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What Is a Hybrid Golf Club? The Ultimate Guide

Last updated: September 29, 2022
hybrid and regular golf clubs in a golf bag on a golf cart with a green textbox that says

There are occasions when you want a club that combines loft and length with a high degree of control on the golf course. Whether you're hitting out of the rough, playing off an odd lie, or attacking a tight fairway, you'll come into moments where you'll crave the greatest characteristics of both a fairway wood and an iron.

In this article, we'll explore what a hybrid golf club is and how it can help you achieve better play.

What Is a Hybrid Golf Club?

A golfer holding a hybrid golf club preparing to swing on a golf course

A hybrid is a combination of woods and irons, and nearly half of all professional golfers have at least one in their bags. In terms of distance and accuracy, it can exceed a fairway wood and normal irons, altering the sport of golf. 

Hybrid golf clubs have grown in popularity among golfers worldwide in the last few years.

These clubs combine wood and iron properties, and this new category has introduced significant game improvement and forgiving possibilities for long-iron players. Today, every player in the game embraces this novel technology. Beginners and slower swingers, such as elderly and lady golfers, should see a significant change in their set composition as these new clubs are implemented.

Thanks to their adaptability, hybrids can benefit golfers of all skill levels.

Many golfers find it difficult to hit their long and medium irons in the fairway or light rough. While it is possible to get away with a weak swing with traditional irons because of their lack of a large sweet spot, this is not a good strategy.

Having this information might heighten the competitive tension felt by many players. Most golfers, not only those with medium or high handicaps, can hit hybrid irons with greater consistency because of their larger sweet spot.

History of Hybrid Golf Clubs

A bunch of upright golf clubs in a golf bag with a golf course background

According to Keiser University [1], golf clubs with similar characteristics to modern hybrids have existed since the first clubmakers began crafting millennia ago. In the 1970s, hybrid clubs such as the Baffler and the Ginty were rather popular. However, this type of clubs gained significant appeal in the early 2000s. 

Additionally, Darrel Survey reported that 7% of golfers used hybrids in 2004, but the number increased to 30% by 2007 [2]. In 2018, the majority of golfers carried at least one hybrid club. And those who do not should consider a hybrid vehicle.

Purpose of Hybrid Golf Clubs

Hybrids assist in removing the ball from difficult lies.

  • The hybrid golf club has essentially transformed the golf club manufacturing industry to the point where the traditional eight- or nine-iron set of clubs is, if not endangered, certainly vulnerable.
  • Hybrid clubs, like drivers, putters, and wedges, combine the finest features of fairway woods and long irons while avoiding the drawbacks of each. Insert one or more of these clubs into your bag, and you'll quickly understand the excitement.
  • Long irons (2, 3, and 4) are the most difficult clubs in the bag for most amateur golfers. But until recently, amateurs had no alternative to replace these clubs, which cost them so many shots close to the green.
  • In addition, amateur and junior players have long struggled to manage fairway woods due to their larger soles, heavier heads, and longer shafts. Thanks to the availability of hybrids, many golfers have begun supplementing or replacing their 4-, 5- and 7-woods. Even great golfers are switching from fairway woods to hybrids. If you're unsure about the difference between woods and hybrids, we've got this article differentiating 5-wood clubs from 3-hybrids.

There are specific golf clubs that are best for junior golfers. Check out our top 10 golf clubs for kids and juniors here.

Advantages of a Hybrid Club

A golf club placed on the grass with nine golf balls arranged in a circle around the golf clubhead

While modern irons offer increased distance and forgiveness, the fact remains that a hybrid will provide you with the best opportunity of launching the ball high and with explosive distance. Hybrids are also more tolerant of mis-hits, which occur more frequently as lofts decrease and shafts lengthen.

Hybrids are far more adaptable to challenging lies than long irons due to their design qualities. They are significantly easier to hit from rough, terrible lies, sand, or pine straw and can even be used to chip with.

Todd Hamilton won the 2004 British Open by routinely hitting a bump and run shot into the green with his hybrid, proving the versatility of this type of club.

The pros are converted to hybrids, and you'll see them on the PGA, European, LPGA, and Champion Tours for the simple reason that, like amateurs, many professionals find these golf clubs simpler to hit than normal long irons.

Along with improved trajectory, distance, and confidence, hybrid clubs offer plenty of additional benefits. These include improved "swingability" (because of the lighter weight of the hybrid) and a more forgiving clubface, which helps with incorrect strokes.

Difference Between Hybrid and Regular Golf Clubs

Two regular golf clubs and two hybrid golf clubs laid down on grass of a golf course

Golf hybrid clubs are recognized by any golfer alike (amateur, average, and senior golfers). The most obvious distinction between hybrid and regular golf clubs types is their structure (or design characteristics).

The golf hybrid iron's club shaft is shorter than a standard iron. This gives the user significantly more control over the club, making it easier to achieve the proper swing. On the other hand, a hybrid's clubhead is larger than a standard iron. This provides a bigger area on the clubhead to strike the ball, resulting in a more substantial contact during the shot. The club's face is significantly more convex than a standard iron head. However, do keep in mind that these clubs need to be cleaned like regular ones.

What Does a Hybrid Golf Club Replace? 

With the introduction of hybrids, many, if not the majority, of players have begun supplementing their sets with these shorter, lighter, and easier-to-hit clubs. No level of play is immune, with some of the best players even substituting hybrids for fairway woods.

Hybrid golf clubs are one such possibility. You can readily use a hybrid with a loft of 18, 22, or 24 degrees in place of long irons. Many golfers find hybrids so convenient to use that they even replace their five or six irons.

When Should I Use Hybrids?

The hybrid golf club's appeal is also in its adaptability. It is suitable for usage on any part of the golf course. As iron substitutes, they will be mostly used in the long to mid-range game. Whether from the fairway or out of the rough, most hybrid shots will be taken in areas where iron would be used. When precision is required, they can be hit off the tee. Perhaps you're faced with a layup, or you're attempting a par three and require a club with a little extra launch. Off the tee, the hybrid is your best friend in these scenarios.

These clubs are very beneficial for use around the greens. They are handy while chipping. Pop it up with the loft on a hybrid if you need to clear an obstacle to get your ball on the green and close to the flag.

They will aid in developing your game and are excellent out of the rough.

How Many Hybrids Should I Carry?

Three hybrid golf clubs and other regular golf clubs in a golf bag place in an upright position with a golf course background

Amateur players should carry between two and three hybrid irons in their golf bag to replace clubs such as the 5-wood and three and four irons. The overall number of hybrids required by a golfer is best decided by clubhead speed, distance gaps between clubs, personal choice, playing objectives, and budget.

What Is an Example of a Situation on the Course Where a Hybrid Would Be Ideal?

Golfer trying to put the ball out of the sand pit in a golf course with a golf caddy and golf cart in the background

A hybrid is ideal if the course you play includes a majority of elevated greens. When you hit an elevated green, your ball will naturally come in flatter due to the slope's rise and the golf ball's shorter descent time from its summit. As a result, a higher golf ball will help counteract the negative impacts of the slope on your approach, and the ball will stop more quickly on the green.

While a slight decrease in swing speed is not catastrophic, hybrids become handier as your speed lowers. Slower swing speeds result in less ball speed and a flatter launch, which are undesirable characteristics if you wish to stop the ball on the green. Generally, and especially, in this case, increasing height increases distance.

How to Hit a Hybrid Golf Club? 

With hybrids gaining popularity and golfers adding more to their club sets, it's critical to understand what to expect when hitting them. The key to swinging a hybrid club properly is to keep in mind that they are iron substitutes. Many club sets, like the Cobra Fly XL, include hybrid clubs today.

To get the most out of your hybrid, you must set it up and strike it identically to an iron. With a falling blow, you want to make contact with the ball. As with an iron, you let the loft of the club do the job when you strike the ball.

They are easier to launch with greater forgiveness since they feature a larger head with more weight on the periphery and in the back. Additionally, it is simpler to connect with the sweet spot. 

Paula Creamer on Golf Digest [3] stated that while your hybrid may resemble a fairway wood, you must treat it similarly to an iron. The shaft of the hybrid is only slightly longer than that of the matching iron; hence it's easy to set up the ball in the same manner. Position the ball in the center of your stance and maintain a balanced weight distribution for the normal shot. Hands should be parallel to the ball, and shoulders, hips, and feet should be square to the target. As you bring the club back and swing through, strike the ball with a downward stroke rather than a sweeping motion as you would with a fairway wood.

Do Professionals Use Hybrid Golf Clubs? 

It makes no difference if you are a golfer with a 20-handicap, a senior, or a scratch player. Justin Rose, David Lingmerth, and Billy Horschel are just a few of the game's top hybrid users. 

Billy Horschel in a blue shirt and white cap just after a swing using a hybrid golf club

37% of the top 100 PGA Tour professionals use a hybrid club, while 3% use two. Titleist and Callaway hybrids are the most prevalent, with each brand accounting for 11 of the top 100 players, while Callaway's Apex hybrid is the most popular. The loft of these pros' hybrids ranges from 15.5 to 23.5 degrees.

Looking for the best golf club brands of today? Check out this article.

You May Also Like: Callaway Big Bertha B21 Driver Review

Golf Digest [4] reported that Golf Datatech research indicates that 80% of serious players carry at least one hybrid (the average is two). That is roughly double what it was 15 years ago.

With nearly a third of the world's greatest players using hybrids, it's reassuring to see that they're also taking advantage of the assistance hybrids provide over traditional long irons to hit their long shots better and more regularly.

Should I Start Using Hybrids? 

If you have difficulty striking your irons, it may be worthwhile to experiment with a hybrid. Consider a combination that is tailored to strengthen your weak points. Conduct research before purchasing a new club (read here to know the best time to purchase your clubs); otherwise, you may end up with a pricey new club that improves your game no more than the iron you replaced! Before you entirely replace your irons, take one up and play a few rounds with it.

Other considerations should include the following: 

  • If your handicap is higher than 19
  • If you have a flat swing plane
  • If your mis-hits tend to be right and thin with long irons
  • If you want to play better

When selecting the appropriate hybrid for your game, you might consider the loft of the club or clubs being replaced. The club's loft indicates the angle between the clubface and the ground. A low-lofted hybrid (14° to 17° loft) is excellent for replacing your three-wood or five-wood. This club is more manageable than a long iron off the tee. If you still want to consider other golf driver options aside from hybrids, you can check this one.

Here's an informative video (4 minutes 12 seconds) where Golfing World's golf coach Mitchell Spearman tells you why more and more golfers are choosing to use hybrid golf clubs.

Final Thoughts 

After making their debut on the golf scene in the early 2000s, hybrid irons have become a staple piece of equipment in the golf bags of the vast majority of golfers. With all the potential they offer, there should be no doubt in your mind about the necessity of hybrids in your golf bag at this point.

The days of attempting to hit a 2-5 iron out of difficult rough and hoping the rough does not grip your club and result in a poor shot are over. The ideal way to assist you in making your decision is to visit a pro or custom fitting center, hop on a launch monitor, determine your clubhead speed, and proceed from there. A hybrid golf club is an excellent utility tool for players of all abilities. Add hybrids to your bag and prepare to begin your journey towards a lower score the next time you hit the links.


References:

  1. David Wixson, PGA Master Professional and College of Golf Instructor. College of Golf. Retrieved from https://collegeofgolf.keiseruniversity.edu/what-is-a-hybrid-golf-club-and-when-was-it-developed/
  2. Hybrid (golf). Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_(golf)#References
  3. Paula Creamer on Golf Digest: My Hybrid Basics. Retrieved from https://www.golfdigest.com/story/paula-creamer-my-hybrid-basics
  4. Why you should buy hybrids and irons at the same time. Golf Digest. Retrieved from https://www.golfdigest.com/story/buying-irons-dont-forget-the-hybrids

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