Golf is not just a sport of sheer talent and skill. In order to excel, you also need the best gear available to maximize your ability and gain an edge on opponents. When it comes to your golf clubs, it pays to have the latest technology.
Hybrid irons are much more forgiving than standard irons and are ideal for golfers who prefer to sweep the ball rather than hit down and taking a divot. Amateurs and professionals alike benefit from this type of golf club.
Essentially, hybrid golf clubs are a cross between standard irons and fairway woods. Two features that make hybrids user-friendly are the club length -- the same as a standard iron of the same number – and the wide sole that responds well to a sweeping swing. Also, some hybrids have faces with “bulge,” which provides shot correction on toe or heel hits; conventional irons lack this feature. The heel-toe weighting of hybrid irons makes them more forgiving as well.
The head of a hybrid iron is manufactured from stainless steel, similar to a fairway wood or standard iron. Because of the hard face and wide sole, even a slower swing can produce ball height usually common with faster swing speeds. Hybrid irons are also very accurate and allow for a greater margin of error on off-center hits.
Top Five Facts About Hybrid Irons
Over the last 10 or 15 years, hybrid irons (often just called 'hybrids') have taken the golf world by storm. This is a relatively new category of golf clubs, but it has quickly become one that is represented in the bags of many golfers, both amateur and professional. No longer do you need to pick between 'woods' and 'irons' when buying golf clubs - hybrids walk the line between the two categories, and they bring some of the advantages of each to the table. There is a good reason that hybrids have gotten so popular in recent years, as they are simply highly-functional clubs that have the ability to produce a wide range of quality shots out on the course.
As you might have guessed from the title of this article, it isn't just one thing that makes hybrid clubs worth your attention. Instead, there are actually a number of advantages to using these kinds of clubs, which is why so many golfers have made the switch in recent years. In the content below, we are going to review five of the most important facts regarding hybrid golf clubs and what they can do for your game. Once you get a clear picture of just how helpful a hybrid or two could be when placed in your bag, it is likely you will make it a point to try one out sometime in the near future.
#1 - They Are Easier to Hit Than Long Irons
This is probably the top selling point for hybrid clubs. Long irons are notoriously difficult to hit, even for players with quality swings are able to post relatively good scores. It isn't just beginning golfers that struggle with the long irons - even some pros have swapped out long irons in favor of hybrids because of the forgiveness that they provide. If you are a player who is constantly dreading the shots that you have to hit with your long irons during the course of a round, it is time for you to consider adding a hybrid in order to improve your performance from long range.
Why are hybrids easier to hit than long irons? It all comes down to the size of the club head. Long irons have thin profiles, meaning there isn't much behind the ball at impact to help save your shot if you miss-hit it slightly. A long iron shot that is hit off the toe or the heel - even only by a fraction of an inch - is likely to come up short of the green, and it will likely fly off target as well. If you made the same swing and same miss-hit with a hybrid club, however, the result of the shot would likely be far more playable. Sure, you might not hit a perfect shot when you catch your hybrid off-center, but those misses are going to be playable much more frequently than they would be if you were playing a traditional long iron.
Forgiveness is something that you should be looking for throughout your bag with any clubs that you purchase. The ideal golf club is the one that allows you to produce the shots you desire while still allowing your misses to be playable. Professional golfers use clubs that are slightly more demanding than the clubs most amateurs use, because the pros want detailed control and they are good enough to execute their shots. However, for the majority of am players, the emphasis should be on forgiveness first prior to control. With clubs in your bag that are going to help you make the most of your miss-hits, you should be well-positioned to play some of your best golf going forward.
As a basic rule of thumb, you should replace any long iron that you don't have confidence in when you stand over the ball. If you hesitate to pull your three or four iron from the bag because you aren't sure that you can hit them solidly, the smart choice would be to replace those clubs with hybrids. There is no point in carrying clubs in your bag that you don't want to hit, so kick out those long irons that make you nervous as soon as possible.
Before moving on to the next point about the benefits of hybrids, we should talk briefly about nostalgia in golf, and how it can be damaging to your game. There are some players out there who are refusing to pick up a hybrid club simply because it is a new technology and they want to keep their game 'traditional'. This is obviously a silly way to look at golf, and it is almost certainly holding those players back from reaching their potential. Remember, everything has to be new at some point, and hybrids are simply one of the latest developments in club design and style. Metal woods were once a new idea, as were graphite shafts and all other inventions that the game has seen. Rather than pushing back against the future, the best thing you can do is embrace the clubs that can help you to play better and keep yourself in touch with the modern game. In the end, you will have more fun without having to fight long irons that you can't hit, and your scores will improve as well.
#2 - They Fly High
Getting the ball up in the air is something that is difficult for many amateur golfers, but it is crucial in the pursuit of lower scores. Hitting the ball higher provides you with more control over where it ends up, because it is not going to roll out as much after landing. While it is possible to get the ball close to the hole by letting it run up to the target, that method will never be as reliable or consistent. Also, if you keep the ball closer to the ground as it flies, you will have a harder time accessing targets that are protected by hazards such as bunkers and ponds. There is a good reason why most pros try to hit the ball way up into the air - it is simply easier to shoot good scores when you do so.
With that in mind, using a hybrid or two in your set is a great idea in large part because of how high these clubs can hit the ball. As compared to a long iron, a hybrid is going to be able to launch the ball well up into the sky when struck properly, meaning you can come in from a high trajectory even on long approach shots. Whether you are trying to deal with a long par four, or maybe trying to get on a par five green in two, hitting high and long shots is a wonderful thing. Even if you are making the exact same swing that you make with your long irons when you hit your hybrid, you should still be able to expect significantly higher results.
While the ability to hit your hybrid irons high in the air will be an advantage anywhere you happen to play golf, this is a particular advantage when you play on firm courses. If you tend to play golf in an area that is dry and warm, you are likely to encounter firm turf that is not particularly receptive to your shots. Under those conditions, it is extremely important that you are able to hit the ball as high as possible when coming in from long range. Playing on damp and soft courses means high shots are less important, although they can still be helpful.
You are likely to notice the biggest difference between your long iron and hybrid trajectories when you hit shots from the fairway. Off the tee, it is relatively easy to get the ball up in the air, even with a long iron, but that task becomes far more difficult when you are hitting right off the turf. So, on long par fours and par fives where you have lengthy second shots, the hybrid's ability to get the ball up into the sky effectively is going to be very useful to your scoring efforts.
#3 - They Are More Versatile Than Fairway Woods
You might be thinking the following - if I need to replace my long irons with clubs that are easier to hit, why wouldn't I just choose some fairway woods? While this is an option that can work for some players, most golfers will find that fairway woods don't offer the same degree of flexibility that is offered by hybrid irons. A hybrid club has a stronger leading edge much like a long iron, which will allow it to carve through longer grass far easier than a fairway wood. Hybrids are never going to be clubs that are perfectly suited for playing from the rough, but they can get the job done in most situations.
If you have ever tried to hit a three wood or even a five wood out of some long grass, you already know just how difficult that task can be. The hosel of your fairway wood will tend to get caught in the grass as you approach impact, which will twist the clubface before you ever get a chance to contact the ball. The result of this problem is obvious - your shots are usually going to fly off line, and they will rarely reach the target. Fairway woods are great clubs to have in your bag when you are playing from the short grass, or from the tee, but they are far less useful when the grass starts to get a little longer.
Another way you might find your hybrid clubs to be more versatile than your fairway woods is in your ability to turn them both ways. Since hybrids are swing like irons rather than woods, many players find it easier to both draw and fade them on command based on the shot required. Switching up your ball flight with a fairway wood can be tricky, especially if you are trying to hit a fade when you usually hit a draw. The swing shape that you will use with a hybrid lends itself to varied ball flights, so an advanced player should be able to carve the ball around the course beautifully.
It is also easier to choke down on a hybrid club to take distance off the shot than it is when swinging a fairway wood. Again, this is due to the characteristics that are shared between an iron and a hybrid. By coming down on the grip of your hybrid just an inch or two, you can effectively take distance off the shot (and you might be able to alter your ball flight in this way as well). Coming down on the grip of your fairway wood may manage to take some yardage off the shot, but this process won't be as predictable as it is when you employ it with a hybrid. Distance control is one of the main keys to playing good golf, so having the option to choke up for control is a nice bonus that comes with hybrid clubs.
#4 - They Are Useful Off the Tee
Too many golfers hit driver on every par four and par five during a round. Of course it is fun to hit driver when you get the chance, but most golf courses are designed in a way that should make you think twice on at least a few of the holes. Blasting away with the driver off the tee without first thinking about your strategic approach to the hole is simply a bad choice. The right way to play the game is to stand on each tee with an open mind before you select a club. That club might wind up being a driver in the end, but it is important to think through your options before hitting the shot.
One of the options that you carefully consider should be your hybrid. It is simple to hit hybrid clubs from the tee, as you will have a little more forgiveness thanks to the space between the ball and the ground. Your hybrid should offer you a fair amount of distance - obviously not as much as your driver, but likely more than any of your long irons. In exchange for the distance loss from the driver, however, you will be rewarded with improved control. That is the whole point of reaching for a hybrid on the tee in the first place. You will be deciding that it is more important on this specific hole to hit the fairway than it is to achieve maximum distance. Naturally, this is a choice that you will make on a narrow hole, or a hole that is guarded by water or out of bounds.
The best way to make your club selection choice is to think backwards from the green to the tee. Look down the hole and decide how far you would like to have in for your approach shot. On a short par four, you might hope to get to the 100 yard mark, or you might be okay with 175 when playing a long par four. No matter what that mark is on a given hole, pick it out and then do some math to figure out how far you need to hit the ball from the tee. If you are hoping for the 100 yard mark and the hole is 330, you obviously need to hit the ball 230 yards. Is that a good distance for your hybrid? Or maybe your three wood or even driver? Whatever club it is, pull that one from your bag and make a great swing.
Before you hit your hybrid from the tee, be sure to pick out a specific target in order to get yourself aligned correctly. A common mistake that is made by amateur golfers is to make a nonchalant swing when laying up off the tee. Thinking that there isn't really anything that can go wrong when hitting a hybrid tee shot, some players will just walk up and swing quickly - only to see the ball sail off line. You need to give all of your shots the same degree of effort and attention, whether they are a full-power driver or a simple hybrid layup. To execute correctly, pick out a specific target, align your body perfectly, and use good rhythm to knock the ball right down the middle.
#5 - They Can Be Used in the Short Game
Golfers who hope to reduce their average score should always look first to the short game. The short game is where you stand to improve the most in a short period of time, so resist the temptation to rebuild your swing and instead work on your chipping and putting. One good way to improve your short game performance is to add new shots to your arsenal - such as a hybrid chip shot. If you are going to carry a hybrid club in your bag, you should work on getting as much use from that club as possible (after all, you only get to carry 14). By learning how to use your hybrid to hit a basic chip shot, you will be putting the club to use even when you are within short range of the green.
To use your hybrid to chip, you are first going to need to find a good lie. You shouldn't try to chip with a hybrid when your ball is in the rough, as the leading edge isn't going to do enough to cut through the grass (and there isn't enough loft to get the ball airborne properly). When you are in the rough, reach for a wedge and play a traditional chip shot. However, if you do draw a clean lie in some fairway-length grass around the green, you just might be able to employ a bump and run with your hybrid.
Once you confirm that you have a good lie, the next thing to consider is your path to the hole. Do you need to get the ball up in the air, or can it scoot along the turf all the way to the cup? Obviously, a hybrid isn't going to be the right choice when you have to get air under the ball to carry an obstacle. Hybrid chipping is only good when you want to keep the ball down on the grass - in many ways, it is like a putt from off the green. You bump the ball with the hybrid clubhead, it bounces and skids a few times, and then rolls out to the cup.
Now that you know what to look for when thinking about hitting this shot, you need to understand how the shot is actually hit. At address, you are going to take a stance that is very similar to your putting stance, and you are going to choke down on the grip at least a couple of inches. The idea is to make a putting stroke style motion, with your shoulders rocking back and forth while your hands stay quiet. It won't take much effort to hit the ball hard enough to reach the hole in most cases, as the ball is going to rebound off the face of the club quite quickly. Be sure to spend some time practicing this hybrid chip shot before you consider attempting it on the course. You shouldn't have any trouble making clean contact, but controlling your distance may be a challenge at first. Stick with it in practice and soon you will be left with a reliable and useful little short game shot.
There isn't much bad that you can say about hybrid clubs. They are relatively easy to hit, they are versatile, they get the ball up in the air, and they are a nice break from the challenge of long irons. If you haven't yet tried one for yourself, make sure you put that task on your golf to-do list. Most likely, you will love your experience and you will be ready to purchase one or two of these clubs in the very near future.