In this, Fairway Wood Test: TaylorMade M2 v Ping G400 v Callaway Steelhead XR we put three of the most popular fairway woods on the market up against each other to see how they perform.

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Fairway Wood Test: TaylorMade M2 v Ping G400 v Callaway Steelhead XR

Finding the right fairway wood is notoriously one of the hardest equipment buying decisions you can make. That’s because it needs to perform from the tee and the deck while also offering good power and accuracy. When golfers find a fairway wood they like, it tends to stay in the bag for a long time.

We tested the TaylorMade M2 v Ping G400 v Callaway Steelhead XR to offer our verdict on some of the most popular models on the market. Each club was in its standard 3-wood loft, we used stock stiff shafts in each and Titleist Pro V1s. The launch monitor data was gained using the GC Quad.

Fairway Wood Test: TaylorMade M2 v Ping G400 v Callaway Steelhead XR

Aesthetics

The Callaway Steelhead XR will be popular in this department as it harks back to the old Warbird fairways of years gone by. You’ll notice the V-shape sole and familiar face markings. However, the designers wanted to give it a more modern look and this version has a blue-ish finish on the crown that, if truth be told, I wasn’t too keen on but that I got used to quite quickly. The Ping G400 has a classic shape and the turbulators add a modern spark. However, for me, the best of the three is the TaylorMade M2. It has fantastic shelf appeal and looks great behind the ball. Moreover, it is has shallow face profile and that is exactly what I look for in a fairway wood to use from a range of different lies.

Fairway Wood Test: TaylorMade M2 v Ping G400 v Callaway Steelhead XR: Off the tee data

From The Tee

The TaylorMade M2 was the longest of the three from the tee. A total carry yardage of 258 is great for me. Also good was the higher launch angle. At 13.4˚there is no doubting this is a high launch, low spin club that, would be a great second driving option. Other notable elements were how accurate the Ping was and how much more the Callaway Steelhead XR spun – it offered almost 1000 rpm more than the TaylorMade M2. This certainly cost the Callaway some distance in this department.

Fairway Wood Test: TaylorMade M2 v Ping G400 v Callaway Steelhead XR: off the deck data

From The Fairway

The most interesting element to this test came when comparing the data from the tee to the fairway. Where the Callaway Steelhead XR originally struggled, now it excelled. That extra spin made it the best performer off the deck – somehow it was longer off the deck than off the tee (this was ultimately down to slight variations in strike, but still!). The Callaway was three yards longer than the TaylorMade and seven yards longer than the Ping. It also launched a little higher than the other two. Whilst the accuracy of the Ping wasn’t great on the launch monitor, I found it performed much better for me out on the course. In fact, of the three, the one I would use if I had to hit a well-protected target would be the G400.

Ping G400 Fairway Wood Review

TaylorMade M2 Fairway Wood Review

Forgiveness

This refers to the consistency of distances gained with strikes from different areas of the face. The Ping engineers have clearly done a great job here because the difference between my longest and shortest shots off the tee was three yards and then off the deck was four yards. This is great consistency that anyone who hits a lot of fairway woods into greens will really benefit from. TaylorMade came in just behind with Callaway a little further afield (there was an 18 yard gap between my best and worst strikes from the deck).

Best Fairway Woods 2017

Value

The recommended retail prices for each are as follows: Callaway Steelhead XR £229, Ping G400 £200 and TaylorMade M2 £199. Which one represents the best value for money will ultimately depend on the performance characteristics an individual is looking for as there isn’t much to chose between them in terms of price.

Fairway Wood Test: TaylorMade M2 v Ping G400 v Callaway Steelhead XR

Fairway Wood Test: TaylorMade M2 v Ping G400 v Callaway Steelhead XR: Verdict

I was surprised by how the performance differed from the tee versus the deck. The Callaway Steelhead was outstanding off the deck and if you are looking for a fairway wood to use predominantly from the short grass, this has to be on your test list. Likewise, the performance of the TaylorMade M2 off the tee was excellent. However, for me and my own game, I am looking for consistency both in terms of accuracy and distance. For that reason the Ping G400 edges it. Crucially, it was only after extensive on course testing that I came to that conclusion. The launch monitor gave a good idea of the general differences in performance between the three but it was on the course where I was able to hone in to what I liked most and which one gave me the most confidence. All three fairway woods perform very well but if I were to put one in my bag it would be the G400.