Golf can be a cruel game and if you don't have the proper equipment don't expect to get any better. The "short game" has always been a place where golfers lose strokes, but there is another area that has consistently caused problems as well. Long irons are tough to hit even for the pros and amateurs usually have a hard time controlling their 3 and 4 irons. Most of us struggle on longer par 3's or long approach shots on par 4's. Hybrid golf clubs were first introduced in the late 1990's but didn't become popular in the United States until recently. Now everyone I play with has at least 1 hybrid or utility club in their bag and they seem to have positive comments on the results. Just what is a hybrid club? How can they help you? Keep reading below for more details.
A hybrid golf club is a combination design of an iron and a fairway wood. The idea behind hybrids is to keep the game of golf as easy as possible for beginner and intermediate players. By keeping a low center of gravity on hybrids, manufacturers allow players to get their shots airborne. The heads on hybrids are compact which make them ideal for fairway play or from the rough. Some golfers use hybrids in place of their erratic fairway woods or long irons like the 3 and 4. A 21-degree hybrid club is generally what people use to replace their 3 irons. The shafts on hybrids tend to be shorter than what you would find on a fairway wood, meaning you will lose a little distance off your shots. On the up side, you will most likely have more control with your hybrid shots since they hit the ball higher in the air than long irons. Manufacturers have pushed hybrid clubs towards older golfers and women because those 2 groups have a harder time hitting long irons and getting that power behind them. The few hybrids I have tested on the course are definitely easier to hit than my long irons. I prefer the shorter shaft length when compared to those of my fairway woods. You will find 2 different types of hybrid clubs - those that resemble beefed up irons and those that have shallow faces like your fairway woods. Sometimes having a utility club like the Nike CPR is a great help when trying to hit your way out of thicker rough. These clubs are similar to woods and can cut through the rough much easier than long irons. I find that on longer par 3's where I would usually hit my 3-iron using a hybrid club gives me more confidence and control (especially when water is in play). One particular shot that is easier to hit with a hybrid club are those punch shots from the fairway when the wind is up. It's hard to not hit a 3 or 4 iron "fat", but the hybrids are smooth off the fairway and allow for more ball control when needed. Hybrids are not called "3 hybrids" or "4 hybrids", instead they are listed as a 21 degree hybrid, 22-degree hybrid, etc. You'll need to know what type of loft you are looking for when purchasing a hybrid club. If you don't understand lofts of clubs, then we suggest avoiding a purchase online and getting down to your local golf store. Otherwise, using the Internet to buy a hybrid club is a great place to start. Shafts on hybrids/utility clubs are made from either graphite or steel. Steel will be heavier and is not recommended for novice to intermediate players. Go with graphite shafts which are lighter and then decide on how flexible you want the shaft to be - stiff, regular, flex, etc. Which hybrids and utility clubs are the best? Well, Golftestusa.com does testing of golf clubs and they recently released their results from a hybrid club survey they had done. They have golfers of different abilities test clubs and rate them based on distance, control, accuracy, forgiveness, sounds, appearance, feel, ball flight (trajectory), and come up with an overall rating. The results can be found online at Golftestusa.com. We also found some excellent customer feedback online with owner reviews on Golfsmith.com and Golfgods.com. You can view the entire listing of hybrid and utility golf clubs here.
Top Rated Hybrid Clubs:
Per Golfsmith.com and the Golftestusa website, the Callaway FT Fusion Hybrid is the best hybrid golf club on the market. The club scored above all the other competition in the Golftest USA survey and we found it listed as the top selling and most popular hybrid on several golf apparel websites. Owners say the feel and forgiveness are what set this club apart from the rest. Ball flight (trajectory) is also top rated giving Callaway another winning club. Available as left-handed or right-handed with regular or stiff flex. Pick from the more common graphite shaft or the heavier steel shaft. The 20-degree loft is a popular model amongst men players giving them the ultimate club as a replacement for their 3 or 4 irons. Callaway calls this club a 1 hybrid, 2 hybrid .... 4 hybrid. For a slightly cheaper selection with very little lost in terms of performance, take a look at the Adams Golf- Idea Hybrid Iron/Wood Graphite. At less than $100 Adams has created a hybrid club that scored 2nd only to the Callaway listed above. It is the hybrid club that more people would recommend to friends than any other (per the GolfTest ratings). I see these clubs advertised during the Champions Tour events on Tv, but I know several golfers in their late 40's that use these. Owners of the A2 OS said it's much easier hitting this club than any of their long irons and it now makes for scoring on longer par 3's. For consistency and accuracy, test out the Adams hybrids.
Budget Hybrid Clubs:
If you want a top rated hybrid club at a bargain price, then consider the Nickent Men's 3DX DC Ironwood ($50) with a graphite shaft. The Nickent hybrid was tied for 2nd place on the Golftest USA site with an excellent overall score compared to other top brands like Nike, Callaway, and Macgregor. The 3DX Iron Wood comes as a right handed club with 14, 17, 20, and 23 degrees of loft on the head. The club is designed with a lower weighting system that is deeper and more towards the heel/toe. You get "optimal launch angle and trajectory" from this hybrid club making for easier shots on the course. Owners describe the club as "effortless" and a "must have in the bag". Golfers say their increased confidence with the Nickent hybrids has lowered their scores and made golf fun again. Users go on to say that replacing your 3 or 4 iron with a Nickent hybrid is the only way to go. The clubs are a nice option to have when hitting from tight lies in the fairway or from the thicker rough. Although not the most common name in golf clubs, Nickent has a solid reputation amongst those familiar with hybrid and utility clubs at great discount prices too. Another option are the Orlimar Hybrid IRS Iron Replacement System - from 19 degrees up to 56 degree clubs. Great value clubs per dozens of owner comments posted online.
Best Utility/Rescue Golf Clubs:
What do you do if you are 200 yards out from the green in some heavy rough? Chip out and try to save par with an up and down or hack out forward with a long iron hoping for the best. With today's rescue clubs and utility clubs, golfers can now hit from the deeper rough with more consistency than ever. Long irons have a hard time getting through the thicker rough and making contact that isn't "fat" or heavy. A rescue club will do the trick almost every time. The TaylorMade Rescue Mid ($100) is a popular utility club that can be used to hit off the tee, out of the rough, from the fairways and even around the greens. They are versatile and have the capability to replace several clubs in your bag. Owners have serious praise for this club with words like "forgiving" and "straight hitting". See the best selling Taylor Made hybrids golf clubs here.
Buying a Hybrid or Utility Club:
The game of golf is all about repeating a stroke that works for you and having feel around the greens. Unless you have actually hit a hybrid or utility club in a showroom or on the course, we highly recommend getting down to your favorite golf shop for a practice session before you buy anything. It's always a good idea to hit a few balls with any club before you buy. It's hard to tell exactly how good you hit something in a showroom, but at least you get a feel for the grip and the impact. As an old friend of mine always says "keep em long and straight".