Hybrid golf clubs were introduced into the game in the late 1990s. They are without doubt a major step forward in golf club design. They help golfers who have difficulty finding success with the long 3 and 4-irons – the average golfer has always found these irons difficult to use.
Hybrids are easier to hit in the center of the clubface. The ball flies higher and lands softer than with your long irons, which helps place and control those important lengthy approach shots. They also are versatile, and can be hit from the rough, from bad lies.
Are hybrids fairway woods?
No, but they do share some characteristics.
Woods were originally made of wood, hence the name. Now, most are made of metal and usually include the 3-wood, 5-wood and 7-wood. All woods, including the driver, have large clubheads. Hybrids used to be called “rescue” clubs because they did exactly that, they were a great club to use from a difficult location or from a difficult distance. Hybrids combine the characteristics of both woods and irons, with a smaller clubhead, a shorter shaft and similar loft. Hybrids are numbered the same as irons they are designed to replace.
Hybrid and long iron distance comparisons
Even though generally a 3-hybrid replaces a 3-iron, an average golfer will probably hit the ball a bit further distance using the hybrid, typically 10 yards further. Why? For several reasons. The average golfer finds it easier to hit the ball with a hybrid rather than a long iron. The average golfer will most likely make better contact using the hybrid. So, our average golfer will be more confident of success using a hybrid.
Here is a hybrid golf clubs distance comparison chart.
You can see from this chart that a hybrid will give you roughly 10 more yards distance. But how and why?
It is true to say, the lower the loft, the more difficult it is to hit the ball properly. But, hybrids and irons have roughly the same loft. So, why are hybrids easier to hit and why do they achieve more distance?
It’s in the clubhead design and trajectory.
The depth of the hybrid clubhead, from clubface to the back of the club, is clearly much more than a typical long iron and, in fact, resembles a mini-wood. This design allows the center of gravity to be positioned much further back from the face than in a long iron. This results in a higher ball trajectory for the hybrid club compared to a long iron with the same loft. Hybrid shots will fly higher, land softer and stop quicker – good news if you’re aiming at an elevated green! Also, with hybrid clubs, the average golfer is less likely to mishit the ball.
It is also worth noting that long irons require the golfer to strike the ball with a downward motion, compressing the ball. Whereas, the natural tendency when using a hybrid is to sweep the ball off the turf, much as you would with your driver. This swing action is likely to have much more success for the average golfer. Remember though that when using a hybrid, the ball position should be more in the center of your stance.
Here’s a useful video from Rick Shiels on the difference in swing between each style of club.
If you are confident hitting a 4-iron from the fairway with great success, then well done, you are lucky to have developed the difficult skill to achieve this shot. For the rest of us mere mortals, using a hybrid will be the answer.
From my experience, hybrids provide more consistency, more distance, better accuracy and give you more confidence when attempting those long shots towards the green. If you haven’t already done so, try a hybrid next time you play.