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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Choosing Between Fairway Woods and Hybrids

Josh Blagden of was kind enough to provide me with this article on whether to choose a hybrid or a fairway wood for various kinds of shots. I thought you guys might find it helpful. Smiley Faces

Golfers of all levels have long struggled with the long-iron conundrum. For many players, long irons are difficult to hit well even with modern clubfaces, because of their very small club faces and their equally small sweet spots. The extremely low trajectory of a long iron, caused by its low loft, as well as the longer club length makes it unsuitable for tighter lies, ‘punching’ out from underneath trees and playing from the rough.

Consequently, players tend to avoid having these clubs in their golf bag and favour fairway woods with a larger sweet spot. The extra mass in the head makes it easier to get the ball airborne and travel greater distances than long irons.

Callaway Fairway X-Hot Fairway woods were the only alternative to long irons for decades, until the demand for hybrids exploded from 2004. The hybrid was designed to combine the accuracy and versatility of a long iron with the distance and forgiveness of a fairway wood.

Titleist_Fairway 913H Hybrid In terms of design, a hybrid head is very similar to a fairway wood with a shallow, slightly convex face, but the loft of the hybrid head is generally higher than either the wood or the iron. Hybrid clubs can be a great option for a variety of different shots, and can even make great chippers near the edge of the green.

Many tour pros started including hybrids in their bags, as did golfers of all levels. The advantages of using hybrids became clear, in terms of their versatility and effectiveness out the rough. However, their weaknesses were exposed too. Fewer hybrids appear in tour bags nowadays as the more powerful pros have come to recognise they are not as effective in windy conditions, nor do they offer the ability to work the ball nearly as well as long iron replacements.

But recreational golfers generally find these long iron replacements as hard to use as standard long irons. They will use hybrids and fairway woods and, in most cases, they will find hybrids easier to swing than fairway woods. The key is in knowing which club is more effective for the situation.

How does a player choose which club between a fairway wood and hybrid?

The type of shot you can play is often determined by your lie, and the lie can dictate which type of club you should use.
  • From the fairway, both woods and hybrids have their places. Hybrids launch the ball higher and straighter, helping it stop more quickly on the green, while fairway woods make it easier to curve the ball and get some roll for a little extra distance.
  • In light rough, a fairway wood such as a 3-wood may be a better choice, as its flat bottom skims the low grass easily, yet a hybrid may be a better choice in thicker rough as the heavier but more compact clubhead can cut better through the longer grass.
  • From a fairway bunker, the hybrid’s lofting ability makes it a better selection than a wood.
It is important to make the right club choice as it can vastly improve your game and lower your score. You need to look no further than Chinese teenage golf sensation Guan Tianglang, who made history at the 2013 Masters as the youngest ever player to compete at a major, aged just fourteen. Whilst the majority of his competitors were using a combination of long irons and fairway woods on the uncompromising 7435 yard course at Augusta, Guan opted to hit his fairway shots on the long par-4s and par-5s using fairway woods in order to compensate for the distance he lacked. As a result of his club choices, he successfully became the youngest player ever to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

But unlike Guan, the majority of us are not afforded the luxury of changing clubs depending on conditions. That makes it even more important to make the right decision when choosing between a fairway wood and hybrid as a long iron replacement.

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