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Ask the Pros: When and How to Use Hybrid Clubs
Back in the day (a day not so long ago), many golfers carried a two-iron and more than a few pros even carried a one-iron. Well, things have changed, and those clubs have essentially gone the way of the dodo bird. Now, thanks to hybrid clubs and their increasing popularity, three-irons and four-irons are starting to follow suit.
Harnessing the Hybrids
Hybrid clubs are popping up in golf bags for a number of reasons: they are easier to hit than long irons, go farther than the irons they replace and are more forgiving. According to the pros, you’re missing out if you aren’t carrying any in your bag.
“Hybrids offer golfers an option of replacing their harder-to-hit, low-lofted irons with clubs designed to launch shots higher and perform similar to fairway woods,” says John Kendall, director of golf at Giants Ridge in Biwabik. “The hollow design — with weight lower and further back than the most forgiving irons — allows forgiveness not seen in traditional 2- through 6-irons.”
Since they came on the scene, we’ve heard all about the benefits of hybrids, including all the attributes mentioned above. But is there any downside to hitting hybrids?
“No concerns,” says Don Berry, PGA professional at Edinburgh USA Golf Club in Brooklyn Park. “Although, some better players hook them a little more than an iron because of the offset.”
Choosing the Right Club
Hybrids are well into their second decade of existence and consistently getting better with time. John says the clubs come in a variety of styles and types, so each golfer should get what works for them.
“Iron-type hybrids feature compact heads, narrower soles, and typically less offset to provide the playing characteristics lower handicap players prefer,” he says. “Wood-type hybrids are usually larger in shape, have wider soles, and have more offset to help golfers square the clubface at impact.
“Finding the clubs that fit their eye and the performance characteristics a golfer desires should not be difficult given the options available. The performance advantage will be different for each individual, but few can confidently say they wouldn’t be helped by having at least one in their bag.”
The pros are using hybrids regularly, and many start their iron sets with a 6-iron and carry four hybrids in their bag (except for some of the high clubhead speed players such as Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson). But that may not be the right choice for every golfer.
“It’s up to the individual,” Don says. “I think for most, the 3- and/or 4- irons would be a good start. One thing to remember, though, it’s hard to hit low punch type shots with an iron, so getting rid of all the low irons is risky if you sometimes have to hit low shots or punch shots out of the trees.”
Hitting a Hybrid
As for how to hit these wonder clubs, the pros say it’s not all that different from what you’re already doing.
“Hit it like an iron, not a fairway wood,” Don says. “So, feel like you hit down on them, don’t sweep them. Taking a small divot with them is ideal.”
John takes it a step further:
“I suggest players try hitting their hybrids from locations they wouldn’t or couldn’t use their previous long irons,” he says. “I hit mine from deep rough, fairway bunkers, bare lies, divots, as well as around the green with bump and runs. They really are a different category of golf club and should be experimented with to see how they fit your game. For more tips or to get help in finding the right hybrids for your game, please contact your local PGA professional.”