Because of their unique hybrid design (half fairway wood, half iron), hybrids are some of the most forgiving clubs available for senior golfers to buy.
Hybrids, originally termed rescue clubs, have revolutionised the way amateurs play the game by making once difficult shots more accessible.
The reason hybrids are more forgiving than long irons is the club head design which is a combination of fairway wood and a standard iron. By deepening the cavity on the back of hybrids more weight can be moved to the club's perimeter. This perimeter weighting helps create a high moment of inertia (MOI) at impact, generally much greater than a long iron. Because of this, the club head of a hybrid will twist less on off centre hits and create more distance for the senior golfer. The club head design will also create more backspin on the ball than a long iron, helping the ball into the air. This will help the ball fly up and away rather than curve in flight. In general senior golfers are less likely to hit slices and hooks using a hybrid club.
Manufacturers are also able to incorporate face bulge into a hybrid design. This is similar to the curvature built into the face of fairway woods and drivers. The face bulge creates the 'gear effect' on toe and heel strikes, imparting counter clockwise and clockwise spin respectively (for right handed golfers). This is why, for right handed golfers, toe strikes generally curve left in the air and heel strikes generally curve right.
Hybrid clubs are also slightly longer than the long iron they are designed to replace which allows the senior golfer to develop more club head speed through the ball. This imparts more distance and backspin on the ball, and therefore more height.
Manufacturers also fit most hybrid clubs with graphite shafts with a lower kick point. The lower kick point promotes greater dynamic loft at impact encouraging higher ball flights. The sole of the hybrid is also wider and 'skids' more across the turf than a normal long iron which will be more inclined to dig into the turf. This makes the hybrid club more forgiving than long irons out of tricky lies.
Hybrid clubs will not only help senior golfers with off centre hits from normal lies, but add forgiveness from poor lies. Hybrid clubs can be used from light rough, heavy rough, divots, fairway bunkers, off the tee, off the fairway, around the green and several other situations. The reason hybrids are so versatile includes the extra perimeter weighting and sole design. Hybrid clubs are manufactured with a smooth rounded sole which slides through tricky lies.
This flexibility added to forgiveness makes the hybrid club an essential piece of equipment for most senior golfers.
To test the forgiveness offered by hybrid clubs, senior golfers should compare their current long irons with a hybrid of equivalent loft. By using face tape, they can compare both off centre and good strikes and the effect these have on the ball.
Are Hybrid Golf Clubs More Forgiving?
For a long period in the history of the game of golf, there were two categories of clubs to pick from – woods, and irons. Those two categories of clubs, along with your putter, made up the set that you would use to get the ball around the course. However, times have changed, and there is now another category to consider – hybrids. As the name indicates, hybrid clubs are in between woods and irons, acting as a bridge between the two club styles that you are used to having in your bag. With the idea of blending the best characteristics of woods and irons into a single club, hybrids have become incredibly popular in the world of golf.
If you play golf on a regular basis, you certainly have seen hybrid clubs in action. In fact, you might even own one or two of them yourself. You are sure to see a selection of hybrids in any golf shop that you enter, as pretty much every club maker in the market today has produced their own take on this style of club. Judging by popularity alone, you could easily come to the conclusion that a hybrid is something which needs to find a place in your bag.
But is that true? Are hybrid clubs really more forgiving than other types of clubs? Well, the answer to that question is going to be a little bit complicated. It is absolutely true that hybrid clubs have the ability to help you play better golf, but only in the right circumstances. As is the case with any other equipment in this game, simply pulling out your credit card and making a purchase will not make you a better player. You have to know how to use your new equipment properly in order to see results. If you deploy hybrid clubs the right way in your game, you will see improvement and lower scores. Use them incorrectly, however, and they can be just as frustrating as any other club in your bag.
Golf is a hard game, so looking for any way to make your game better is always a good idea. Remember, however, that you shouldn't look only to equipment in order to lower your scores. Yes, the right gear can make a big difference, but you can also take a big step forward by improving on the technique that you use in your swing and your short game. Professional golfers don't reach the highest levels of the game just by using the right clubs – they use the right clubs, but they also use them in the right way. There are no shortcuts to success in golf, which is a big part of the reason why it is such an enjoyable and challenging game. Any progress you make it going to be hard-earned, meaning it will be that much more rewarding when it arrives.
All of the content below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
The Advantages of Hybrid Clubs
Obviously, there needs to be some advantage to using hybrid clubs if you are going to make the switch from a long iron or a fairway wood. After all, hybrid clubs aren't free, so you are going to have to invest some of your 'golf money' into purchasing one or two of these clubs if you would like to put them into your bag.
So, what will you be getting for your money? Fortunately, there are a number of benefits to speak of when talking about hybrids.
- Versatility. One of the biggest selling points of hybrid clubs is the fact that they can be used in a variety of situations around the course. Sure, they are suited nicely for playing long shots from the fairway, but they can also work from the tee on a long par three or short par four, and they can be effective from the rough as well. In fact, with a good swing you can even make a hybrid club work out of a fairway bunker, as long as the lip isn't too high in front of you. The rules of golf only allow each player to carry 14 clubs, so you don't want to waste any of those spots. By using one or two hybrid clubs (or more), you can maximize the amount of productivity you get from those spots in your bag.
- Focused on control. Hybrid clubs feature an upright design that is more like an iron than a wood, meaning they are often easier to control than fairway woods of a similar loft. Control should always be prioritized ahead of distance in your game, so this point should not be overlooked. By adding a hybrid club that you can control nicely when you need to make sure to keep the ball in play, you will have an option that gives you confidence at any point during a round. It is true that you might be able to hit your hybrid clubs farther than your long irons, but those distance gains should really be seen as secondary to concerns about control and precision. Find a hybrid club that you can control nicely and it just might become your best friend on the course.
- Trajectory changes. One of the common complaints that the average golfer has about his or her long irons is the fact that they fly too low to the ground. Most golfers don't have the swing speed necessary to get the ball up in the air with a long iron, which means those clubs have limited utility. Without the ability to hit the ball high, your long irons are going to be mostly useless on approach shots, limiting them to hitting tee shots on short holes and perhaps the occasional layup on a par five. Obviously, if you are only able to use your long irons in very limited circumstances, it might not be worth carrying them at all in the end. This is why hybrid clubs are so popular – they usually will fly higher in the air than a long iron when struck with the same kind of swing. Even without changing anything about the way you swing the club, you should be able to hit the ball higher with a hybrid than you do with a long iron. With a higher ball flight comes added versatility, as you should be able to use your hybrids in many more situations thanks to the higher overall trajectory that you are producing.
These are just three of the many potential benefits that you will see when using a hybrid club. The category of hybrid clubs didn't become popular by accident – they are used by so many players because there is a lot to like about what they can do. Of course, they aren't perfect, so the next section will deal with some of the drawbacks to be found when carrying hybrids.
The Other Side of the Equation
Golf is all about making trade-offs. You can't 'have it all' in this game, as there is always something to be given up when something is gained. For instance, if you find a club that is going to allow you to hit the ball farther, it is very likely that you will have to sacrifice control at the same time. Building the right set of clubs is all about making smarts trades in order to leave yourself with a complete set that meets all of your needs.
So, what might you be giving up when you opt for hybrids? Check out the list below –
- Distance vs. a fairway wood. This is a point that is not going to apply to all people, so you will need to test out hybrid clubs for yourself to determine whether or not this is true in your game. However, it does need to be pointed out that some players will not be able to hit their hybrid clubs as far as they can hit similar fairway woods. If you are a shorter hitter and you need as much distance as possible, making the trade for a hybrid might not make sense if you have to sacrifice some yards. Of course, there is always the issue of accuracy to consider, so don't go 'all in' for distance if you can't control your fairway woods properly.
- Trajectory control. In the previous section, we talked about the advantage of being able to hit the ball higher with a hybrid than you can with a long iron, and that is a point that does hold true for most people. Unfortunately, there is another side to that coin – what if you need to hit the ball low on purpose? If you are playing on a windy day, for example, the ability to hit the ball low with a long iron might be desirable. In that case, your hybrid may launch the ball too high in the air, and you might not be able to adjust your swing enough to bring that trajectory back down. Therefore, golfers who often need to hit the ball low – such as those who typically play in the wind – might have to think twice before going in the hybrid direction.
- The ability to curve the ball. For most golfers, this last point isn't going to be much of an issue. The typical amateur golfer does not possess the ability to curve the ball on command from right to left or from left to right, so this topic is a moot point. However, for those golfers who can carve the ball around the course when necessary, using a hybrid instead of a long iron might take away some of that ability. It is easier to curve your long irons than a hybrid club, meaning your ball is more likely to fly straight off of a hybrid. Hitting the ball straight is usually a good thing, but not when you were hoping to curve it intentionally toward the target.
Most golfers would agree that there are more positives than negatives to be highlighted when talking about hybrid clubs. However, it is important to understand the potential drawbacks so you can keep them in mind when constructing your set. You will probably want at least one hybrid in your bag, but are you going to go for more than that? The decision on whether or not to add two or three of these clubs to your set will likely hinge on whether or not the drawbacks listed above are a big issue for your game.
The Matter of Forgiveness
The title of this article touches on the forgiveness of hybrid clubs, so let's take a moment to discuss that topic. There is a general belief among golfers that hybrid clubs are a forgiving option, but is that really true? Obviously, there is plenty of marketing hype that comes along with any new club to hit the market, so it can be difficult to sort out what is true from what is just a sales pitch. However, in this case, it is true that hybrid clubs tend to be a more forgiving option, especially when compared to long irons.
When you compare a hybrid club to a long iron, there first thing you notice is the difference in the volume of the club head. A long iron has a relatively thin profile, while a hybrid club is basically like half of a fairway wood. That additional volume is going to make it easier to get the ball up in the air, and it is going to make the overall experience more forgiving. A shot that contacts the club out toward the toe or in off the heel is not likely to be punished as harshly on a hybrid club as it would be with a long iron. Indeed, this is one of the main selling points for hybrids – they will let you 'get away with more' than you could get away with when hitting a long iron from the tee or from the fairway. No golfer is perfect, and no golfer hits the sweet spot every time, so gaining in the way of forgiveness can have a big impact on your game overall.
If you compare a hybrid club to a fairway wood that you may be replacing, the issue of forgiveness is a little harder to sort out. While hybrid clubs are nicely forgiving for most golfers, so too are fairway woods. In fact, in some cases, it could be argued that fairway woods are even more forgiving. However, those fairway woods are often not quite as accurate as hybrid clubs, which is an important point to keep in mind. So, even if you are thinking of replacing a fairway wood with a hybrid, you still stand to gain some benefit, even if it isn't in the forgiveness department.
Getting back to the comparison between hybrids and long irons, another issue to contemplate is the way the club interacts with the ground at the moment of impact. When you use a long iron, the club is usually going to have a relatively 'sharp' leading edge. That leading edge will have a tendency to dig in to the turf if you make contact with the ground just slightly before reaching the ball. On the other hand, a hybrid club usually has a rolled leading edge, meaning the club can glide along the top of the turf for an inch or two prior to impact if you hit the shot a bit fat. That softer leading edge won't totally prevent you from hitting your shots heavy, but it will help you to survive those kinds of mistakes without hitting a terrible shot. Hitting just slightly behind the ball with a hybrid is usually no big deal, while doing the same with a long iron can result in a disaster.
In the end, it is really the distance that you are able to get out of your poor swings that is the big difference between a long iron and a hybrid club. When you miss-hit a long iron due to a poor swing, the ball is almost certainly going to come up short of the target. Coming up short could mean you have to hit a difficult pitch for your next shot, or it could mean your ball lands in the water. Whatever the case, coming up short on a long shot is likely to cost you on the scorecard. By employing a hybrid instead of a long iron, you can give yourself a better chance of reaching the target even if you don't make your best swing. A miss-hit hybrid still probably won't cover the whole distance to the target, but it should get closer than a poorly hit iron, meaning the damage will be limited. It is always going to be up to you to make the best swings possible, but adding forgiveness through the use of a hybrid club can help you survive the bad swings that pop up from time to time.
Hybrid Clubs in the Short Game
All of the talk in this article so far has focused on using hybrid clubs to make full swings, but that is only a part of the picture. When you add a hybrid club (or clubs) to your bag, you can also use those clubs in the short game. Rather than having to hit your chip and run shots with a pitching wedge or even a mid-iron, you can choose to chip and run the ball with one of your hybrids. This is a technique that works incredibly well, and it is easy to learn with just a little bit of practice.
If you want to try using your hybrids for chipping, the first thing you need to know is how to spot the right opportunity. To chip successfully with a hybrid club, you are going to need to play the ball from a fairway lie, rather than when the ball is sitting in the rough. Also, you are going to need to be close to the putting surface, as the ball isn't going to get very high in the air before it lands and rolls out. So, the right chance to play a chip and run with a hybrid is when your ball is sitting on fairway length grass within close proximity to the green, such as when you are on the fringe.
When you do encounter the right opportunity, the best way to play the shot is to use your putting stroke motion while holding the hybrid club. Choke down on the grip just an inch or two to allow yourself to take a more comfortable address position, and even consider using your putting grip. Place the ball slightly forward of center in your stance, and rock the club back and through just like you would with a putter. The ball should pop up into the air, carry for maybe a foot or so, and then land and roll out toward the target.
As you practice this shot, you will quickly learn that it doesn't take much of a swing to send the ball toward the target with plenty of speed. The volume of the hybrid club head is going to deliver quite a blow into the back of the ball as compared to hitting the same kind of a shot with an iron (or even your putter). You will need to spend a bit of time practicing this shot in order to gain control over your distance before you can confidently put it into use on the course.
Hybrid clubs are useful in a variety of situations around the course. Yes, they tend to be more forgiving than long irons, but their benefits range far beyond that point. With versatility that is not seen in other clubs, your game will almost certainly be improved when you add one or two hybrids to your set.