WARNING: WTF, TL;DR.
Hit up a demo day yesterday, looking at fairway woods only. I got there late and didn't have time to hit anything else.
So far this year, I have had in the bag an Adams A3 Hybrid-FW 3 wood and a Sonartec 4 wood that I bought off eBay. I like the A3 but it needs a reshaft - at this point, it's useful only as a designated hook club. The jury's still out on the Sonartec, but it's a least a little more workable. I still draw it, straight is about the best I can hope for.
At demo day I hit the Cleveland Launcher, Callaway Squareway and X fairway, and the Cobra S9-1. All very solid 3 woods - okay, I didn't like the X fairway - but I hit a draw with all of them. Straight ball at best, just like the Sonartec I already have.
So I wandered over to the TaylorMade tent and had the rep set me up with an R9 fairway clocked to max open - I think it's 2* open. Holy **** - with my "fade swing" I can hit a fade with a fairway wood! Never before. Ever.
So now I feel like I'm in a cartoon. On one shoulder, the angel is saying "just practice more with what you have, you'll eventually figure out how to hit a fade with one of your existing 3 woods, since you can do it with every other club in the bag". On the other shoulder, the devil is saying "dude. you can buy a solution. Only $239.99 plus tax".
This is really kind of dumb. I'm obsessed with being able to hit a fade with a 3 wood because of one hole. My home course has five par 5s, two of which I can reach if I hit a good drive. Here's an MS Paint of the hole in question, which is one of the two:
With a good drive, I'm going to be 190-230 out depending on where the tees were, the wind etc. The ideal placement is obviously on the left side of the fairway, but there is OB left and getting to position A requires a well judged draw. My standard distance to the green is 210 - a good tee ball would be where the target is. I know some of you gorillas would be hitting 5 iron from there, but I'm a short hitter. This is 3 or 4 wood country for me to get home.
As you can see, there is a "neck" starting about 150 out. At that point the fairway is only about 10 yards wide, with water on the left and solid trees down the right. Once you get to about 70 yards out, things open up to the right and there's room to bail out. The rough there is no problem, and I can live with being in the right trap.
Unless I'm WAY left off the tee, the wall of trees prevents me from starting the ball far enough right to draw it in while hitting the green. If I avoid the trees I have a long carry over the hazard - which juts out in front of the green. Anything not killed or hooked is going to get wet - if anything the hazard extends even closer to the green on the left. It's ALL carry.
As my options exist right now, I can:
1. Go for it with a fairway wood, with the most likely result being a draw into the hazard. If I hit it flush, I might make the left trap. I have to hit it dead straight to have a chance at the green. This is a low percentage shot. I can't quite get there with the 3h.
2. Lay up - for max wussification, I'll hit a half wedge to 150. This is the "smart" play, but it certainly is emasculating and sucks if I dump the third shot in the bunker.
3. Fade something around the trees into the bailout area. There is some risk of a double-cross into the hazard, and if I hit anything shorter than a 4 iron it's still fairly tight. This is visually intimidating. If I'm pretty far left I can use the 3h, but if I'm there I'd rather have a chance at reaching the green.
The further right I am, obviously the smarter option #2 becomes and the more "fade" is required for option #3. Without a fadeable fairway wood, I can't attempt option #1 at all from the right side.
All I want, really, is to have something I can dependably dump into the bailout area, close to the green. The closer the better. If I happen to hit it flush and straight, I'd like to be on.
There's really no point to all this, just venting. If you like, feel free to wager on how long it takes before I break down and buy an R9 fairway. I think I have about $100 in shop credit, but no idea if my pro is carrying TM this season.
edit: There are definitely a few other shots where a fade-biased 3 wood would be useful - spots where I'm ****ing tired of having shots kick left into jail, but I don't really NEED a 3 wood at all. It's all about this hole.
additional edit: See photo of hole previously posted in this thread as another spot where a fade-friendly fairway would be great.