Driving Irons Vs. Hybrids
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Driving Irons Vs. Hybrids

Golfers are always trying to improve their game, and choosing the right club for a shot is half the battle. Hybrids have come into popularity over the past decade or so, fighting for a spot alongside driving irons. Let's see which is best suited for who and what.   

Driving irons are a variation of long irons offering a larger "sweet spot," making them easier to hit and providing a lower ball flight meaning they can be very accurate. Hybrids offer the forgiveness and ball distance of a fairway wood and the swing mechanics of an iron.

If you are always looking to improve your game, bringing your handicap lower but don't know what clubs you should use for those shots where you are torn between a fairway wood and a long iron, then this article is for you. We will discuss the alternatives for woods and irons, going over in detail what hybrid clubs and driving irons are and if you should consider them.

Driving irons vs. hybrids

The main difference between a hybrid golf club and a driving iron is that a hybrid is built to have aspects of both a wood and an iron in its design, which means it can be much more forgiving than a driving iron.

Before we dive into driving irons and hybrids in detail, let's look at golf clubs as a whole to understand why there are so many and what their function is.

By understanding golf clubs regarding their design, loft, lie, and how far an average player or professional can hit the ball, we will be able to comprehend why there is a need for driving irons and hybrid golf clubs.

Golf clubs overview

Golf rules state that you are allowed to carry a maximum of 14 golf clubs in your bag. With this in mind, there are many clubs that you are able to choose from that range from a driver to a putter with everything in between, including fairway woods, irons, and wedges.

You may be asking why the need for so many clubs? The answer is more straightforward than you think. The primary reason is you will need a variety of clubs so that you can hit the ball at specific distances, tying into the fact that golf clubs are designed to be this way due to the angle of their face (loft), the lie angle of the club, and the weight of the club.

Knowing all of this, irons primarily make up a large portion of your bag (they range from a 1-Iron to a 9-Iron). However, most players won't carry all nine irons in their bag but rather ones that will benefit their play style.

Irons will help you cover a distance between approximately 95 yards (with a 9-iron) and 240 yards (with a 1-iron). This will, of course, depend on your gender, technique, and level of experience.

Now a driver will let you hit between 200 yards and 250 yards, again, depending on the factors we stated above.

An average golfer will be able to hit their 1-iron approximately 185 yards and their driver about 205 yards. This means that there is still room for clubs to cover the gap between these two distances, and that is where woods come in.

Woods (clubs between drivers and irons) allow a player to hit the ball 130 yards (with a 9-wood) to 240 yards (with a 2-wood). Hence, you have clubs with varying loft and lie angles that let you cover almost any distance.

It is important to note that many clubs will overlap in terms of hitting distance. However, their loft and lie angle will be different, and depending on the player, their technique, and course conditions, various clubs will be used to achieve the same result.

What is a driving iron?

A driving iron, also known as a utility iron, is a type of bulked-up, more robust iron that is explicitly designed to hit the golf ball higher and farther than your traditional 1, 2, or 3-irons and primarily for tee shots.

Driving irons are meant to be alternatives to hybrid clubs, woods, and long irons from the tee and are used when surgical precision is needed.

They will be used in windy conditions because the ball trajectory will be lower than similar fairway woods with the same loft.

However, one thing to consider is that due to their lower launch angles landing angles, they will cause the ball to have a large amount of roll.

Driving irons will have the equivalent loft to long irons, which will range from 18 to 23 degrees. They are easier to hit than your typical long irons; however, they will go lower than a wood.

We have laid out a table for your perusal between driving irons and irons, measuring their distance and loft.

Take note that a good reference point to judge how far you are able to hit a driving iron is approximately 10 to 15 yards shorter than the distance of your 3-wood.

Using these charts, you will be able to tell how far you are able to hit a driving iron when compared with standard irons. The reason why we are comparing regular iron distance and loft to driving irons is that hybrids come in a full set of clubs (which we will discuss), and you will be able to compare hybrid distance to driving irons and regular irons.

Driving iron vs. regular irons distance and loft comparison chart (men)

Golf Club

Loft (degrees)

Distance In Yards (Short Hitter)

Distance In Yards (Mid Hitter)

Distance In Yards (Long Hitter)

1 iron

15 to 18

177

215

241

2 iron

18 to 20

160

194

218

3 iron

21 to 24

148

180

202

4 iron

25 to 28

139

169

191

5 iron

28 to 32

132

159

180

6 iron

32 to 36

123

149

168

7 iron

36 to 40

115

139

157

8 iron

40 to 44

107

130

146

9 iron

45 to 48

95

114

129

Driving iron

18 to 23

3-wood minus 10 to 15 yards

3-wood minus 10 to 15 yards

3-wood minus 10 to 15 yards

3 wood

12 to 17

188

215

234

Driving iron vs. regular irons distance and loft comparison chart (women)

Golf Club

Loft (degrees)

Distance In Yards (Short Hitter)

Distance In Yards (Mid Hitter)

Distance In Yards (Long Hitter)

1 iron

15 to 18

108

138

177

2 iron

18 to 20

98

126

160

3 iron

21 to 24

90

117

148

4 iron

25 to 28

85

110

139

5 iron

28 to 32

79

103

132

6 iron

32 to 36

75

97

123

7 iron

36 to 40

69

90

115

8 iron

40 to 44

65

84

107

9 iron

45 to 48

57

74

95

Driving iron

18 to 23

3-wood minus 10 to 15 yards

3-wood minus 10 to 15 yards

3-wood minus 10 to 15 yards

3 wood

12 to 17

121

150

188

When to use a driving iron

Driving irons will typically be used in weather conditions where the wind is extreme, and you do not want the ball to have a lot of lift when it comes off the tee.

Besides poor wind conditions, driving irons are great for tighter courses and holes where there is less space on the turf, and you need to hit with precise accuracy.

Driving iron pros and cons table

Driving iron pros

Driving iron cons

Easier to hit than traditional long irons

Not as forgiving as a hybrid club

Have a larger sweet spot than long irons

Require more skill to use

More forgiving on off-center hits

Can help you hit further

Have a higher ball launch that allows for improved distance

What are hybrid golf clubs?

As we stated in the beginning, a hybrid club takes aspects design aspects of both a wood and an iron golf club and combines them to give a familiar swing mechanic from an iron and the forgiving nature and better ball distance of a wood.

It needs to be noted that many golf players find it pretty difficult to hit the long irons. These are the irons from 1 to 4. Even Lee Trevino (6 times PGA tour winner) was quoted as saying, "not even God can hit a 1-iron".

This means that many players will opt to play a wood because of its forgiving nature, but it comes at the price of accuracy. Woods tend to have a larger "sweet spot" but will have different swing mechanics to an iron due to their longer shafts.

Because of their longer shafts, Woods need more room to swing than irons, making it very difficult to play shots from underneath trees (known as punching-out) or from the rough.

This is where hybrids come in and try to offer the best of both worlds.

A hybrid club will offer similar performance and trajectory when compared to a wood of the same loft but will have less carry distance. It will also feature the same swing mechanics as an iron, while the loft will be higher than both an iron or wood of the same number.

It is designed to have a head similar in shape to a wood, and as such, it creates a large impulse on the ball.

Hence, the ball launch angle is increased so that the ball will carry much higher, and the increased loft coupled with the tighter impulse will increase the backspin of the golf ball.

Hybrids will tend to make the ball drop relatively sharp onto the ground, and in conjunction with the increased backspin, it creates a "bite," which means that the after impact, the ball comes to rest only a few yards further.

Ass you can now see, it offers accuracy in the way of an iron and the ease of use from a wood. Below is a table of hybrid clubs measuring their loft and distance that you can use to compare to driving irons and irons. With this, you will be able to tell which is best suited for your play style.

Hybrid club loft and distance chart (men)

Golf Club

Loft (degrees)

Distance In Yards (Short Hitter)

Distance In Yards (Mid Hitter)

Distance In Yards (Long Hitter)

1 hybrid

15 to 18

194

225

244

2 hybrid

18 to 20

176

204

222

3 hybrid

21 to 24

162

189

205

4 hybrid

25 to 28

154

178

193

5 hybrid

28 to 32

144

168

182

6 hybrid

32 to 36

135

157

170

7 hybrid

36 to 40

126

146

159

8 hybrid

40 to 44

118

136

148

9 hybrid

45 to 48

103

120

131

Hybrid club loft and distance chart (women)

Golf Club

Loft (degrees)

Distance In Yards (Short Hitter)

Distance In Yards (Mid Hitter)

Distance In Yards (Long Hitter)

1 hybrid

15 to 18

114

150

194

2 hybrid

18 to 20

103

136

176

3 hybrid

21 to 24

96

125

162

4 hybrid

25 to 28

90

119

154

5 hybrid

28 to 32

85

112

144

6 hybrid

32 to 36

79

104

135

7 hybrid

36 to 40

74

98

126

8 hybrid

40 to 44

68

90

118

9 hybrid

45 to 48

61

80

103

When to use a hybrid golf club?

A hybrid will be used for general purposes when a player should be using an iron but does not feel comfortable doing so. There are other situations where the design of the club and how the ball flies and lands can benefit you, so let's discuss that.

Say, for instance, a player is in a position where they are faced with a hazard that is placed in front of the green. Using a typical driver, wood, or iron will make the ball roll significantly, and due to this, the ball may end up in the hazard if the player opts to hit with one of those clubs.

In this situation, the player might set up a shot with a mid-iron and then hit an approach shot with their wedge or short iron. This will allow them to carry over the hazard onto the green.

Using a hybrid in this situation would allow the player to hit a shot that would carry the full distance onto the green, but it would shortly come to a stop after landing because of how the ball spins.

Hence, you would only need one shot to make the green instead of two, and the whole point of golf is the fewer shots it takes to get the ball into the hole, the better.

Hybrid club pros and cons table

Hybrid golf club pros

Hybrid golf club cons

Most versatile club in your bag

Launch the ball high

Can be used for many shots from the tee to around the green

Limiting performance in windy conditions

Easy to hit

They put a lot of spin on the ball, which some players do not like

Great for players who struggle with long irons

Can bring a par 5 into a player's reach and set them up for more eagle puts

Conclusion

We discovered that there are, in fact, quite a few golf clubs that you are able to choose from. This is because their design (loft, lie, and other factors) allows them to affect the ball in various ways while sending them to different distances.

Depending on the player that you are, you will need to choose specific clubs that match your play style, and we covered driving irons and hybrid clubs in this article.

Driving irons are more forgiving than regular irons and can help you with a shot that requires excellent accuracy, although these clubs are still difficult to master.

Hybrids try and compensate for the difficultness of a driving iron and the loft and ball spin of a wood. Even though many clubs in your bag can overlap in terms of how far you can hit them, you will need to know how the club affects the ball launch, trajectory, landing, and spin and how that could impact each and every shot you take if you surely want to master the game.

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