What is a Hybrid Golf Club?
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What is a Hybrid Golf Club?

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What is a Hybrid Golf Club?

Is there any other spot in the bag more confounding than those first few clubs after your fairway wood? What to bag between the 3- or 5-wood and your irons can be one of the more stressful golf purchases you can make. Egos can get in the way here, big time. But if you’re willing to be open-minded and honest with yourself, the answer could well be a hybrid—or two.

Hybrid Basics

Let’s start with the basics. A hybrid golf club is so named because it combines the features of a fairway wood and an iron to create a more playable club in the top end of your bag. Fairway woods have bulge and roll. Bulge is the curvature of the clubface from toe to heel while roll is the curvature from the sole to the crown of the club. Bulge and roll work to straighten your ball flight on off-center strikes. Your irons don’t have that but they typically have higher lofts than fairway woods. So, combine the two to make a hybrid club and, in theory, you get the power and forgiveness of a fairway wood with the accuracy and control of an iron. But that description doesn’t quite do the hybrid justice.

Versatility

There’s a reason hybrids are also called rescue, utility or trouble clubs. Need to punch out from the trees?  A hybrid can be an excellent option. Maybe you left your approach just short of the green. The hybrid chip is a great shot to have in the bag in that spot. Gnarly rough? A hybrid could be just the right club. Hybrids are extremely versatile clubs that belong in a lot of bags, and probably yours, too. 

A Hybrid For Everyone

Hybrids come in all shapes and sizes.  Frankly, the space between fairway woods and long irons has gotten pretty cloudy. The advent of “utility woods” and “super hybrids” has blurred the line between where fairway woods end and hybrids begin.

It’s just as blurry on the other end of the spectrum. Utility irons and even driving hybrids have emerged. Skirting awfully close to the domain of a driving iron, these clubs offer more iron-like profiles than a traditional hybrid while adding hybrid-like forgiveness.

Somewhere in that clouded space, there’s a good chance there’s a hybrid that works for you. If you’re the type who draws confidence from using a larger clubhead, there are plenty of hybrids that tend toward a wood-like profile. If you fall into that exclusive club known as “better player,” there are plenty of hybrids out with a smaller profile. Some have a built-in fade bias to fight that “hook machine” moniker some assign to hybrids. Adjustable-hosel options are available as well, letting you dial in your club gaps with precision.  There are even hybrids that allow you to flatten lie angles to really ward off the “lefts.” Find the right shaft and the right loft and lie, and you could potentially add a true weapon to the bag.

Why You Should Game a Hybrid

Remember that part about egos and being honest with yourself I mentioned?  Here’s where it gets real. There are a lot of long irons hanging around in amateur golf bags that probably have no business being there. Long irons demand a high level of ball-striking prowess and speed to be used effectively. Remember, they lack the bulge and roll of a hybrid so there’s a lot less correction built in to help on off-center strikes. Long irons also don’t have as favorable a center of gravity for getting the ball airborne as hybrids do.

That means that if you lack clubhead speed and can’t regularly find the center of that less-forgiving face, you’re going to struggle to get long-iron shots sufficiently airborne. Less carry means less distance. It’s the reason many golfers have distance gaps that are too small at the top of their bag. Instead of 10 yards or more, sometimes a golfer’s gaps shrink to three to five yards between their long irons.  Put another way: clinging to those long irons means having a couple of clubs in the bag that do basically the same thing.  That’s a waste of space and the solution could very well be a hybrid. 

Probably more than one, too. Some golfers model their bag setup based on what the pros are gaming. If that’s you, make sure you’re looking at the pros on the right tour. Check out the bags of most LPGA players and you’ll commonly find two hybrids in the bag; the first iron in their set is a 5-iron. If an LPGA pro chooses the forgiveness of a hybrid, it’s safe to say you probably should, too.

With so many options in the hybrid space, where should you get started in your search for the right one?  As always, our advice at MyGolfSpy is to get a club fitting, but a great place to begin your search is our hybrid buyer’s guide. In our testing, the PING G430 took top overall honors with top rankings for accuracy and ball speed.

If you covet forgiveness, the PXG 0311 XF Gen6 deserves a look after taking first in that category. And don’t sleep on the Sub70 949X. The direct-to-consumer offering took second overall in our testing at a well-below average price of $189. Of course, stay tuned for our Most Wanted hybrid testing in 2024 as well.

The Bottom Line

You may very well be that rare player who is better suited to long irons. They do typically spin more than hybrids. If you’ve got the kind of game to be less concerned with ball speed and more worried about backspin, by all means keep them in the bag. There’s also a chance you should embrace the high launch of a 7-wood, a trend that’s becoming increasingly popular for pros and amateurs.

A club-fitting will tell the story but don’t be at all surprised if the answer to your long-game woes is the hybrid. Experiment with the components and find the right hybrid shaft at the right shaft length, with the right grip. A properly fitted hybrid is a fantastic blend of power, forgiveness and accuracy that belongs in a lot of bags, maybe even yours. Drop that 3 or 4 from your set of irons and instead enjoy the launch and ball speed perks a hybrid delivers!

For You

For You

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Hayes Weidman

Hayes Weidman

Hayes Weidman

Hayes is a husband and father, and a single-digit handicap golfer in pursuit of scratch. He’s an avid golf fitness enthusiast in search of another yard, and he’s always a sucker for the next training aid that comes along.

Hayes Weidman

Hayes Weidman

Hayes Weidman

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Hayes Weidman

Hayes Weidman

Hayes Weidman

Hayes Weidman

Hayes Weidman

Hayes Weidman





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      cksurfdude

      4 weeks ago

      Love hybrids .. have had two in the bag for years. Very useful for me in many situations around the course. Def recommend looking into them and testing various models with various shafts to see if they may work better for you vs what you have now…

      Reply

      kevin

      4 weeks ago

      Question ; how do you actually hit a Hybrid ? is it like an iron swing and approach or a fairway wood Thx

      Reply

      Rio Paul

      4 weeks ago

      Senior golfers increasingly are going to hybrids to get more distance instead of using long irons. But, you haven’t talked about the “one length” option for hybrids. I find that consistent shaft length of a 6 iron works very well for more distance and control with a hybrid. Also, the gaps in distance between one length hybrids stay more consistent than longer irons.

      Reply

      Dave

      4 weeks ago

      my league partner went with Ping Fairway woods 5,7 and 9 (instead of hybrids) and his irons start with a 6 … another way to rid oneself of the long irons :)

      Reply

      burke lake pro

      4 weeks ago

      What is a hybrid golf club? To quote Hawkeye Pierce, “Is that a question for a grown man to ask?”

      Reply

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