5 wood versus 3 wood – Review, Comparison

Some golfers have room in their bag for several fairway woods, others will have to choose between the 3 wood and the 5 wood. Whether you are trying to decide which club to hit from a specific location or the best club to fill that last spot in your bag, we are here to help. 

The 3 wood vs. 5 wood debate is common, and understanding the difference between the degrees of loft, the shaft length, spin rate, and more will help you make more conscious decisions on the course.

comparing 3 wood vs 5 wood image

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the 3 wood vs. 5 wood and decide which of these is best for the average golfer and for you! 

3 Wood 

The 3 wood is often used as the golf club to be an alternative to the driver. With a 3 wood in your hands, you can get a considerable amount of distance because the loft is so low. Professional golfers can hit their 3 wood with about 15 degrees of loft, considerably further than the average golfers 240 yard drive. 

image of callaway golf 2020 mavrik max fairway wood - AEC InfoThe 3 wood can get a very good penetrating ball flight and will allow for plenty of roll. With the 3 wood, you will have a shorter shaft than you do in your driver, making it a bit easier to control. 


  • Allows for more accuracy than the driver
  • Typically has between 15-18 degrees of loft
  • The best alternative to a driver in terms of distance
  • Popular club to use on a tee shot or for a long fairway shot


  • It can be difficult for beginner golfers to get the ball airborne

5 Wood

The 5 wood is a more versatile club than the 3 wood, simply because it is more forgiving. Even the experienced golfer will be impressed with how a 5 wood can provide for plenty of distance and allow for forgiveness on bad shots and from shots out of the rough. 

image of tour edge hot launch e521 fairway wood - AEC InfoThe 5 wood typically has anywhere from 18 to 20 degrees of loft and tends to be a preferred club for many mid to a High handicap looking for extra distance. The majority of golfers that carry just one fairway wood will put 5 wood in the bag. 


  • A bit easier to hit solid shots with a 5 wood as compared to a 3 wood
  • Allows for performance even from a poor lie
  • About an inch shorter than the 3 wood for more control on approach shots
  • A Forgiving overall club can be used in place of a 3 hybrid rescue club


  • Golfers will give up a bit of distance as compared to the 3 wood
  • It May not be preferred to a utility club or a hybrid for the lower handicap player

3 Wood vs. 5 Wood

Now that you have a better understanding of what a 3 wood is capable of and what a 5 wood is capable of, it’s time to compare these models head-to-head. Here are a few of the things that you should consider when comparing these two fairway woods. 


The 3 wood can travel a further distance than the 5 wood. However, in terms of overall distance, where a player may see 220-230 yards with a 3 wood, the 5 wood distance could be 200-220 yards. 

The overall differences in the distance that you can hit your 3 wood and 5 wood will be a direct correlation to your swing speed, the degree loft of the club, and how close you hit the ball to the center of the clubface. 

Both clubs have good distance capabilities, but the 3 wood can fly further than the 5 wood in terms of distance and total carry. 


Almost all 3 wood and 5 woods on the market have a graphite shaft. The steel shafts, although accurate, are not nearly as forgiving or long as the graphite. The 3 wood shaft, however, is slightly longer than the 5 wood shaft. This helps to increase distance and clubhead speed with the 3 wood, but it will decrease accuracy. 

All skill levels will find that the 5 wood has more accuracy than the 3 wood. Amateur golfers tend to do better with golf shafts that have a higher loft and a shorter overall shaft. These are some of the key differences when you compare a club like your 4 iron to your pitching wedge. 

The 3 wood and the 5 would have some forgiveness and accuracy, but the 5 wood is more forgiving. 


Every golf club in our bag needs to have a few different purposes. In other words, if you can only hit one full swing type shot with a club, you are missing out on some performance on the course. The 3 wood should be a good choice from the Golf tee, but on a par 5 with a wide-open view at the hole, feel free to hit the 3 wood from the fairway as well. 

The 5 wood is even more versatile than the 3 wood. The 5 wood has a deeper center of gravity and higher loft. This means that even if you are playing the ball out of the rough or lacking a bit of club head speed, the 5 wood can be a great choice.

When it comes to versatility in golf gear, the 5 wood will be a more versatile club than the 3 wood. Whether you are playing your shot from the tee box or from a bit of rough, the 5 wood can end up being a great choice to hit. 

Loft Gapping

The 3 wood and the 5 wood have different lofts, but in order to get optimal ball flight throughout your entire set, you must consider the loft of all clubs in your bag. Many club sets have hybrids that will overlap the loft on your 5 wood. 

If you find this to be the case, the club selection should most likely be a 5 wood or a hybrid and not both. The last thing you want is a golf club that will perform exactly the same as another in the bag. 

The 3 wood and the 5 wood can work from a club mix/loft gapping standpoint; however, you must consider the current lofts of the other golf clubs in your bag before making a final decision.


At this point, you should have a better idea as to if the 3 wood or the 5 wood would be a better golf club for your bag. Many players look at their bags and wish there was room for that 15th club. Since there is not, you have to take a long hard look at the number of times in the course of a round that you would need a 3 wood or a 5 wood and try to make the decision based on that.

As a general rule of thumb, unless you have a good amount of clubhead speed, stick with the 5 wood. The golfer with the extra speed tends to do better with the 3 wood. If you lack club head speed, you may want to consider adding a Seven wood to your golf bag.