It's conventional wisdom that hybrid golf clubs work better than long irons for the vast majority of golfers. In fact, many players can benefit by swapping their middle irons (5 through 7) for comparable hybrids.
Who should consider replacing their mid-irons with hybrids, and why?
In general, anyone whose drives carry 200 yards or less may benefit from such a move. Because their swing speeds are relatively slow, these golfers often struggle to get good height and distance from any club longer than an 8-iron.
The hybrid's lighter shaft generates more club head speed than a typical mid-iron, while its broad hitting area and wide, rounded sole makes it easier to strike solidly – a sure way to produce higher, longer shots. Hybrids also slide through rough more easily than irons and can be extremely useful around the greens.
Many golf club manufacturers make hybrids that match the playing characteristics of mid-irons. For example, Thomas Golf (For more information on Thomas Golf Hybrids:) offers traditional and square-shaped hybrids numbered 1 through 9, plus hybrids with lofts replacing the pitching, gap and sand wedges.
Should You Replace the Mid-Irons with Hybrids?
Assembling a good set of clubs is one of the many important tasks that you must complete on your way to becoming a quality player. If you don't have a good set of clubs in your bag, it will be extremely difficult to play well on a regular basis. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to have an expensive set – you can certainly compile a good set while sticking to a budget. However, it does mean that you are going to have to think carefully about which clubs you decide to use, based on the specific skills that you possess. If you use clubs that are well suited to your game, you will increase your chances at success – while using clubs that are ill fitted to your swing will be a recipe for disaster.
Traditionally, a set of 14 golf clubs would have been made up of either two or three woods, 11-12 irons, and a putter. Of course, one of the woods would be a driver, and some of those irons would fall into the wedge category. This setup served millions of golfers well for a long time, but there are more options on the market today that you need to consider. Specifically, you should think about replacing some of your irons with hybrid clubs. Many golfers have already made this switch, and the results can be impressive in some cases. Where irons can be difficult to hit solidly for some players, hybrid clubs are forgiving and make it easy to get the ball up into the air.
For the average golfer, replacing long irons with hybrid clubs is a pretty easy choice. After all, long irons are notoriously difficult to hit, and you will need a high swing speed just to get the ball up off of the ground. However, there is no reason you have to stop with the long irons. If you are having good success using hybrids instead of long irons, you should think about adding even more hybrids to your set in place of the mid-irons. As with long irons, mid-irons can also be difficult to hit for some players, especially those with low swing speeds. The design of a hybrid club will help you achieve a higher trajectory in most cases, meaning you can bring the ball in to the green softly and stop it quick to set up a birdie putt. Hybrid clubs obviously aren't going to do all of the work for you, but they can make life on the course quite a bit easier.
Unlike some of the other clubs in your bag, which may be used for a variety of purposes, mid-irons are used almost exclusively to hit approach shots into the greens. Whether you are playing your tee shot on a par three or your approach on a par four or five, the mid-irons are intended to be able to do one thing – place the ball close to the hole. If your current collection of mid-irons is not getting that job done properly, it might be time to try a different tactic. By swapping out your current irons for hybrids, you just might be able to breathe life into your approach game.
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.
Forget the Stigma
One of the hurdles that stands in the way of many golfers building a set of clubs which will serve them well on the course is the stigma that comes along with using a non-traditional set. Many golfers still cling to the notion that a 'real' player will have a set which is constructed in the traditional manner – including a full compliment of irons. Of course, this line of thinking is ridiculous, and it prevents many players from reaching their potential. It doesn't matter which clubs you decide to use to make up your set, as long as they help you get the ball in the hole as quickly as possible. The rules of golf allow for 14 clubs to be carried in your bag during a round, and each one of those 14 clubs should be helping you perform your best. If you decide to use traditional irons simply because that is what other people expect you to do, you will be standing in your own way when it comes to reaching your goals.
The first step toward assembling a good set of clubs is setting aside any preconceived notions of how your set should be designed. It should make no difference to you which clubs other golfers happen to be using – your game is unique and you should carry 'tools' that are going to maximize your skills. All golfers have strengths and weaknesses – the best sets of clubs are those that highlight the strengths and minimize the weaknesses. No matter which club you have to reach for in order to handle a particular shot, you should pull that club from the bag with confidence. If you don't have confidence that you can hit it successfully, it shouldn't be in your bag in the first place.
As it relates to using hybrid clubs to replace your irons, some golfers feel that this is a move that should only be made by seniors and others who can't generate enough clubhead speed to hit good shots. That simply isn't true. This is a move that should be made by anyone who can improve their game as a result of the switch. Have you tried out any hybrids with lofts that would work to replace your mid-irons? If not, you shouldn't judge this idea before you've given it a try.
Testing equipment is the only way to truly know how it will perform in your game. Even if you already hit relatively good shots with your mid-irons, it is worth your time to experiment with hybrid clubs to see if they could potentially allow you to play better. Just a single range session with a few lofted hybrid clubs will be enough to tell you if this is an idea worth pursuing, or if it is something you should forget about entirely. Switching mid-irons out for hybrid clubs isn't going to be right for everyone, but it also shouldn't be dismissed without at least a test and some consideration. The best way to improve your game over time is to be open to new ideas – many of those idea will go nowhere, but the ones that work could pay off in a big way.
It's All About Yardages
As you put together your set, you need to think about the clubs you are adding to your bag in terms of yardage rather than loft. Most likely, if you are trying to replace mid-irons with hybrids, you aren't going to be able to match them loft-for-loft. For instance, you don't need to track down a hybrid club with the exact same loft as your six iron if you are hoping to replace that six iron. Instead, you should be focused on finding a hybrid that will go the same distance as your six iron when it is struck properly.
Before you start shopping for hybrid clubs, make a quick chart of your yardages with all of the irons in your bag. Be realistic with this chart, writing down reasonable carry yardages for every club. Being realistic means that you shouldn't write down the absolute best-case scenario yardage when you usually can't hit the club that far. So, if you normal hit your seven iron 150 yards in the air, you shouldn't write down 165 just because you hit the ball that far with your seven iron one time under perfect conditions. These numbers aren't about ego – they are about making it possible for you to replace your mid-irons with hybrids that will go the same distance.
Having yardage gaps within your set of clubs is one of the biggest issues that you can have with your set. You need to be prepared for any yardage that may come up during a round of golf as you never know what kinds of shots the course is going to ask you to produce. Of course, you would have to carry hundreds of clubs in order to cover every single yardage perfectly, so you are always going to have to possess the ability to take something off of your swing from time to time. However, within your set of irons (or hybrids), you want to avoid having any gaps of more than 12-15 yards. If you are dealing with a gap of 20 yards or more between clubs, for instance, you are going to have a tough time dealing with the yardages that fall inside of that range.
To illustrate this point, let's say that you decide to replace your six iron with a hybrid club, and you keep your seven iron as the longest traditional iron in your bag. For this example, we will say that you are able to hit your seven iron 150 yards comfortably. Now, if you add a hybrid club in place of your six iron, and you hit that hybrid around 170 or 175, you suddenly have a problem. There will be a big gap of 20 or 25 yards between your longest traditional iron and your shortest hybrid. What are going to do when you have 162 to the flag? You probably can't swing hard enough to reach the target with the seven iron, but it will be tough to take enough off of your hybrid to make that club work.
Obviously, in this case, you need to find a hybrid club that will fly around 160 – 165 yards. That will leave you with a comfortable gap between your seven iron and your shortest hybrid, and you can then build your set from there. Don't put too much weight on what the clubs are called or even what loft they feature – focus only on how far you can actually hit them when on the course. Even if your lofts line up beautifully throughout the set, you still may find that you have an awkward gap that gives you trouble. It will take a little bit of time and experimentation to land on a set that lines up nicely from a yardage perspective, but it will be worth your effort when you finally assemble a set that you can trust from the first tee to the last green.
Striking Lofted Hybrid Clubs
If you do decide to add some hybrid clubs to your set in place of your mid-irons, you will need to know how to swing these clubs correctly in order to get great performance. Even though these hybrid clubs are meant to go the same distance as your mid-irons, they actually need to be swung differently than your irons if they are to be effective. The design of hybrid clubs allows them to perform in a certain way, and you need to make a golf swing that will permit them to be at their best. The following tips should help you bring your lofted hybrids perfectly into impact time after time.
- Make a flat swing. The most important difference between hitting shots with mid-irons and hybrids is that you need to make a flatter swing with the hybrid clubs. When hitting traditional mid-irons, you want to strike down into the turf to impart backspin and send the ball climbing into the sky. However, when playing shots with your hybrid clubs, you want to come into impact on a flat angle of attack. It is the sole weighted design of the hybrid that will help the ball get up in the air, so hitting down isn't necessary. In fact, these clubs are not designed for a downward impact, so you may struggle to strike the ball cleanly if you do hit down. Basically, you want to sweep the club off the top of the grass in order to get the best possible performance from your lofted hybrids.
- Smooth tempo. It is always a good idea to use a smooth tempo in your golf swing, but it is even more important when hitting hybrid clubs. You want to make a long and flat swing which accelerates gradually into the ball prior to impact. Some players are able to get great results with a shorter and quicker swing when playing with traditional irons, but that style is unlikely to pay off with a hybrid club in your hands. Focus on tempo during your practice sessions to improve your performance with the hybrids in your bag.
- Pick the right lie. Hybrid clubs are best suited to good lies, such as you get when playing from the tee or the fairway. They can be used from the rough in some circumstances, such as when the rough is cut relatively low and is not particularly dense. However, trying to hit your hybrids from extremely deep or thick lies just isn't going to work, so you shouldn't even try. When you do face a difficult lie on the course, consider using one of your short irons to pitch the ball back into play safely. You could quickly waste a couple of shots or more trying to slash your lofted hybrids out of a bad lie, and that is a mistake you certainly don't want to make.
- Forward of center. The ideal ball position for your hybrid clubs is slightly forward of the center of your stance. If you leave the ball right in the middle of the stance, you are going to tend to hit down on the shot – which is what you are trying to avoid. By placing it approximately halfway between the middle of your stance and your left foot, you should be able to achieve a flat angle of attack. The precise ball position that will work for you is going to vary from club to club, so experiment with each of your hybrids until you find the perfect spot to use for each.
- Swing through to the finish. This is great advice for every swing that you make on the course. Rather than quitting on the swing as soon as the ball has been struck, keep your body moving all the way through to a full finish. You should be holding your finish at the end of the swing, with your weight nicely balanced over your left leg. Countless amateur golfers quit on their swings right after making contact, and they lack power and accuracy as a result. The finish of your swing does matter, so move your hybrid clubs aggressively through impact and on up to a balanced finish each and every time.
You don't need to dramatically change your golf swing in order to hit good shots with your hybrid clubs, but you do need to approach them in the right way. Use the tips above to guide your practice session with the lofted hybrids you are using to replace your mid-irons, and improved results should be soon to follow.
No change that you make to your golf game is without its drawbacks, and that is the case when it comes to swapping out mid-irons in favor of hybrid clubs. There is a lot to like about this idea, but there are some negatives as well. You will have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself before deciding if you are going to go ahead with the switch. The following points are on the downside of this equation –
- Dealing with bad lies. This point was mentioned above, and it is highlighted again here due to its importance. When you use hybrids instead of traditional mid-irons, you may have trouble getting down to the ball when it is stuck in some longer grass. If you regularly play courses that feature long rough, this could quickly become a problem, as you might have to pitch out to the fairway more often than you would prefer. Think about the courses you usually play and take their characteristics into consideration when organizing your set.
- Lack of backspin. While hybrid clubs are able to supply plenty of loft to your shots thanks to their design, those shots aren't likely to have very much backspin. Bringing the ball in high will help you stop the ball to a certain degree, but nothing stops the ball quite like a high backspin rate. If your local courses tend to feature firm greens – typical of warm and dry climates – you might find that you can't hold the greens on approach shots with your hybrid clubs. For environments that demand a high spin rate in order to hold the putting surface, using hybrid clubs instead of mid-irons might not be the best idea.
- Lack of continuity. As was mentioned above, you are going to have to make a different type of swing with your hybrid clubs as compared to your traditional irons, which could make for some awkward transitions from one to the other. For instance, if you have hit two or three approach shots in a row with your traditional short irons, and you then need to hit one with a hybrid, it could be hard to get your swing in order. By using a full set of traditional irons, you will have more opportunities throughout the average round to make a 'normal' iron swing.
Switching out your mid-irons in favor of hybrid clubs is an option that you should at least consider. This isn't going to be a successful game plan for every golfer, but it does have the potential to help a portion of the golfing population get closer to reaching their potential. By making it easier to get the ball up in the air, hybrid clubs can take away some of the usual frustrations associated with hitting mid-range approach shots. Give this method a try by demoing some lofted hybrids on the driving range – you just might be surprised at the results.