At one point in my life, I really hit my fairway woods great from almost any lie.
Then something happened, and only part of it was due to chronic swing changes.
A large reason why fairway woods got harder to hit was that fairway woods got larger.
In their endless race to build longer clubs, equipment companies pumped up the volume of their fairway woods. In the process, a lot of 5-woods started to resemble 3-woods, and 3-woods looked more like drivers.
What's so wrong about making clubs bigger, though, if it gives you more power?
The simple answer is nothing, all else being equal. But for us average golfers, all else is not equal.
Making solid contact with a fairway wood requires precise control to deliver the clubface squarely to the ball on a level or just slightly downward angle. Sweeping the club head over the turf is tricky for those of us whose swings are not grooved to perfection. And the larger the volume of the club head, the trickier it gets.
Srixon's new Z F65 fairway woods ($250) represent a reversal of this trend. With head sizes ranging from 144cc (5w) to 173cc (3+w), the Z F65s are as much as 60cc smaller than some recent offerings by other companies.
But doesn't this compact size reduce distance? Not really.
Ask any instructor or highly skilled player how to increase distance, and they'll tell you that the key is making solid contact. And solid contact is simply more likely with a smaller club head.
Playing the Srixon Z F65 fairway woods
To be clear, Srixon's sleek, compact clubheads do not skimp on high-powered technology. The Z F65 faces are made from HT1770 maraging steel that is 8 percent thinner than their previous F45 line. Small channels are built into the crowns and soles to create more compression at impact, and more spring.
The result is incredibly clean and powerful contact with great feedback. I've played the 15-degree Z F65 for the past half-dozen rounds now, and find myself using it much more than I ever did my two previous 3-woods. Off the tee, I am able to work the Z F65 both directions with the perfect distance, half way between driver and 5-wood.
More importantly, I'm regaining confidence in hitting a 3-wood from the fairway and rough. At my home course during a recent round, I had 265 yards to the green of the par-5 12th, out of a dodgy lie over water. I had already wasted one stroke with a failed punch out that hit a tree branch. So I figured, what the heck? I focused on making contact, and it was solid. The ball came out low, but dead straight, and ran up to 15 yards short of the green.
Simply put, there was no way I would have tried that shot with either of my previous 3-woods, one of which was just slightly smaller than a driver. Its giant, wide sole would have snagged in the rough for sure.
Srixon Z F65 fairway woods: The verdict
For most average golfers, fairway woods are a gamble; tops, chunks, and slices are all often more likely than solid contact. Fairway woods that deliver power and promote pure contact are invaluable to your confidence and score.
The Srixon Z F65 fairway woods pack a lot of tech and punch into compact heads with small "footprints" that slide smoothly over the turf and through the rough. They aren't outwardly flashy and don't look like mini-drivers, but this is actually just what you want in a reliable fairway wood.
For more information, visit srixon.com.