Recently, I took a trip to visit my parents and we played a round of golf. I rented a set of the course’s “premium clubs,” which turned out to be new Callaways, and when I got to the first par 4, I headed out to the fairway after my drive and realized that rather than long irons, the bag only contained fairway woods and several hybrids.
This was new to me, considering the clubs I play with at home are probably over a decade old, and I’m used to my 4 and 5 iron options. So what’s so great about hybrids? Well, after I hit a few, I knew.
The Evolution of the Hybrid Golf Club
Hybrid clubs represent one of the major steps forward in golf club design, especially to recreational golfers like myself, who might only step foot on a fairway once or twice a month. While I’m not a terrible golfer, I don’t play enough to have figured out the consistency needed to confidently hit my 4 iron, so the hybrid is a great option for someone like me.
Hybrids are easier to hit in the center of the clubface, and they fly higher and land softer than your long irons, which helps place and control those important lengthy approach shots. They also are versatile, and can be hit from the rough, for bad lies—even chipping. Of course, who ever hits in the rough or has a bad lie? I certainly do(n’t)…
The Difference Between a Hybrid and a Fairway Wood
So the club known as a “wood” features large clubheads that—originally—were made from wood (hence the name). Now, of course, most are made from metals. Common fairway woods include your 3-wood, 5-wood, and 7-wood, depending on the loft. Hybrids were not so long ago known more as “rescue clubs,” because they were handy at just that. Hybrids combine characteristics of both woods and irons, with a smaller clubhead than a wood, a shorter shaft, and more loft. Hybrids are numbered the same as the long irons they are meant to replace.
Hitting a Hybrid
Swing the hybrid as you would an iron, hitting down on the ball and taking a divot in front of the ball’s position. They’re much easier to hit than your long irons and are more consistent for the long shot. Of course, the amount of distance you can achieve is determined by the loft of the club, and—of course—how you hit it. But in general, because hybrids are easier to connect with than those long irons, on average, you could expect an additional 4 to 12 yards of distance on your shot. Hybrids so tend to decrease ball roll, but your total distance should more than make up for that loss.
For a standard hybrid shot, it’s usually recommended that you play the ball in the middle of your stance, and keep your weight centered. Line your hands up with the ball, and square your shoulders, hips, and feet to the target. Remember to swing and hit the ball on the descent—don’t use a sweeping motion as you might a fairway wood. Focus on finishing high with all your weight on your left leg.
When To Use a Hybrid
A hybrid does more than rescue you from bad lies. While golfers typically use hybrids to replace their 1-4 irons, and to fill that awkward gap between a fairway wood shot and mid-to-short irons, you can hit hybrids off the fairway, from the rough, or off a tee. The clubhead will cut through the rough better than a fairway wood, and you can even chip the ball if you’re close to the green with a hybrid, especially if you need to pop the ball over an obstruction in front of the ball. A common practice is to start your lowest-numbered hybrid at 10-15 yards less than your highest fairway wood, so there’s no gap in coverage.
From my experience, hybrids provide consistency, accuracy, and more confidence when you’re attempting those long shots out or approaches to the green. Good luck and hope you try out a hybrid on your next golf round!