While hybrids require more of a sweeping swing than traditional irons, some golfers experience a higher trajectory (and less distance) with a hybrid than they're accustomed to for that particular numbered club. (A #5 hybrid vs. 5-iron, for example.)
Sometimes, this happens because the golfer was closing and de-lofting the clubface when hitting a conventional iron. (For example, de-lofting a standard 7-iron by 3° turns it into a 6-iron). However, the wider sole of hybrids promotes a square setup, so golfers achieve the proper height and distance for that club -- even if it's not the distance they're used to.
It's important to get consistent, reliable distance from club to club, and this is easier when each club is used with its proper loft. When you want more or less distance, simply move up or down one club rather than manipulating the clubface.
When placed on a testing machine and hit in the center of the face, a 7-hybrid will produce as much distance as a traditional 7-iron. The hybrid really shines on off-center hits; because it's more forgiving than a standard iron, the average distance will be longer for the hybrid. The special characteristics of hybrids also deliver greater accuracy on off-center hits.
Hybrid golf clubs have design advantages over fairway woods as well. For example, they can be played using the same ball position as traditional irons. Your hybrids, therefore, should be built to the same length, shaft flex and swingweight as your irons.
Many golfers, especially those who prefer to sweep the ball rather than hit down and take a divot, have found great success by replacing their conventional irons with hybrid irons.
The Many Advantages of Using Hybrids in Your Golf Game
Hybrid clubs are no longer new to the golf scene, but there are still some players that have been slow to adapt. For at least the last ten years, hybrid clubs have been consistently gaining popularity. Today, they are a staple that can be found in the golf bags of top tour players as well as total beginners. Perfectly filling in the gap between your woods and your irons, hybrid clubs are easy to hit, accurate, and versatile.
When you look down from your address position as you get ready to hit a long iron shot, what do you feel? Are you confident that you are going to strike the long iron cleanly and send the ball high into the air? Or are you worried about making good enough contact to just get the ball off the ground? For most golfers, long irons are clubs that instill fear rather than confidence. This is one of the many reasons why hybrids have become so popular. Rather than sweating over a difficult three iron shot, you can pull out a hybrid club and handle the shot with relative ease.
Another benefit to using hybrids in your bag is the many options that that give you during a round of golf. Since you only get to place 14 clubs into your bag, you want to make sure that each of those clubs is serving as many different purposes as possible. For example, your sand wedge can not only be used for shots played from the sand, but also for chip shots, pitch shots, short approaches, and more. In much the same way, a hybrid club can be employed for a variety of duties during a round. Some of the possible shots that you can hit with a hybrid club include the following –
- Bump-and-run from the side of the green
- Tee shot on a long par three
- Going for the green in two on a par five
- Punching out of trouble after a bad drive
- Hitting a conservative tee shot on a difficult par four
If you have never carried a hybrid club in your bag previously, you might be surprised at just how many uses they have once you add one to your set. Where you might have only used your three iron once or twice during a round (if at all), you will likely find that you reach for your hybrid club much more frequently. In fact, after you add one hybrid to your set and get a few rounds under your belt with it, you might find that you are quickly shopping for more hybrids to replace the rest of your long irons.
Any swing instruction that is contained below has been written based on a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please reverse the directions as necessary.
Slaying the Long Par Threes
If there is one thing that amateur golfers and professionals have in common, it is a fear of long par threes. No golfer, regardless of how talented they may be, enjoys the prospect of stepping onto the tee of a par three that measures 220 yards or more. Depending on the course you are playing, and the tees that you choose, you may face multiple long par threes within the same round. A large portion of your score will be determined by how you fare of these challenging holes.
Hybrid clubs are a great weapon to have in your bag when you encounter a long par three. If you don't have a hybrid club available, you might find that the hole presents you with an 'in-between' distance – too short for your three wood or five wood, but too long for your three iron or four iron. When that happens, you will be forced to either hit a soft shot with a fairway wood or a hard shot with a long iron. Neither of those are attractive options, and your chances of making par on the hole are probably pretty slim. However, if there is a hybrid in your bag, you may find that you have the perfect club to hit your tee shot just the right distance.
While having a hybrid available is a great advantage on a long par three, you still need to be smart about the shot that you plan to hit. Even though it is easier to hit a hybrid than a long iron, you are still facing a shot of more than 200 yards and you need to choose your target carefully. If you decide to aim right at the hole even though it is near a bunker or some water, you may pay the price for your aggressive approach. Using a hybrid club should give you confidence in the shot, but you still need to play smart and aim for the big part of the green. Remember, making par on a long par three is always a good thing.
The first thing you should do when arriving on the tee of a long par three is take a look at what lies between you and the green. Is there a 'bail-out' area available? Are there any hazards that you need to worry about? There is no rule that says you have to aim at the green, even when you are hitting a tee shot on a par three. If the shot is longer than you are comfortable with, or if the green is too small to consistently hit with a hybrid club, consider playing away from the green. A smart shot into some short grass near the green will give you the opportunity to get up and down for your par – and you should be able to make bogey at the worst.
There is one more tip you should be aware of when using your hybrid club off the tee of a long par three. When teeing the ball up for your shot, make sure you keep the ball relatively close to the ground. If you tee it up too hit, you will likely hit the shot high off the face, and it may come up short. Hybrid clubs are designed to be easy to hit right off the turf, so you don't want to tee them very high into the air. Use your tee to get the bottom of the ball just barely above the top of the grass, and you should be ready to go.
Playing for Position on Par Fours
If you are like most amateur golfers, you love reaching for your driver each and every time you arrive on the tee of a par four or par five. There is nothing wrong with that, either – it is fun to pull your driver out of the bag and launch it down the fairway as far as you can. However, not every hole is designed to be receptive to a driver shot, and sometimes you would be better off reaching for your hybrid club and playing for position.
This is often the case on short par fours in the range of 330-380 yards. When a golf course designer includes a short par four in the routing of the course, they often counter the short distance with a narrow fairway or hazard that challenges your accuracy. In order to give yourself the best chance to post a good score for the round, you will need to exercise caution and patience on these short holes. If you find yourself getting sucked into hitting driver on every single par four regardless of the design of the hole, you will likely pay for it in the end.
Your hybrid club should be your best friend when it comes to playing short par fours. The characteristics of a hybrid club are perfect for the tee shots on these little holes. Hybrid clubs tend to be more accurate than fairway woods, while offering most golfers more distance than they would get from a long iron shot. Therefore, you can pull your hybrid club with confidence when playing a short par four, knowing you will have a great chance to hit the fairway while still setting up an easy wedge shot for your approach to the green.
Before you choose your hybrid club for the tee shot on a short par four, take a quick look at the shape of the hole and make sure your hybrid is the right choice. You want to be able to pick out a landing area for the shot that gives you a little margin for error if you miss slightly to the left or right. If the landing area is tight at the distance you would expect from your hybrid, you can consider hitting other clubs – even the driver – that will afford you more forgiveness. The whole idea when picking a club for your tee shot is to set up the second shot, so take all of the variables into consideration before you make your final selection.
It requires patience and discipline to hit less than a driver off the tee of a par four. You probably feel like you want to be aggressive and hit the ball up as close to the green as possible, but that is often the wrong play. Golf is a game of position, and using a hybrid club off the tee on a short par four is frequently the best way to put your ball in perfect position.
Reaching the Green in Two on a Par Five
Without a hybrid club in your bag, hitting the green in two shots on a par five might be close to impossible. You will probably have to take aim at the green with a fairway wood, meaning the ball will be coming in hot and may roll over the back of the green – if you manage to hit it straight enough in the first place. However, with a hybrid club available, you will have a far better chance to hit a long and straight shot that lands soft enough to hold the putting surface. You aren't ever going to hit par five greens in two on a regular basis, but it certainly is a thrill on the occasion when you successfully set yourself up for an eagle putt.
The first step in the process of reaching a par five green in two is, obviously, hitting a great drive. If you have hopes of reaching a certain par five in two shots, you will want to make sure you hit the ball into the fairway off the tee. While most players focus on maximizing distance off the tee on par fives, it is actually more important to hit the fairway. A long drive isn't going to do you any good if the ball finishes in the rough, so do everything you can to put the ball in the short grass.
If you do manage to hit a straight drive that leaves your ball in the fairway and within realistic range of the green, it will then become time to make a difficult decision. Following are some basic pros and cons related to going for a par five green in two shots –
- Pro – The chance to make an eagle! Most golfers rarely have an opportunity to make an eagle, so it is certainly not something you want to miss out on. When you are in range of a par five green after your drive, it will be hard to pass on the chance to knock it on in two and have a putt at eagle.
- Con – The risk of finding trouble. Par fives are supposed to be the easiest holes on the course. Of course you would love to make birdies and eagles on them, but you certainly don't want to make any bogeys. If you go for the green in two and hit a poor shot, you may be left in a position that suddenly requires you to work for your five.
- Pro – Confidence builder. Hitting a great second shot on a par five could provide you with the boost of confidence that you need to play well for the rest of the round.
- Con – Setting up a difficult pitch. The goal on a par five should always be to make a birdie. While it would be nice to make eagle, your game planning should be based around trying to walk off with a four. With that in mind, going for the green in two could potentially leave you with a challenging pitch shot to set up your birdie putt. On the other hand, if you lay up, you should have an easy look at the hole from a nice lie in the fairway.
- Pro – It's fun. Unless you are playing in a high-level golf tournament, there probably isn't much on the line during your round of golf. Sure, you want to play your best and shoot a good score, but you also want to have fun. Simply put, laying up isn't as much fun as going for the green in two. Unless there are serious stakes on the line that you have to consider, going for the green in two is a fun moment that you will remember long after the round is complete.
You will need to choose the club you are going to use for your second shot based on the distance that you have left into the green – but you will likely find that this shot often falls into the range of your hybrid club. Try to approach your par five second shots in much the same way that you deal with a long par three. You would love to actually have the ball finish on the green, but your top priority should be setting up an easy next shot. There is a big difference, however, between par fives and par threes – the greens are par fives are typically not as protected as they are on par threes. Many par fives have open greens with little trouble around the edges, so you should be able to find plenty of opportunities to be aggressive.
It is not necessary to go for the green in two on a par five in order to make a birdie. There are plenty of birdies to be made by laying up, so that is always a viable option. However, when everything lines up just right and you have a chance to reach the green in two with your hybrid club, try to relax and make your best swing of the day.
Other Uses for Your Hybrid Clubs
You don't have to relegate your hybrid clubs to use simply for full shots from long range. There are plenty of other opportunities around the course to put these versatile clubs into action. Following are three situations where you may wish to consider using a hybrid club to play you shot.
- Bump-and-run. If you find your ball just off the edge of the green on the short grass, consider using your hybrid club to bump-and-run the ball up toward the hole. This can be a useful shot because it may be easier for you to execute than a traditional chip shot with a wedge. Also, you can use this technique from farther off the green than you would want to use your putter. Simply rock the hybrid club back and forth using a motion that is similar to your putting stroke. The ball should pop up out of the grass, bounce once or twice, and quickly start to roll across the green. Be sure to practice this technique before putting it to use on the course, as it can take a little bit of time to learn how to properly control your distance.
- Punch out of trouble. Every golfer hits bad drives from time to time – it's just part of the game. When you find your ball in some trouble off to the side of the fairway, consider using a hybrid club to hit a punch shot back toward the short grass. Most golfers hit their punch shots with a long iron, but it can be difficult to hit those shots solid enough to get the distance you need. Make a compact swing with very little follow through when using your hybrid to hit a punch, and you should be able to achieve a low, controlled ball flight.
- Fairway bunker shots. One of the hardest shots in golf is a long shot from a fairway bunker. When you find yourself in this position, consider using your hybrid to pick the ball off the top of the sand. You should find that you have an easier time hitting the shot the full distance to the target when you use a hybrid as opposed to a long iron. However, this shot is likely to come out rather low, so make sure there isn't much of a lip in front of you. If you are in a deep fairway bunker you will probably need to opt for a lofted iron to ensure that you can get the ball out safely.
Any shot that you try to hit on the golf course should first be practiced on the driving range or practice green. Spend some time on the range hitting various shots with your hybrid club so you get comfortable with everything that it can do. Don't just stand there and hit the same ball flight over and over again, either – try to vary the shots you are hitting to test the limits of the club. During this time spent experimenting on the range, you just might discover one or two shots that you didn't know your hybrid club could hit.
Every golfer could benefit from at least testing out a hybrid club or two for themselves. If you haven't yet used one of these handy clubs, visit your local golf store and ask to try one out. Once you see the shots that you are able to hit with a hybrid club in your hands, it likely won't be long before your long irons are collecting dust on a shelf in the garage.