Hybrid golf clubs have appeared in the past few years, and their popularity will no doubt continue to increase. Phil Mickelson used a hybrid numerous times during his win at the 2007 Player’s Championship. Many other top PGA Tour players use hybrid clubs as well, and the popularity of these clubs will continue to skyrocket. Taylor Made has said that one-fourth of all its wood sales in 2007 will be hybrids. Almost one-third of U.S. golfers now choose to carry a hybrid golf club in their bags compared to about 7% in 2004. The trend is clear.
Why Use a Hybrid Golf Club?
In short, a hybrid golf club is easier to hit than a long iron with the same loft, and with a hybrid golf club the ball will have a higher trajectory. To understand this one needs to know about two things: the 24/38 rule, and the vanishing loft phenomenon which has occurred in golf over the past 20-30 years.
The 24/38 Rule
This is a rule known by golf clubmakers. Essentially it says that most golfers, that is the vast majority, do not have the ability to consistently hit an iron with 24 degrees or less of loft and 38 or more inches of length. For the vast majority of golfers in today’s world, this means that they cannot hit shots consistently with any iron longer than a five iron. Here’s why.
The Vanishing Loft Phenomenon
Surely every golfer is aware that the lofts of iron clubs have crept lower over the years. Golf club companies would introduce new clubs and promote how much farther you can hit a 5 iron, for example, with their new clubs than you could with your old 5 iron. They didn’t immediately tell people that the new club had less loft and was really more like their old 4 iron, but eventually this became obvious. So a 4 iron today has generally settled into lofts of 23-24 degrees vs. 28 degrees some years ago. Applying the 24/38 rule to this means that only a few golfers today can consistently hit a 4 iron. How is it that the lofts and lengths of clubs were allowed to change? It so happens that there are no official standards for these and other golf club design parameters. Thus the golf club companies could make the lofts be whatever they thought was best for the marketing department, within reason.
Why Does The Ball Fly Higher With a Hybrid Golf Club?
The answer to this question is easy to understand. With a hybrid golf club the center of gravity (CG) of the club is farther back. For example, the CG of a 4 iron or any other iron club for that matter is slightly behind the club face. A 4 hybrid, which looks like a small wood club (wood as in 3 wood, 5 wood, etc. All these are made of metal these days) has a CG that is farther back. This make the ball get into the air easier and thus the club seems easier to hit.
Should You Hit Hybrid Golf Clubs?
Unless you are a very skilled player to whom the 24/38 rule does not apply, the answer is probably yes. Even PGA Tour players, who clearly are not bound by the 24/38 rule are using them because sometimes they want to get those long iron shots higher into the air. In fact for most players, the longest iron in their bag should probably be a 5 iron. 3 and 4 hybrids should replace your 3 and 4 irons, which most golfers cannot hit properly and consistently. And remember, your hybrid golf clubs should be the same lengths , or at most a half inch longer, than the iron which they are meant to replace. You want to replace the 3 and 4 irons with the equivalent hybrid golf clubs. What you don’t want is a club that will hit the ball further and create a yardage gap between the 4 hybrid and 5 iron, for example. Thus, the lofts of hybrid golf clubs and the irons they are to replace should be equal as well. You want your 4 hybrid to travel the same distance that your 4 iron did. Give hybrid golf clubs a try- they are a great addition to the game.
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