Hybrid clubs have grown in popularity thanks mainly to one fact: It's easier to make solid contact with a hybrid than a long iron.
Hybrids have other benefits, too. For example, they slide through thick rough without snagging, and make a great option for long chip shots near the green.
Add one more plus to the hybrid column: Higher ball flight and softer landings.
In general, each hybrid is numbered to match the iron it's meant to replace. A 3-hybrid, for example, produces shots of similar distance to a 3-iron. The difference is, a ball hit with the hybrid will fly higher than one struck with the iron.
A few factors account for the extra lift. For one, the hybrid's deeper clubface places the center of gravity (COG) lower and farther from the ball. The lower the COG, the higher the ball will launch from the club.
Hybrid clubs typically feature larger sweet spots than their corresponding irons, and a well-struck shot flies higher than a mishit. Finally, most hybrids feature graphite shafts while iron shafts are usually steel. Graphite is lighter, generating greater clubhead speed and a loftier trajectory.
Why Do Hybrids Hit the Ball Higher?
For the most part, it is your golf swing which will determine the kind of ball flight you are able to produce. If you make a good swing, you should be left with a solid shot. Make a poor swing, on the other hand, and you will be lucky to see the ball head toward the target. It is always going to be your swing which is the main determining factor in the kinds of shots you hit, but your clubs have something to do with this equation as well. By picking the right club for the type of shot you have in mind, you will be able to increase your chances of success.
In this article, we are going to discuss why you can expect to hit the ball higher with a hybrid than you can with a similarly lofted long iron. You might think that clubs with the same loft would hit the ball relatively close to the same height, but that is not necessarily the case. There is more to the height of your shots than just the loft which is found on the club. In addition to loft, the weighting of the club, the size of the club head, the shaft, and more will all play a part in the trajectory you are able to create. By matching up the right clubs with your swing at the right time, you can produce ball flights which will help you to safely navigate any golf course.
Of course, there is more to like about hybrids than just their ability to hit the ball high. In addition to a high flight, hybrids also offer forgiveness at impact, versatility, added distance, and even the ability to play some simple bump and run shots around the green. By adding a hybrid or two to your set, you will be gaining a great number of advantages over a player who chooses to only use long irons. Hybrids have become popular in recent years for a reason – they have a lot to offer your game. If you haven't yet tried them out for yourself, now would be a good time to do so.
As you read through this article, it is important to keep in mind your own personal needs on the course. Do you need to hit the ball higher, or is your current ball flight high enough? Players who play most of their golf in windy locations, for example, would rather keep the ball low to the ground as opposed to tossing it high up into the air. Fortunately, you can fine tune the trajectory you achieve with your hybrid clubs, so you can still use these versatile sticks even if you don't need to hit the ball any higher. By choosing a stiffer shaft, for instance, you should be able to bring the flight of the ball down into an optimal range for your game.
All of the content below is based on a right-handed golfer. If you happen to play golf left-handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
The Hybrid Advantage
It helps to have a solid understanding of how your clubs work when you are trying to build a better game. No, you don't have to be a club fitting expert or anything like that, but you should at least know a little bit about why the ball flies the way it does when struck with certain clubs. In this section, we are going to help you to understand why your hybrid clubs have an easier time getting the ball up into the air as compared to a long iron.
The following points highlight the main advantages you will find in getting the ball airborne with one of your hybrids.
- Lower center of gravity. This is really what it is all about when it comes to the battle between long irons and hybrids. With a hybrid club, you are going to have more weight in the bottom of the club head, meaning a lower center of gravity. That low center of gravity is going to cause the ball to want to fly higher in the air. Since a hybrid has a hollow head, the weight can be concentrated in the sole, which makes the lower COG possible. With a traditional iron, the head is solid and the center of gravity will remain higher as a result. You will see some game improvement long irons which have wide soles in an effort to move the center of gravity down, but those efforts will never be able to move the COG down as far as a quality hybrid club.
- Lighter overall weight. As mentioned in the previous point, hybrids have hollow club heads. That is good news for the center of gravity, but it is also good news for the overall weight of the club. Hybrids are almost always lighter than long irons, meaning your swing speed will be higher as a result. With a higher swing speed, you can add spin to the golf ball, and the shot will move higher up into the sky. This is also part of the reason why most golfers will find additional distance when switching to hybrids, as their swing speed will see a boost without any changes being required to their actual technique. If you feel like your traditional long irons are too heavy for you to whip through the hitting area effectively, try out a hybrid to see if your swing comes to life at impact.
- Longer shaft. In many cases, the shaft that comes in your hybrid club head will be slightly longer than the shaft you would find in a similar iron. Again, this is another way you can gain some speed – and some height on your shots as a result. With a longer 'lever' to work with, you will develop more speed and the ball will climb high into the air time after time. Of course, using a longer club can make it slightly more difficult to find the sweet spot, so you need to focus on maintaining good balance anytime you are using a long club.
- Additional forgiveness. The added mass that you get with a hybrid club head as compared to a long iron is going to provide you more forgiveness at the moment of impact. With that in mind, you are going to be able to put a decent strike on a higher percentage of your shots. Therefore, your average ball is going to fly higher in the air. If you have ever miss-hit a traditional long iron, you already know what those shots look like in the air. Typically, they barely get off the ground at all, instead flying low to the turf until they land and take wild bounces around the course.
As you can see, there are many advantages to using hybrid clubs when you are trying to get the ball high up into the sky. The club will not do all of the work for you, of course, but it is going to be a great partner in the quest to elevate your shots. The top professional golfers in the world are all able to hit the ball with impressive height, and using hybrid clubs will take you a big step in that same direction.
Is Hitting the Ball Higher a Good Thing?
So far, we have been talking about how using a hybrid club can help you get the ball higher in the air. But is this a good thing? What is it about hitting the ball higher that is going to benefit the average player? As you will see in this section, it is usually a great thing to be able to hit your hybrid clubs high in the sky. You won't want to reach for this type of ball flight on every single shot you hit, but more often than not hitting your hybrid high is going to be the right way to go.
The following list includes several advantages you will enjoy when you start to hit the ball high with your hybrid clubs.
- Hold the green. When you are trying to hit the green with a hybrid shot, you will stand a better chance of holding the ball on the putting surface when your shot comes in high. You may be able to land the ball on the green with a lower trajectory, but it is unlikely that the ball will stay on the green when it has finished with the bounce and roll phase of the shot. By bringing the ball in from high up in the air, the bounce will be shorter and there will be less overall rollout. It will never be as easy to hold the green with a hybrid club as it is with a wedge, but hitting the ball high will give you your best possible chance.
- Keep the ball in the fairway. The same logic which applies to holding the green applies here when talking about tee shots. If you decide to use your hybrid club from the tee – such as when you need an accurate tee shot on a short par four – you will appreciate the added control that comes from a higher trajectory. Again, it comes down to bounce and roll. With the ability to keep the ball relatively close to where it lands, you won't have to worry about running out of fairway before the ball stops. This is particularly important when playing into a fairway with a dogleg. Don't let the dogleg cause you to wind up in the rough for your second shot – hit a high tee shot and bring the ball down gently into the short grass.
- Use the wind. When you get the chance to play downwind, you can use that breeze to your advantage by sending the ball high up into the air. For example, if you are playing a relatively long par four which is narrow in the landing area, you might be able to use your hybrid for the downwind tee shot. Instead of risking your accuracy by reaching for the driver, pull your hybrid and toss the ball well up into the sky. The wind will carry it down the fairway, and you should be left with a manageable approach shot as a result.
- Get over obstacles. One of the problems with traditional long irons is their incredibly low launch angle. If you need to hit the ball a significant distance, but you also need to get over an obstacle in front of you, a long iron really isn't going to do the job. A hybrid, on the other hand, is perfect. By getting the ball up quickly, you may be able to clear the obstacle in question while still getting plenty of yardage from the shot as a whole.
- Long shots over hazards. This advantage will often be seen when playing long, difficult par three holes. If you find yourself on the tee of a par three with a hazard in front of the green, you will need a club that you can hit high while still covering the distance in question. Rather than bringing in a low shot with a long iron, you can hit a high hybrid which may just be able to hold the green if you hit an accurate shot. Long par threes are some of the most difficult holes on any golf course, and your hybrid club is likely to become your best friend when you face such a challenge.
Hitting the ball high with your hybrid is great news for all of the reasons listed above. With a few exceptions, a high ball flight is going to make the game easier. You will be able to stop your shots quickly after they land, you will be able to carry the ball over hazards, and you can even use the wind to your advantage when the time is right.
Deciding to Go Low
As outlined in the previous section, it is a great idea to hit the ball high up into the air with your hybrid clubs. Or, that is, it is usually a good idea to hit the ball high. Nothing is absolute in golf, so there are a few exceptions to the desire for a high ball flight. From time to time, you will want to be able to flight the ball down closer to the turf.
The obvious example here is when playing shots into the wind. If you need to hit your hybrid on an into the wind shot, it is important to know how to adjust your technique to bring the flight down. Or, if you are playing a dry and firm course, and you would like to use those conditions to get great roll on your shot, you will again want to hit the ball low. Whatever the case, this is a shot that you should have in your bag just in case.
When you would like to hit the ball low, make the following adjustments to your swing.
- Swing softer. One of the first things you should do when a lower flight is necessary is to turn down the volume on your swing. In other words, don't swing so hard through the hitting area. A hard swing is going to produce a high rate of backspin, and backspin is your enemy when trying to hit the ball low. Despite the fact that you probably feel as though you need to swing hard to reach the target, do your best to be disciplined and swing soft. With a smooth, even tempo in your swing, you can achieve clean contact without adding too much spin to the ball.
- Move the ball back in your stance. Unless you are a total beginner, you probably have heard this tip before. To hit the ball lower, one of the things you can do is simply to shift the ball back in your stance. This adjustment doesn't need to be a dramatic one – just an inch or two should do the trick. The club will have less effective loft when you make contact while the ball is back in your stance, and your backspin rate should be reduced as well. Many golfers find that they hit a slight push when using this tip, so consider aiming slightly to the left of your target before making a swing.
- Choke down on the grip slightly. This is an important adjustment which pairs with the previous point on moving the ball back in your stance. Once you have tweaked your ball position appropriately, be sure to move your hands down slightly on the club in order to tighten up your swing. Your overall arm swing will be shorter when you choke down, and the club will have less speed through the hitting area.
It actually is not that difficult to hit the ball lower on command. The adjustments above a pretty simple, as long as you try them out on the range before giving it a shot on the course. Whether you are holding a hybrid or any one of your other clubs, these tips should bring your flight down closer to the earth.
How Many Hybrids Should You Carry?
Once you have seen how easy it is to hit the ball high with a hybrid club, you are likely to want to add one to your bag as soon as possible. But should you stop at just one? Not necessarily. Considering how beneficial these clubs can be, you may want to add two or more hybrids to your set.
As a good rule of thumb, you should consider purchasing a hybrid to replace any long irons which you are not confident enough to use in an important spot during a round of golf. Do you feel good about using your three iron when you have to carry the ball over a hazard? What about a four iron? Keep going down the list until you find the point where your confidence starts to appear in your iron set. It would be silly to carry clubs that you don't actually want to use on the course, so toss out any irons you don't like and replace them with hybrid clubs right away.
When replacing irons with hybrids, it is important to note that you should be trying to approximately replicate the distance that you have lost, not necessarily the loft. Buying hybrids which are of the same loft as the irons you are getting rid of really isn't going to work. Instead of loft, think about distance first and foremost. If you can match up the distances of your new hybrids with what your old irons used to produce, the distance gapping in your set should remain intact.
It also needs to be mentioned that you shouldn't be worried about what anyone else thinks when you are picking out the clubs which will make up your set. Some golfers look down on players with a lot of fairway woods or hybrids in the bag, thinking it is more traditional or accepted to use a full set of irons. Ignore those kinds of golfers. The only goal in golf is to shoot the lowest possible score while remaining within the rules of the game. You aren't breaking any rules by using several hybrids if you so choose, so forget about this issue. Create the set that you would like to use and stick with it for the long run.
In almost every case, a hybrid club will hit the ball higher than a long iron of similar loft. With the ability to hit high shots and the forgiveness that comes with a hollow club head, picking hybrids over long irons is a pretty easy choice. Should you happen to be a rookie when it comes to hybrids, try one out right away to learn just how they can affect your game in a positive manner. Good luck!