Sign up for our daily newsletter

Latest news, reviews, analysis and opinion, plus unmissable deals for bunkered subscriptions, events, and our commercial partners.

We are all guilty of having clubs in the bag which we don’t use them much because we are either afraid of them, can’t hit them, or simply don’t need them as much. More often than not, this dilemma is at the top of the bag. With that in mind, should you use a 3-iron or 5-wood? 

There are, of course, benefits for each club, but every golfer’s needs are slightly different. 

A 3-iron is a club a lot of have but we don’t use because it’s harder to hit. Now, if you are a consistent ball striker and like to work the ball from right to left and keeping it low in the wind, then a 3-iron could be a great option for you.

But if you maybe find you mishit your longer irons and don’t find the centre of the club face, then you’re better off with a utility iron or something with a hollow body design.  

Callaway Apex Utility iron
The Callaway Apex Utility iron. (Credit: Callaway Golf)

So why would you opt for a 5-wood instead? Well, the answer is simple.


If we look at the Callaway Ai Smoke Max 5-wood, for example, this is a club is not only a higher MOI option, but it’s far less intimidating at address. 

The larger shape in comparison to a 3-iron allows you to have more weight on the perimeter of the club due to the use or carbon design in sole and crown. Weight can also be placed further back for more forgiveness and stability, or forward for faster ball speeds.

The new Ai Smart Face design is also more forgiving on mishits, giving straighter shots, faster ball speeds, and longer distances.  

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Fairway
The Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke fairway wood. (Credit: Callaway Golf)

Playing a 5-wood is the most forgiving option in comparison to an iron purely because of the ability to place weight and keep the MOI high. Now if you have a 3- or longer iron you do have a couple options. You can go into a 5-wood with the larger shape but it might not suit everyone’s eye, so the next best thing would be a hybrid which is your hollow body design with more of an iron-like shape. 

There are misconceptions on how we should use a 5-wood. Traditionally a wood is hit from the fairway or shorter grass as it’s easier to launch and get better distance. But a 5-wood can also be used to help pop the ball out of tough lies. You may have seen recently the video of Tiger Woods teaching Tommy Fleetwood and Scottie Scheffler how to hit a “chippy 5-wood” from the rough, so it’s a much more versatile option.

3-iron or 5-wood: Which is going in your bag?

If you’re a consistent ball striker, or you want to be able to work the ball a bit more, or you simply like hitting stingers, a 3-iron is definitely the play. There are also utility iron options if you crave a bit more forgiveness.  

For mid- to high-handicappers, the 5-wood, with it’s forgiveness and versatility, is the much better option.

If you’re somewhere in the middle, a hybrid is something you should consider, as they offers the stability and forgiveness of a wood with the shape and workability of an iron.

Which do you prefer a 3-iron or 5-wood? Drop me a line on X and let me know – and remember to subscribe to the bunkered YouTube channel

author headshot

James Tait is bunkered’s Gear Editor. Want to know how the latest Callaway driver, Vokey wedge or Scotty Cameron putter performs? He’s the guy to ask. Better yet, just watch his videos on the bunkered YouTube channel. One of the biggest hitters in the UK, James also competes on the World Long Drive circuit and is a descendent of former Amateur champion Freddie Tait.

Gear Editor

More Reads

Image Turnberry green

The bunkered Golf Course Guide - Scotland

Now, with bunkered, you can discover the golf courses Scotland has to offer. Trust us, you will not be disappointed.

Find Courses