The 3-wood and 5-wood have advantages depending on your preference and skill level. However, the 3-wood offers more distance and a lower trajectory, making it ideal for long fairway shots and off the tee. On the other hand, the 5 wood provides slightly more loft and an easier launch, making it better for approach shots and shots from the rough.
The 3-wood and 5-wood belong to the same family of large, long-shaft golf clubs designed for generating distance early on in the hole. The debate on which options to go for between these two is never-ending. I made a new friend on the golf course recently who has been working on correcting swing faults this year. He struggled to hit his 3-wood consistently off the deck and wondered if a 5-wood would be easier to hit and get a similar distance or if he would still have the same issues.
I offered my advice to him, but I went on to do more research and found out many golfers (beginners and intermediates alike) are in a similar situation: they carry a three wood but never really get on with it. Should they be changing it for a 5-wood?
I conducted an extensive comparison test using the Talylormade Sim2 Max 3 wood and Callaway Mavrik 5 wood Test. I will show you my findings in this article, with the conclusion to help you decide on which is best for you.
3 Wood Vs. 5 Wood: The Comparison At A Glance
|Loft||Lower loft (around 15-18 degrees)||Slightly higher loft (around 20-22 degrees)|
|Distance||Typically hits the ball farther||Slightly shorter distance|
|Control||More difficult to control||Easier to control|
|Launch Angle||Lower launch angle||Slightly higher launch angle|
|Ball Flight||Lower ball flight||Slightly higher ball flight|
|Versatility||Better for tee shots and longer fairway shots||Easier for fairway shots|
|Accuracy||Requires more precision for accuracy||More forgiving and easier to hit accurately|
|Playability from Rough||More challenging from thicker rough||Better playability from rough|
|Club Length||Slightly longer club length (43 inches)||Slightly shorter club length (41-42 inches)|
|Shot Trajectory Control||Allows for better trajectory control||It offers a more consistent trajectory|
|Shot Shape Adjustment||Easier to shape shots with a control||Limited shot shape adjustment|
Loft and Distance
The 3-wood typically has a lower loft angle, usually around 15 degrees, while the 5-wood has a slightly higher loft angle, around 18 degrees. The difference in the loft can affect the trajectory and distance of your shots.
Due to its lower loft and longer shaft length, the 3-wood would offer more distance, so it’s preferable for long fairway shots and the tee since this allows you to achieve greater distance than the 5-wood.
For instance, a well-struck shot with a 3-wood might cover around 230–250 yards, while a 5-wood might reach about 210–230 yards.
If distance is a priority and you have the skill to control a lower trajectory, the 3-wood is a better option. On the other hand, if you seek more loft and an easier launch, the 5 wood can be a valuable club for approach shots and shots from the rough.
Club Length and Shaft
The length of the club plays a crucial role in swing mechanics. The 3-wood is typically shorter than the 5-wood. This is a sign of better control and accuracy because the shorter length of the three wood makes it easier to generate clubhead speed and achieve a more consistent swing tempo.
But we have to shift our focus to flex and material when it comes to shaft suitability.
My TaylorMade SIM 3 wood with a shorter length—a Fujikura Pro 56 shaft—offered better accuracy and control.
But playing with the Callaway Mavrik 5 wood with a longer length and a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue shaft gave me more distance and stability for higher swing speeds.
So you’ll have to choose a club and shaft combination that suits your swing characteristics for optimal performance. If you have a slower swing speed, a shaft with a softer flex like the Fujikura Pro 56 or the Project X EvenFlow Blue might suit you, as it helps generate more clubhead speed.
On the other hand, if you have a faster swing speed, a stiffer shaft like the Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue or the Aldila Rogue Silver may be preferable to control the ball’s flight and reduce unwanted side spin.
Ball Flight and Trajectory
A 3-wood has a lower loft and a longer shaft than a 5-wood, resulting in a lower ball flight and potentially more roll.
This is good news if you seek distance off the tee or a penetrating trajectory. On the other hand, a 5-wood typically has a higher loft, which gives us a higher ball flight and potentially more carry, which is a green light for players looking to hit higher shots with softer landings, especially from fairway lies.
So if you anchor your decision based on ball flight and trajectory, the choice between two clubs depends on your preference and shot requirements.
Versatility and Shot Shape
The three wood can shape shots by adjusting the swing path and clubface angle. But the five wood excels when a higher trajectory is required to clear obstacles or hold greens.
The 5-wood is better for shaping shots with a slight draw or fade, although not as much as the 3-wood.
Now, I’m slightly biased in favor of the 3-wood regarding versatility. The lower loft makes it incredibly suitable for hitting from various lies and challenging course conditions, such as thick rough or firm fairways.
In all fairness, the five wood’s higher loft can help with shots from tight lies or softer conditions, preventing the club from digging into the ground. Still, your skill level, personal preference, and specific course conditions will determine which is for the greater good.
Control and Accuracy
Upon close inspection, I noticed that the 5-wood generally offers greater forgiveness due to the larger head size. This makes it more forgiving on off-center hits and helps maintain stability through impact.
If you’re trying to make a choice solely based on accuracy and consistency on approach shots, it depends on the specific club models.
Distance Gaps and Club Selection
Distance gapping is the variance between how far you hit each club in your bag. On average, the 3-wood is designed to travel farther than the 5-wood.
A well-struck 3-wood can cover distances between 220 and 240 yards, while a 5-wood usually reaches 200 to 220 yards. This gap of around 20 yards guarantees yardage coverage in different situations.
Still, the distance gaps between a 3-wood and a 5-wood typically vary depending on your swing and club specifications.
The 3-wood and 5-wood bridge the gap between the driver and long irons or hybrids. Their loft and distance characteristics provide versatility for fairway shots, tee shots on shorter holes, and long approach shots.
On multiple shots, I noted the high forgiveness and distance from the SIM2 Max 3 wood, while the Mavrik Max 5 wood did not give much space but was easy to use and launch.
Player Skill Level
It is common for beginner-level golfers to struggle with consistent driver hits, so they often get wide-shot dispersion due to imparting too much spin. Now a 3-wood is substantially smaller than a driver, ensuring increased control and much tighter hit distribution. With this in mind, a beginner golfer is better off with a 3-wood.
But if you’re starting with the game, I recommend you go for a 5-wood because, at this skill level, you want to get the ball airborne with substantial forward progress.
Trial and Personal Experience
After testing the 3-wood and 5-wood, I analyzed the results on club speed, head speed, dynamic loft, dynamic lie, path, and attack.
The club speed swung the firewood the fastest, which again is a bit odd, to be fair, but it was only one mile an hour. It did a bit of a drop off the five wood, and efficiency lowered as I gained more loft, which makes sense.
I delivered a two-and-a-half-degree dynamic loft difference between the 3-wood and 5-wood, which statistically are three degrees. (Let me mention that this would even pop up massively compared to a 7-wood because a high launch will be created.
For peak height, the 5-wood average was 130 feet in the air and a decent angle of 46 and a half. The 3-wood was 125 feet in the air with a 45-degree descent, which was only 4 feet lower than the 5-wood and had a margin difference in the angle of descent.
For the angle attack, both clubs did pretty much the same. The path was all around three degrees, so there was little difference.
The whole point of my observation is that you shouldn’t buy a 3 or 5 because you think they’d be right for you.
Also Read: 3 Wood vs. 3 Hybrid
Now that we’ve looked into the comparison between the three and five woods, it becomes more realistic that your ultimate decision depends on what you want from a club.
A 3-wood is likely to favor you more if you’re looking for an alternative to hitting the driver off the tee. But if your needs are centered around an easy-to-launch and confidence-inspiring club for attacking long shots, the 5-wood is the right call.
Players who are shorter hitters and struggle with long irons will be satisfied with a five-wood because it’s a fantastic alternative and easier to hit than a three-iron.
But above all, don’t forget to consider the distance.
Adding five woods to my collection was a sure bet because I’m not a beginner, and I’m looking to plug the gap between the longest iron in my bag and three woods.
I hope you found this helpful.
Does a 5-wood go as far as a 3-wood?
No, a 5-wood typically does not go as far as a 3-wood. The lower the number, the lower the loft and longer the shaft, resulting in more significant distance potential. A 3-wood has a lower loft and a longer shaft than a 5-wood, allowing for more distance off the tee or fairway.
Is it better to have a 3 or a 5?
The three wood offers more distance and a lower trajectory, making it ideal for long shots from the fairway or off the tee. The five wood, however, provides more loft and control, making it suitable for approach shots or hitting from the rough. So it depends on which club suits your game, but I recommend having both.
How much farther does a 3-wood go than a 5-wood?
A 3-wood tends to go approximately 10–15 yards farther than a 5-wood. However, these figures can vary depending on the specific clubs and your ability to strike the ball consistently.
Why can I hit my 5-wood but not my 3-wood?
Hitting a 5-wood successfully but struggling with a 3-wood could be due to a few factors. The three wood has a lower loft and a longer shaft, making it more challenging to control. Also, differences in swing mechanics, confidence, and club weight can affect the consistency of your shots.