Comparing Driver vs 3 Wood Distance
Proper club selection is a key factor in determining how far your golf ball goes and where you land on the golf course. Your tee shot sets the tone for how each hole will play out.
I’ve seen avid golfers struggle to choose the right club to use in certain situations. Newer golfers and average golfers make this mistake on the daily.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have an PGA Tour caddie on staff, you may need some guidance on when to use a driver or when it makes more sense to use a 3 wood (or any fairway wood, for that matter).
This write-up will help you understand the strengths, weaknesses, and average distances of these two clubs.
If you take 3 minutes to read the whole thing, you’ll walk away with valuable insights that you can use the next time you’re at the golf course.
So let’s jump into it.
Driver vs 3 Wood – What Should I Choose?
The driver and the 3 wood are golf clubs with a similar appearance and function — so how do you choose between the two?
Here is the simplest tip: If you struggle with accuracy when you hit your driver, it makes more sense to use the 3 wood. The trade off is that you will leave some distance on the table, but your tee shot will be more precise.
Side note: Shot Scope argues that the accuracy difference is negligible, but other reputable sources say otherwise. You can do an internet deep-dive, but I land in the camp of the 3 wood being the more accurate club for most players.
Why is a 3 wood more accurate than a driver?
The 3 wood has a shorter shaft which typically results in a more accurate shot and more consistency off the club face.
However, the longer driver shaft means that most players swing the club faster, which equals more power, better ball speed and greater distance.
Though the longer shaft is usually a power advantage, it also leaves the door open for more things to go wrong during a golfer’s swing, especially off the club face.
Other factors to consider (from Golf Digest):
- If you have a high swing speed (over 105 mph), you should probably stick with your driver for distance.
- If you’re an amateur golfer or average golfer with a slower swing speed (less than 95 mph), you won’t lose much distance with a 3 wood, but your golf shot will be more accurate.
Becoming a successful golfer requires athleticism for sure, but decision making can be equally as important. Remind yourself that you’re not Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods or Henrik Stenson.
If you are a mid to high handicapper and your instinct is to pull out that Big Bertha on every tee box, you may want to reconsider your strategy.
Driver vs 3 Wood Distance Chart
Some of you love data, so here is some information I pulled from Jim Furyk’s website.
|Player||Driver Distance||3 Wood Distance|
|Average Male||230 yards||215 yards|
|Average Female||175 yards||150 yards|
|PGA Golfer||294 yards||275 yards|
|LPGA Golfer||244 yards||225 yards|
|Broad Range (Male)||200-260 yards||180-235 yards|
|Broad Range (Female)||150-200 yards||125-180 yards|
Keep in mind, this data is pulled from golfers with different swing speeds, habits and talent levels. Numbers don’t tell the whole story, but they do remind us that the driver is typically the club to rely on for the most distance.
Is a 3 Wood Better than a Driver?
That depends on the situation and your skillset. For less experienced golfers, a 3 wood may be more helpful on tight holes or more difficult tee shots. On wide open fairways, a driver may be the best choice.
Skilled golfers with a consistent swing will almost always get more distance from their driver, but the amateur golfer has more factors to consider.
It’s also important to remember that a fairway wood has a higher loft angle than a driver. A lower loft or a higher loft will influence ball flight.
So yes, the average driver distance is farther than that of a 3-wood. But does that make a driver a better club?
Not if you hit most of your drives into the woods.
Remember, success in golf has everything to do with low scores. If the 3 wood puts you on more fairways and results in less drops/penalties/lost golf balls, then it may be the better club for your game.
Can a 3 Wood Go as Far as a Driver?
For some players, yes, a 3 wood can go as far as a driver. There’s a discussion over at the Titleist forum that sheds some light on this scenario, but here are the reasons why this may be the case.
- Your driver loft could be too low for your swing speed.
- Attack angle matters when if you want to maximize your driver distance.
- Players who hit down on the ball may get better distance from their 3 wood.
One of the main reasons why you may find that you are having the same results with your 3 wood as you are with your driver is that you may have an inefficient swing or a lower clubhead speed.
A great golf swing is a thing of beauty. It doesn’t matter if you have the right shoes, clubs or clothes. If your swing is off, your golf club won’t reach its maximum potential.
A good club fitting may help you determine what your tendencies are and which club will give you better distance.
A golf ball change may be worth considering as well. Not everyone benefits from playing with a Pro V1x.
How To Use a 3 Wood off a Tee
If you want to use a 3 wood off the tee, there are a few things to keep in mind before you begin.
First of all, make sure you don’t tee up the ball too high. This is a common mistake.
Your goal is to hit down on the ball.
You might be asking yourself, “Should I swing my 3-wood like a driver?” No. Drivers are designed to hit the ball on the swing arc, whereas the 3-wood is not constructed that way.
This video offers some additional tips for hitting a 3 wood off the tee:
Take a few practice swings and get used to hitting the ball in a different area than you would with the driver.
Why Do I Like the 3 Wood More Than the Driver?
Honestly, who cares? If you know you hit the ball better with your hybrid club, rescue club or 3 wood, keep playing it. The point is to score well.
That being said, if your best fairway wood is the strong 3 wood, you’re not alone. This preference is actually quite common.
For many years, I openly said that the 3 wood was my favorite club. Now it’s my sand wedge (go figure).
Even though the 3 wood has a smaller club face than the driver, there are a few reasons why golfers reach for this club instead of the driver. Control, accuracy and more loft are some of the perks.
Put Yourself on the Fairway
I hope you feel more equipped to choose the right club during your next golf round.
Your driver vs 3 wood distance will depend on your skillset, specifically your swing speed and ability to strike the ball consistently.
Don’t worry about how you “look” on the course. Instead, choose the club that helps you maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.