Many players, especially those with the higher handicaps, have trouble making up their minds whether to try to sweep a fairway wood shot off the grass or to punch down through the ball as they would on certain kinds of iron shots. The fact is, the shot can be played either way. The decision must be based on the lie.
On very well-kept fairways you will frequently get an exceptionally good lie for a wood shot. In this case it is possible, and more effective, to sweep the ball off the turf. The ball should be in line with the left heel at address. On the downswing you should concentrate on bringing the club face squarely into the ball at the bottom of the swing's arc. The club head should not dig into the grass after impact. Trying to punch down on a ball that is in a good lie will more often than not result in a shot that is blooped high in the air.
On many occasions, however, the ball will be sitting down in the grass somewhat. When this is the case the ball should be played a couple of inches nearer the right foot than usual. The club face should be open at address. This will result in a slight fade but will also help get the ball up quickly. On the downswing you should bring the club face into the ball before it has reached the low point of its arc. You will take turf, therefore, after the ball has been hit. By doing this you will not only get the ball up and on its way as soon as possible but also guarantee solid contact.
FROM A GOOD LIE the fairway wood is played almost as far forward as when hitting a drive. The ball is swept cleanly off the grass, and it can be hooked.
FROM A BAD LIE the fairway wood is used like an iron. The ball is moved toward the center of the stance, a divot is taken after contact and the shot may fade.