Hybrid clubs are a staple in many golfers' arsenal. In fact, most professional golfers carry at least one hybrid during tournament play—some as many as four. However, fifteen years ago, you'd be hard-pressed to find a hybrid in your local pro shop—much less in anyone's bag.
Does this sudden surge in popularity mean everyone should carry a hybrid? The answer, not surprisingly, is probably yes. To understand why you might want to join the growing number of golfers using hybrid clubs, you need to understand the differences between fairway metals and long irons.
When playing from the championship tees at a golf course, distance becomes important. Even with modern drivers allowing more people access to long tee shots, it's not uncommon to find yourself 200 yards from the green on a par 4. Even more importantly, great tee shots on par 5s allow for stroke-cutting opportunities--provided you can hit a 200 yard shot with accuracy.
Fairway metals are well-suited for this task. Unfortunately, they can be exceedingly difficult to hit correctly. The proper swing requires a path somewhere between the sweeping motion of the driver and the sharp descent of a short iron. Also, it can be difficult to get the ball up in the air off of tight fairway lies.
Making matters worse, fairway metal shots tend to roll a great deal. When attempting an approach into a heavily-guarded green, the risk of rolling into a sand trap or water hazard often makes laying up the only option when using fairway metals. When you're forced into laying up, you're missing out on valuable strokes.
Often the least user-friendly club in the bag, long irons are seldom hit by the recreational golfer. Most people consider this distinction to cover the 1,2,3,4 and 5 irons. Since most high-performing golfers hit their 5 iron an average of 175 yards, any long par 3 or sizeable approach shot is a gamble.
The difficulty in hitting long irons comes from a few factors. First, the swing should still be a downward motion like a shorter iron. The longer shaft found on long irons reduces your margin for error when doing this. Also, unlike oversized fairway metals, long irons often have smaller club faces—making the sweet spot smaller.
On top of that, the ball must be played further forward in your stance to allow for the correct contact point. Most golfers aren't comfortable swinging down into the front part of their stance. The result is inconsistency and inaccuracy when utilizing these clubs.
Hybrids—The Best of Both Worlds
Hybrids fix pretty much all of these issues. These clubs are constructed to blend the benefits of both fairway metals and long irons. They are often heavier and utilize a larger club face, making them feel as forgiving as a good fairway metal. Their weighting and construction also allows them to perform more like an iron when struck, providing a high, soft shot shape.
This construction makes them perfectly suited for long shots from the rough. Furthermore, since they take advantage of the many forgiving traits of a fairway metal, errant shots are less likely from good lies as well. They can even be used off a tee and struck almost exactly like a driver, making them an ideal choice for tee shots on par 3s and unorthodox par 4s.
Simply put, hybrids take the advantages of the two most difficult clubs to hit in golf—the fairway metal and long iron—and makes them easily accessible by golfers of all skill levels. The options that these clubs provide are invaluable to both the high-level player and the weekend warrior.
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