Have You Forgotten The 4-wood ?
In previous posts on selecting the clubs for your bag, I’ve mentioned that I carry only one fairway wood – a 17* 4-wood. In my opinion, this is a real hidden gem in the set make-up, but you don’t see too many golfers carrying one. Back in the “old days”, when Hogan, Nelson and Snead plied their craft, the 4-wood was a staple in the set. Of course, those guys played courses where they hit woods to the longest par fours and most par fives, if they could even get home in two. So the ability to hit it high and far was important.   Gene Sarazen’s famous double eagle on Augusta’s 15th was holed out with a 4-wood.

Why I Love the 4-wood

My own love affair with the 4-wood began in the 1980s, when I was a marketing/advertising consultant to Joe Powell in Florida. Joe made the most gorgeous persimmon woods you ever saw, and I learned a lot about golf clubs from those years with him. When I saw this gorgeous 4-wood in his shop one day, I just had to hit it. Well, I was overly impressed with what it could do. At the time, I carried a driver and 3-wood, and still packed a 2-iron. This 4-wood changed my world, so to speak.  I soon dropped the 3-wood and 2-iron and added a third wedge.

From that first one, I went through several more, and only a few years ago, swapped my trusty old persimmon 4 for a metal version. I'm a big fan of Sonartec fairway woods, but that company has experienced some problems lately. Their fairway woods and hybrids are wonderful in my opinion. Anyway, my current 4 is their NP-99 (Nick Price model), and I just put a new UST Pro Force V2 shaft in it – what a weapon.

My 4-wood is a Weapon

I never miss having the 3-wood in the bag, as I just don’t find that I need a shot that goes 235 instead of 220 or so. That’s splitting hairs to me. And with only one fairway wood, I have learned to hit various shots – it’s a specialty club for me. I can hit it high when I want, and it’s the one club I can easily turn over left when I need a draw. I can also hit it low – kind of like Tiger’s “stinger” to hit tight fairways.

In fact, I find very many par fives that play nicely with a 4-wood from the tee, and another to position me at “my range” of 85-115 yards. And the best thing ? Carrying only a 4-wood allows an extra wedge in the bag, and I get lots more use out of that than an extra fairway wood.

You can experiment with the 4-wood pretty easily these days. Callaway Golf Pre-Owned has a large assortment, and eBay is always a good bet. And as always, I’ll advise you to see your local clubmaker/clubfitter to have one built just for your swing.

The venerable old 4-wood. It should be in nearly everyone’s bag, in my opinion.
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[ comments ]
John says:
Terry, another good column with food for thought! As I think back, my best fairway wood ever was an old Taylor Raylor 16 degree that I used off of the tee, off the deck, out of the rough, no problem. Now if I could find another one like it with a graphite shaft...mine has the old S-300, and I used to kill it...then I decided I needed a 13 degree from the tee, and so on and so forth...I'm going to go treasure hunting in the garage and bring it back out!
Mike says:
Yo Terry,

I used to have a 4 and loved it. Wonder where I "lost" it ?

Like John mentioned, I used to have a Raylor and loved it. Also had a 911 wood from Powerbilt, with rails, and loved it too.

How did we ever let the marketers talk us out of those great old clubs ?
duffy says:

What do you feel are the advantages of a 4 wood over a 2 hybrid? To my mind, your description (shots you hit, distance, and utility) sounds like what most people like about hybrids.
John B. says:
I have carried a 16* tight Lies 4 wood for years, and have found it to be perfectly matched to my swing for those second shots from the fairway. It just works with my swing, I hit it much cleaner than a 3 wood and really the same distance or very close to it.

I was able to kick both my 3 and 5 woods from the bag with the 4 wood, and let's face it, with fairway woods, most of us are not accurate enough to hit the green consistently, so several long fairway woods (3 and 5) is often overkill.
Artful Golfer says:
I recently swapped out my beloved Orlimar 3w/5w combo for a Ping G10 17* 4w so I could could carry 3 wedges along with my 3h and 4h. I learning to love my 4w, but I sure miss that Orlimar 5w.
Steve Wozeniak PGA says:
Great post Terry,

Made me misty eyed thinking of my old Power Built 4 wood!!

wedgeguy says:
Duffy -- good question about the difference between fairway woods and hybrids. In most cases, hybrids are built more like irons in length and lie, so they play more like irons. In my set, for example, my 4-wood is 42-1/2" long, and my 21* hybrid is 40-1/2". That allows me to swing the hybrid more like I used to swing long irons (what was always a strength of my game), and work the ball like I would with an iron. My whole point was that if we determine the kind of shots we want to be able to hit, it's much easier to find the right club to hit them with -- whether it be a wood or hybrid.
Anders says:
I too just have a 4-wood as a fairway wood, and as you say you can easliy manipulate the shots with short shaft of the 4-wood. But I also carry the 3-iron still for some windy days, you can-¦t get it so low with the wood as you can with the iron.
golfdude528 says:
I also carry a 4 wood. A Callaway X-Tour with an Aldila NV85 stiff shaft. People look at me like I'm crazy until I pull it out and hit it farther than they hit their 3 wood or even drivers. I basically built my set like Mickelson's. Driver, 4W, 3H, 4-LW. I find that I rarely get into a position where I can't hit the 4 wood to reach a par 5 in two.
blue_crush says:
I have you by 3... 7w
I love my 7wood, I am probably the only guy who still carries a 3/5/7w....
why cause 240/230 is my 3w then 225/215 is my 5w and my trusty 7w for those
shots at 215/205 leaving me my 5ir to fill in the rest, I trust all my woods and can work them better from rt/left over a long iron. they just feel like I can control my swing plan and tempo better than trying to jump on a hybrid or iron.
silentfink says:
Because of your posting, I just bought a Sonartec NP-99 4-Wood off eBay. Wedge Guy, you complete me. Well, that may be exaggerating a bit. Let's just say that you completed my golf set.
Raymond W says:
I also carry a 4 wood and love it. Recently gave up my Ping Eye 2 4-wood and picked up a used nike 4-wood. Looking for something like a G10 4-wood. Ultimately, feel exactly the same about 4-woods.
JWHpurist says:
#18 Rancho Bernardo CC private course a few years ago. Back tees=526yd. at that time. Stan Thompson #1 off the tee, #4 Royal to 2' on the green, 2 putt birdie. My Thompson #3 would have put the shot in the lake behind the green. All shots made with persimmon woods which still work well. An end to a fine round as I made a birdie as well on #17 (par 3, 215 yd) elevated green with the #4 from the tee and 1 putt from the upper tier (10' downhill). A #4 can do good things when used properly. JWHpurist
nswynnerton says:
Agree on the 4-wood. Suggest readers try the Wishon 949 16.5-degree head with the proper shaft (UST?). Mine actually checked out at 17 degrees. It is HOT! Leith Anderson of California Golf Technologies agrees. The Tour Exotic is also hot but costs a fortune.
Koans says:
I shoot around par depending on the course and find my Mizuno 16.5 F-50 with an Exsar FS2 stiff shaft is very dependable which with I have reaped my share of eagles.
jrbizzle says:
A few weeks ago I traded in my TM 200 Steel 3 wood, and plunked down an extra $35 for a MacGregor 4 Wood (16.5). The shaft on the 4 wood is about 1/2" longer than the 3 wood, and graphite vs. steel. It's more forgiving and I hit it just as far. No longer do I have to worry about hitting that low 130 yard worm burner like my 3 wood would do occasionally.
Waku says:
I always have been partial to the Sonartec brand and I found at the Golfbidder.com website a NP99 17-¦ 4W with stock Aldila NV65R shaft in pristine condition. First, it-¦s a beauty at adress position. Perfect sized head in midnigth blue, shaft in blue, GolfPride grip and a premium headcover. Second, it-¦s the only one fw I-¦ve found that is at the same time easy to hit straight, left, right, high and low, cuts... everything. I didn-¦t expect that from a Sonartec, they are usually very demanding clubs. Third, I can baby it to 5W range or go for it to 3W range. Usually that results in push or pulls, not with this one. I didn-¦t found a situation on the course where I missed the 3W length or the 5W hight. It-¦s a perfect ballflight. And now I have a spot in my bag to my much-adored gap wedge. Few of the actual brands provide fairway woods with this quality level, despite the new technology shafts that can make a difference. Take one cheap while you can
lewisgl says:
I have used a 4 wood for quite a few years. Great club, much easier to hit than the 3 wood off the deck and probably longer carry than the 3 wood for people with moderate swing speeds. and almost as good off the tee. I will eventually drop the 3 wood and get another hybrid or maybe another wedge.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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