A hybrid golf club combines the qualities of an iron and a fairway wood into one club. Hybrid clubs are among the most versatile clubs any golfer can use. They can be used off the fairway, from the rough or off a tee. They’re much easier to hit and often produce more consistent shots than long irons. Over the past decade, hybrid golf clubs have grown in popularity among golfers worldwide, largely due to the difficulty that many golfers have in properly striking the 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-irons and the difficulty in hitting fairway woods from the rough. Because golfers are only allowed to carry 14 clubs in their bag, many players replace one or more clubs with a hybrid. Here’s a quick guide to hybrids and their equivalent woods and irons.
The hybrid’s club face is flat, similar to an iron, making it easier to hit the ball squarely, but it’s also hard, like a fairway wood, increasing the potential for greater distance on your shots. Its rounded head and wide sole design allows for a lower center of gravity toward the back and bottom of the club head, which helps get more trajectory and ball loft on a golf swing. This allows players with slower swing speeds to make a rounded swing, as you would with a fairway wood, and sweep the ball off the turf rather than requiring the more upright and precise swing necessary to hit long irons squarely. Hybrid golf clubs are shorter in length than woods and are usually equal to or slightly longer than the iron they replace. They also have the same shaft thickness as irons—about 1/16 of an inch wider than woods at the point the shaft enters the hosel. This results in less “twisting” of the club at impact and improves accuracy when compared to shots struck with woods.
The amount of distance you can get on a shot is largely determined by the loft angle of the club and your ability as a golfer. Because the average golfer is able to make better contact with a hybrid than with the iron it replaces, a hybrid can give a golfer an additional 4 to 12 yards of distance on average. The hybrid’s lower center of gravity helps get the ball airborne more easily, obtaining a higher trajectory than an iron with the same degree of loft. While hybrids will yield less roll because of their increased trajectory, the resulting increase in driving distance more than makes up for this.
Here are the average distances for an average male 18-handicapper with hybrid clubs compared to the clubs they are replacing:
- 16-degree hybrid, 198 yards; 5-wood, 194 yards
- 21-degree hybrid, 190 yards; 3-iron, 184 yards
- 24-degree hybrid, 178 yards; 4-iron, 174 yards
- 27-degree hybrid, 169 yards; 5-iron, 157 yards
When to use a hybrid
Golfers typically use hybrids to replace their long irons (1–4) and to fill the gap between fairway woods and the easier to hit mid-to-short irons. Your lowest-number hybrid should provide a distance of 10 to 15 yards shorter than your highest-number fairway wood so there’s no gap in distance coverage. Hybrids are effective hitting out of deeper grass in the rough, and can also be useful when you need distance out of a bunker. Since the hybrid shot does not roll as far because it flies higher, you can use a hybrid when you need more accuracy and consistency.