The laws of golf state you may have a maximum of fourteen clubs in your bag. There is no rule about what type of clubs you can have, only that you may have fourteen. So whether they are all irons, a mix of woods and irons or woods, irons and hybrids is not essential.
While you certainly could take a bag full of hybrids, the real question is, why do you want to? While hybrids are easier to hit than irons, especially the longer ones, when it comes to the shorter irons and wedges, they may not have the same advantages.
There is no doubt that hybrids have made the game easier for many golfers, but would it work to have a bag full of hybrid clubs? By understanding more about these game-changers, you can determine whether a bag full of hybrids would be a viable option for your game.
The Origin Of Hybrid Clubs
The origin of the first ‘get-out-of-trouble’ club goes back to 1973 when Stan Thompson designed and built “The Ginty,” which was essentially a 7-wood head on a 4-iron shaft. The idea here was to have enough weight on the club’s sole to get a ball out of any lie.
In 1975, Cobra introduced “The Baffler,” and other manufacturers followed Taylor Made’s Tour Spoon clubs in later years. The hybrids exploded into golf bags worldwide in the early 2000s, and even modern professional players have a hybrid or two in their bag.
Hybrids VS Irons – What’s The Difference?
In a nutshell, hybrids are easier to hit. Period. Many golfers, especially amateur and high handicap players, struggle to hit long irons and sometimes the mid irons. To become proficient with long irons takes a lot of practice and perseverance.
Many golfers do not have the time to invest to achieve proficiency with the long irons and other long clubs like fairway woods. So the choice was simple, find a substitute they can use to replace them and are easier to hit.
Hybrids have a longer distance between the clubface and the back of the club. So if you think about this as a driver with its weight or Center Of Gravity (COG) at the back of the club, you get more forgiveness on mishits and higher trajectory.
This weighting makes the hybrids easier to get the ball into the air and higher, so on approach, using a hybrid will give you a softer landing on greens.
Hitting long and mid irons off the fairway or the rough can also be challenging for players with slower golf swing speed, making it difficult to make clean contact and get the ball into the air.
With irons, you get a more aggressive and shallower ball flight, and this may be difficult to control from the rough and on the greens as the more penetrating ball flight doesn’t land as softly as the higher flight shots.
The hybrids solve that problem for many players and therein lies the appeal of these clubs as many high handicap players struggle to use long irons effectively and confidently.
Another aspect of the hybrids is less anxiety and higher confidence to swing and hit a hybrid than with the long and even mid irons. It’s easier to play the game when you don’t have confidence issues in your clubs.
Remember that the higher ball flight may cost you distance, but for many amateurs and high handicap players, this can be overcome by having clubs that cover the yardages.
Hybrids are easier to hit, have more forgiveness and give higher ball trajectory. At the same time, irons, especially long irons, are more difficult to hit consistently but give more distance, lower flight trajectory, and less control on approach.
When Would You Need Hybrids?
Moving to hybrids would be a good option if you struggle with generating clubhead speed in your swing. A slow swing speed using long irons will be tough to hit properly as the clubhead speed isn’t sufficient to generate loft and distance.
If you struggle with consistency and ball striking (who doesn’t), putting a few hybrids in your bag will definitely help your long game and approach shots from distance where you are using a fairway wood, 4-iron or 5-iron.
Hybrids are also easier to eat from the tee, especially where you have tight fairways and need accuracy off the tee. The more forgiving nature of the hybrid is ideal for these shots and, of course, the longer approach shots from the fairway or the rough.
If you struggle to break 90 or 100, then you should consider hybrids as well. Shooting in the 90s and 100s would indicate ball striking or clubhead speed issues and a lack of consistency in striking and accuracy.
If you find your mid- and long-irons running through the greens and not holding due to a more penetrating ball flight, then hybrids would be a good option for your game and shooting lower scores.
Hybrids VS Fairway Woods
Another potential source of anxiety for golfers on the course is the fairway woods. While you can replace them with hybrids, you’d need to get hybrids with similar strong lofts, as if you get higher lofted clubs; you would lose distance on your shots.
While you may lose distance, you still get that higher ball flight due to the COG position, and this can offer you better flight control on approach, and your ball should hold the green better as well.
While getting stronger lofted hybrid clubs can make them as tough to hit as your existing fairway woods, you have more forgiveness with the hybrids, and a minor loss of distance against greater accuracy and green holding may be worth it.
What About Hybrids For Short Irons?
This is where the hybrids start to lose a little of their effectiveness. While you can replace your shorter irons through to your wedges, the question is, why would you?
While the long hybrids certainly can make your long game better, the short game hybrids may not deliver the results you want, and this is because of the lofts on those clubs.
Remember that the hybrid COG is much further back than your irons. This works great for the longer irons, but with the shorter irons, say from 6-iron and lower, the hybrid would produce a very high trajectory and a far more significant loss of distance.
Not only that, but most players at this level are using cavity back or ‘game-improvement’ irons, and on the shorter irons, there is weighing on the permitter of the clubs, making them easier to hit, and they have more forgiveness too.
The shorter irons are far easier to hit than the long ones, and while you can replace them with hybrid clubs, this would only be an option if you genuinely struggle to hit them properly. Remember also that the cavity back irons have a good size sweet spot and so you can still achieve both higher ball flight, distance, and control with these too.
Before dumping your short irons for hybrids, consider whether you need to. If your short iron play is good and you are striking these well and only struggle with the longer irons, then your best option is to sub the long irons with hybrids and keep the short irons as is.
Hybrids work well as substitutes for long irons and fairway woods but will cost you distance on short irons and wedges. This is the best balance for distance, consistency, and performance in your bag.
Hybrids VS Wedges
While many players would rather have their wedges as irons, you can change them for hybrids as well. If you tend to hit your wedges thin or chunk them, it may be worth looking at exchanging them for hybrids.
Hybrid wedges like the Callaway Smart Sole or the Orlimar Stratos offer hybrid wedges. The design of these clubs remains ‘wedge-like’ but has thicker and chunkier soles and plays more like a hybrid.
Hybrid Substitutes For All The Clubs
To give you an idea here, you could conceivably have a bag full of hybrids, and if you did, this would be the complete set compared to the standard set of clubs. The hybrid lofts are from the Thompson AT705 Set
|Club||Standard Loft||Hybrid Equivalent||Hybrid Loft|
|3 iron||21°||Hybrid 7 wood||21°|
|4 iron||24°||Hybrid 9 wood||24°|
|5 iron||27°||Hybrid 11 wood||27°|
|6 iron||30°||Hybrid 13 wood||30°|
|7 iron||34°||Hybrid 15 wood||34°|
|8 iron||38°||Hybrid 17 wood||38°|
|9 iron||42°||Hybrid 19 wood||42°|
|Pitching Wedge||46°||Hybrid 21 wood||46°|
|Gap Wedge||51°||Hybrid 23 wood||50°|
|Sand Wedge||54°-58°||Hybrid 25 wood||55°|
|Lob Wedge||58°-64°||Lob Wedge||60°|
As you can see, the hybrid lofts vs. regular iron lofts are identical, and only the sand wedges and lob wedges have varying degrees of loft. When looking to replace your irons with hybrids, you need to consider your distances and whether it would be worth doing this on the clubs from 6-iron or lower.
Do The Pros Use Hybrids?
Professional golfers and single-figure handicapped players have also experienced hybrid clubs’ benefits regardless of skill level. It’s estimated that around 25% of tour players have at least one hybrid, if not two, in their bag.
While you can’t compare the swing and ball striking quality and consistency of a pro to your own game, the fact is that even they appreciate the advantages these clubs offer in terms of forgiveness and ball flight.
There is no shame in having hybrids in your bag because this is all about playing the game better, hitting better shots, and scoring lower and if hybrids can do that for you or the pros and it’s within the rules of the game, then go for it!
However, remember that pros only have one or two hybrids in their bag, not a whole bag full. Pros, scratch players, and low handicap golfers wouldn’t replace irons from about 5-iron and upwards as they would have good control and striking with these clubs.
In the same way, that cavity back irons offer more forgiveness but less control around shaping the ball in flight; hybrids do the same for the average player. This is why most pros have hybrids to cover the longer 3-iron and 4-iron clubs but keep the rest of the set as standard.
Hybrids VS Irons Distance Comparison
Before looking at hybrids, you need to consider the average distances you hit your existing irons to see where you have distance gaps. For example, if you need to hit a 170-yard shot, but your closest clubs are either at 190 yards or 160 yards, this creates some unnecessary stress on that shot.
As a general rule, you would get about 8-12 yards more distance from a hybrid than the equivalent iron, so if you have distance gaps in your irons, getting hybrids to cover this may be a good idea.
Off-center hits with hybrids will still give you more distance even though existing cavity back irons offer similar forgiveness but can’t match the hybrids’ COG position.
The hybrids tend to hit the ball longer than the irons with less roll when it comes to distances. This is because the hybrid shafts are a bit longer than the standard iron shafts, and with the deeper clubface, the ball will get up higher into the air.
Higher trajectory, less roll, and more chance to hold greens on approach sound like a great idea but only for the mid and long irons. You should be more accurate with your shorter clubs, especially if they are cavity-back clubs.
Test The Hybrids Before Buying Them
Before changing clubs, it is always recommended to try a few out, whether it’s a friend’s hybrids at the range or hitting a few different options at the store hitting bays. A good idea on this is to take the clubs you’d want to substitute the hybrids for to the store or your pro and hit some shots with them once you’ve warmed up.
For example, you are considering changing your 4-iron for a hybrid. Get warmed up first and then hit some full power shots on the launch monitor and look at the average data on distance, strike quality, etc.
Then, take a few hybrid options, do the same, and adequately compare the data and how the club feels to hit. If you genuinely can see a positive difference in the data and how the clubs feel and your confidence in swinging it, that sounds like a match made in heaven!
You could certainly play with an entire bag of hybrid clubs and, as more of these sets become available and popular, more options will gradually become available. You most certainly should look at hybrids for your longer irons and possibly fairway woods to give you an advantage there.
If your swing speed and clubhead speed are slow, then hybrid clubs will add confidence and better ball striking to your game, and that would certainly improve both your scores and your confidence with those shots.
Playing the game of golf is all about confidence, getting the ball where you need it and at the required distance, and most of all, ENJOYING your game, and if a whole set of hybrids can help you do that, then there is no reason not to do so!