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OUR JOB IS YOUR GAME
Are hybrids metalwood replacements or an extension of your iron set? To some degree, the answer comes down to who you ask, but we’re solidly on board with the belief that hybrids are scoring clubs. While you may occasionally use your hybrid off the tee, you will find yourself hitting hybrids into greens.
We repeat; hybrids are scoring clubs, so while we can appreciate the obsession with distance, the reality is that the best hybrids fly straight enough to keep you on or near the green, and generate enough stopping power to hold the greens you hit – often from distances exceeding 200 yards. Whether you play one, two, or even three hybrids, it’s essential to choose the right ones to fit your game.
This year we’ve tested 21 different hybrids from 14 manufacturers. Our group of 20 dedicated player testers of varying ages, swing speeds, and ability levels hit over four thousand golf shots across six sessions of testing. We’ve again refined our analytics to offer you the best recommendations we possibly can.
If you’re in the market for a hybrid in 2019, this test is for you.
Most Wanted: Titleist 818 H1
Hybrid Buying Considerations
Performance should be your primary concern when buying a new hybrid, but there are some additional considerations you may want to think about before you make your purchasing decision.
Long Iron Replacement or Set Addition
Every golf club in your bag should serve a purpose. When you’re selecting your ideal set make-up, assess your game and understand where the right hybrid will resolve a gapping issue or simply allow you to hit better shots more often. Hybrids are typically used to bridge the gap between fairway woods and irons, but the transition point doesn’t have to be as a replacement for your 3 or 4 iron. It’s certainly not unusual for golfers to carry a lower lofted hybrid instead of a 5-wood. And while there’s still a bit of a thick-skulled stigma attached to it, golfers who struggle with long and even middle irons are choosing higher-lofted hybrids over traditional 5 and 6 irons. With manufacturers providing options to replace everything from a 2-iron to an 8-iron, there’s absolutely no reason to carry a fairway wood or iron you can’t hit if there’s a hybrid you can.
While the stamped loft on a hybrid can provide a solid starting point, it shouldn’t be where the conversation ends. As with most other clubs, actual lofts may vary from what’s stamped on the head. It’s also important to understand that across the hybrid category, there is a broad range of offerings. Some are more like fairway woods, some are more like irons, and depending on your desired trajectory, it may make sense to give up a bit of forgiveness to get the trajectory you want. Understand that not every 19° hybrid, for example, will fly the same distance, with the same trajectory, or land with the same stopping power. With that in mind, choosing the right hybrid shouldn’t be about maximizing distance, but instead, hitting the number you need to hit while maintaining sensible gaps within your bag.
Whenever you’re selecting hybrids for your bag, it’s important to consider the shaft(s) that are offered with any given club. Much like the design of the club-head itself, shafts have unique performance characteristics as well. Unfortunately, few club manufacturers provide a wide range (or any range) of stock shaft offerings in the hybrid category. That can make finding a hybrid shaft that fits you well more challenging than it should be. We recommend participating in a professional fitting, where the fitter can analyze your ball flight and tendencies to help you select the proper shaft for your swing. If you don’t have access to a fitter, research the stock shafts available to make sure you’re getting everything you can out of your hybrid.
Like modern drivers, many hybrids offer adjustable hosel sleeves, which give you the ability to manipulate static loft and lie angle. Adjustability inherently makes your hybrid that much more versatile. While most golfers (especially off-the-rack buyers) will take a set it and forget it approach, a knowledgable fitter can leverage adjustability to tune a club that fits you well into the best club in your bag.
MOST WANTED RUNNER-UP - COBRA F9 ONE
Another in a string of top performers from Cobra this year, the Cobra KING F9 ONE produced superb ball speed and carry consistency, as well as leading the field with the tightest dispersion in the test. While the F9 ONE is the logical extension of a ONE Lenght iron set, it's usefulness isn't limited to single length players. With F9 ONE's 7-iron length shaft, our testers found the sweet spot more often and produced more consistent results because of it.
Cobra's F9 ONE isn't among the longest hybrids we tested, and we do have some concerns about the lower trajectory, but golfers who struggle making solid contact and producing consistent results with their shorter fairway woods, long irons, or the hybrids in their bag right now, need to give F9 ONE a look. It won't' be for everyone, but it's arguably the most intriguing hybrid in this year's test.
During each test, we look for trends that provide us insight into where the market as a whole is moving, as well as what noteworthy changes manufacturers have made to improve year-over-year performance. We also solicit feedback from our testers. We want to understand what they liked, what they didn’t like, and why. We want to reemphasize that, while we do collect and share noteworthy portions of this subjective feedback, it does not factor in our rankings.
Trends and Tweaks
- The number of hybrids in golfers’ bags is increasing, and designs have come a long way from the original Baffler and Ginty hybrids (if you’re seasoned enough to remember those). While hybrids have maintained the bridge between irons and metal-woods, improvements in technology have allowed manufacturers to create a variety of designs that can fit golfers of all needs and ability levels and can fill almost any spot in the bag.
- Some hybrids, like the Titleist 816 H2 and Exotics CBX 119, feature a more compact profile and are designed for better players with more refined shot-making abilities. Others, like the Wilson D7 and Callaway Rogue X, have a larger footprint and are designed to increase forgiveness and increase launch angle. Clubs with these types of designs are especially well-suited for golfers who struggle to get their long irons off the ground.
- Adjustability continues to be a factor in the hybrid category. Five of the 21 hybrids tested feature variable loft adjustments, with three of those offering moveable weight options (Titleist H1 & H2, and the PXG 0317X GEN2). With adjustability comes the versatility to more precisely dial in launch and trajectory characteristics.
- As golf equipment manufacturers continue to promise us more, we are bombarded with marketing and advertisements at every avenue. Technology will always be a part of the story. Callaway leverages its Jailbreak technology to boost ball speeds, while PXG features an elastomer insert that improves the overall sound and feel of the club. While these technologies sometimes work as advertised, it’s important to avoid getting caught up in the marketing. The only time to put a new club in your bag is when it legitimately improves on what you already own.
How Many Hybrids Should You Carry?
The average golfer carries two hybrids, and in some cases (about 25% of golfers), three or more. The reality is that, for most golfers, hybrids are easier to hit, and we could all use a little forgiveness out there.
While there's no right answer to the how many hybrids should YOU carry question, we want you to understand that hybrids can do more than bridge the gap between fairway woods and long irons. If you struggle to hit your long irons, replacing them with hybrids might be your ticket to better scores. With most manufacturers offering hybrids well into the mid-iron range (some all the way up to the 8-iron), it might be time to swap that 4 or 5 (or 6-iron) for something you can actually hit.
Working with a professional fitter can help you identify spots in your bag where a hybrid might make sense. If you don't have access to professional fitting options, assess your own game by tracking your long iron performance. If you find yourself holding a club that you're less than confident you're going to hit well; a higher-lofted hybrid might be the solution.
Notes from the Testing Pool
The following section details subjective feedback from our pool of 20 testers. During each test, we ask our testers to rate each club on looks, feel, and alignment. While it is meant to highlight some of the feedback obtained during the test, it’s important to note that none of it is directly related to the actual performance of the club, and as such, does not factor in the overall rankings.
- The Cobra KING F9 was the highest-rated club overall. Testers noted the club’s exceptional sound and feel and approved of the sleek, matte black finish. Some testers also mentioned the shaft as a favorite – the Cobra KING F9 hybrid features a Fujikura Atmos Blue as a stock option.
- Some of the other top-rated hybrids in the 2019 Most Wanted Hybrid test are the Most Wanted Titleist 818H1, Srixon ZH85 and the PING G410. All three of these hybrids scored higher for feel than they did in other categories (looks and alignment).
- The lower handicap golfers in our test stated a preference for the smaller, more compact hybrids like the Titleist 818 H2, the Exotics CBX 119, PXG 0317X GEN2, and Callaway Apex ’19.
- Several testers, regardless of swing speed and handicap, favored the PXG 0317X GEN2 for its better-than-average feel. The PXG 0317x GEN2 hybrids (and all GEN2 metalwoods) feature a honeycomb Thermoplastic Elastomer insert on the sole of the club explicitly designed to improve sound and feel.
- In every test at MyGolfSpy, subjective feedback collection inevitably yields negative reviews from our test group. Among those that received poor subjective feedback were the Bridgestone Tour B JGR and XXIO X. While a couple of testers praised the lightweight XXIO for its ease of use, many testers felt it was too light, and looked closed at address. That’s reasonable considering the target golfer. Every part of the club – from the grip to the shaft to the head of the XXIO X is designed to remove as much weight as possible. For some golfers this can be beneficial, returning swing speed that may have been lost over the years. For others, it can be detrimental, sacrificing some control and feel for those who swing at higher speeds.
Launch & Distance - TaylorMade M6
A hybrid that produces high ball speeds, high launch, and plenty of carry distance, the TaylorMade M6 should not to be overlooked in your next hybrid fitting. The M6 finished in the top 3 overall in our 2019 Most Wanted Hybrid Test, and offers everything we look for in a hybrid.
The TaylorMade M6 produced some of the highest launch angles, peak height, and descent angles of any of the hybrids in the test. As we mentioned before, hybrids are scoring clubs - if you're in the go zone for hitting a par-5 in two, you're going to need some stopping power. Our data suggests that the M6 can get your there with enough hight and spin to hold the green, leave you with a putt for eagle.
2019 Most Wanted Hybrid Data
To filter and compare by club, use the drop-down list and checkboxes to select the only the drivers you wish to compare.
Forgiveness vs. Workability
Just like irons, hybrid designs run the gamut from a workable shot-makers dream to an uber-forgiving game-improvement club.
Fairway wood-like in many respects, hybrids designed for max forgiveness feature larger head profiles and are longer from leading to trailing edge. They're designed to provide high launch while helping to mitigate those inevitable off-center shots. On the opposite end of the spectrum, compact hybrids are designed to look and play a bit more like long irons. They're often billed as more workable, and are specifically designed to produce lower, more penetrating trajectories. Designs in this space will invariably cost you a bit of forgiveness, but not nearly as much as a typical long iron. As with anything else, working with a fitter to dial in the right distance along with playable launch and spin is imperative.
- Don’t let pride get in the way of making a smarter club decision. While most iron sets still come with 5 and 6-irons, the reality is many golfers can’t hit either consistently. It’s one of the consequences of increasingly stronger lofts. It doesn’t matter if its a 3-iron or an 8-iron, if you can’t get the ball in the air or can’t hit it straight, why is it in your bag? Forget about what your friends think; if you can’t hit it, replace it.
- If you’re going to use it almost exclusively off the tee, selecting a low lofted, low launching and low spinning hybrid might make sense. It’s the one scenario where it’s reasonable to look beyond descent angles and stopping power. If, however, you’re going to hit your hybrids into greens, it makes sense to fit them like you would irons. Don’t get too wrapped up in ball speed and distance. You need playability, and that means sensible landing angles and spin rates.
- Look beyond loft. While it sounds logical to replace your 21° 4-iron with a 21° hybrid, there are other factors to consider. Loft for loft, hybrids will almost invariably go farther. The faces are faster, and when combined with the longer shafts, you’re most likely going to pick up some distance of what you’re replacing. That can be good, but it can also create gapping issues. Our advice is to focus less on loft and maximizing distance, and instead focus on hitting the specific yardage number you need to hit.
- Along the same lines, loft for loft, hybrids will typically fly shorter than fairway woods. Again, shaft length and head design are the driving factors.
How We Test
Our Mission is to help you find the best hybrid for your game.
We are 100% independent and unbiased, and we always put the #ConsumerFirst.
About Our Testers
Our pool of testers consists of 20 golfers with handicaps ranging from plus to the high single digits. As a group, they span a broad range of swing characteristics (head speed, attack angle, etc.).
Over the course of several sessions, each golfer is required to hit 10-12 "good" shots with each club. Club order is randomized on a per tester basis.
Limiting Variables and Gathering Data Reliably
Crunching The Numbers
Before determining our rankings, we identify and remove outliers using a proprietary detection methodology.
To arrive at our final results, we calculate the averages of key metrics (ball speed, distance, dispersion, etc.), while also considering the standard deviation and the statistical reliability of those values.
For more detailed information on our test process, visit our How We Test Page.
2019 Most Wanted Hybrid Specs
|Club||Measured Lie||Loft*||Measured Loft||Measured Length||Swing Weight (D)|
|Bridgestone Tour B JGR|
|Callaway Apex '19|
|Callaway Big Bertha|
|Callaway Rogue X|
|Cleveland Launcher HB|
|Cobra KING F9 Speedback|
|Cobra KING F9 Speedback ONE |
|Tour Edge Exotics CBX 119|
|Tour Edge Exotics EXS|
|PXG 0317X GEN2|
|Titleist 818 H1|
|Titleist 818 H2|
|Tommy Armour Atomic|
|Tour Edge Exotics HL4|
|Wilson Staff D7|
* denotes measured value vs. manufacturer’s stated spec.
BUYING A NEW HYBRID
Q: How often should I buy new a hybrid?
A: While on rare occasions there are quantifiable year-over-year breakthroughs, typically it takes 3-5 years for manufacturers to make any significant performance gains. With the USGA further tightening restrictions on manufacturers, it’s possible, even likely, that it will take longer still moving forward. Our recommendation is to buy new a new hybrid only when it appreciably outperforms what is already in your bag. Of course, if you want a new hybrid because you want a new hybrid, that’s fine too.
Q: How do I determine the right hybrid for me?
A: Choosing the right type of hybrid can seem daunting – but starting with an assessment of your own game is a great jumping-off point. Figure out what you need out of a hybrid. Do you find yourself having long irons into greens often? You may need a hybrid for short par-4 tee shots, or high lofted shots into par-5s. Make sure you let your fitter know what you’re hoping to achieve so they can guide you to a club that will optimize launch conditions and help you shoot lower scores.
Q: Does the shaft matter?
A: Absolutely. While changes to spin and launch and spin differences are rarely massive, shaft changes frequently lead to improved accuracy, tighter dispersion, and greater overall consistency.
Q: What should I look for when testing hybrids?
A: While golfers have been conditioned to consider distance to the exclusion of nearly everything else, we recommended looking at the little numbers and looking for small circles. When comparing metrics like distance and ball speed, be sure to look at your standard deviations (the small numbers usually found under the big ones on the data screen). Smaller numbers mean better consistency, which will usually mean more than an extra yard or two on the golf course. Similarly, look for tighter dispersion ellipses (small circles). We can’t understate the importance of consistency with hybrids.
Adjustable Center of Gravity Hybrids
While it's not nearly as common as it is in the driver category, a few of this season's hybrids feature movable weight (adjustable CG) technology.
Titleist's SureFit CG weight is available in both the H1 and H2 hybrids. A flip weight system, SureFit CG allows golfers to shift mass from the heel to the toe, or just keep everything centered. The heel position can help golfers mitigate a slice while placing more mass in the toe can help slow down face rotation to the benefit of golfers who tend to hook their hybrids.
PXG's 0317x GEN2 hybrid offers similar heel-toe CG movement capabilities and also allows for weight to be shifted from the front of the hybrid to the back for increased launch angle and forgiveness.
Q: How are the hybrids in the test fit to each golfer?
A: We use a fitting process that we call fit from stock. Hybrids are fitted to each tester using the stock, no up-charge options from each manufacturer. Our 2019 Hybrid Test included hybrids with stamped lofts ranging from 18°-20°. A few of the hybrids offer adjustability features (loft and CG); we make use of all available adjustability options to optimize trajectory. Furthermore, we fit to flex for each tester in the pool. Occasionally manufacturers will send multiple sets with different stock shafts that we can utilize to improve launch conditions.
Q: How is the Most Wanted Hybrid Determined
A: To determine our rankings, we collect key performance metrics with Foresight GCQuad Launch Monitors. After eliminating outliers, we use a utilize a proprietary methodology to calculate Strokes Gained values for each combination of tester and golf club. Next, we calculate confidence intervals and determine the statistical reliability of our Strokes Gained values. The hybrid that is reliably better for the highest percentage of testers is the Most Wanted. For more detailed information on our test process, visit our How We Test Page.
Q: How is the “Longest” Hybrid determined?
A: To determine the Longest Hybrid, we consider the average total yards across the test pool along with the statistical reliability of that data.
Q: How is the “Most Forgiving” Hybrid determined?
A: To determine the Most Forgiving Hybrid, we focus on a narrower set of metrics that includes: Shot Area (dispersion), Radial Distance, Accuracy, and the average standard deviation for ball speed and carry yards.
Q: How much does subjective feedback like looks, sound, and feel factor into your rankings?
A: ZERO. Our rankings are based purely on launch monitor data and quantifiable performance metrics.