How Far You Should Be Hitting a 3 Wood (Based on Skill)
Written by Brittany Olizarowicz

Britt O has been playing golf since the age of 7. Almost 30 years later, she still loves the game, has played competitively on every level, and spent a good portion of her life as a Class A PGA Professional. Britt currently resides in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children. Current Handicap: 1

Updated on January 12, 2024

On average, a 3 wood travels about 220 yards. However, that number can be greatly impacted by your handicap and a few other factors that control total distance.

I’ll explain how far each golfer should be hitting their 3 wood based on their handicap.

Beginner

Some beginner golfers have been playing sports their entire lives. When they get into golf, they have plenty of swing speed and a natural ability to get premium distance out of their golf shots. However, the problem with most beginners is accuracy.

Hitting the center of the clubface is tough, and because of that, you will often notice a significant lack of distance.

Beginner golfers should be happy with 3 wood shots that travel 200 yards. One thing to keep in mind is that a 200-yard 3 wood shot off a tee is much easier to hit than a 200-yard 3 wood shot off the fairway.

Lies on the fairway are tight, and it’s hard to hit it quite as clean as you may want to when you are new to the game.

High Handicap

Most high handicappers have been playing the game for some time; they have not started breaking into those lower handicaps yet. Most of the high handicappers have strengths and weaknesses in their game.

Some will be strong off the tee but have trouble around the green; others will experience the opposite.

High handicappers tend to hit 3 wood about 210 yards. There are some very fast swing speed golfers that can get the 3 wood to travel closer to 225, but the dispersion rates are probably quite high.

I’ve always said that I would rather hit a 3 wood 215 yards every time instead of hitting one that goes 200 yards and then another that travels 240. Consistency is a much more valuable skill in golf.

Mid Handicap

The mid handicap golfers tend to shoot in the 80s and 90s. These players often take the 3 wood out of the bag to use on a shorter par 4 or a hole that has a more narrow fairway.

Many mid handicappers can see about 225 yards of distance from their 3 wood. Most likely, this will be total distance, the combination of carry and roll. Mid handicappers see quite a bit more consistency than high handicappers, so expect lower dispersion rates as well.

Low Handicap

A low handicap golfer can hit a 3 wood 230 or more yards. Many low handicappers with higher swing speeds will see total distances in the 250 yard range.

For a low handicap player, accuracy with the 3 wood becomes even more important. Low handicappers often use the 3 wood shot to hit a par 5 in two or get on the green after a tough drive on a par 4.

In other words, the combination of accuracy and distance is even more important for these lower-handicap golfers.

Professionals

One of the more common questions we’re asked about a 3 wood is how far pros hit their 3 wood.

Why do golfers want to know this?

They usually can’t believe the fact that the average 3 wood from a professional is considerably longer than the average drive from an amateur. However, it’s the truth!

On the PGA Tour, professionals hit a 3 wood with about 250 yards of carry. Depending on the trajectory and ball flight, this will result in considerably more distance than the average golfer’s driver.

Some professionals don’t even carry a 3 wood. Many will choose something like a 4 or 5 wood to give them more versatility in the bag.

Professional golf bags tend to have more irons and wedges than amateurs. That’s typical because of the precision and accuracy of which professionals are capable.

 

When to Use Your 3 Wood

Now that you have some more information on how far you should be hitting your 3 wood, you may be wondering when it makes sense to break this club out of the bag. The 3 wood can be used in a few different areas on the course, but remember, this is not the most versatile fairway wood you own.

From a Tee Box as an Alternative to Your Driver

The most common reason to use a 3 wood is as an alternative to a driver off the tee box. The driver is not always the easiest club for some players to hit. However, a 3 wood is slightly shorter than the driver and has much more loft.

This extra loft and the shorter club length help to make for an easier tee shot.

In fact, some golfers skip the driver altogether and go with the 3 wood.

Personally, I think it’s smart to have both so you can see some progress in your golf game.

From The Fairway

The fairway is where you will need a little bit of clubhead speed to hit a great shot with your 3 wood. The 3 wood generally has about 15 degrees of loft, which isn’t much.

Therefore your turf interaction has to be really clean if you expect to see impressive results.

When you make clean contact with the 3 wood, it’s certainly possible to hit a fairway shot as long as you hit a shot from the tee box. Keep in mind that the ball position should be slightly forward of center when hitting this club from the fairway.

In Very Light Rough

I would strongly discourage you to hit a 3 wood out of thick rough.

The thick rough is a problem for golfers with a 3 wood in their hands. When you have a low-lofted club like this, sometimes the ball will not jump out of the rough the way you expect.

The result is a very low lofted shot, and sometimes one that makes a strong turn to the left. Avoid this altogether by sticking with a hybrid when hitting out of the thick rough.

However, when I find my ball in the first cut or sitting up nicely in the rough, I have no problem taking the 3 wood out and going after it. You will notice that the PGA Tour players and amateur golfers that are smart about where they use their 3 wood often see the best results.

 

Other Clubs That Could Replace a 3 Wood

The 3 wood is handy in the bag, but if you don’t like it, there are options for utility clubs and hybrids that can travel just as far as the 3 wood. In addition, a standard 2 iron is usually the same loft as the 3 wood.

If you have a more sweeping style swing and hit your driver and other fairway woods well, the 3 wood is probably a great choice. If you are more of an iron player, look at the utility and hybrid options to use to replace the 3 wood.

The 2 iron utility and the 2 hybrid would be the best replacement for the 3 wood.

 

4 Simple Tips for Hitting Your 3 Wood Further

Now that you have a better idea as to how far you should be hitting a 3 wood, here are a few of my favorite tips to get the ball to travel even further.

1. Choose a Lightweight Shaft

With a lightweight shaft, you should be able to increase your average distance and get the ball to travel considerably further. A little extra weight in the shaft is fine for faster-swinging golfers, but slower swing speeds need to be careful with shaft weight.

2. Make Sure Your Ball Position Is Correct

I like to play the ball just forward of the middle of my stance. The 3 wood is a long club, and this gives me the room I need to hit the ball slightly on the upswing and get a higher ball flight.

3. Complete Your Backswing

A long and slow backswing is the way to go with a 3 wood. With the club being longer than others in the bag, the extra distance in the backswing and slightly slower pace help you get more consistency in the shot.

4. Watch Your Weight Transfer

To hit great shots with a 3 wood, you need to be able to transfer your weight from the balanced starting position to the right side and finally to the left side. This weight transfer is incredibly important, and it’s a real power move.

 

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Brittany Olizarowicz

Britt O has been playing golf since the age of 7. Almost 30 years later, she still loves the game, has played competitively on every level, and spent a good portion of her life as a Class A PGA Professional. Britt currently resides in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children. Current Handicap: 1