- 3 Wood vs 3 Hybrid: Differences
- 3 Wood: Pros and Cons
- 3 Hybrid: Pros and Cons
- When to Use a 3 Wood and 3 Hybrid
- Should I Carry a 3 Wood, a 3 Hybrid, or Both?
- My Favorite 3 Wood
- My Favorite 3 Hybrid
The longer shaft and lower loft of a 3 wood produce a low penetrating ball flight, perfect for those wanting extra yards. The shorter shafts and larger heads of a 3 hybrid produce easy launch, perfect for those who struggle to hit long irons accurately.
High handicappers may struggle to hit a 3 wood, but most will be able to use a 3 hybrid.
Remember: Using the wrong club could mean you never reach your potential. And as I’ve explained to hundreds of students, knowing when to carry fairway woods and hybrids is important.
Read on to learn the differences between a 3 wood and a 3 hybrid in loft, shaft, and length, and how these will affect your game.
3 Wood vs 3 Hybrid: Differences
|Graphite, iron, steel
When To Use a 3-Wood
- You’re a mid-to-low handicapper
- You need more distance
- You won’t be hitting into many greens
- You struggle with your driver
When To Use a 3-Hybrid
- You’re a high handicapper
- You struggle with long irons
- You need more height
- You need more accuracy
- You want to hit out of the rough easier
The length of the 3-wood can either help low handicappers or hurt high handicappers. The longer a club is, the more chance there is to mishit. Beginners should try them off the tee first, and they can be used successfully on shorter par 3s.
High-handicap golfers prefer hybrids because they widen the margin of error, so your bad shots won’t be that bad.
A huge advantage to the hybrid is its ability to stop quickly on greens. This is a huge bonus for players who have lost some distance. Long par-4s should no longer be a challenge on any golf course.
3 Wood: Pros and Cons
3 Wood: Pros
- Superior distance
- Easier to shape shots
- Use instead of a driver
The added length and lower loft will encourage your ball to hang in the air longer and produce more roll once it lands. This distance can help from many lies, from the tee to the fairway to the rough and even a fairway bunker or two.
For skilled players, the ability to work the ball left and right is crucial to making up precious strokes. They must be able to control the sidespin to gain this control, which is much easier to do with a 3-wood.
Use As A Driver Substitute
For mid-high handicappers, a 3-wood can be used in place of your driver. The shaft is shorter and, therefore, easier to control. A 3-wood provides more consistency to the average golfer than a driver.
3 Wood: Cons
- Harder launch
- Less forgiving
Hard to Optimize Launch Angle
If not hit correctly, 3-woods will produce a much lower ball flight. This is why they are not great for players who want to hit more greens in regulation. Skulling or even topping a 3-wood is very easy without adequate practice.
Not Very Forgiving
Due to the length and lack of loft, it may be difficult to consistently hit the sweet spot. Even a slight miscue in your setup, posture, or ball position can cause disastrous results with a 3-wood instead of a 3-hybrid.
3 Hybrid: Pros and Cons
3 Hybrid: Pros
- Easier launch
- More precise
- More forgiving
Gets The Ball Airborne
Hybrids are known for easily getting the ball up in the air and over any hazard you may face. This is especially helpful on long par 3s that present water or par 5s where you may encounter some tree trouble.
A hybrid uses many attributes from an iron, which means getting your ball on your intended target line is easy. Shorter hybrid shafts and larger heads compound this so golfers of all levels can experience more accurate shots with an optimal trajectory from further distances.
The genius of hybrids is their combination of accuracy and forgiveness. The unique design corrects mishits, so you can still score well even if you’re not swinging your best. For this reason, I swapped my 3-wood for a 3-hybrid many years ago and have never regretted it.
3 Hybrid: Cons
- Less distance
- Harder to shape shots
While you will have to sacrifice distance if you choose a hybrid over a wood, the other aspects more than make up for this. The smaller clubhead size is to blame for less distance but also for increased accuracy and consistency. Your personal preference will be the ultimate deciding factor.
No Shot Shaping
If you usually play with a little cut or draw, that will still be present. But I don’t think you’ll be able to sling a shot 35 yards around a corner like you would with a 3-wood or 5-wood. Hybrids create a lower spin rate, which helps with straightness but not with shot shaping.
Read More: What Are Hybrid Golf Clubs?
When to Use a 3 Wood and 3 Hybrid
Of the two, a 3 hybrid is the most versatile. You can use it on any swing where you need good penetration — the head shape is designed to be able to cut through grass and dirt. This is especially useful to high-handicappers who may struggle to hit fairways at first. A 3 hybrid allows you to hit approach shots from almost any lie every time confidently.
The 3 wood, on the other hand, is more specialized. It works well on grassless surfaces and for punch shots, but it’s perhaps most commonly used off of the tee. This is because an extra bit of elevation makes a 3 wood far easier to hit — a 3 hybrid is a poor choice here.
Should I Carry a 3 Wood, a 3 Hybrid, or Both?
To carry or not to carry a 3 wood or 3 hybrid, that’s the question! Carrying a 3 hybrid is almost a lock, given the amount of versatility it offers. It’s also super forgiving, which is appealing to all skill levels. However, whether you carry a 3 wood is more up for debate.
- The reality is that there are not that many situations where you will want to choose a 3 wood, so it’s probably not deserving of a slot in your golf bag.
- Given that a 3 wood is difficult to use on the fairway, it’s likely to be tee shots that you’ll use it for most of the time.
- At the other end of the spectrum, we see plenty of pros carrying a 3 wood. The two PGA Tour stars that come to mind are Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler, for example.
Of course, some people may want to carry both. Ultimately, these clubs don’t have much overlap in utility, so they bring different benefits to your game.
My Favorite 3 Wood
For the ultimate in distance, I always go with TaylorMade. The line of SIM clubs has been super popular on tour and at local clubs nationwide. The advanced technology provides a hot face with a slender clubhead to increase forgiveness as much as possible for a 3-wood.
My Favorite 3 Hybrid
All hybrids will be forgiving and easy to hit; however, no hybrid provides the kind of distance the Callaway Big Bertha B21 does. After using this on the driving range, I took it out on the course, and sure enough, it performed just as well. It has a unique look at address that may take some getting used to, but overall, this club is worth its weight in gold.
Is It Better to Have a 3 Wood or 3 Hybrid?
A 3 hybrid is the more complete club so it is what we recommend. You'll find yourself reaching for it far more often due to the versatility and forgiveness that it offers, and this is true for beginners all the way up to the pros. So in the debate of 3 hybrid vs 3 wood, the 3 hybrid comes out on top.
What Hybrid Is Equivalent to a 3 Wood?
Given the loft angle of a 3 wood is usually between 15 and 18 degrees, you'll want to choose a low-lofted hybrid if you want a direct replacement. The Lazarus Golf 2 hybrid is a good option.
Does a 3 Wood Go Farther Than a 3 Hybrid?
If you strike the ball cleanly, a 3 wood will almost always go further than a 3 hybrid. On average, a 3 hybrid can generate 180-210 yards whereas a 3 wood can produce 210-230 yards.
Read more: If you want to check out the best hybrids or learn about the 5 wood vs 3 hybrid, we have full write-ups for both.
Clint is PGA-certified and was a Head Teaching Professional at one of Toronto's busiest golf academies. He was also featured on Canada's National Golf TV program, "Score Golf Canada," twice. He graduated with a degree in Golf Management from the College of the Desert in California and studied under Callaway's co-founder, Tony Manzoni.
He has a handicap index of 6.2 and spends the winters near Oaxaca, Mexico, where he plays twice a month at the Club de Golf Vista Hermosa. He's written over 100 articles at GolfSpan since 2021. You can connect with Clint at LinkedIn, FB, his website, or Clintcpga@gmail.com.
- Best score: 68
- Favorite club: Odyssey White Hot Two-Ball Center-Shafted Putter
- Favorite ball: Titleist Pro V1x
- Favorite food at the turn: Hot dog