What is a Hybrid golf club? UPDATED WITH 2017 LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

Most golfers today generally replace their long irons (1-5 iron) with custom built hybrids, rather than double up. However as you are allowed to carry any set of 14 clubs, it is not unheard of for a player to carry both a 3-hybrid and a 3-iron for example, with the hybrid instead replacing the fairway wood; the higher-mass iron club-head would be preferable to the hybrid.

The relentless march towards technological golfing perfection means that today’s hybrid features a loft range that can run from 2-iron through to 7-iron and their wide soles help both lower the centre of gravity and are able to cope with many different types of lie. Shots that would otherwise have been very difficult to play with a conventional long iron, are made a whole lot easier.

The hybrid has a few advantages over the traditional long iron. Let’s get an introduction from Joe Plecker:

Hybrid vs. Long iron – the differences

Martin O’Neil PGA professional explains the crucial differences between the two options and why using a hybrid can seriously improve your all-round consistency and sanity!

Club-head Design

“The traditional iron has transformed from the blade style to a cavity back (perimeter weighted) design. The reason is such that should you strike the golf ball on the toe or the heel of the club-head the club has a consistent thickness from toe to heel so you will have a greater force provided at impact in comparison to a blade style club where the exact center of the clubface needs to be struck for solid contact as the blade gets thinner closer to the heel and toe.

Hybrids are constructed with a vast amount of perimeter weighting because the club-head is larger and hollow in design much more so than the latest game improvement cavity-back iron. Therefore, should you have the propensity to hit the clubface off-center (heel or toe) you will be provided with a much more consistent contact than the alternative. Also, the majority of hybrid designers have incorporated “roll and bulge” on the club face. This refers to the slight roundness of the face progression from heel to toe.

The purpose of this is that should you hit the ball off the heel the ball will produce spin, due to its gear effect, back to the right for right-handed golfers and should you hit it the ball off the toe the ball will produce spin to the left”

Sole Design

“The traditional iron was designed with a very slim sole or bottom. The purpose of this was so to allow the club to “dig” into the turf so when swung properly, with the hands ahead of the club-head producing a downward strike on the ball, we could take the proper divot and produce spin on the golf ball. Unfortunately, the majority of golfers have a tough time hitting with this technique and are more inclined in taking a divot prior to striking the ball.

This is much more frequent in hitting long irons because golfers attempt to induce more lift to the ball and are susceptible to hitting with their hands behind the club-head at impact or in a “scooping motion”. This causes the slim sole of the iron to dig into the turf and hence, the divot flying typically further than the ball. The hybrid’s sole is much wider in an attempt to alleviate this problem. With the wider sole the club-head instead “skids” along the turf reducing or eliminating the potential for taking a divot before striking the ball.

Also, the hybrid in its larger club-head design and wider sole has more weight lower and further back which produces more lift to the ball. By having a lower center of gravity the hybrid promotes a higher launch angle than the traditional iron”.

Shaft and length 

The traditional iron set make-up is constructed with steel shafts while the majority of hybrids are constructed with graphite shafts. The reason is twofold. One, because graphite is typically lighter than steel it allows the operator the ability to swing the club faster and produce more club-head speed. This in turns produces a greater spin rate on the golf ball and more carry.

And second, the majority of these hybrids are produced with graphite shafts that have a lower flex point. This means that the club flexes further down the shaft and promotes a higher lift or launch to the golf ball. The length of the shaft is also longer than the traditional iron shaft. The reason is that the club-head construction is much lighter with its hollow (perimeter weighted) design, so by designing the shaft longer it allows the golfer to swing the club faster”.

How to hit a Hybrid

If you are looking for ease of use and overall performance there is no doubt that owning a hybrid (with the correct loft integration with your other irons), will make a dramatic difference.

The margin for error with such an enlarged sweet spot and enhanced peripheral weighting does make a huge difference. These allow for mis-timed and poorly struck shots to perform much better than would have been the case with forged or cavity backed long irons.

There was a time when the hybrid was a frowned upon transition club between your fairway woods and irons, not so any more.  In the end, when the pros start developing a penchant for a particular club, the rest of us usually follow. Hybrids will go a long way to decreasing the number of hard-to-hit clubs in your bag, and have become a mains stay addition to most golfers armoury.

Four of the best hybrids to try

54c2ac10b8ff6bbe0a2088ec_hybrid-adams-red-365Adams Red  Amazon Price: $230  Lofts: 16, 18, 20, 23, 26

I have used an Adams 20 degree hybrid for the last five years having had it custom fitted at Urban Golf, and it has transformed my game. Technology has improved though over the past few years and this model is highly rated with Golf Digest in their recent 2015 Hotlist Hybrid review. UPDATED with thanks to Jordan Fuller https://www.golfinfluence.com/gear/clubs/best-hybrid-golf-clubs-2017-guide/.

Pros: Adjustable weight settings allow you to customise the club to your own particular circumstances. Alternatively, you can keep the weight in the center for maximum energy transfer. Amateur: Complicated weight adjustment


54c2ac96b8ff6bbe0a20896d_hybrid-callaway-XR-365Callaway XR/XR Pro  Amazon Price: $220/$230  Lofts: 19, 22, 25, 28/16, 18, 20, 23

Pros: One of the more popular hybrids in use today with the pros. Callaway’s wraparound thin face now gives even more at the bottom. The internal weighting on the sole is positioned low and forward like a wave (lower than last year’s X2 Hot). Higher MOI and the Lowest Center of gravity with a redesigned head shape creates even more forgiveness. Amateur: The Pro leans toward driving-iron feel.




Cobra Fly-Z/FLY-Z XL.  Amazon Price:$200/$170  Lofts: 2-3 (adjusts between 16-19 degrees), 3-4 (19-22), 4-5 (22-25)/19, 22, 25, 28, 31

Pros: Cobra’s Fly-Z hybrids address the long-iron problems of distance and accuracy. There’s the standard Fly-Z in three adjustable heads so you can dial in your distances. The offset, closed-face XL is designed to combat a slice. Both share distance technologies of a lighter face and rear weighting. Amateur: Shaft lengths for the highest lofts are too long.



Ping G3054c2ae71b8ff6bbe0a2089fd_hybrid-ping-G30-365.  Amazon Price:$220  Lofts: 17, 19, 22, 26, 30

Pros: A hot face is nice, but so is a playable ball flight. The faces on Ping’s hybrids are thin and the center of gravity and hosel position is set up to produce higher launch in lower lofted models and lower trajectories for the high lofted models.

Cons: Priced high compared to most one-model, non-adjustable versions.

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