3 Wood vs 5 Wood — (Distance, Loft, Shaft Length and Advice)

3 wood vs 5 wood distance and loft comparisons from tell me more golf experts

Fairway woods are among the most useful clubs in golf because of their great versatility.

A fairway wood can be used on challenging tee shots, long approaches, or transport shots on tough par 5s.

The two most popular fairway woods are the 3 wood and 5 wood, which have many similarities but also some glaring differences. In this article, we’ll cover what the important differences are, and which club suits you the best based on your golf game.

3 wood vs 5 wood distance and loft comparisons from tell me more golf experts

3 Wood Distance vs 5 Wood Distance

3 wood vs 5 wood explained by tell me more golf instructors and coaches

The most significant difference that comes to mind between the 3 wood and 5 wood is definitely distance.

However, as with all golf clubs, the distance is mainly a result of the golfer and will therefore heavily differ. 

3 Wood Distance

On average, a 3 wood will go around 220 yards of carry distance. However, that’s not including any roll which can often be another 10-30 yards depending on course conditions and your spin rates. The overall range is much wider though, ranging from 200-270 yards of carry. 

Something important to remember is that a 3 wood will often go 10 or more yards further when teed up than from the grass, because of better strike and launching conditions. 

5 Wood Distance

The 5 wood will, for most golfers, go shorter than a 3 wood, both when it comes to carry and total distance. A 5 wood will generally go about 10-20 yards shorter than a 3 wood, and the average for amateur golfers is about 200 yards of carry, while professionals can hit them well over 250 yards. 

Because the 5 wood has a higher loft, the golf ball will launch noticeably higher. There will also be more spin, which makes the ball roll out shorter. However, some golfers with slower swing speeds might actually see greater distances from the 5 wood, since the higher launch and spin may suit their swing.


The main reason for the distance differences between the 3 wood and 5 wood is the loft. The exact loft will depend heavily on the manufacturer and the specific model, but a 3 wood will almost always have a loft between 15-18 degrees. 

The 5 wood, on the other hand, has a loft between 20-22 degrees, which is significantly higher than the 3 wood’s.

This means that the loft difference is almost as big as the one between the driver and 3 wood.

The increase in the loft on the 5 wood makes the golf ball launch noticeably higher and get a higher spin rate. The higher loft makes the club easier to use, but the ball rarely goes as far as it would with a great strike on the 3 wood. 


Shaft Length Difference Between the 5 Wood vs 3 Wood

The other primary factor for the increase in distance on the 3 wood is the shaft length.

For men, the standard length of a 3 wood shaft is 43 inches.

The 5 wood is typically an inch or two shorter at 41-42 inches of length, which might not seem like a lot, but it makes a big impact.

A longer club will go further away from the body in the golf swing, which generates more clubhead speed and more distance as a result. However, a longer shaft also makes swinging the golf club more difficult. The extra length is also especially apparent on a 3 wood compared to a driver, since the clubface is relatively small

The Main Differences Between the 3 Wood vs 5 Wood

The main differences between the 3 wood and 5 wood lie in the already stated loft and club length, which both impact the distance produced. 


A 3 wood will normally have a loft between 15-18 degrees, which is not much but significantly more than a driver. On the other hand, a 5 wood has a loft from 20-22 degrees, which is noticeably more. 

The low loft on the 3 wood makes the ball flight quite low while also delivering powerful distances on well-struck shots. The 5 wood’s higher loft means a higher apex and more spin, which makes the ball, in most cases, go shorter.  

Shaft Length

The 3 wood has a typical length of 43 inches, while the 5 wood is slightly shorter at 41-42 inches. An inch or two is easy to overlook, but it greatly impacts both club speed and how easy it is to strike the ball well. 


For most golfers, a 3 wood will carry about 10-15 yards farther than a 5 wood. Because of the higher spin on the 5 wood, the total distance will be another five or so yards farther on the 3 wood. This makes the 3 wood a stronger alternative for tee shots on long par 4s or 5s where a driver puts you in danger.

3 Wood or 5 Wood for High Handicappers

A 3 wood has a lower loft and a longer shaft length than a 5 wood, making it more challenging to hit. This is especially the case for higher handicaps, since they tend to struggle with finding the middle of the clubface.

When the loft is lowered, your swing faults worsen, and what is otherwise a small miss becomes significantly larger. That’s why many amateurs can hit their short irons relatively well but have a massive slice on their driver.

If you’re confident with the longer clubs, we recommend getting the 3 wood, even for higher handicaps. The distance is simply much better, but if you can’t consistently find the middle of the face, investing in a 5 wood can be a wiser idea. However, many golfers benefit greatly from having them both in the bag.

Which Club Is Best for Your Needs?

To find out which of the 3 wood or 5 wood is best for your needs, you need to look at the following things: your ball striking, swing speed, and yardage gaps.

Ball Striking

If you have trouble striking your hybrid, woods, or long irons well, chances are that a 3 wood will be difficult to use. This isn’t always the case since a 3 wood is quite forgiving, but it’s an important issue to pay attention to.

Swing Speed

Because of the higher loft, golfers with slower swing speeds will most often have an easier time hitting a 5 wood over the 3 wood. The 5 wood also generates more spin, which keeps the ball in the air for longer, and for slow swing speeds, results in longer shots. 

Yardage Gaps

Depending on how long you hit your driver and the longest iron or hybrid, you want to fill the gap between them. For example, if you hit your driver 250 yards and your hybrid 200, you ideally want a club that hits around 225. If you hit a 3 wood that distance, it should probably be your pick, and vice versa. 

FAQ Section

Is it better to carry a 3 wood or 5 wood?

Whether you should carry a 3 wood or 5 wood depends on many factors. If you want the longest hitting club, there’s no question about using the lower lofted 3 wood over the 5 wood, unless you have a hard time with it.

If you have a higher handicap, it can be wise to opt for the higher lofted 5 wood since it’s easier to hit. It’s also important to pay attention to the rest of your golf bag’s yardages, as you ideally want to fill any potential gaps. 

What club does a 5 wood replace?

The 5 wood is typically used to bridge the gap between a low lofted long iron and a 3 wood. In some cases, using a 5 wood is smarter than using a 3 wood, since the shorter shaft with higher loft makes it easier to hit – especially for slower swing speeds

Will a 3 wood go as far as a 5 wood?

In most cases, a 3 wood will go about 20 yards of total distance further than a 5 wood. However, as with all clubs, the distance you will get will heavily depend on your golf swing. Some beginners and high handicap golfers can hit a 5 wood farther than a 3 wood because of the higher launch and spin combined with a better strike

Do I need a 3 and 5 wood in my bag?

You have fourteen slots in your golf bag that we recommend always filling. To play your best golf, having a club for every yardage is crucial, as you never know what situation and distance you might face on the golf course.

However, for the average golfer, using both a 3 wood and 5 wood can be unnecessary. If you don’t want to pick them both up, we suggest looking at your current distances to find the in-between of your driver’s distance and your longest iron or hybrid.

Conclusion: Research by Tellmemoregolf.com

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The 3 wood and 5 wood are two great golf clubs that can be used in many different scenarios. There are many similarities, but the 3 wood is the best choice for truly long shots, while the 5 wood is great for shots into greens and for golfers with slower swing speeds. 

Hopefully, you now know which club suits you the best, or if you might as well have them both in your bag. Thank you for reading this article from TellMeMoreGolf.com – your golf comparison site.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
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4 thoughts on “3 Wood vs 5 Wood — (Distance, Loft, Shaft Length and Advice)”

  1. A must-read resource that empowers golfers to select the ideal fairway wood for their game, unlocking new levels of performance on the course. A sincere appreciation is due to the professional golf instructors at this esteemed company for their insightful article on the “3 Wood vs 5 Wood” comparison.

  2. As a golfer, this article has provided me with valuable guidance in selecting the appropriate fairway wood for different on-course scenarios. The instructors’ expertise and attention to detail truly shine through, making this article an essential read for golfers looking to optimize their fairway play.

    1. Patrick Corley

      I must applaud the professional golf instructors for their insightful breakdown of the 3 Wood vs 5 Wood dilemma. This article offers a fresh perspective, highlighting the key differences in distance, versatility, and shot-making potential between the two clubs. A game-changing read for golfers aiming to fine-tune their fairway wood selection.

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