My first experience with a hybrid club didn't work out so well. I bought one in 2004 after Todd Hamilton famously used his all over Royal Troon to win the British Open. After he chipped from the fairway to within a few feet in his playoff with Ernie Els (right), hybrids were all the rage.
But the hybrid I bought to replace my 3-iron wound up being too iron-like. True, it was more forgiving than the 3-iron, but the head was small, and it just didn't instill a lot of confidence when I looked at it from the address position. After about three months, it was gone and the 3-iron was back.
But I recently decided it was time for me to give hybrids another try. After all, even Adam Scott, one of golf's best ball strikers, has yanked a long-iron in favor of a Titleist 909H hybrid. "It's just so easy," he told me recently. "I just feel that getting this hybrid into a par 5 is like chalk and cheese compared to a 2-iron."
I've never carried a 2-iron, but as a 10-handicapper I'm pretty good with my long irons. Still, after seeing GOLF Magazine's recent article about new hybrids and thinking about what Scott said, I figured it was time to give the Swiss Army Knife of golf clubs another try.
So this weekend, before my first round of the season, I once again pulled my 3-iron and dropped in a new 21° hybrid. The results were amazing, and my 3-iron has found a new home in the back of my closet.
Even though I played in a turtleneck, wool vest and wind shirt, my first tee shot with the hybrid flew higher and straighter than the 3-iron would have. From light rough on the next hole, the club muscled a shot effortlessly into the air, and I watched it land softly on the green.
I even used it to chip. The first time I tried, from the fairway, the 21° of loft got the ball into the air with backspin, and it stopped more quickly than I had anticipated. Later, I intentionally hit my hybrid chips a little thin, and the ball rolled beautifully.
Here are a few things to think about if you are in the market for a hybrid:
1. Do you sweep or dig? If you take small divots with your irons, or no divots at all, a fairway wood-style hybrid will probably match your sweeping swing well. If you have a steep angle of attack and take large divots, an iron-style hybrid might be better.
2. Pay attention to the shaft. My first hybrid had a steel shaft that was different from both my irons and my woods. The hybrid I tried this weekend had a graphite shaft that was very similar to the one in my 5-wood. Getting fitted for the right shaft is crucial.
3. Watch the gaps. Ideally, you want consistent gaps between your irons. If you remove an iron in favor of a hybrid, pay close attention to the gap between your highest-lofted fairway wood and the hybrid, as well as the hybrid and your longest iron. A hybrid with the same loft as a 3-iron will likely fly a little farther because the shaft will likely be a little longer. At the very least, get to a launch monitor and learn your precise distances with each club. If an awkward gap is created between your new hybrid and your longest iron, talk to a club fitter about the best solution to the problem.
(Photo by Al Tielemans/SI)