Much Forgiveness Do You Need?
Forgiveness for most golfers is an additional benefit to otherwise competent 3 woods. Judge how bad your slice is before you choose a 3 wood with forgiving features. Some are forgiving to the exclusion of much else, like the PGX Offset – but will your game be improved overall by such a club? If you have an extreme and repetitive slice, then yes, you’ll need something as extreme and singularly-focused as the PGX Offset. If you have a less severe slice issue, it’s worth balancing slice forgiveness with other great features, such as distance, speed, loft etc, in something like our list-leading club, the TaylorMade RBZ. Don’t narrow your focus too much unless your slice is extreme enough to warrant exclusive correction. Ideally, get the best overall 3 wood you can, with forgiving features.
Make Sure You Can Handle The Club
There’s a lot of high-tech design in modern forgiving 3 woods – everything from internal metal strips to lower the center of gravity to club face technology to aid spring off the club, to various adjustable loft options.
Don’t baffle yourself with technology unnecessarily – golf is a hard enough game already. We’ve included options here for higher handicappers who like to just grab an appropriate club for their round and go. We’ve also included options with more technological choices, which would suit mid-handicappers who know their way round not only their golf bag but their own abilities and preferences. Be true to yourself and the game you play when you choose the forgiving 3 wood that’s right for you.
Don’t Overspend On Forgiveness
Forgiveness is to some extent built in to most modern 3 woods. Assess the level of correction and help you need, and don’t be afraid to buy a club that gives you that help. But be aware that your slice will in most cases get less pronounced the more golf you play anyway. Unless there’s something driving you towards slicing, practice will help you reduce your slices as much as even the best, most forgiving 3 wood. Don’t overpay for technology and design which, with any luck, you’re not going to need for much of your golfing career.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s forgiveness in golf?
Forgiveness is the degree to which a club is engineered and designed to automatically correct mis-hits, and drive the ball straight, as you probably intended.
Why do I need a forgiving 3 wood?
The 3 wood is a leading fairway wood. After you’ve made your drive off the tee, it’s likely to be one of your most viable options to make a long shot down the fairway, cutting distance between you and the pin. If you have a bad slice with a 3 wood, you’ll veer off course, and add unnecessarily to your score. A forgiving 3 wood can stop that happening, and give you a chance of still making par or below.
How do I know if a 3 wood is forgiving?
There are a number of markers to look for in a forgiving 3 wood. A larger sweet spot increases the chances of hitting the ball straight. A lower center of gravity will help give the shot loft and distance. A lighter shaft will give you higher swing speeds. All these elements help towards delivering a more forgiving 3 wood.