Try out a 4 and that 3-wood’s no more

It’s looking like the end of a long and frustrating love-hate affair with my 3-wood.

Since the days of the spoon, the 3-wood has been considered a standard-issue piece of equipment without which no self-respecting golfer _ particularly one who enjoys taking a poke at a par-5 green in two _ would want to be caught dead, regardless of how often he or she hits it well.

We are talking here about a golf club that’s only slightly easier to hit than a driver _ a couple of inches in length and a couple of degrees of loft is all that separates the two _ and which you most often need to hit off the deck, rather than from a two-inch tee.

I generally hit my driver well (today notwithstanding; long story, some other time). My 3-wood, not so much. Not that it was for a lack of trying.

I’ve carried around a lot of different 3-woods over the years _ a steel shafted Nike Sasquatch, an old Cleveland QuadPro 15 that I loved until I ruined it by extending the shaft, and a finicky Titleist 906F that had a bad habit of going south at the worst possible time _ and I’ve never been very confident with any of them.

It’s a lot like being able to consistently hit the driver well: you’ve either got it, as the old saying goes, or you don’t. And my 3-wood and I were fair-weather friends.

Even my personal fave, the Titleist PT-15 _ a small-headed, old-school precision weapon with a lovely UST Proforce 65 shaft that helped to make a few eagles in its time _ could be accused on more than one occasion of a divided sense of loyalty.

So, in an act that smacked more of desperation than of any robust setting aside of ego, I benched the 3 and replaced it with a Callaway FT Tour 4 wood _ a gorgeous, compact, lofty-looking club that will appeal to anyone who prefers the sight of an iron behind the ball.

The FT Tour leads with its chin: two more degrees of loft make the clubface’s hitting surface more directly visible at address, with a prominent leading edge that makes the sweet spot more accessible and helps promote a more ‘iron-like’ sense of hitting down on the ball and cutting it from the turf, rather than the vague, unsatisfying sweep one has to make with a 3-wood.

This, folks, is a club to take a divot with.

Seventeen degrees of loft is a very civilized number, I’ve found, and the FT’s Fujikura 160 shaft has proven a very robust engine. Twin rails running along the sole help the FT Tour play at times like a utility club, handling lies in the rough, hardpan and even unfilled divots better than that shallow-bottomed 3-wood ever could.

Sure, there’s a sacrifice of some distance _ between 10 and 20 yards, in my experience. But when you consider the infrequency with which a typical player uses the 3, and how often it actually performs as intended, switching to a reliable 4-wood becomes a highly logical decision.

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James McCarten

When James McCarten isn't at the Ottawa offices of The Canadian Press, where he works as parliamentary news editor, he's either on the golf course or putting off his latest freelance golf-writing gig to spend time with wife Lisa and school-age kids Claire and Lucas. With 20 years of experience in Canadian journalism, James also suffers from a financially crippling addiction to all things Scotty Cameron.

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