Hybrid golf clubs fill an important space in your bag between the woods and the irons. Often used to replace difficult-to-hit long irons, hybrid clubs have consistently grown in popularity over the last 10+ years, and there is no end in sight to that popularity. Combining the best characteristics of both woods and irons, there is a lot to be gained from adding one or two hybrid clubs to your bag.

    Whether you already own a couple hybrids or you are thinking of adding some to your set, you will need to know how to use them properly if they are going to pay off on the course. In this article, we are going to look at ten of the best tips you can receive on the use of your hybrids. Review the list of tips below as you think about how to most-effectively use your hybrid clubs, and keep this advice in mind when you head out for your next practice session. With any luck, you should find that your hybrids are soon some of the best performers in your entire set.

    Please note that all of the instruction included below is written from the perspective of a right handed golfer. If you play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.

    Just Make Your Swing

    #1 – Just Make Your Swing

    One of the mistakes you want to avoid when playing a hybrid club is trying to change too much about your swing. Yes, there are a couple of minor adjustments that you will need to make in order to have success, but your swing is going to generally stay the same as it is with any other club. Trying to dramatically change your swing from one club to the next is a mistake that is going to cost you consistency on the course, so avoid that temptation at all costs. Trust the mechanics that you have built throughout your time playing this game and you should see great results with hybrids.

    So what are the minor adjustments that you should make to promote success with hybrid clubs? Consider the points below –

  • Play the ball from a forward position in your stance to promote a 'sweeping' action through impact
  • Use a stance that is slightly narrower than the stance you use when swinging a driver or one of your fairway woods
  • When hitting a tee shot with a hybrid club, tee the ball up very low to the ground just as you would when hitting a long iron
  • As you can see, none of the points above represent any kind of major change from the other clubs in your bag. However, these minor adjustments are important, as they can optimize the performance you are going to get from the hybrid clubs you choose to place in your bag.

    Look for Short Par Fours

    #2 – Look for Short Par Fours

    Many amateur golfers automatically pull their driver from the bag when they reach the tee of any par four, but that can be a mistake depending on the specific design of the hole at hand. For instance, if you find yourself on the tee of a short par four which is lined with trouble down both sides, the better decision may be to reach for one of your hybrid clubs in order to put an emphasis on control. Hybrid clubs are great for tee shots on short par fours because they make it easier to find the fairway while still allowing you enough distance to set up a short approach shot.

    When you are trying to decide which club to use from the tee, first think about the overall length of the hole and figure out how much distance you would like to have left for your approach shot to the green. For instance, if the hole is 350 yards and you would like to have 125 left to the green, you will obviously need to hit your tee shot roughly 225 yards. Which club do you hit approximately that distance? For some players that club will be a driver, but others will be able to handle that yardage with one of their hybrids. Whatever the specific numbers happen to be, do this kind of math prior to each tee shot and you will have little trouble picking the right club for the job.

    While it is tempting to reach for your driver on a short par four with the intention of reaching the green, the reality is that trying to drive the green is a relatively low percentage play. Unless you are extremely accurate with your driver, or if you are playing a hole which is wide open in terms of design, laying up from the tee is usually the better choice. By playing a hybrid, you can safely knock the ball into the short grass and set yourself up with an easy wedge – and hopefully a birdie opportunity.

    A Good Option from the Rough – Sometimes

    #3 – A Good Option from the Rough – Sometimes

    It is versatility that is often promoted as one of the biggest selling points of hybrid golf clubs. And, to be sure, these are very versatile clubs which are capable of handling shots in a variety of situations. One of those situations is when your ball comes to rest in the rough. Rather than trying to dig a long iron out of the rough to hopefully reach the green, you can pull a hybrid from the bag and have a much better chance of success. However, while hybrids can be useful out of the longer grass, it is important to note that not all lies in the rough are going to be suitable for the use of one of these clubs.

    So what kind of lie should you have in the rough in order to consider using a hybrid? A thin one. A ‘thin’ lie in the rough is one where the grass, while long, is not particularly dense. Some grasses grow thick when they are allowed to get long, while others are light and wispy in nature. If you have a thin lie, you should be able to go ahead and use your hybrids with very little worry. On the other hand, if the lie is thick in addition to deep, you will want to stick with the conservative option of playing the ball back to the fairway with a wedge or short iron.

    The problem with thick grass when it comes to hybrid clubs is the lack of a sharp leading edge. The leading edge on a hybrid is very similar to that found on a fairway wood – and fairway woods are not exactly known for their performance out of thick grass. On the other hand, an iron will have a relatively sharp leading edge, which can cut some of the grass on the way in to the ball. No club is going to perform perfectly from deep rough, which is why you want to stay out of the rough in the first place, but short irons will give you the best chance to get back in play.

    Copy Your Iron Ball Flight

    #4 – Copy Your Iron Ball Flight

    Many golfers have two different ball flights that they use between their woods and their irons. This often occurs by accident – it is just the way the ball wants to react as a result of the swing. If that is the case for you, do your best to mold your hybrid ball flight in the same fashion as your woods. That means that you will be able to transition nicely from your hybrid into the rest of your iron set, as you are going to be seeing the same kind of shots produced from all of those clubs.

    Of course, this might not be entirely up to you, so it is something you will need to watch to see how it develops. If your hybrid shots seem to want to follow the pattern set out by your driver or other woods, you don’t need to fight against that pattern for too long. As long as the fundamentals of your swing are solid, and your technique isn’t changing too much from club to club, you can go with the ball flight that is naturally occurring. However, if you have a choice and you can manipulate the ball appropriately, it is usually better to pattern your hybrids after your irons rather than your woods.

    Use Your Hybrid to Chip

    #5 – Use Your Hybrid to Chip

    Another great way you can use hybrid clubs to your advantage is by using them in the short game from time to time. Hybrids are able to hit beautiful little bump and run shots with very little practice, and they offer more margin for error than you will find with a wedge. When you bump the ball using your hybrid, the shot will leave the ground for just a fraction of a second before landing and rolling out to the target. This shot is played just like any other bump and run, and many golfers find it to be a trusty and reliable option around the greens.

    To play this shot, you are going to want to use the same grip that you use when holding your putter. With your putting grip in place, stand in a relaxed posture over the ball, with the ball near the front of your stance. Ball position is important here, as playing the ball up off your left heel will make it easier for the shot to momentarily get off the ground. During the swing itself, you are going to do everything just the same as you would when hitting a putt – keep your head still, rock the club back and through with your shoulders, and focus on making solid impact right on the sweet spot. It will take just a bit of practice to learn how to control the speed of this kind of shot, but then you should be off and running.

    To make this shot work effectively on the course, you are going to need to pick the right opportunities to put it to use. You are going to need a clean lie (usually on the fairway cut, or fringe, around the green), and you are going to need to be very close to the putting surface. Since the ball is only going to be airborne for just a brief moment, you can’t try to use this shot when it is necessary to carry some rough before landing on the green. As long as you find the right opportunity, and as long as you have spent a little time practicing the shot, the hybrid chip should lead to excellent results.

    Carefully Select Your Lofts

    #6 – Carefully Select Your Lofts

    When you are picking out new hybrid clubs to add to your set, it is important that you pick clubs with lofts that are going to fit nicely into your set as a whole. You don’t want to have large distance gaps between your clubs, so take an overall look at your set construction before deciding on which lofts are going to make sense for your needs. If possible, it is a good idea to test out the hybrids you wish to order to make sure they are going to provide you with the expected amount of distance.

    For instance, imagine that you are planning to add two hybrid clubs to your bag. You are going to keep your driver, of course, along with a three wood and five wood. Then, you will have two hybrids before you iron set starts (with a five iron, most likely). In order to make sure those two hybrids work to maximum effect, you need them to provide you with distance that is less than your five wood but greater than your five iron. For a player who hits the five wood 210 yards and the five iron 170 yards, having hybrids that fly 200 and 185 respectively would be just about perfect.

    If you fail to gap your clubs correctly, you are going to wind up with overlap in your set – and that means you will basically be wasting spots in your bag that could be used for other clubs. It is pointless to have two clubs which both fly 200 yards, for example, so take the time necessary to locate hybrids which are going to perfectly fill in the hole between your woods and your irons.

    Choke Down to Adjust for Par Three Distance

    #7 – Choke Down to Adjust for Par Three Distance

    Hybrid clubs are a great option on long par threes because they are easier to hit than long irons, giving you a good chance of knocking the ball at least somewhere up near the green. Of course, not every long par three is going to fall into the right distance range for you to use a hybrid, which is why it is helpful to know how to choke down on these clubs when necessary. By choking down, you can take some of the distance off the shot to match up with the hole in front of you.

    Remember, long par threes are some of the most difficult holes on the entire golf course, meaning you don’t necessarily have to hit the ball close to the hole to consider your shot a success. In fact, you won’t even mind missing the green in some cases, as long as you have a relatively easy chip for your second shot. Practice choking down on the range to get a feel for how much distance you can take off the ball. Then, out on the course, favor this style of shot rather than trying to hit one of your long irons as hard as possible. A choked-down hybrid can actually be useful in a variety of situations around the course, and long par threes are on the top of that list.

    A Punch out Weapon

    #8 – A Punch out Weapon

    You are going to hit some bad tee shots from time to time – that is just a fact of life on the golf course. When you are playing a golf course where a bad drive means your ball winds up under some trees, you may need to hit what is known as a ‘punch out’ shot on occasion. A punch out is a low shot that is meant to get your ball safely back onto the short grass as quickly as possible. Although many punch out shots are hit with long irons, you should also consider using your hybrid clubs to handle the task.

    Hybrids are great for punch outs because they offer added forgiveness as compared to a long iron. As long as you make even relatively decent contact with your hybrid club when punching out, you should be able to hit a line drive that will bounce and roll back toward the fairway. It is important to note, however, that hybrids aren’t going to hit punch shots quite as low as something like a three or four iron, so check on how much room you have available before deciding on the best club selection. To punch out properly, use a soft swing while keeping the ball back in your stance.

    Don’t Be Afraid to Add More Hybrids

    #9 – Don’t Be Afraid to Add More Hybrids

    Some golfers feel like they have to stop at owning just one or two hybrid clubs – even if those clubs are highly successful. There is no reason to stop there, however, as you can have as many hybrids as you would like in your bag (as long as you are within the 14-club limit, of course). As a good rule of thumb, you should keep replacing your irons with hybrids until you have gotten rid of all of the irons in your set that traditionally cause you trouble.

    For example, many golfers already have replaced their three and four irons with hybrid clubs. However, many of those same golfers still struggle to hit their five and six irons as well. Rather than sticking with those clubs because they are traditional, they should be moved out of the bag as well if they aren’t performing. Each club in your bag has a job to do, and if it can’t do that job, it should be replaced right away.

    Plan for Some Roll

    #10 – Plan for Some Roll

    For most golfers, hybrid clubs are not going to impart a tremendous amount of backspin onto the ball at impact. This is both a good and bad thing. On the positive side, that lower backspin rate will offer up a flat, penetrating ball flight that can add distance to your shots. Also, those shots should fare well in the wind, since they aren’t floating up high into the sky. However, those same shots are going to have additional bounce and roll when they come down, so you will need to plan accordingly.

    When selecting a target for any hybrid shot, make sure the ball is going to have plenty of room to bounce and roll on the line you have selected. For instance, you can’t really aim directly at a tight pin in the corner of a green when you know the ball is likely to roll off the putting surface and into trouble. Unless the course you are playing is particularly wet, the best bet is to play toward areas which offer plenty of room for the ball to slow down before coming to rest.

    There can be no debate that hybrid clubs are highly useful, versatile pieces of equipment which can be used effectively by just about any golfer. Rather than trying to decide whether or not you should use hybrids at all, you should really be thinking about how many to have in your bag. Once you grow comfortable with the use of these clubs – which should only take a bit of practice time – you can quickly start to put them to effective use on the course. Everyone from the top pros down to total beginners is using hybrid clubs these days, which is a testament to their overall performance and ease-of-use. Hopefully, with the assistance of the tips offered in this article, you will soon be able to get great results from the hybrid clubs residing in your bag.