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Hybrids Vs. Fairway Woods

by M.L. Rose
    PGA Tour pro Luke Donald selects a 3-wood for his fairway shot.

    PGA Tour pro Luke Donald selects a 3-wood for his fairway shot.

    David Cannon/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

    Hybrid golf clubs combine elements of both woods and irons to help golfers of all abilities improve their games. While many golfers use hybrids to replace long irons, hybrids are versatile clubs that also can be used for driving off the tee or chipping near the green, plus a variety of situations in between.

    Hybrid Vs. Wood Construction

    Just as many weekend golfers can hit a fairway wood more easily than a long iron, they can typically swing a hybrid more comfortably than a fairway wood – if they use the hybrid correctly. The hybrid’s clubhead is dense, with a lower and deeper center of gravity than a fairway wood’s clubhead. This makes the hybrid more forgiving of mis-hits, and makes it easier to get the ball in the air. Additionally, the fairway wood has a much broader sole, roughly twice as large as a comparable hybrid. It doesn’t take much of a swing error to clip the ground with the back of a fairway wood's clubhead just before making contact with the ball, something that obviously could throw off your shot.

    Swing Techniques

    The biggest difference between hybrids and fairway woods is the way they’re swung on standard fairway shots. With the fairway wood, the ball is played forward in the stance, generally about 3 inches inside the left heel for a right-handed golfer. The player takes a more level swing, with the clubhead parallel to the ground as it sweeps the ball off the fairway. The hybrid, however, is played more like an iron. The ball is placed in the middle of the stance and the swing is steeper as the player hits down on the ball. On a well-hit fairway shot with a hybrid club, a golfer should take a divot just beyond the spot where the ball sat.

    Stance

    Hybrid clubs are designed to replace a comparable iron and are approximately the same length as their iron counterparts. Woods have longer shafts, meaning golfers must take care to set up closer to the ball when swinging a hybrid than they would when using a fairway wood.

    Hazards

    Off the fairway, both woods and hybrids have their places. In very light rough, a fairway wood, such as a 3-wood, may be a better choice, as its flat bottom skims the low grass easily. In thicker rough, however, the heavier but more compact hybrid clubhead can better cut through the longer grass while maintaining its stability. The hybrid is also more likely to lift the ball into the air. Additionally, the hybrid’s lofting ability makes it a better selection than a wood if you land in a fairway bunker.

    About the Author

    M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

    Photo Credits

    • David Cannon/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images