Driver Vs 3 Wood – What’s The Difference & What To Use

They say that your drive for show and putt for dough, however, the stats are starting to show that longer hitters make more money on tour.

The thing is, this only works when you hit fairways. There is nothing to be gained from hitting the ball far into the rough or worse.

Many see the driver and the 3 wood as their two options from the tee but how do you know when to choose which?

The 3 wood is also a great option for long distance attacks at the green. Read on to learn more about these two great clubs and what to use when.


Trust In The 3 Wood

The first set I ever owned was a half-set that came with a 3 wood, odd numbered irons, a wedge and a putter.

Little did I know that these few clubs would spark a lifelong obsession.

The 3 wood in that set would become my favourite club and I didn’t own a driver I could hit for many years.

As a junior golfer I put all of my trust in the 3 wood from the tee. I loved it and used it constantly.

It wasn’t until I was a fair bit older that I found a driver I trusted and loved like my various 3 woods.


What Are The Main Differences Between And A 3 Wood


Unless you’re Bryson DeChambeau, the loft of your driver probably sits somewhere between 8 and 12 degrees.

Your 3 wood is more likely to have between 13 and 16 degrees of loft. You will choose the loft depending on whether your 3 wood is mainly for the tee or for the fairway.



Drivers are longer than 3 woods.

The standard driver is between 45 and 46 inches, many manufacturers have increased the length to make added yardage claims.

The standard length of a 3 wood is 43 inches.


Head Size

Most drivers have a head size of 460cc, some have a smaller 445cc though they are rarer in the market now.

They are strictly limited by the rules of golf. 3 woods have a much smaller clubhead, they tend to have a volume of 130cc to 150cc.


Should You Always Carry Both?

It is really important to have options from the tee and for that the driver and 3 wood setup is excellent.

However, TaylorMade have brought out a Mini Driver for those who only want a second club for tee shots.

The 3 wood is also a great club to use for long fairway shots on par fives.


Should Anybody Not Carry A Driver?

If you really struggle using a driver from the tee then you should consider not carrying one until you find one that works for you.

By playing a 3 wood from the tee you could hit more fairways and it could be great for your game.

The 3 wood is your tee shot safe play.


Driver Vs 3 Wood Off The Tee

The driver goes longer than the 3 wood off the tee, once you hit it properly

You do forgo a bit of accuracy for this added distance though, the shorter shaft length and increased loft of the 3 wood means that you should find more fairways with it.

The 3 wood is also great for shaping the ball around a corner.

If you can find a driver that works well for you then it is the best case scenario for tee shots.

You get significantly more distance but it is worth having a good 3 wood or even a 3 hybrid or iron too for tricky tee shots or those that require a bit of shape around a corner.


Why Do Some People Prefer A 3 Wood Off The Tee?

The added accuracy and ability to shape the ball makes it more preferable to many.

Another thing that some like about the 3 wood is that in matchplay it can be a great tactical tool.

Hitting a 3 wood can mean you’re hitting your second shot in first this can add pressure to your opponent.


Driver Vs 3 Wood For A Beginner

As in my story at the start of this article, I started my golfing life with a 3 wood only.

I think it is a great place for beginners to start as it will teach you how to hit a driver but help instil confidence whilst you do it.


Do Any Pros Use A 3 Wood Off The Tee?

They do and they do it frequently.

There are many occasions when a pro will feel that position is more important than distance from the tee so they would use the 3 wood instead of the driver.

They may also want more side spin to shape the ball around the corner of a dogleg.

Of course, when talking about pros who hit a 3 wood from the tee, you absolutely have to mention Henrik Stenson.

The Swede is known for his incredible 3 wood which he uses more than a driver and to brilliant effect.


Why Do I Hit My 3 Wood Further Than My Driver?

One of the most important factors that determines how far you hit a ball is the quality of the strike.

Even a slight mishit can kill your distance significantly, the added length of the driver can make it harder to consistently hit the sweet spot.

If you have a 3 wood with a fairly strong loft, a driver with a weaker loft and you strike your 3 wood better than your driver, you may hit it further.

Also, if you have a 3 wood that suits your swing and a driver that doesn’t then you could be in this position too.


Why Do I Slice My Driver But Not My 3 Wood?

The added length of the driver can mean that it is harder to deliver a square face at impact.

The fact that there is also less loft can make it harder to hit the ball straight too. The textbook setup of a driver can also make you more susceptible to slicing the ball.


Driver Vs 3 Wood Setup

The way that modern drivers are made means that to maximize your distance from the tee you should hit up on the ball.

This minimizes spin whilst getting the ball into the air so that it can fly further and roll less.

The 3 wood requires a slightly different way of approaching the ball.

With the 3 wood from the tee you still want to sweep the ball away rather than hitting down on it.

However, you also don’t really want to hit up on the ball so the perfect 3 wood swing is fairly neutral through the ball as you sweep the ball from the tee and downs the fairway.


When To Use A Driver Vs A 3 Wood

If you are on a hole with plenty of space on each side of the fairway where distance will make the hole easier then the driver is your club.

If you are confident with a driver then it should be your go-to choice and you should swing freely.

It is a great thing to be confident with the driver.

The 3 Wood comes into its own when you are having a bad driving day.

It is also useful when you are playing for position rather than just distance, say on a dogleg for example.

They can also make is easier for you to shape the ball with control around a corner.


13 Degree 3 Wood Vs Driver

The TaylorMade Mini Driver has been very popular in the market and has sold out nearly everywhere it has been sold.

This has a 300cc head which means it is far larger than a 3 wood head.

It’s a great club but is it less versatile than a 3 wood? Well, it is harder to hit from the fairway.

A 13 degree 3 wood is for those who really only use the club from the tee and occasionally from the fairway.

I think that you are better carrying a 9 degree driver and a 15 degree 3 wood to give you more options and a better coverage of distance.


What’s A Strong 3 Wood?

Back in the day a strong 3 wood would have been called a 2 wood. However, that moniker seems to have been dropped.

Nowadays a strong 3 wood is something with a loft of around 13-14 degrees. 15 degrees is more normal and 16 degrees is a weaker 3 wood.


Driver Vs 3 Wood Shaft Length

The shaft of a 3 wood tends to be around 43 inches.

Although driver shafts are getting longer, most are now above 45 inches and getting closer to 46 inches these days in the pursuit of more distance.

This can come at the cost of accuracy though as you increase the length of the lever.

It is worth knowing here that many tour pros play shorter driver shafts to increase their fairways hit.

The average driver shaft length on the PGA Tour in 2019 was 44.25 inches and this trend continues to this day.

This is because these players are putting accuracy above distance.


Driver Vs 3 Wood Shaft Weight

Driver shafts are most commonly between 55g and 65g to give a balance between lightness for extra distance and some weight to help with control.

Many golfers opt for a lighter shaft around 45g to enhance speed and some want extra weight and opt for shafts at 70g or more.

3 wood shafts tend to be heavier than driver shafts. These clubs are built more around accuracy than they are for gaining distance so a heavier shaft can help the golfer achieve this.

There are super light 3 wood shafts available for those who need help with distance though.


Best Driver For High Launch

A high launch can help you get the most distance from your power, clearly there is less friction acting on the ball as it flies through the air rather than running on the ground.

So let’s have a look at the driver that we think achieves this better than any other.


Mizuno ST200X

Many people know that Mizuno make some of the most sublime bladed irons in all of golf.

Many don’t know that recently they have started to produce some of the best drivers in the game too and the ST200X is certainly one of them, it is a high-launching distance machine.

This driver has a beautiful carbon fibre crown and a face that is designed to get the ball up in the air fast and far. It also has a slight draw bias, I don’t think that this is a bad thing for most golfers as it can help you straighten out your slice.

Overall Score: 94/100

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Best Strong 3 Wood – Titleist TSi3 Fairway

It is hard not to pick one of the Titleist woods as they are simply the best on the market right now.

The TSi3 Fairway gives incredible speed and launches the ball high. The Active Recoil Channel helps you achieve this truly impressive performance.

This club is available in a 13.5 degree loft as the strongest option.

You can also get it with 15 degrees of loft but with the adjustability of the Titleist woods you can de-loft both of these down by 1.5 degrees to make them even stronger, that could be a 12 degree 3 wood if you want!

Overall Score: 95/100

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Choosing the best club from the tee is vital for you to play your best and lower your scores.

The driver and the 3 wood each have their place in the bag and do different jobs.

I think it is always a good idea to carry both of these clubs and they should compliment each other.

By learning how to use each club most effectively and when each one should be used, you can shave a few shots off of your average score. Speak to your club pro about optimizing the longest clubs in your bag and you will start to reach a new level from the tee. It could be game changing.