Pros are joining this club

Word of approval is getting around about the hybrid.

Published February 22, 2007

It doesn't take much in the way of validation from professional golfers to get amateurs using the same type of equipment.

So it only makes sense that those of us who have occasional difficulty getting a ball airborne might be interested in a growing trend among pros: the hybrid club.

Called a hybrid because it has characteristics of a wood and an iron, these clubs are becoming more popular on pro tours and therefore finding their way into the bags of everyday players.

"A 2-iron is probably a thing of the past," said the Champions Tour's Allen Doyle, 58, who won last year's U.S. Senior Open with four hybrids - 3 through 6 - in his bag. "And the 3 (iron) and 4 (iron), might be, too, because they are being dropped and replaced with hybrids. They've been unbelievable for me. I think they are the wave of the future."

An odd look

When the clubs were being developed in the late 1990s, some joked that they looked like a weeding tool. But when players started swinging them and found that the ball got high without the effort usually required of a long iron, the joking stopped.

Even some accomplished players have struggled to hit 2- and 3-irons with consistency. Because they are longer and have less loft, it takes more clubhead speed, power and precision to launch the ball properly.

"You lack confidence and you don't swing as well," said Tom Olsavsky, director of product creation for TaylorMade. "They don't have a lot of loft. The top line of the club is thin and the club isn't substantial."

Hybrids mimic an iron in loft but give players a thicker sole and a lower center of gravity that is toward the back of the club. If you could duplicate a swing put on a 3-iron and a 3-iron hybrid, it is quite likely the hybrid would travel farther and stay in the air longer.

Shots with hybrids drop more softly and hold greens better.

"It's more of a feel to me of a lofted fairway wood," said Champions Tour player Dana Quigley, 59, who also carries a 3-iron through 6-iron hybrid. "They're easier to hit. You don't really need to hit down on it. It's more of a sweeping motion. You play the ball back in your stance, and you don't need to take a big divot."

A blow to the ego

Some consider it a badge of honor to hit long irons and stubbornly refuse to make the move. That's a bad idea for amateurs, according to Quigley.

"A lot of traditionalists who hit blades or 2- and 3-irons might not ever change," he said. "They feel their image is more important than results. But the older you get, the more you will struggle. You need clubhead speed to get the ball in the air with a low iron. It's just physics."

Most pros have tinkered with the clubs, but not all have made the switch, including Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods. She has done quite well with a 7-wood in her bag. And for Woods, it was a big deal when he replaced his 2-iron - at some events - with a 5-wood.

"I think I'm still strong enough to hit a 3-iron in the air," Woods, 31, said. "Most amateurs can't get a 3-iron or 4-iron in the air. That's one of the reasons why I changed to a 5-wood instead of a 2-iron because the balls just are not quit lifting as high." But with a hybrid, "I actually had a hard time keeping the ball down."

That's a problem most golfers wish they had.

What is a hybrid club?

It is a cross between a fairway wood and a long iron and helps get the ball in the air easier.

When would I use one?

Whenever a shot calls for a long iron, you would likely use the corresponding hybrid club.

Hybrids for sale
Hybrids come in all shapes, sizes and prices and nearly all major manufacturers - and some minor ones - make them. They're priced from $60 to $600.
Nickent 3Dx $69.99
TaylorMade Rescue $179.99
Callaway X $139.99
Tour Edge Bazooka $599

Source: edwinwattsgolf.com