Are Hybrid Clubs a Fad or a Standard?

A Beginner's Guide to Hybrid Gold Clubs

You may have heard your fellow golf enthusiasts preach about the advantages of hybrid golf clubs, and how if you haven’t gotten one yet, you’re clearly “behind the times.” While some golfers are purists and prefer to stick with traditional irons, others believe that times have changed and hybrids are here to stay. If you aren’t sure what camp you fall into, the following guide to hybrid golf clubs will help you find your way.

WHAT IS A HYBRID GOLF CLUB?

A hybrid club combines the qualities of a long iron and a fairway wood. There are three advantages that the hybrid has over your run-of-the-mill long iron:

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1. Clubhead – Long irons of the past had a blade-style head, which meant if you didn’t hit the ball on the exact center of the club head, you're shooting accuracy dropped like a millstone in a lake. Hybrids are built with larger, more hollow club heads, similar to the fairwood, which corrects for the lack of accuracy in your swing. If you strike the ball off the heel or toe, the ball will spin more to the right or to the left, respectively.

 

2. Sole Design – Traditional irons have a small bottom; it’s only half an inch in width. This allows the club to “scoop” into the turf, so when you hit the ball the way you’re supposed to, the divot enables you to get some backspin on the ball. In order to benefit from this design, however, you need to be able to hit the ball as accurately as possible; if you swing your club too low, you’ll hit the ground before the ball, taking the force out of your swing and potentially sending a bunch of turf into your golf buddy’s face.

The hybrid’s sole, like a fairway wood, is much wider than the traditional iron, and improves your chances of hitting the ball while making little to no contact with the ground. Keep in mind, though, that if you tend to swing too high, the hybrid’s sole design advantage will turn into a disadvantage, as you’ll wind up “skulling” the ball, i.e., hitting it on the top half. Remember that the larger and wider clubhead will give your shots more lift than what you’d expect from a traditional iron, so be sure to adjust your swing accordingly.

3. Shaft and Length – Long irons are made with steel shafts; hybrids are made with graphite shafts. Graphite is lighter than steel, enabling you to swing your club much faster and get more speed and spin on your shots. Graphite shafts also have a lower flex point; when a shaft flexes lower down the shaft, your shots will go much higher. Graphite shafts are longer, which, combined with the clubhead's light, hollow design, also contributes to faster swings.

When Should You Choose a Hybrid over a Traditional Iron?

Deciding whether to go with hybrids or stay with a traditional iron means being honest with yourself about how much trouble the long irons are giving you. Go out to the driving range and use both types of clubs to hit the same number of balls. Ask yourself the following questions:

Which club allowed me to hit the ball further?

Which club gave me more control?

Which club did I hook or slice?

With which club did the most skulling or chunking occur?

Which club just felt better?

The key to transitioning to hybrids is to sync them up with the exact irons that they are replacing. You want to replace your irons with hybrids that can go the same distance, not send the ball further or shorter distances.

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 Are Hybrid Clubs Different For Men and Women? Because women tend to be shorter and have slower golf swings, there are different sets of clubs available for men and for women. Hybrids are no exception to this rule, even though women’s golf clubs are already made with graphite shafts. Over all, women’s clubs are lighter, shorter and have more flex.

Are Hybrid Clubs a Fad, or Are They Here to Stay? In golf, it’s not unusual for a new technology to appear on the market that revolutionizes the way the game is played. One only needs to consider how Ping’s face-balanced putters changed the way putters were designed from then onwards. Hybrid clubs fall into this category of game-changing technologies. They first appeared on the market in 2002, and 14 years later, they’re still found in every golf store and in the bags of consumer golfers and professionals alike. Pro golf stars such as Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker, Helen Alfredsson and Ai Miyato all carry hybrids in their arsenal of clubs.

The Best Hybrid Golf Clubs

Now that you’re a little more familiar with what a hybrid club is, the question is, “Who makes the best one?” The following are the top five hybrid clubs on the market, in no particular order.

1. ADAMS RED – The Adams Red comes with an adjustable weight, allowing you to reduce the probability of slicing and hooking yourshots. The weight is found in the sole of the club, and you can either move it towards the heel, the toe or the center.

2. ADAMS TIGHT LIES – The Adams Tight Lies comes equipped with hidden slots that run through the crown and sole; these slots help cut down on distance loss if you hit the ball incorrectly.

3. CALAWAY BIG BERTHA ALPHA 815 – The compact shape of the Big Bertha might mislead lesser golfers, so don’t be fooled. It’s thin, steel cupface and forward internal weighting allows for more distance and less spin.

4. NIKE VAPOR SPEED/FLEX – In an order to improve distance, Nike has included a channel in the front of the sole that bends with the face, giving your ball more flight power.

5. COBRA FLY-Z / FLY-Z XL – Both Cobra Fly-Z models have a light face, rear weighting and come with three adjustable heads, allowing you to set the distance of your choice. The XL model reduces your tendency to slice with its unique head design.

Choosing the right golf club is an exercise in experimentation. As stated earlier, the best way to know if hybrids are worthy of the hype is
to practice using them yourself. If they improve your shots, stick with them. If you feel you’re better off sticking with the traditional irons, do that instead. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what kind of club you use, as long as you’re getting the desired performance out of it.

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