December 1, 2022

Hybrid Golf Clubs

Why do you need them?
Hybrids have only really caught on in the past few seasons but in fact they’ve been around in one form or another for many years.

Way back in the early 20th Century the aluminum faced Mills NK Niblick, which was used to help players escape from bunkers and bad lies, could rightly be described as a hybrid. Cobra launched The Baffler in the mid 70’s which played a big part in the company’s success. Some of the early hybrids were hard to hit and initially golfers didn’t take well to them. But with some modifications all that has changed.

If when you first took up the game you found your long irons more difficult to hit, then you may have more than advancing years to blame! Compared to twenty or thirty years ago each of the long irons in your set is likely to have 2 to 4 degrees less loft, making them that much more difficult to hit consistently. Compared to long irons, the latest hybrids are a doddle to hit. So if you’ve dismissed hybrids in the past it’s time to take another look.

What is a hybrid?
Hybrids combine the best elements of long irons and fairway woods into one club whose goal is to be easier to hit. They should provide the distance of a fairway wood or long iron, with a higher trajectory. This means the ball gets airborne, flies high and lands soft. Shafts are shorter and club-faces stiffer – more akin to irons – for distance, control and accuracy. Compact heads and features such as rounded soles or rails on the bottom help you deal with a variety of different lies.

When to use them
If you can’t carry the ball for around 240 yards, you should seriously consider replacing your 2- and 3- iron with a hybrid and if you struggle to hit 220 yards consistently you should probably also think twice about your 4-iron. In fact if you feel any apprehension about hitting a long iron, you should consider trying a hybrid.

And it’s not just club golfers who appreciate their benefits. Champions Tour player Sammy Rachels once famously quipped. ‘The 2- and 3-iron are like my mother-in-law. I’d like to hit them, but I just can’t’. The Open in 2004 saw PGA rookie Todd Hamilton, who emerged as victor, using his trusty Sonartec hybrid. Hamilton stunned his play-off opponent Ernie Els, with an impressive short game featuring long chips with this club. At the final play-off hole his pitch from 30 yards off the green to within 3 feet of the flag, proved to be the tournament-winning shot. And he used the same club throughout the tournament off the tee on tight driving holes. From tee to green the hybrid was his winning club.

Like Todd Hamilton, you could find hybrid clubs useful in all kinds of situations around the course. Their low centre of gravity makes them easier to hit out of the rough, on tight lies and even out of sand. Here is a list of 5 different instances when you could find a hybrid club invaluable.

1. Off the Tee
Hybrids are great on long par 3s or short par 4s when you need to carry a bunker or water hazard. They have a higher launch angle and consequently come down again on a much steeper angle than a long iron, making it easier to clear the obstacle and stop the ball on the green.

2. From the Fairway
Their distance control and accuracy makes them good for building confidence on long approach shots to the greens on par 5’s and long par 4’s. You could find yourself reaching more par 5’s in two or three, creating more welcome eagle or birdie shots.

3. From the Rough
Long irons have a tendency to get caught up in the rough causing them to twist, resulting in mishits. In contrast, hybrids have a bigger size and mass, helping you to drive through the rough and keep the face square.

4. On Long Bunker Shots
On long bunker shots it is important to hit the ball first, to get it airborne quickly and out of the trap. A hybrid can come in useful here. By moving the ball back in your stance you can promote a steeper angle of attack. The bigger clubhead and larger sole of a hybrid club makes it easier to swing through the sand without catching it heavy.

5. Around the Green
A hybrid club can help you get the ball rolling on the ground quickly on bump and run shots around the green. Its shorter shaft helps you to hit the ball almost like a putt without having to choke down on the shaft. As Todd Hamilton said following his Open Victory “It’s a very versatile club. It’s about a 14-degree loft, so it’s basically a 1-iron and great to chip-and-run
shots with”.

With all these potential uses, you can see just why the hybrid club has earned its reputation as the most versatile club in the bag.

How to choose
The good news is that they don’t cost the earth. Most don’t use exotic materials, which mean that prices are affordable for most golfers.

Woods or Irons?
There are two types of hybrids – woods and irons. The woods look a bit like under-fed fairway woods, with a smaller clubhead, lower profile and shorter shaft. In contrast the irons look like traditional irons on steroids. They’re thicker and larger, enabling the centre of gravity to be pushed back and lower, making it easy to get the ball in the air.

Both types take the place of long irons. The general idea is that you get rid of the most difficult to hit clubs in the bag – replacing them with clubs that are among the easiest to hit.

Which of the two types you plump for, will be very much a matter of personal choice.

If you are buying a new set of irons, particularly if you are less experienced, it may be worth considering opting for a “hybrid set”. Many of the leading manufacturers now offer club sets in which the long irons (typically 3- and 4-irons) are replaced with hybrid clubs designed to hit the ball the same distances.

Three final pieces of advice

* It’s important to choose a hybrid with similar loft and shaft length as your existing long irons

* When you are choosing a hybrid, opt for a club that looks good to you. This is very important to build up your confidence.

* You must be willing to change. These clubs are different, so you have to be ok with mixing and matching your set.