What Are Hybrid Golf Clubs & How Do They Differ?

A hybrid is generally known as a mixture of two different species or things, usually trying to get the best attributes of both.

Quick Answer: Hybrid golf clubs are a mix of woods and irons in an attempt to get the best features of each into one club. The hybrid will take the easier swing mechanics of iron play and combine this with the more forgiving nature of the wood.

What Are Hybrid Clubs – And How Do They Differ?

Many golfers have difficulty with the long irons, from 4 up to the 1 iron. The clubhead is relatively small, the shaft a bit longer, and the results usually not satisfactory. The result is that these clubs are generally avoided. Fairway woods could be substituted. They have a much larger sweet spot, but with their longer shafts are not always the best alternative.

Hybrid Design

The design of the hybrid club is very interesting. The head resembles that of a fairway wood, it is hollow steel or titanium with a slightly convex face. This convex shape, similar to those found in woods gives that forgiveness which the long irons lack.

This curved face creates what is called the “gear effect” or the shot correction which straightens out any shot slightly off-center hit on the heel or toe.

The curved face, with the hollow center, has a unique effect when striking the ball. Not only does the ball compress, but the clubhead also compresses and launches the golf ball as if it is coming off a trampoline.

Unlike the fairway woods, the back of the hybrid does not extend as far back, however, the loft or angle of the club is the same as the equivalent iron. The 7 hybrid, for example, will generally have the same loft as a 7 iron, the weights, and shaft lengths will also be comparable.

Hybrid vs Iron Difference

How does the hybrid club behave differently from the iron version to make it a better option? Average or recreational golfers have a problem getting enough height from their long irons.

Pros seem to be able to hit a 1 iron as high as the average golfer hits a wedge, but they have greater swing speeds and greater swing skills. The clubhead of the hybrid, size-wise, is not as deep as that of a wood but is deeper than the shallow head of the iron.

With this additional depth, it is possible to place the center of gravity further back than would be the case on an iron. With the center of gravity further back from the face, combined with the impulse, or trampoline effect of the concave face, the result is height.

The average golfer can now play his hybrid and get the ball to launch and fly which was often not possible with the iron.

Apart from the increased launch angle and height achieved there is a further advantage thanks to the impulse, the trampoline effect, and that is backspin. This dual effect of height and backspin gives the hybrid a great advantage in certain situations.

You should be getting the same distance as you would get with the iron, but here’s what happens next. As the backspin slows down the ball will drop quite steeply and settle on the green with very little roll out.

The same shot played with the equivalent iron, we are talking long irons here, would result in a lot more roll-off, possibly enough to overshoot the green into all sorts of trouble at the back.

Imagine a long approach to a green protected by water in front and a bunker behind the green. A 1 or 2 iron should get you there, but can you stop the ball on the green and avoid the bunker?

Maybe you should just lay up and play it safe. With a hybrid in your bag, this internal debate might not be taking place.

Hybrid Clubs & The Future

Hybrids have not only replaced the long irons but in many cases, the fairway woods have made room for a hybrid in the bag. Fairway woods from 3 down to 5 have been replaced, and a 7 fairway wood is indeed a rarity. 3 Iron and 4 iron equivalents are the most common hybrids, with the 1 and 2 iron being mostly ignored.

Some ladies’ sets might include a 5 hybrid. It is, however, possible to get a complete set of hybrids, but the norm is to replace one or two irons with a hybrid.

Anywhere that an iron shot may prove difficult would be a reason to revert to a hybrid, it might be a tight corner or even in the rough. Hybrids generally are not great for getting out of the rough because they don’t have that sharp leading edge of the iron and will tend to bounce rather than cut through long grass or rough.

Because of the sharp launch angle, a hybrid would be a problem trying to punch out from under low lying trees and bushes. That does not mean that you can’t bump and run a hybrid onto the green. With practice, you will soon discover the benefits, and limitations of your hybrids.

This video will give you some advice on how to use your hybrids.

Wrapping It Up

Another benefit of hybrids is that it offers most golfers more confidence at address.  Those that were intimidated by their long irons will be a lot more comfortable hitting a hybrid. This confidence is important and should help many players.

Initially, hybrids were considered an alternative for beginners but they are now used by many golfers even those with low handicaps and, increasingly, pro golfers.

These clubs were initially known as “rescue” clubs, but have grown into their own and are now so much more. They have enhanced and improved the quality and satisfaction of golf for so many average and recreational players while also proving popular with better golfers.