3 Iron vs. 5 Wood – Which Club Should I Use

Coming up with the perfect set makeup can be rather tricky. Having to choose between a 3 iron and a 5 wood is not always easy, but there are a few things that make this decision easier.

In the end, you will find that you have one preference over another, but it is important to fully understand the differences.

A 5 Wood is going to be a wieldier, longer shafted club with more loft, enabling you to hit higher, longer shots while the 3 Iron is shorter, has a more open face and is easier to control for shorter, more accurate strokes.

Here are a few of the major differences between a 3 iron and a 5 wood and some helpful tips for choosing the right one for your golf bag.

What Should We Be Looking For In Our Longer Clubs?

Your longer clubs can be your backup from the tee, or they can save you after you make a bad shot from the tee box. Having longer clubs in your bag that you are confident about is very important.

Some golfers will feel more comfortable with their fairway woods, and others are going to enjoy the long irons more. You will want forgiveness, distance, and feel from a longer club in your golf bag.

Overview Of 5 Wood vs. 3 Iron

The basic difference between the five wood and the three iron are the way that they are hit. With a three iron, you are going to hit down and through a shot and compress the golf ball.

With a 5 wood, you will have more of a sweeping type shot that will sweep the ball off the ground and towards your target.

The 3 iron is typically a bit harder to hit, and it is going to be a better choice for those that have faster swing speeds and the ability to launch the ball quite high.

Typically speaking, the higher handicappers would favor the fairway woods over the lower handicappers who would favor the 3 iron.

Why You Would Choose A 5 Wood Over A 3 Iron

If you are seeking pure distance you are going to want the 5 wood in your golf bag. For those that want accuracy and the ability to hit a shot to get it to land and stop on a green will want the 3 iron in their golf bag.

Slower swinging golfers are going to find that they have more luck with the lighter and more flexible fairway wood as well.

What’s The Difference In Shaft Length

The shaft length of the five wood is going to be longer than that of a 3 iron.

Typically speaking, fairway woods have much more distance than irons and part of that is because of the length of the clubs.

What’s Better For Beginners

Fairway woods

The 5 wood is the best choice for beginners, and golfers should not consider switching from the five wood until they have quite a bit of clubhead speed and accuracy as well.

Most beginner golf sets will not be sold with anything more than a five iron in the bag.

What’s Better For Mid Handicappers

Mid handicappers are most likely going to do best with a five wood or to switch to a 3 hybrid. The 3 iron still takes quite a bit more speed to hit than the five wood.

Some mid handicappers that struggle with fairway woods will find the 3 iron to work, but the chances of it working continually are quite rare.

Which Is Easier To Hit?

The five wood typically tends to be quite a bit easier to hit. The 3 iron has low loft for an iron, and it is best to use the 5 wood if you want forgiveness.

The five wood also has a much larger sweet spot that makes it relatively a bit easier to hit.

What Gives More Accuracy And Control

The three iron is more accurate and easier to control. If you want to hit a shot onto a green and have it stop and stay, the 3 iron is a great club to use.

The five wood is more difficult to stop and can run through the green and onto the back of the green if you don’t hit it just right.

What’s Better Off The Tee?

The five wood and 3 iron seem to have equal performance off the tee. From the tee, the clubs are made more even because they are slightly off the ground. This makes both clubs a little easier to hit, and therefore they become more equal.

What About A 5 Fairway Wood With Adjustable Loft Vs. 3 Iron

A five wood with an adjustable loft is going to be a much better choice to give you some versatility in your golf bag. Chances are, if the loft is adjustable on your 5 wood, you can fine tune it to fill the gap in your golf bag.

With a 3 iron, you are going to be stuck with the one loft, and the forgiveness will be the same as well. You won’t be able to make the club more draw bias or fade bias with the simplicity of adjustability.

For the majority of golfers, the adjustable lofted five wood is going to be a much better choice than a 3 iron in the golf bag.

What Other Factors Need To Be Considered? – Flight Trajectory

The ball flight on a five wood is going to be quite a bit higher than that of a 3 iron. The extra ball flight will help you get some more distance, but with the 3 iron, you will get more accuracy.

Overall both are built for long-distance and long approaches to the green.

Shaft Weight & Flex

A five wood is very likely going to have a lighter shaft than the 3 iron. The five wood is longer than the 3 iron, and it is lighter. You will need this lightweight ability to be able to get the ball advanced down the fairway.

As far as flex is concerned, you will typically match the 3 iron flex to the rest of your irons in the bag. For the fairway woods, you can sometimes go with something slightly stiffer.

Golfers tend to swing their woods and hybrids faster than they swing their irons, and therefore the stiffer flex can make some sense. The best way to choose a shaft is to try the club out and test your swing speed with it.

Should I Use Woods, Irons, Or Hybrids?

Most golfers are going to do best with a mix of woods irons and hybrids in their golf bag. Having a hybrid to help you get out of the rough and a five wood to help you hit a green in two are great. Even pros like Dustin Johnson are now carrying Hybrids.

If you are a player that golfs a lot in the wind, the 3 iron can work to help keep the ball flight on your shots down. Start with a mix of clubs in your bag and decide from there, which make the most sense.


It is hard to say if the 3 iron is better than a 5 wood, but we can tell you that most golfers will thrive with a five wood in their bag. The 5 wood offers a bit more forgiveness, some extra versatility, and more distance as well.

If you need to hit the ball a long way, the 5 wood will be a great choice. If you want to go after a pin with a long iron, the 3 iron is the way to go. It may take a little time on the golf course to decide which is best for you.