Not long ago, deciding which clubs to put in your bag was a simple proposition.
The typical golfers set included three woods (driver, 3-wood and 5-wood), 10 irons (2 through 9, pitching wedge and sand wedge) and a putter for a total of 14, the maximum allowed under the rules.
Its a little different these days. While the driver and putter remain constant, the rest of the set is up for grabs. The advent of the lob wedge and gap wedge means many golfers carry four wedges. Hybrid clubs have bumped the 2-4 irons from most bags, and often the 5-wood as well. Lately, some golfers are choosing to replace every iron with a hybrid.
Bottom line: Set makeup isn't as cut-and-dried as it used to be. While putting together a set may seem more complicated, greater flexibility allows you to fine tune your clubs to best meet your needs.
One thing hasn't changed: Choosing clubs remains a matter of personal preference. That's especially true when deciding how many hybrids to carry. Some golfers like the look and feel of traditional irons, while others find the hybrids larger, rounder head more appealing. Most golfers have a crossover point, where their preference for hybrids gives way to an inclination toward irons.
For instance, you might like the performance of hybrids where the 3- through 6-irons would normally go, but prefer traditional irons in the higher lofts starting with the 7. There's only one way to find out where your crossover point lies -- by experimenting.
Lets say you want to keep your conventional wedges, but are interested in going with hybrids below that. Give your current clubs and corresponding hybrids a side-by-side tryout. Hit 10 balls each with your 8-iron and an 8-hybrid, noting the accuracy, distance and quality of contact on every shot. Also, pay attention to your confidence level with the different clubs at address, how high the ball travels, and which club produces a more pleasing feel at impact.
You may decide to stick with the regular irons. Maybe you'll discover that hybrids deliver better results. In the latter case, its possible to ditch your irons entirely. Thomas Golf offers complete sets of hybrids, numbered 1-9 plus the pitching, gap and sand wedges.
All-hybrid sets are becoming more and more common among golfers who find them easier to hit than conventional irons – even the shortest ones.
Hybrid Golf Clubs: How Many Should I Carry?
One of the biggest changes in the world of golf equipment over the last decade or so is the rapidly growing popularity of hybrid golf clubs. hybrid clubs have taken the market by storm, moving from a small niche to a major portion of the industry. Today, if you were to look into the bag of any random Tour player, you would likely see at least one hybrid club. Not every golfer uses them – but almost. It is safe to say that hybrid clubs have become an integral part of the golf landscape, and they will likely remain there for many years to come.
The appeal of hybrid clubs is obvious from the very first time you try one. As the name would indicate, they combine some of the best elements from both fairway woods and long irons. Fairway woods are popular because they are relatively easy to hit, and can carry long distances. Long irons are popular for the control and lower ball flight that they generally offer the player. In a hybrid club, you can combine most – or all – of those benefits without having to deal with the drawbacks that both fairway woods and long irons come with. When it comes to hitting the ball a long distance while still being able to accurately hit the ball toward the target, hybrid clubs are a great option.
Of course, you have to figure out what club or clubs you are going to sacrifice in order to make room for a hybrid or two. You probably already carry 14 clubs in your bag, which is the limit allowed under the rules of golf. That means, if you wish to add a hybrid, something else has to go. Naturally you will look to remove a fairway wood or a long iron to make space, but picking exactly which one can be a little tricky. In the end, you want to be left with a set of clubs that will give you the best chance to deal with the challenges you encounter on the course. You don't want to come across a difficult shot on the course only to find that you don't have the right club in your bag for the job. Building a complete set, including hybrids, requires some forethought and specific consideration to the kind of player that you are.
The process of deciding how many hybrid clubs you are going to carry doesn't have to be complicated, but it will take a little bit of time to study your own game and spot places on the course where a hybrid club could come in handy. Once you evaluate the state of your current set of clubs, it should quickly become obvious where a hybrid would fit into the mix.
Any golf instruction contained below is written from the perspective of a right handed golfer. If you are a left handed player, be sure to reverse the directions as necessary.
Get Started with a Complete Inventory
Before you kick one or more of your current clubs out of your bag in favor of a hybrid, you need to know exactly what each of these clubs is doing for you at the moment. While you might think that you know the capabilities of each of your clubs, it is best to work through this process just to be sure. You may end up being surprised at which clubs aren't as much help as you thought they were.
To get started, make a list of the 13 full-swing clubs that you carry in your bag (not counting the putter). Obviously, your driver isn't going anywhere, so that is another one you can probably cross off the list right from the start. You should be left with 12 clubs at this point. Now, over the course of your next few rounds of golf, make a note of the distance that you hit each shot during the round, along with the club that was used. You can quickly mark this information on your scorecard as you play. At the end of each round, compile all of the information onto a single sheet of paper (or computer spreadsheet) for easy review. Once a few rounds have gone by, you should have a clear picture of your expected distance for each of the 12 clubs in question.
As you review this information, look for a gradual progression of distances throughout the bag. For example, if you hit your 3 wood 225 yards, you should hit your 5 wood in the neighborhood of 210 yards. Likewise, if you can hit your pitching wedge 110 yards, you should be hitting your gap wedge around 100 yards. Ideally, you will see an even progression from one club to the next all the way through the ball. In reality, however, there are probably a couple of spots in your bag where you have a couple of clubs going nearly the exact same distance.
This is most-common with the long irons. Many amateurs, after completing this process, will find that they hit their three and four irons almost the exact same distance. That is a problem. Why use up two slots in your golf bag on clubs that go the same distance? You want to take advantage of every club that the rules of golf allow you to have. When two clubs go roughly the same distance that means that one of them might need to go away.
You are likely to notice this problem not only in your long irons, but in your wedges as well. Commonly, amateur players will hit their pitching wedge and gap wedge within just a few yards of each other. A difference of five yards or so isn't enough to justify carrying two separate wedges for that distance range. One of those wedges should be dropped, and you can learn to cover all of the distances in that range simply by practicing the speed control in your swing.
Work through the process described above and take a careful look at your results. If you find that you have two or more clubs that are serving basically the same purpose in your bag, those clubs are prime candidates to be removed in favor of a hybrid club.
Whats the Problem?
In order to justify making an equipment change of any kind, you should have a specific problem that you are trying to solve. As it relates to adding a hybrid club, what is the issue that you need to fix? Between your fairway woods and your long irons, where are you falling short? Only when you can answer this question clearly will you be able to pick out exactly the right hybrid club to solve your problem.
As you certainly understand, long irons and fairway woods are among the most-difficult clubs for the average golfer to hit properly. Below are a few of the common complaints that amateur golfers have regarding the shots they hit with their long clubs. Review the list and see if any of them apply to your game.
- Lack of control. While it will always be harder to hit your long clubs straight than your short clubs, you still want to have a level of control over your fairway woods and long irons so you can put them in play on a consistent basis. After all, it can be a great help to use these kinds of clubs off the tee on short par fours and long par threes, but they wont do you any good if you cant hit them straight more often than not. Your swing determines where the ball ends up going, but switching to a hybrid club could make it a little easier for you to make an accurate swing that sends the ball right down the middle.
- Not high enough. Another issue that the average golfer faces is not being able to get their long shots high enough up into the air. When the ball stays too low to the ground, it is difficult – or impossible – to control once it lands. So, you might be able to hit the ball straight enough with your long irons, but you cant control them properly after they bounce when the ball flight is too low. hybrid clubs are designed in such a way that they will almost always be easier to get up into the air as compared to a traditional long iron.
- Cant hit them off of the turf. It is one thing to be able to hit a fairway wood or long iron off the tee, but it is another thing altogether to hit good shots with those clubs right off the turf. If you would like to go for a par five green in two shots, you will need to be able to hit these clubs off the ground with confidence. Likewise, long clubs are often needed from the fairway when playing a long par four. hybrid clubs are frequently easier to hit directly off the ground because of the way they are designed.
Think about the recent shots that you have hit with your fairway woods and your longest irons. What do you like about those shots, and what do you wish you could change? Most likely, the answers to those questions are going to be different for the fairway woods as compared to the long irons. Most golfers have no trouble getting fairway woods up off the ground, but control is often an issue. On the other hand, you might be able to hit your long irons straight – but that is only when you strike them well enough to get the ball up into the air. A hybrid club might be able to offer you the best of both worlds.
It is important at this point to make a clear distinction between the limitations of your equipment and the limitations of your swing. Getting some hybrid clubs isn't going to fix your swing flaws, and you shouldn't expect to hit radically different shots just by purchasing a couple of hybrids. What they can do, however, is improve the ball flight you achieve with your good swings. A bad swing is a bad swing, and no club is going to correct it. The whole point of adding hybrids to your bag is to maximize the results you get when you hit the ball well. If you are hitting long iron shots solidly, for example, and still not getting the kind of flight that you want, that is a key sign that it might be time for a club change.
Which Clubs to Toss Out?
Unless you decide to get rid of one of your wedges to make room for a hybrid, the choice is most likely going to come down to eliminating either a long iron or a fairway wood. Most golfers who aren't yet using a hybrid carry a driver, three wood, five wood, and then a set of irons that runs 3-PW. That means that the spots you are going to open up for a hybrid most likely will come from the five wood, three iron, and four iron range. That is the spot in the bag that usually stands to enjoy the most improvement when a hybrid club is added to the mix.
But which clubs do you get rid of? For the vast majority of amateur players, the best bet is going to be getting rid of one or more long irons. Your long irons are the hardest clubs in your bag to hit properly, and they require the most speed to get the ball up into the air nicely. Trading out a long iron or two in favor of a hybrid can quickly give you more options for the long shots that you face on the course. Instead of hiding from your long irons – which is what most amateur players do – you will likely find yourself looking forward to opportunities to hit your newly added hybrid clubs.
If you decide that you are going to swap out at least one of your long irons in favor of a hybrid club, the next question is exactly how many long irons you are going to drop out of the bag. While you might only think about trading one or two for a hybrid, your game might benefit from switching even more clubs out. There is no point in carrying clubs that you are unable to hit, so the best choice is to get rid of as many irons as necessary until you are confident in every club in the bag.
The best way to make this final determination on how many hybrids you will carry is to test your irons out on the range one at a time. So, for example, imagine that you have already decided to trade out your three iron in favor of a hybrid. That is a good start, but it might not make sense to stop there. Hit some shots with your four iron on the range and be brutally honest in your self-evaluation. How good are the shots that you are hitting? Could you do better with a hybrid in place of that four iron? If the answer is yes, then making the change should be an easy choice.
Continue down your iron set until you reach a club that you are sure you can hit well. For some players that will be the four iron – for others, it might not come until the six or seven iron. Don't go into this process with any preconceived notions. Simply test yourself with each of your irons and make the best choice for your game. Put any ego aside at this point as well – there is no shame in carrying a set of clubs made up mostly of woods and hybrids. The only goal on the golf course is to play in the fewest shots possible. It doesn't matter what your set of clubs looks like as long as you are able to lower your scores and reach your goals.
Putting the Hybrids to Use
One of the reasons that hybrids have become so popular is their versatility. There are countless opportunities around the course to use your hybrids, and you might even be surprised by some of the shots that you end up playing with one of your new clubs. Following is a list of a few of the many chances you will have to play a shot with a hybrid.
- Off the tee. Most amateur golfers hit their driver far too often. Whether they want to impress their friends with a long drive, or just don't understand course management, countless shots are wasted by amateur players simply because they hit driver when they don't need to. Adding hybrids to your bag can help you break this bad habit. hybrid clubs are great off the tee, especially on short par fours. They offer a nice combination of power and accuracy, which is exactly what you need on shorter holes. When using your hybrids off the tee, make sure you don't tee the ball too high in the air – this will cause contact high on the club face and a loss of distance will result. Tee the ball just over the top of the grass and keep your eyes down on the ball until after contact has been made.
- Par five second shots. Many golfers find that this is their favorite place to use a hybrid club. When you hit a good drive on a par five, you are often faced with a choice – layup, or go for the green in two. The hybrid is frequently the perfect choice to go for the green in two because they tend to be easy to hit off the turf. Of course, you don't want to get so aggressive on par fives that you end up making mistakes and wasting penalty shots. You still need to pick your spots and make good decisions, but there are likely to be plenty of chances for you to have a go at the green in two shots on a par five using your hybrid clubs.
- Bump and run. hybrids aren't just about hitting long shots. When faced with a difficult chip shot around the green, consider using your hybrid to play a bump and run. This will only be an option when the ball is sitting on the short grass since the hybrid isn't going to be well-suited to getting down through deep rough to make contact. However, when you do find that you have a good lie and no rough between you and the target, a hybrid chip shot is a great option. Be sure to practice this shot before using it on the course because it takes some practice to learn how to control the speed properly.