What Are Hybrid Golf Clubs & How Do They Differ?

Cobra was the first company to launch a version of a hybrid club with the release of the Cobra Baffler in 1975. But today, most golfers rely on hybrid golf clubs, so what exactly is a hybrid golf club?

A hybrid golf club looks like a wood but hits like a long iron. It offers more forgiveness on off-center strikes and versatility from the tee, fairway, and rough. Its ability to get a ball out of the rough led to the original name of a rescue club.

When TaylorMade released their version of the hybrid in 2003, calling it a rescue club, it led to a revolution in golf clubs which became extremely popular.

In this article, we look at what hybrid clubs are used for and their benefits.

Best Overall Golf Hybrid  Best Affordable Golf Hybrid Best Premium Golf Hybrid
Callaway Mavrik Hybrid Cleveland Launcher Halo Hybrid TaylorMade SIM 2 Max Hybrid
  • High-quality components and shaft
  • Helps golfers with a slower swing speed
  • Incredible distance
  • Low center of gravity
  • Great for getting out of difficult lies
  • Low center of gravity
  • Very well priced
  • Higher launch that other hybrids on the market
  • Low center of gravity
  • High performing steel face
  • Speed pocket technology
  • Incredible distance
  • The clubhead is a bit large
  • Not for the lower handicap player
  • Feel is not as great as some other options
  • The newer technology will be a bit longer
  • Priced on the high end of the pricing spectrum

What Is A Hybrid Golf Club?

Distinctive features of hybrid golf clubs:

  • Titanium or steel face 
  • Low and backward placed center of gravity for increased forgiveness
  • Wide sole with a low profile to cut through the turf 
  • Lofts ranging from 16-degrees to 27-degrees 
  • Similar to woods, hybrids generally use graphite shafts

Hybrid Design

The design of the hybrid club is interesting. The head resembles that of a fairway wood, it is hollow steel or titanium with a slightly convex face. Like those found in woods, this convex shape gives the long irons’ forgiveness.

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

With the hollow center, the curved face 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.

What Are Hybrid Golf Clubs Used For?

Many golfers experience difficulty hitting long irons, from 4-iron up to the 1-iron. The clubhead is relatively small, the shaft a bit longer, and the results are usually not satisfactory. Generally, long irons require more clubhead speed to get the ball airborne.

The result is that these clubs are generally avoided. Fairway woods could be substituted. They have a much larger sweet spot, but their longer shafts are not always the best alternative.

This is where hybrid golf clubs come in.

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 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 concave face’s impulse or trampoline effect, 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. The ball will drop quite steeply and settle on the green with little rollout as the backspin slows down.

The same shot played with the equivalent iron, we are talking long irons here, would result in a lot more rollout, 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.

Reasons To Buy Hybrid Clubs 

The hybrid design generates a high MOI combined with a low, deep CG providing more forgiveness on mishits while promoting high spin for high launch.

Generally, hybrids have some offset enabling you to square clubface at impact resulting in longer and straighter shots.

Hybrid designs allow manufacturers to generate exceptionally thin and strong clubfaces that increase COR for faster ball speed leading to more distance.

A special sole design on hybrids minimizes sole area contact with the turf for easier to hit high, long shots from all types of lies.

Do I Need A Hybrid Club?

Hybrids offer so much versatility for golfers of all levels and have found their way into the bags of several professional golfers. You will likely benefit from carrying at least one hybrid in your bag.

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.

How And When To Use A Hybrid Club?

The versatility of golf hybrid clubs combined with their forgiveness makes them so popular.

You can use a hybrid on nearly any position on the golf course ranging from the tee to putting from off the green.

Some of the more frequent areas where hybrids are used are:

Bump And Run From Just Off The Green 

One way of using your hybrid out on the golf course is almost using it as a little chipper from just off the side of the green with a little bit of fringe to get over.

It’s almost like a putter with more loft. One concern is that the hybrid’s shaft is longer than a putter shaft making it more difficult to control. Gripping it lower on the grip will provide more control over the shot.

Avoid too much wrist hinge or wrist break. You don’t have to get the ball in the air, the loft will do that for you. Just pop the ball over the fringe using your putting stroke and then roll up the ball close to the flag.

The flatter sole of a hybrid won’t dig into the turf as is possible with an iron.

Rescue Shots

When TaylorMade released their first version of a hybrid, they called it a rescue club.

This is because they are great at rescuing you out of tricky situations, especially below the trees where you have to keep your shot low.

The ball tends to pop off an iron clubface making it difficult to keep it below the tree line. A hybrid will enable you to knock the ball back onto the fairway with a short swing.

A flatter bottom won’t dig into the turf while gripping down on the grip allows you to keep the swing short. 

The clubface combined with the extra weight of the hybrid head design will produce a low penetrating flight keeping the ball under the branches. Keep the shaft slightly forward to aid in keeping the ball lower.

Hitting From An Old Divot

Sometimes, you are extremely unlucky and end up in a divot that wasn’t repaired properly.

Well, a hybrid comes to the rescue yet again.

The flat bottom allows the club to glide through the turf effortlessly, allowing you to muscle the ball out of the divot.

I will require you to hit down a little more to get the ball on the right trajectory and the hybrid to generate the height required.

Fairway Bunkers

Most golfers don’t think of resorting to their hybrid clubs to hit out of a bunker. 

This is a great club to get the ball to advance farther down the fairway, provided that the lip is low enough for you to get it out.

Its big flat bottom with a low center of gravity enables you to catch the golf ball nice and clean and not dig into the sand.

A Juicy Rough Lie 

Some rough lies contain whippy grass that catches the clubhead by wrapping around the head and shaft. In these cases, golfers tend to hit the shortest club in the bag to lift it out of the rough and advance the ball into the fairway.

A hybrid will be able to glide through the grass better than a long iron, thus adding more distance for a shorter shot in on your next shot.

Hold on tighter to the grip to prevent the club from twisting too much.

The ball will pop up easier from the hybrid clubface to lift it back into the fairway.

Should Women Use Hybrid Clubs?

Hybrid clubs will benefit women tremendously in gaining accuracy and distance by using hybrid clubs.

Hybrids generally hit the ball farther than a similarly lofted iron and are more forgiving than irons.

Hybrid Clubs & The Future

hybrid club

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 to 5 have been replaced, and a 7-fairway wood is 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.

What Pros Carry Hybrids In The Bag?

Many of the top Pros will put a hybrid into the bag, but may not stay there during a tournament. Matt Kuchar, a 7-time winner on the PGA Tour carries a 17-degree Ping Anser in his bag and is very effective with the club. Jason Duffner, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, and Webb Simpson often turn to hybrids during tournament play. Most pros would have put them into play during favorable conditions.

Why do pros carry hybrids in their set?

Course and weather conditions would be deciding factors to put a hybrid or maybe even 2 into the bag. If the weather is calm, but the fairways are very wet with no roll, airtime will make up for the loss of rollout distance on the fairway.  Hard, fast, and unreceptive greens may call for high, soft-landing approach shots to get the ball close to the pin.


man hitting hybrid golf club

What Does a Hybrid Golf Club Replace?

Hybrids are generally used in place of long irons from the 3-iron to the 5-iron. However, it is not unusual to see hybrids as a replacement for a 6-iron.

What Is the Difference Between Hybrid and Regular Golf Clubs?

Hybrid clubs are similar in specifications to their iron counterpart but generally produce more distance than the iron.

Its design pushes the center of gravity lower and toward the back of the head for more forgiveness and a higher trajectory.

What Are Hybrid Golf Clubs Used For?

Hybrids are probably the most versatile club in your bag that can be used anywhere from tee to green. The design of hybrids makes it ideal for tee shots, fairways, and out of the rough as well.

Can You Use a Hybrid off the Tee?

The wood-like design makes the hybrid extremely comfortable off the tee. It will also provide accuracy and ample distance on tight fairways.

Wrapping It Up

What is a hybrid golf club and what are the benefits of using a hybrid?

I hope this article on hybrid golf clubs explained has shed some light on the benefits of using a hybrid club and the versatility you will get from a single club.

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.

Read more about: The Best Hybrid Clubs for High Handicappers

Writer | Website | + posts

Charl is an avid golfer who studied marketing and advertising. He is fascinated by new golf equipment technology, and the perfect swing mechanics. You can connect with Charl on LinkedIn, IG, or FB

You might also like these