1 Wood vs Driver [Are They Different?]

If you’ve played golf before, you’ve probably stood over the golf ball with a driver in hand and tried to hit it as far as you could.

It’s one of the best clubs in the bag, and the club used for hitting it the furthest. But did you know, a driver is also known as a 1 wood?

In this article, we’ll have a look at a driver vs 1 wood to learn a little more about each type of golf club.

1 Wood vs Driver

Ed Welton

Founder, Editor

Ed is the founder and editor at EEE Golf. He’s been playing golf for over 20 years, competing in many top amateur events. He’s played courses all over the world and played with some of the best players in the game. His aim is to help educate people about the game of golf and give insights into the sport he loves most.

1 Wood vs Driver

1 Wood vs Driver

A 1 wood is a golf club which is the same as a driver, although the term 1 wood is rarely used in modern golf just like the 10-iron.

Traditionally, a 1 wood would have been the longest club in the bag, used for hitting the ball the farthest. It would have been made from persimmon or other type of hardwood, hence the name “wood”.

These days, the 1 wood is more commonly referred to as a driver, with most modern drivers being made from metals such as titanium or composite materials.

Both the 1 wood and the driver are clubs which are built for distance. They have the lowest loft of all the golf clubs in the bag, usually between 8 and 12 degrees of loft and the longest shaft length.

Both clubs are also primarily designed to be used from the tee box where maximum distance is required, with the best players in the world, like Tiger Woods, achieving over 300 yards with a driver.

Essentially, the 1 wood and a driver are the same things. However, over the years the terminology has changed from 1 wood to driver as the modern game has evolved.

Technological improvements have meant that woods no longer need to be made out of wood.

Better materials have led to better aerodynamics, a larger club head, faster head speeds, a bigger sweet spot and ultimately longer golf shots even on miss hits.

The modern driver also comes with adjustability in the head, unlike 1 woods of old. This gives golfers the option to change the loft, lie angle and shot type they desire with just a simple adjustment.

Most golfers these days will carry woods and a driver. I’ve got a driver and a 3 wood in the golf bag currently.

But many golfers will also add a 5 wood as well to give them more loft and a club which tends to be easier to hit than a long iron.

History Of A 1 Wood

The term 1 wood comes from the 1920s when the game of golf began to incorporate numbers into the names of clubs rather than names.

Previously to this period, the 1 wood was known as a “driver” because it was the club that could be used to drive the ball the furthest.

When numbered club sets became the go-to choice for golf club manufacturers of the time, the driver was given the name “1 wood” because it had the lowest loft of the other wooden clubs.

It wasn’t until 1979 when Gary Adams founded Taylormade Golf and decided to create a driver head which was completely made from metal, that the term “driver” made a return.

The 1 wood from Taylormade had a hollow head, made from steel and was unlike any of the other clubs on the market.

This shift from primarily wooden woods to an all-metal style was hugely significant in the golf industry and from then on, metal became the primary material for a 1 wood.

With the 1 wood no longer made from actual wood, the club’s terminology gradually moved back to its original name of the driver.

Despite this, many golf drivers will still have a “1” stamped onto them to show they’re a 1 wood, along with the loft of the club.

When To Use A 1 Wood?

A 1 wood is the longest club in the bag, with the lowest loft and is therefore designed to be hit the furthest.

Here’s some of the best times to pull out the 1 wood (driver) and give it a big old whack:

Par 4 and 5 Tee Shots

If you’re playing a hole which needs a long tee shot, the 1 wood is going to be the better option most of the time.

With a good strike, the 1 wood will achieve the most distance available, leaving you a shorter approach in or closer to the green.

Wide Fairways

If the hole has quite a wide fairway, the 1 wood is a good choice of club because there’s less chance of you hitting the ball into trouble.

If the hole doesn’t have thick rough or hazards to avoid near the fairway, a 1 wood tee shot can be a good choice because it will get you further down the fairway.

Ed’s Top Tip

A wide fairway is great to pull out the driver, but don’t get ahead of yourself when stood on the tee box.

Still pick out a target and go through your pre shot routine to ensure you find the fairway.

Hitting Over Hazards

If you’ve got a hole which requires a carry over trouble, the 1 wood is going to be your best choice as it will give you the best chance of carrying the hazards.

Unlike an iron or other fairway woods, the 1 wood gives you the maximum distance to help eliminate the chance of a lost ball.

From The Fairway

Now, it might seem a little odd to think about hitting a 1 wood from the fairway because it’s usually used from a tee.

However, if you’re able to, having the ability to pull the big dog from the fairway can be a massive advantage.

It took me a few years to work it out and a bit of practice on the driving range, however now I can hit it from the deck, it gives me more chances to reach par 5s in two shots.

When Not To Use A 1 Wood?

Of course, it would be great if we could always just stand up and hit 1 wood or a driver. But sometimes, it’s best to leave it in the bag to avoid any dramas out on the golf course.

Here’s a few times when it’s best left in the bag:

Narrow Fairways

If a hole is particularly narrow, the ideal shot is an accurate one that goes down the middle.

If you’re not someone who can hit the driver arrow straight (I mean, who is?!) then it’s best to use a club which can increase your chances of hitting it straight such as a fairway wood, hybrid clubs or even long irons.

Into The Wind

For some golfers, they might be able to hit the ball nice and low with a 1 wood.

But if you’re like most average golfer, the higher lofted drivers will go straight into the air and you’ll lose a lot of distance into the wind.

Therefore, when it’s windy, take out a club which you can confidently hit low so that the wind doesn’t affect the flight too aggressively.

Ultimately, the choice of whether or not to use a 1 wood comes down to how confident you feel with the club.

If you’re swinging it well and feel like you’ll hit the fairway with it, take out the big stick.

Final Thoughts

The 1 wood vs driver comparison is quite a simple one because they’re essentially the same type of golf club, just named slightly differently.

A 1 wood is the same as a driver, and although the term driver is more commonly used in the modern game, a 1 wood is still in some golfer’s bags across the world.


Can you use a 1 wood as a driver?

Yes, a 1 wood can be used as a driver as it’s the same loft and length as a driver. The driver is just a more modern design of a 1 wood, with better technology and a bigger head.

Can you use a 1 wood on the fairway?

Yes, a 1 wood can be used from the fairway, although it can be quite challenging to hit well because the loft is so low and the head is bigger than other fairway woods.

Is there such a thing as a 1 wood?

A 1 wood is a golf club which is more commonly referred to as a driver in the modern game. Although they do still exist, most 1 woods will be known as a golf driver instead.

What is a 1 wood golf club?

Yes, a 1 wood is the older term for a driver golf club. The term driver replaced the 1 wood in the late 20th century when the use of metal wood heads became more common.

What is a 1 wood called?

A 1 wood is called a driver in golf, but they’re basically the same type of golf club each with similar loft and length.

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