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For years, the stigma surrounding high-lofted fairway woods has been they are only for women and older players. For some reason there are players out there who think the fewer the headcovers, the more macho the golfer. To them, carrying anything beyond a driver, a 3-wood and maybe a 5-wood makes a player less worthy of respect.

Tell that to the growing number of major champions and big-name players who carry a 7-wood regularly. Among them are Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Max Homa, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter and Tyrrell Hatton. Jason Kokrak also had a 7-wood in the bag when he won the 2021 Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club.

“Yes, there was a stigma about it, but at the end of the day, if a Tour player sees a performance benefit, he’s going to forget about the stigma,” said Todd Chew, TaylorMade’s PGA Tour manager.

J.J. Van Wezenbeeck, Titleist’s director of players promotions, also sees the old thinking fading away.

“(Tour) players, they only care about how it looks, sounds and feels,” he said.

So what is a 7-wood?

Max HomaMax Homa

Max Homa

Max Homa hits a 7-wood at the 2021 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. (Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)

A driver typically has between 8 and 12 degrees of loft, and nearly all drivers today have a volume of 460 cubic centimeters, which is the largest allowed by the Rules of Golf. A 3-wood usually is between 13.5 and 15 degrees, and 5-woods tend to be around 18 degrees. Most 7-woods have about 21 degrees of loft, comparable to a 4-hybrid club or a 3-iron designed for skilled players. Designs vary, but from a size perspective, 7-woods range from about 145 to 160 cubic centimeters, which is approximately one-third the size of a driver. However, the construction of fairway woods is different than a hybrid or an iron. Fairway woods have a larger hitting area, a wider sole and a center of gravity location that is lower and farther back. Those factors make fairway woods more forgiving and help them hit the ball higher into the air. They also make fairway woods easier to hit from thick rough. Compared to a hybrid or an iron, 7-woods also typically have a longer shaft, allowing a player to generate more clubhead speed. However, on the PGA Tour, where power is not usually a problem, some players have their 7-woods cut short. For instance, the retail version of Ping’s G425 Max 7-wood is 42 inches long, but Ping PGA Tour representative Kenton Oates said that among the 10 Ping staffers who commonly carry a 7-wood, Louis Oosthuizen, Tyrrell Hatton and Joaquin Niemann play theirs at 40.5 inches. Stewart Cink, who has won twice this season on the PGA Tour, plays a G410 7-wood at 41.5 inches.

Why are 7-woods gaining popularity with pros?

Dustin Johnson's 7-woodDustin Johnson's 7-wood

Dustin Johnson’s 7-wood

Dustin Johnson’s bag included a TaylorMade SIM2 Max 7-wood at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January. (TaylorMade)

Chew said the emergence of 7-woods on the PGA Tour is the result of several factors. First, manufacturers are making fairway woods with hotter faces that produce more ball speed. Second, modern golf balls do not spin as much as they did a few decades ago. Finally, the greens on the PGA Tour are getting faster. A decade ago, 7-woods generated too much spin for fast-swinging pros to consider. Today, however, with manufacturers reducing spin on fairway woods and balls spinning less, the extra loft in a 7-wood makes it easier to get the ball high into the air and bring it down more vertically, so it stops faster on the green “We have been able to add so much ball speed to our fairway woods that going up in the loft allows us to have a higher launch and control the yardage for people,” Van Wezenbeeck said. “The 7-wood is just such a forgiving golf club,” Oates said. “Hybrids are more forgiving than a 4-iron, yes, but if you put a hybrid and a 7-wood down together, you see how much bigger the 7-wood is back to front. The center of gravity is so much lower. It’s just a more-forgiving golf club.” Oates also said pros are starting to fall in love with 7-woods because when they mis-hit a hybrid, they tend to go left and lose distance. If they mis-hit a 7-wood, the ball typically goes nearly as far and it tends to travel straighter. “Even when they pull it, they are still going to see that 240 number or whatever the guy wants over and over and over again,” he said. Here is Adam Scott talking about his new 7-wood before the 2021 Masters.

Do you need a 7-wood?

Louis OosthuizenLouis Oosthuizen

Louis Oosthuizen

Louis Oosthuizen hits a 7-wood at the 2021 Players Championship. (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

So, with all those benefits and virtually no downside, could a 7-wood be ideal for recreational golfers? “Whether it’s a high-lofted fairway wood, a hybrid or a long iron, that’s why you get fit. To see which one is going to be better for you,” said Nick Sherburne, a co-founder of Club Champion and one of the company’s master fitters. “Ultimately, you want to think about what is going to give you the distance, launch and spin that you need in order to hit the shots you need to hit to score on the golf course.” Sherburne also noted that most recreational players hit down on their hybrid shots as they would with an iron, but they tend to sweep their fairway woods shots. Hitting down tends to produce more spin, so, again, getting correctly fit for either a hybrid or a 7-wood is critical to make sure it matches your swing type. If you think a 7-wood might help your game, talk to a good custom fitter about the options listed below.

Callaway Epic Max

Callaway Epic Max fairway woodCallaway Epic Max fairway wood

Callaway Epic Max fairway wood

Callaway Epic Max fairway wood (Callaway)

Price: $299.99 each with Project X Cypher, Project X HZRDUS Smoke IM 10 or Mitsubishi MMT shaft and Golf Pride Tour Velvet Align grip 7-wood: 21 degrees The Epic Max fairway woods are larger than the Epic Speed, with a shallower face and a slight draw bias. They also come with two moveable weights, one that weighs 14 grams and the other at 2 grams. With the heavier weight in the back, the moment of inertia increases and the Epic Max generates more spin, a higher launch and more stability on off-center hits. Moving the 14-gram weight to the forward spot increases ball speed, reduces spin and lowers the launch angle. More …

Cobra Radspeed

Cobra Radspeed 7-woodCobra Radspeed 7-wood

Cobra Radspeed 7-wood

Cobra Radspeed 7-wood (Cobra)

Price: $279 each with Fujikura Motore X F1, Fujikura Motore X F3 or Project X EvenFlow Riptide shaft and Lamkin Crossline grip 7-wood: 22.5 degrees All the RadSpeed fairway woods have large carbon-fiber crowns and a radial weighting design that takes weight out of the club’s middle and shifts it to strategic spots. In the 7-wood, that means a pair of 16-gram internal weights in the heel and toe areas, along with a 7-gram weight in the back of the sole. Cobra said that adding extra weight in the front of the club helps increase ball speed, while the added weight in the back boosts the moment of inertia to make the club more forgiving. More …

Ping G425 Max

Ping G425 Max 7-woodPing G425 Max 7-wood

Ping G425 Max 7-wood

Ping G425 Max 7-wood (Ping)

Price: $327.50 each with Ping Alta Slate CB shafts 7-wood: 20.5 degrees Instead of the face being a flat piece of stainless steel soldered to the body, which is common with many fairway woods, Ping’s Face Wrap hitting area extends into the crown around the toe area and under the leading edge in the sole. Ping said this design allows nearly all the face, and places in the crown and sole, to flex at impact for increased distance and more ball-speed protection on shots hit outside the center. More …

PXG 0341 GEN4

PXG 0341 GEN4 7-woodPXG 0341 GEN4 7-wood

PXG 0341 GEN4 7-wood

PXG 0341 GEN4 7-wood (David Dusek/Golfweek)

Price: $439 with choice of shafts 7-wood: 21 degrees Like the GEN4 drivers, the new 0341 GEN4 fairway woods have a carbon-fiber crown that features an aluminum vapor center section to save weight. An internal thermoplastic elastomer piece dampens excessive vibrations to improve sound and feel. The forged stainless steel face flexes more efficiently at impact for enhanced ball speed and distance, and the adjustable sole weights allow fitters to dial in the ideal swing weight for each player.

TaylorMade SIM2

TaylorMade SIM2 Max 7-woodTaylorMade SIM2 Max 7-wood

TaylorMade SIM2 Max 7-wood

TaylorMade SIM2 Max 7-wood (TaylorMade)

Price: $299 with Fujikura Ventus Blue or Fujikura AirSpeeder shaft 7-wood: 21 degrees The SIM2 Max fairway woods have a carbon-fiber crown, Speed Pocket slot in the sole and adjustable hosel. Made using C300 stainless steel, they also have an updated V Steel sole designed to improve turf interaction and drive more weight back and away from the hitting area. More …

Titleist TSi2

Titleist TSi2 7-woodTitleist TSi2 7-wood

Titleist TSi2 7-wood

Titleist TSi2 7-wood (Titleist)

Price: $299 each with Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Black DC, Mitsubishi Tensei AV RAW Blue or White, or Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black RDX shafts and Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 grips 7-wood: 21 degrees Titleist made the TSi2 fairway woods more aerodynamic, so golfers can swing the clubs faster with the same amount of effort. Designers also shifted the center of gravity down and farther back, away from the face, to encourage a higher launch angle. That also boosted the moment of inertia, so the TSi2 fairways are more stable on mis-hits. More …

Tour Edge Exotics C721

Tour Edge Exotics C721 7-woodTour Edge Exotics C721 7-wood

Tour Edge Exotics C721 7-wood

Tour Edge Exotics C721 7-wood (Tour Edge)

Price: $249.99 with Fujikura Air Speeder, Fujikura Ventus Red, Project X HZRDUS Smoke Blue or Project X HZRDUS Smoke Black shaft 7-wood: 21 degrees The Ridgeback-designed crown combines stainless steel flanked by carbon-fiber panels on each side to save weight and lower the center of gravity. The cup-face design and internal Diamond Face 2.0 pattern allow the hitting area to flex more efficiently for increased ball speed and distance. The weight in the back of the sole helps increase stability.

Wilson Staff D9

Wilson Staff D9 7-woodWilson Staff D9 7-wood

Wilson Staff D9 7-wood

Wilson Staff D9 7-wood (Wilson)

Price: $219.99 each with Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue shaft and Lamkin Crossline Genesis grip 7-wood: 21 degrees To help golfers increase ball speed, Wilson gave the Staff D9 fairway woods a maraging steel face that is extremely thin and strong. But the real key is that for the first time, Wilson designed the faces with variable thicknesses. They flex more efficiently at impact, not only in the center on well-struck shots but also toward the heel and toe on mis-hits. More …