Hybrid Golf Clubs: How to ChoosePublished on 06/16/2023 · 18 min readOverwhelmed by all of the hybrid options out here? Golfing Expert Tyler Monroe explains what to look for in a hybrid, as well as how to make the best choice for you.
Image courtesy of Callaway
Tl;dr: When buying a golf hybrid club, it's important to consider the loft, design, feel, cost, and how the right hybrid fits in with the rest of your set. Choose a loft that suits your needs, look for helpful design features, find a club that feels comfortable, consider your budget, and make sure the hybrid club complements your other clubs.
Spending the majority of my 20-year golf industry career as a PGA Professional, I’ve been heavily involved in fitting golfers with the best equipment for their golf games. This experience, coupled with receiving annual educational updates and fitting certifications on hybrids from the best golf brands across the globe, enables me to provide solid gear advice to assist in increasing countless golfers’ success out on the golf course. Over my career, hybrids have become more popular and have held a spot in my own bag for many years—including a 15-degree hybrid that I nicknamed my fairway finder as it always found the short grass.
What Is a Hybrid?
A hybrid, also known as a rescue club, is a type of golf club that combines the design and characteristics of a fairway wood and some irons. It typically has a head that is smaller than a wood but larger than an iron, a rounded sole to improve turf interaction, and a lower center of gravity to help launch the ball higher and with less spin. They have shorter shaft lengths than fairway woods providing more control for some golfers, and have longer shaft lengths than irons delivering increased distance for other players. As some golfers struggle to launch their longer irons, have difficulty controlling a fairway wood, or simply prefer the feel and performance of a hybrid, these clubs are helpful to many players. With multiple sizes and design versatility, hybrids can resemble fairway woods or be more compact to mimic an iron. This shaping allows brands to deliver hybrids to a wide array of players.
What to Consider When Buying a Hybrid
Hybrids are a big investment in golfer's games, and a few criteria and construction elements should be considered to be sure the hybrid improves your shots. Is this hybrid intended to fill a distance gap you currently have? Do you need maximum forgiveness from this hybrid or is it an addition to your current set to give you another club option at various golf courses? These considerations, along with the list below will help determine the best hybrid golf clubs for your game.
1. What is the loft of the hybrid club?
The loft of the club will produce the trajectory of the ball and affect its apex height, distance, and ability to stop quickly on the putting surface. Whether replacing an existing hybrid, long iron, or fairway wood, it is a critical starting point to know the loft gap the hybrid is supposed to fill and the distance needed from the hybrid. Depending on your swing speed, skill level, and playing conditions you typically play in, you may want to choose a higher or lower loft to suit your needs. Typically higher lofted clubs are generally easier to control the direction of the ball flight and deliver a higher launch angle for more distance, so having an added degree or two in your hybrid choice can have a big effect on success with it. Lower numbered hybrids signify lower lofts though as each brand is slightly different in how they set the lofts, it is often better to think in terms of the loft number on each hybrid. Below is a general guideline for the lofts for each hybrid.
- 2 Hybrid - 16-18 Degrees
- 3 Hybrid - 19-21 Degrees
- 4 Hybrid - 22-23 Degrees
- 5 Hybrid - 24-25 Degrees
- 6 Hybrid - 26-28 Degrees
2. What is the club's design and technology?
Different hybrid clubs will have different designs and technologies, such as a larger clubface, adjustable weights, or specific weight positions to deliver more forgiveness. Brands can manipulate a hybrid for the benefit of certain golfers with design concepts, like Cobra's baffler rails system that helps the hybrid cut through the turf for consistent contact with the golf ball. Manufacturers also create various face angles from closed to help fight slice-spin to neutral to allow better players the ability to shape their ball flight. Larger hybrid designs create more stability at impact for added forgiveness while more compact options focus on generating additional ball speed ideal for players that are in control of their ball flight.
3. What is the cost of the club? How much should a hybrid cost?
Hybrid clubs can vary in price from a minimum of $100 to closer to $300 dollars for the best new hybrids with premium components, so it's important to consider your budget and how much you are willing to spend. Often lower priced hybrids lack the quality sound and feel and technological advances of new higher-priced hybrids—though with any club in the bag, the correct fit is the paramount concern.
4. How does the club fit in with the rest of your set?
Think about how the hybrid club will complement your other clubs and fill any gaps in your set. You may want to consider the distance and loft of your other clubs to ensure that the hybrid club fits well with them. With only 14 clubs allowed in play at a given time each round, overlapping distances with the hybrids to the fairway woods or long irons in the set can cost you a needed wedge to score with, making fitting this hybrid within the rest of your set important.
5. Do you need more than one hybrid?
Hybrids are available in many different lofts with options covering the entire iron set up to the 9-iron—desired by certain players who need launch assistance throughout the set. The vast majority of golfers typically request hybrid lofts from 17 degrees in 2 hybrids to 36 degrees for an 8 hybrid. If you feel comfortable hitting hybrids through more of the set than just the longest length and lowest loft options there is no reason to not have multiple hybrids increasing ball speeds and delivering consistent spin from as many of the clubs as you need in your bag.
What Are the Different Types of Hybrids?
Different types of hybrids are designed to suit different swing styles, player skill levels, and course conditions. It's important to choose the right type of hybrid that suits your eye, needs, and golfing abilities for the most success.
1. Iron-Like Hybrids
These hybrids are designed to replace long irons, such as a 3, 4, or 5 iron, and have a similar head size to an iron. They are designed to hit lower shots with more accuracy and control.
- Versatility: Iron-like hybrids can be used from a variety of lies, making them a versatile option for golfers looking to replace long irons.
- Control: Iron-like hybrids offer more control than fairway wood-like hybrids, making them a good option for approach shots and precision shots around the green. With more control comes the ability to punch shots under wind or trees if needed.
- Similar feel: Iron-like hybrids have a similar feel and swing to traditional irons, allowing golfers to feel they can hit down through the ball like an iron.
Keep in Mind
- Limited distance: Iron-like hybrids typically have a shorter distance than fairway wood-like hybrids or driving hybrids, which may not be suitable for golfers looking for maximum distance off the tee or fairway.
- Less forgiveness: Iron-like hybrids may not offer as much forgiveness as fairway wood-like hybrids, which may not be suitable for golfers who struggle with inconsistent ball striking.
2. Fairway Wood-Like Hybrids
These hybrids have a larger head size and are designed to replace fairway woods, such as a 3, 5, or 7 wood. They are designed to hit higher shots with more distance and forgiveness.
- Distance: Fairway wood-like hybrids offer a longer distance than iron-like hybrids, making them a good option for golfers looking for maximum distance off the tee or fairway.
- Forgiveness: Fairway wood-like hybrids offer more forgiveness than iron-like hybrids, which can help golfers who struggle with inconsistent ball striking.
- Easy to hit: Fairway wood-like hybrids have a larger clubhead than iron-like hybrids, which makes them easier to hit for some golfers.
Keep in Mind
- Limited versatility: Fairway wood-like hybrids may not be as versatile as iron-like hybrids, as they may not perform as well from certain lies.
- Limited control: Fairway wood-like hybrids may not offer as much control as iron-like hybrids, making them less suitable for approach shots and precision shots around the green.
3. Driving Hybrids
These hybrids are designed for tee shots and have a larger head size than both the iron-like and fairway wood-like hybrids. They are designed to hit long, straight shots with low spin off the tee.
- Maximum distance: Driving hybrids are designed for maximum distance off the tee, making them a good option for golfers looking to hit longer drives.
- Forgiveness: Driving hybrids offer a high level of forgiveness, which can help golfers who struggle with inconsistent ball striking.
- Easy to hit: Driving hybrids have a large clubhead and a low center of gravity, making them easier to hit than traditional long irons.
Keep in Mind
- Limited versatility: Driving hybrids may not be as versatile as other types of hybrids, as they are primarily designed for use off the tee.
- Limited control: Driving hybrids may not offer as much control as other types of hybrids, which may not be suitable for golfers who need to hit precise approach shots or shots around the green.
In general, golfers should choose the type of hybrid that best suits their game and needs. Knowing more about the playing conditions, forgiveness needs, and what looks good to various golfer’s eyes is important to instill the most confidence in using this hybrid.
Features to Look for When Buying a Hybrid
Consider these features when selecting a hybrid golf club that suits your game and preferences.
- Loft: The loft of a hybrid club determines the trajectory and distance of your shots. Choose a loft that suits your swing speed and the distance you want to achieve so that it doesn't overlap an existing fairway wood or long iron in distance, or create a gap in distance. It is always easier to change the club loft for the golf swing than the golf swing for an incorrect loft!
- Shaft flex: It is essential to match the shaft flex with your tempo and swing speed so that you gain the most distance and control with the hybrid. Typically the hybrid should have the same shaft flex as your irons, though hybrid shafts should be lighter to assure proper launch, apex heights, and descent angles to hold the fastest of putting surfaces. Be sure to choose a shaft that is suitable for your swing speed to maximize its effectiveness.
- Clubhead size and shape: The size and shape of the clubhead can impact the club's forgiveness and playability. Larger clubheads are generally more forgiving, while smaller clubheads produce less drag and offer more clubhead speed and precision.
- Adjustability: Some hybrid clubs come with adjustable features, such as adjustable weights in the sole or an adjustable hosel for various loft settings. These features can help you fine-tune your shots, optimize your performance, or change the face angle to protect against misses left or right of the target.
- Face technology and angles: Hybrid clubs may feature different face technologies and face angles to deliver a larger sweet spot for added forgiveness, improve ball speeds from impacts over more of the club face, or enhance accuracy and workability for some advanced golfers. Closed face angles—whether created by weight amassed at the heel of the club or the offset from the shaft to produce a delay at impact—reduce slice ball flights and are often used by high handicappers. For more accomplished golfers, a neutral face angle is preferred to allow added trajectory control to either side of the fairway or green.
Features to Avoid in a Hybrid
While the features of a hybrid golf club can vary depending on the manufacturer and model, there are some potential features to avoid:
- Unnecessary adjustability: While some adjustable features can be beneficial, having too many adjustments can make the club overly complex and difficult to use. Setting the loft and face angle incorrectly can produce errant ball flights and cause the development of bad swing habits. Adjustability in the hosel also takes weight away from other locations that brands can manipulate to add launch, forgiveness, or draw bias to the ball flight for golfers fighting a slice. Look for adjustability that you actually need and will use.
- Inadequate forgiveness: One of the main advantages of hybrid clubs is their forgiveness, but not all hybrids are created equal. Avoid hybrids with poor forgiveness, as they may not perform well on mishits and negatively affect your game and experience with hybrids.
- Inconsistent distance: The distance you can achieve with a hybrid club can vary depending on the loft, shaft, and other factors. Avoid hybrids that consistently produce inconsistent distance, as this can negatively impact your game.
Keep these potential drawbacks in mind when selecting a hybrid golf club, and prioritize features that will benefit your game while avoiding those that may negatively impact your performance.
How to Choose the Right Hybrid for You
Over the past 5 years working with thousands of various golfers of different levels of abilities, needs, and preferences for their hybrid choices, here at Curated, below are examples of players I have helped that might give you more insight into a hybrid fitting.
Krysty: Beginner Golfer
Krysty, a beginner golfer, already has a range of clubs, including mid to short irons, a driver, a putter, and a 3 and 5 fairway wood. She's interested in adding hybrids to her set, inspired by her friends' successful fairway shots with them. As a right-handed golfer, Krysty struggles with slicing the ball and missing shots to the right, and she wonders if hybrids could help. She performs well with her 7-iron but has difficulty launching her 5-wood shots due to an uncertain loft. Krysty is 5'6", open to any brand, and has a budget of around $400 for the hybrids.
Features Krysty should look for:
- A forgiving hybrid with a larger profile and expanded hitting areas for improved distance, even on mishits.
- A draw bias hybrid using weighting or offset construction to counteract slice misses and straighten ball flight.
- Hybrid lofts between 22 and 27 degrees for higher launch trajectories, fitting between her 5-wood (around 20 degrees) and 7-iron (around 30 degrees).
- A lightweight hybrid head and ladies flex shaft to encourage higher launches with her moderate swing speed.
- A price point below $200 per hybrid, accommodating her budget for two hybrids.
Hybrids to consider:
- Callaway Mavrik 4 Hybrid and Callaway Mavrik 5 Hybrid: These forgiving, draw-biased hybrids feature 24-degree (4H) and 27-degree (5H) lofts, fitting between her 5-wood and 6-iron. They offer excellent sound, feel, and improved distance and accuracy for challenging shots. The lightweight, ladies flex shaft complements a moderate swing speed, maximizing clubhead speed and distance.
- Cobra Women's Air X 4 Hybrid and Cobra Women's Air X 5 Hybrid: These offset, draw-biased, and forgiving hybrids feature lightweight shafts and materials, promoting faster ball speeds for greater distance and higher launch angles. Their draw bias helps counteract a slice. With 23-degree (4H) and 26-degree (5H) lofts, they integrate seamlessly into her current club set, and their price point aligns with her budget.
- Tour Edge Women's Hot Launch E523 4 Hybrid and Tour Edge Women's Hot Launch E523 5 Hybrid: These hybrids feature a slice-fighting offset design and a larger face profile for added forgiveness. Their lightweight shafts, under 50 grams, promote higher launch angles and increased distance on longer shots.
Chad: Mid-Handicap Golfer, Replacing a 4-Iron with a Hybrid
Chad, experiencing issues controlling his longer irons, has decided to replace his 4-iron with a hybrid. He recently purchased a new set of irons but has found the 4-iron doesn't provide the desired launch and distance. Chad uses a regular shaft, generates high ball speed, hits the ball straight, scores in the 80s, and seeks workability in his hybrid. He is average height, prefers TaylorMade or Mizuno, and has a $250 budget for the hybrid.
Features Chad Should Look For:
- A forgiving hybrid without draw bias or with a square clubface angle, ensuring a straight ball flight and allowing for workability in both directions.
- A medium-profile 4h hybrid with around 22 degrees of loft for added forgiveness and launch, but not oversized, as he is hesitant about using hybrids.
- A regular flex, graphite shaft that's lighter than his iron shafts but maintains the same flex profile, ensuring consistent launch and control.
- A TaylorMade or Mizuno hybrid that matches his sound, feel, and brand preferences, boosting his confidence with the club.
- Hosel adjustability for launch angle could be useful, but it's not essential since he hits the ball straight and knows which lofted iron he's replacing.
- A price point around $250, which should be feasible for a well-built and high-quality hybrid.
Hybrids to Consider:
- TaylorMade Stealth Rescue 4 Hybrid: This 22-degree lofted 4 hybrid offers forgiveness and workability to improve his long iron shots. The regular flex graphite complements his regular steel iron set, ensuring consistent launch and control.
- Mizuno CLK 4 Hybrid: This adjustable hybrid has a starting loft of 22 degrees, allowing for fine-tuning to suit Chad's needs. The 70-gram, regular flex shaft complements his steel-shafted irons for a familiar weight and feel.
- Cobra LTDx 4 Hybrid: This 22-degree lofted Cobra Hybrid provides exceptional forgiveness, launch control, and a baffler rail system for various turf conditions. Its regular flex, 75-gram shaft aligns with Chad's swing speed for optimal distance.
Jonathan: Low-Handicap Golfer
Jonathan, an experienced golfer, hits his long irons well but wants to add a compact hybrid to replace his 3-iron while maintaining his current ball-striking approach. He uses stiff Project X shafts in his irons and graphite shafts in his 3-wood, and he prefers a graphite shaft in his new hybrid. He enjoys working the ball in any direction and often plays links golf or in windy conditions, requiring low shots. Jonathan is 5'9", prefers standard-length shafts and cord grips, and seeks the best hybrid, regardless of cost.
Features to Look For:
- A compact hybrid profile to serve as an iron-like substitute for his 3-iron.
- A low loft around 19 degrees to replace the 3-iron loft and complement his 4-iron loft.
- Possible adjustability in the sole or hosel so that he can create the exact ball flights he prefers.
- A stiff flex graphite shaft, slightly lighter than his current Project X iron shafts.
- A standard-length shaft to match the shaft lengths of his other clubs.
- A cord grip installed on the club to suit his preferred feel and grip size.
Hybrids to Consider:
- Callaway Apex Pro Hybrid: This compact, “iron-like” hybrid with 18 degrees of loft and low mishit relief will provide Jonathan with the workability, forgiveness, and ball flight control he seeks from a long iron replacement. The lighter stiff graphite shaft will also enable him a similar shaft feel and fit along the other long clubs in his bag.
- Titleist TSI3 Hybrid: The 20 degrees of loft along with hosel adjustability will allow Jonathan to change the loft or face angle of the golf club between three angles and center of gravity positions, enabling him to fine-tune the ball flight to his preference. The compact shaping and thin, fast face construction will ensure the creation of accelerated ball speeds and consistently deliver deep distances off many impact points on the club face.
- Mizuno ST-Z Hybrid: This low-spinning hybrid designed with compact shaping, an expansive hitting area, and delivering consistent launch would be ideal to have as an additional option to the 3-iron. Adjustability in the hosel for the loft and face angle enables the hybrid to fit perfectly for Jonathan as he challenges different courses and playing conditions.
Finding the Right Hybrid for You
Finding the best hybrid for your golf game doesn't mean browsing endless online catalogs or deciphering complex technological features on product pages. Every golfer's needs are unique, and the guidelines provided here are general. Chat with me or one of my fellow Golf Experts here on Curated for free, personalized recommendations on the best hybrid for your needs.
Whether you're aiming to break par, searching for a hybrid to boost ball speed and distance, or looking to avoid that dreaded slice, we’re always available here on Curated to help you find the right hybrid for your swing.