Hybrid Golf Clubs
A hybrid is a type of club used in the sport of golf with a design borrowing from both irons and woods while differing from both. The name “hybrid” comes from genetics to denote a mixture of two different species with desirable characteristics of both, and the term here has been generalized, combining the familiar swing mechanics of an iron with the more forgiving nature and better distance of a wood.
A hybrid generally features a head very similar to a fairway wood; hollow steel or titanium with a shallow, slightly convex face. A hybrid head is usually marginally shallower and does not extend backwards from the face as far as a comparable fairway wood. The head must have an iron-like lie angle, and therefore also has a flatter sole than a fairway wood. The face incorporates the “trampoline” effect common to most modern woods, in which the clubface deforms slightly, then returns to its previous shape, increasing the impulse applied to the ball at launch. The hybrid’s lie, length and weight is comparable to an iron.
Being a new class of club, there is no generally accepted principle governing design. So while a “true” hybrid is as described above, many manufacturers cut production costs by marketing irons as hybrids by adding one or more features to make it look like a hybrid. Some have a club face that looks very similar to an iron, but instead of the cavity-back or muscle-back design these clubs have a slightly bulging back to appear more wood-like in shape. These “iron replacements” swing and perform almost exactly like irons, except the difference in the added weight which slows clubhead speed but increases force applied at a given club speed, allowing a swing to cut through turf or sand with more momentum remaining at contact. These clubs are preferred by players with slower swing speeds. Other club manufacturers produce “true” hybrids as previously described.
Is the modern hybrid a replacement club for your hard-to-hit long irons or a more accurate substitute for your higher-lofted fairway woods? Well, as a matter of fact, yes. In our review of the best new hybrids in the game, we see that the hybrid category is now filled with a variety of options, some that look like downsized metalwoods and others that take on some shot shape and even head style that look like irons with the forgiveness you get from a hollow construction and beefier backside.