Can I Replace All Of My Irons With Hybrids – Who Will It Suit Most?
Few club-types have had the hype of hybrids. When these clubs started to hit the market they were in everyone’s bags so quickly and seemed to be the magic bullet that would golf easy for all. These clubs are probably the most versatile and easy clubs you can ever use.
There is no doubt that hitting long irons takes great skill and practice, hybrids seemed to make that all much easier. In this article we will look into hybrids in more detail and discuss who should be using them. Can you replace all of your irons with them? Should you? Read on to find out.
Introduction To The Hybrid Vs Iron Debate
Hybrids are easier to hit, launch and fly higher, land softer on the greens and are great out of tricky lies in the rough or on very tight fairways.
Irons give you more control of the flight of the ball, have a more aggressive flight and are better from the tee. There is a real head to head here.
This is very much a decision that has to be driven by your strengths and weaknesses as a golfer. Which of these compliments your skills best whilst aiding your weaknesses? To decide whether to carry long irons or hybrids is a decision that you can’t take lightly.
The Historical Use Of Irons As Part Of The Club Mix
The classic golf clubs of the hickory era were made up of names rather than numbers. Many may have never heard of clubs like mashies, niblicks, baffles and spoons. For this article here, the relevant old clubs are the mashies and the niblicks, equivalent of long- and mid-irons.
It wasn’t until the 1940s that irons started to be numbered. These clubs are great for cutting through longer grass to get to the ball. These clubs were designed to scythe through the grass or pick the ball off of the hard links turf.
The Emergence Of Hybrids
The hybrid started life when Stan Thompson invented a “trouble club” he called “The Ginty”.
The best way to describe these clubs is a small-headed wood with a weighted and angular sole. At around the same time as this, Cobra invented “The Baffler” a name they still use on hybrids.
Both of these clubs astounded as they help golfers escape from lies that were near impossible to play from in the past. TaylorMade got in on the action too when they brought out the Tour Spoon clubs in later years.
What Are The Advantages Of Hybrids Over Irons
Hybrids are much larger from the clubface to the back of the club.
This means that the centre of gravity (CoG) can be further back from the face which has a huge benefit in terms of forgiveness. A CoG at the back of the club makes for higher launch too. This also helps with control on greens.
Many golfers struggle to properly launch long irons, they also struggle with the fact that they are among the hardest clubs in the bag to hit well consistently. The hybrid design directly aids both of these issues which is of huge appeal to many golfers out there.
The Appeal Of Replacing Long Irons With Hybrids
As I’ve already said, long irons are hard to hit, they will amplify any swing flaw you have and they can make people nervous.
They are also difficult to hit out of really bad lies. Finally, when you hit a long iron at a green it can be hard to get control on the ball to hold it on the putting surface.
The hybrid can help you with all of these issues. They are far more forgiving so can help you feel more confident, they are great out of bad lies and the high launch characteristics of their design helps your ball land softly and hold greens. Hybrids can really give your long game a new edge.
What About Replacing Shorter Irons With Hybrids?
This is where it gets tricky, there comes a point where the benefit of hybrids disappear and as we get to the mid-irons we hit that point.
I would say that beyond a 5 iron equivalent, you don’t want to replace with hybrids. They will hit the ball so high and you could lose distance.
If you really struggle with mid-irons then it could be worth using a split-set where you maybe have game-improvement irons and hybrids. This will give you the most forgiving set possible whilst giving your the best performance in the bag.
Who Will This Benefit Most?
High Handicappers and Golfers who struggle with consistency and ball striking will benefit greatly from switching irons for hybrids, we’ve covered this one a bit in the sections above. Another group that will benefit hybrids are those who struggle with generating clubhead speed.
Slower speed players will struggle to launch the ball into the air, this is especially true with the longer irons. Having hybrids in the bag can really help you with this and get some height on your shots.
Do Any Pros Replace Short Irons With Hybrids?
It is probably more common than you think for tour pros to play hybrids. These clubs are especially common in the Champions Tour and the LPGA Tour where most of the pros have hybrids in the bag. However, many PGA Tour players are using them too.
Whilst driving/utility irons have become increasingly popular, the hybrid remains a solid choice. Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar and Jimmy Walker have all been known to carry the hybrid fairly regularly. There is absolutely no shame in carrying these incredibly versatile clubs.
What Percentage Of Pros Use Hybrids?
This is a difficult one to answer because pros change their equipment so often, wouldn’t you if you had tour trucks on hand every week? The choice of carrying a hybrid or not often comes down to the course that the tour is visiting that week.
I think it would be fair to say that on the European and PGA Tours you will find around a quarter of the players playing hybrids on any given week. Older tour golfers are also more likely to carry at least one hybrid in the bag.
Are There Many Full Hybrid Sets Available?
Cleveland make a great full hybrid set, the Launcher HB set, these look fantastic and are perfect for those looking for unparalleled forgiveness. This is a set of clubs that will help you fall in love with golf or fall back in love with golf.
Another great option is the Wilson Launch Pad set. These clubs have a slightly more subtle toppling and look a little like game improvement irons at address, which will appeal to many. The this sole of these Wilson irons will help you strike the ball more consistently.
What About Replacing Fairway Woods With Hybrids?
Fairway woods can be another source of angst for some golfers from time to time, these can be another club that hybrids can help with.
Due to the higher flight of hybrids, they tend not to go as far as fairway woods, that being said, you still get that added control for approaching greens.
To replace fairway woods with hybrids, you will need hybrids with a very strong loft. This can make them hard to hit but certainly not harder than the fairway wood you’re replacing. If you want more height on your longest fairway shots then hybrids could really help you out.
What Is Our Favourite Hybrid Set?
Cobra T Rail Set
Since they invented the club, it is very difficult not to choose Cobras here. The Cobra T Rail set still has a nod to that very first “Baffler” as it has the rails on the soles of the clubs. This helps the club reduce friction with the turf as it goes through impact.
This set looks fantastic in all black with blue flashes and has more heritage than any other hybrids on the market. They have really hot face which brings impressive ball speed whilst giving you that incredible forgiveness that you need.
Overall Score: 92/100
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Best Hybrids To Replace Short Irons
Wilson Launch Pad Set
These set have a progressive design which has heads that get smaller and smaller as the loft gets higher. This can help control the height of the launch you get from the clubs.
Overall Score: 90/100
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Are There Hybrids To Replace Wedges?
Cleveland Smart Sole
There are some out there, like the Orlimar Stratos wedge. Another more subtle offering is the Cleveland Smart Sole wedge, this is more like a normal wedge but with a chunkier sole and more hybrid-like performance. This style of wedge can be great for certain golfers out there.
If you are a golfer who just completely struggles with striking wedges, you chunk them and also thin them with no idea what’s coming next, then these wedges may be for you. They can really help you with the strike and to help you build confidence and consistency.
Overall Score: 95/100
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What About Driving Irons?
As I’ve already mentioned, on tour these days we have seen a growing popularity in driving irons, but what is the difference? These irons are smaller and so the CoG cannot be as far back, this tends to result in a lower ball flight and less spin.
This is one of the reasons that many tour pros are enjoying these in the bag, they go lower and tend to go further which is great from the tee. They are harder to hit than hybrids, however, they are easier to hit than 2 irons so it could be worth considering if you’re a ball striker.
Can You Use Hybrids Off The Tee?
Absolutely, they are especially great on long par threes. Many golfers love the hybrid on a tight par four as they are more accurate and it’s easier to hit the fairway. They can also be really useful for placing the ball on the corner of a dogleg, for example.
If you are the kind of golfer who approaches a round like a surgeon, who takes great pride in tactical golf and placing the ball off the tee, then hybrids can be great. If you have one in your bag then you should consider it an option from the tee.
Should I Replace My 4 Iron With A Hybrid?
If you struggle to get height and consistent strikes on a 4 iron, then yes, this is absolutely a club to consider replacing with a hybrid.
The 4 iron is one of the lowest lofted irons in the bag and a hybrid can bring great advantages to your game, a switch is definitely worth considering.
Should I Replace My 5 Iron With A Hybrid?
The 5 iron is a club that more golfers will be more comfortable with and so fewer will need to make that switch.
For the same reasons as above, many golfers may still consider this switch and will benefit from it. Speak to you pro and see what they recommend?
What Hybrid Is Equivalent To A 5 Wood?
The 5 wood tends to have a loft of 17-19 degrees.
Now the simple response here would be to consider buying a hybrid with the same loft as the 5 wood that you are planning to replace. However, I don’t think that that is the full story.
I think that you should be looking at something around 16 degrees or, at the very most 17 degrees. The design of the hybrid makes it fly higher than the wood and can cause it to go less distance. For that reason, getting a stronger lofted hybrid can give equivalent distance.
According to the rules of golf, we are allowed to carry 14 clubs in the bag.
You want to make sure that all of those clubs work for you and you can be as confident as possible in them. Carrying long irons, although it has some ego points attached to it, can be a waste if you never use them.
Hybrids can give this portion of your bag a new lease of life and can add many shots to your bag that you would normally be afraid of playing. Have a think about your game, if you are scared to play long irons then you absolutely must consider giving hybrids a try, you won’t regret it.