If there’s one club every amateur golfer should have in their bag, it’s a hybrid.
I added one to my own set-up years ago and have never looked back – it’s easy to hit off the fairway and from the rough, can be used to play bump-and-run shots around the green, and is far more forgiving than a long iron.
To hit a hybrid, simply set-up with the ball a few inches inside your front foot, and swing as if you are hitting an iron (with a slightly descending angle of attack). You don’t need to try and lift the golf ball into the air, as the natural loft and design of a hybrid does this for you.
While hybrids are less workable than long irons in terms of shot shaping, they are still an incredibly versatile club that can add much-needed confidence to the game of mid-to-high handicappers who struggle to hit anything above a 7-iron.
I love my hybrid, and in this article I’ll explain in detail while you will too (you can also check out our list of top hybrids here).
What is a hybrid in golf?
A hybrid is a golf club that is a cross between a long iron and a fairway wood, hence the name ‘hybrid’. The club has a head that is wider than an iron but smaller than a wood – typically created from hollow steel or titanium – making it the perfect solution for players who struggle hitting their long irons or fairway woods consistently.
The hybrid’s design allows it to glide easily through long rough, far easier than what an iron would, and its wide sole also makes it easy to hit off the fairway and get the ball into the air with little effort.
Why should I carry a hybrid vs a long iron?
There are some distinguishable differences between hybrids and long irons, and in the end deciding which is best for you comes down to personal preference.
We’ve written other articles on long irons and their benefits, and also on the reasons why many professionals don’t typically use hybrids – I definitely recommend you reading both before deciding whether or not to add a hybrid to your bag.
But in short, hybrids and long irons both have pros and cons. I’ve done my best to outline them below.
- Easier to hit than a long iron or fairway wood
- Glides through the rough better than an iron
- Can be used effectively from the fairway
- Designed to get the ball into the air with little difficulty, perfect for golfers who lack swing speed (such as seniors or those with physical ailments)
- Can be used to play bump-and-run shots around the green
- Typically has a higher ball flight, which can make it easier to hold greens
- Ideal for players who struggle with mishits
- Less workable for shot-shaping than a long iron due to its wide sole
- Harder to keep the ball low due to its design promoting a higher ball flight
- Takes up an extra spot in your bag, meaning you may need to forgo another club to fit it in
- Usually has to be bought separately from your irons
- More workable for shot-shaping than a hybrid due to its thinner face and slimmer sole
- Easier to play punch-shots and keep the ball low when needed
- Has the ‘classical’ iron look, which is more appealing to the golfing purist
- Often come as part of an iron set, avoiding the need for a separate purchase
- Better suited to low-handicap players who strike the ball consistently
- Less forgiving than a hybrid, with the smaller, slimmer face making them more difficult to hit (especially for mid-to-high handicappers)
- Players with slower swing speeds may find it difficult to get the ball very high into the air
- Club face is more likely to be grabbed by the rough (doesn’t glide through like a hybrid would)
- The increased workability means they’re more prone to wayward shots (hooks or slices) and harder to hit straight
If you’re an amateur player who struggles with consistency of ball-striking I would definitely recommend giving a hybrid a try.
But if you’re a low-handicapper who hits the ball well, you may enjoy the greater workability long irons have to offer.
Where to play a hybrid in your stance
As detailed in our complete guide to where the ball should be in your stance for each club, you should treat your hybrid just as you would a long iron.
Taking a slightly wider stance than you would for a mid-iron, the ball should be positioned one or two ball widths in front of centre.
While the intention is still to hit down on the ball like you would an iron, placing the ball slightly forward in your stance will promote a marginally shallower angle of attack – which is ideal when hitting a hybrid.
Hitting a hybrid off a tee vs the ground
There are few, if any, differences between hitting a hybrid from a tee versus hitting it off the ground.
You should still try and strike the ball with a downward angle of attack, as the convex face incorporated into the design of the club helps get the ball it into the air – regardless of whether it is on a tee or not.
NOTE: Hybrid golf clubs are designed to launch the ball into the air with ease from the fairway or rough – so if you’re thinking about hitting your hybrid off a tee, I would warn against teeing the ball too high as it could lead to a ball flight that is too high.
Even worse, the ball could hit the top of your club face and go straight up into the air, or you might swing underneath the ball and miss it altogether (if the tee is extremely high).
I would tee the ball so that it is no more than a few millimetres off the ground, which will give you a nice lie and allow the hybrid to work as it is designed to.
How to hit a punch shot with a hybrid
The only time you should look to play a punch shot with a hybrid is when you’re in the rough, as the clubface will glide easily through the long grass.
In every other scenario, playing a punch shot is better achieved with an iron (such as a 4 or 5 iron) as it’s far easier to keep the ball low – mainly because hybrids are designed to launch the ball higher into the air.
But if you do decide to play a punch shot with a hybrid, these are the steps to follow:
- Place the ball back in your stance (the farther back you place it, the lower the ball will fly)
- Add slightly more shaft lean to your club as you address the ball by keeping your hands more forward than usual
- As you take your swing, feel like you are covering the ball with your hands as this will help deloft the club face
- Your finishing position should be abbreviated, as this will help stop you flipping your hands at the ball at impact (and adding extra loft)
The punch shot can be an excellent ‘get out of jail’ option that every golfer should have in their arsenal, and practicing it regularly on the range will help you execute it next time you’re on the course.
How to hit a hybrid out of the rough
When it comes to hitting your hybrid out of the rough, the first thing you should do is check your lie as this will determine where the ball should be in your stance.
If the ball is buried
Set-up with the ball farther back in your stance and aim to strike it with a steeper angle of attack.
You’re unlikely to advance the ball as far as you would with a good lie, with the goal being to get it as close to the green as possible and out of trouble.
If the ball is sitting nicely
Set-up like you normally would with the ball slightly forward of centre and take a normal swing.
The wide sole of the club should glide through the rough easily, and allow you to make good contact.
How to hit a hybrid straight
Hitting a straight shot with a hybrid is no different to any other club, and you should follow the same feels as you would with every other swing.
As long as you have the ball position correct – slightly forward of centre – and swing with a slightly downward angle of attack, just as you would with an iron, the shot will fly straight provided you keep the club on plane in the downswing and as it arrives into impact.
Also, make sure you are covering the ball properly in the downswing and at impact for ideal compression, and not swaying in your takeaway as doing these things will also increase the chances of the ball going straight.
Check out this video from YouTube golf instructor Rick Shields for more tips on how to hit your hybrid:
Other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why do I keep topping my hybrid? (And how to stop it)
If you are topping your hybrid, it could be because of a number of reasons. Below are the most common ones.
If lose your spine angle by standing up out of your posture and early extending during the downswing, it can be difficult to control the low point of your swing, which can lead to topped shots.
I’ve written a complete guide to early extension, including why it occurs and how to prevent it, which I recommend you read.
Swaying off the ball
Swaying is a killer in the golf swing as it can prevent proper rotation through the ball and lead to flipping of the hands at impact, which can commonly cause you to top the ball.
Check out another article I wrote on what you can do to eliminate it, and start striking the ball flush every time.
If you’re topping the ball with your hybrid, it can often be due to mental errors.
Many amateur golfers think when using a hybrid or fairway wood, they need to try and scoop it into the air rather than let the club’s loft do the work – and this upward angle of attack can lead to topped shots.
Instead, when hitting your hybrid, feel like you are hitting down through the ball instead of up, and you’ll see your ball-striking improve dramatically.
Can I use a hybrid around the greens?
Absolutely, you can use your hybrid around the greens. The hybrid is perfect for playing bump-and-run shots off tight lies, as opposed to using a wedge, which can leave you shorter putts and a greater chance of getting up and down.
To play this shot with a hybrid, move yourself a little closer to the ball so that the club is a more upright at address, grip down slightly, and make the same stroke you would as if you were using a putter.
Mastering this shot can help give you more options around the greens.
What is the easiest hybrid to hit?
Like any golf club, the more loft they have, the easier they are to hit – and hybrids are no different.
Naturally, a 4-hybrid (which emulates the loft of a 4-iron, except with a wider sole) is going to be easier to hit than a 3-hybrid (which has less loft and emulates a 3-iron).
Every manufacturer – from TaylorMade to Callaway, Nike or Ping – designs their hybrids with subtle variations, so it’s important to find one that you feel comfortable with, and can hit easily (check out the best, latest models here).
Should I carry a 5 wood or 3 hybrid?
Choosing whether to carry a 5 wood or 3 hybrid comes down to personal preference, as they perform very similarly on the course.
Technically speaking, both clubs usually have the same amount of loft but are weighted slightly differently – the hybrid has the weight distributed closer to the club face, whereas the wood has the weight more at the back of the club head.
Testing of a Titleist TS2 5 wood and 3 hybrid (both with 18 degrees of loft) by YouTube golf instructor Ali Taylor found the 5 wood carried slightly farther with a higher launch angle, whereas the 3 hybrid carried marginally shorter with a lower ball flight.
However, the differences were negligible. See for yourself in the video below.
If you prefer the look and feel of a fairway wood (with the bigger club head) then the 5 wood is a great option.
If you prefer the look and feel of a hybrid (with the smaller head, resembling closer to an iron than a wood), then you’re probably better suited to a 3 hybrid.
At the end of the day, whichever club you choose, you should feel confident using it as this will translate to better performance and results on the course.
If you’re someone who is struggling for consistency with your long irons, then a hybrid is a brilliant alternative.
Not only are they easy to hit from the fairway and rough, they also provide another option around the greens – especially from tight lies.
While they aren’t as workable as a long iron – which is something higher-skilled players often crave – this may not be a bad thing for golfers who battle to control their shot-shaping and may help tighten their shot dispersion.
If you ask me, every mid-to-high handicapper should have a hybrid in their bag.