When should you replace irons with hybrids?
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When should you replace irons with hybrids?

Hybrids have become commonplace in the bags of golfers nowadays. Replacing long irons, they offer improved forgiveness and distance. Realistically there is only a small minority of the lowest handicappers that should consider using a 2 or 3 iron anymore. Even many of the best professional golfers in the world now prefer to carry at least one hybrid.

That being said, modern game improvement technology has improved the forgiveness and ball flight of irons. Most manufacturers are also selling irons per club, allowing golfers to purchase a split set. This means that golfers can benefit from game improvement style long irons, whilst keeping player’s style qualities in their shorter irons.

In this article we will look at the benefits of hybrids and when you should consider selecting one to replace an iron.

What is a hybrid?

A hybrid combines the characteristics of both an iron and a fairwood wood. They have the appearance of a smaller fairway wood, but have a similar shaft length and loft to an iron. 

The idea of a hybrid club is not new to golf. In the 1970s there were two hybrid-type clubs called the Ginty and Baffler that were relatively popular. However, since then newer designs and modern technology have dramatically changed the performance of these clubs.

Manufacturers will use similar technology to fairway woods, normally favoring increased ball speeds and prioritising a higher launching ball flight. However, hybrids are actually designed to be swung more like an iron.

When to replace long irons with a hybrid

If you can strike them well, long irons can offer better workability and control than a hybrid. However, with smaller sweet spots and less forgiveness they are much harder to perform consistently with compared to a hybrid. 

Even if you can strike both clubs equally well, there are still plenty of benefits to choosing a hybrid. The larger clubhead of a hybrid allows manufacturers to move the centre of gravity lower and deeper in the club, which as well as more forgiveness, helps create a higher launch angle and more ball speed. This means the ball will travel further and be easier to hit.

This will be especially beneficial to golfers with slower swing speeds that struggle to generate enough clubhead speed to get long irons airborne. The higher ball flight from the fairway will benefit all golfers though. It allows you more chance of stopping long distance approaches on the green and inspires more confidence to carry hazards when attacking a par 5 in two shots. 

The longer and shallow clubhead of a hybrid with improved MOI also makes them more suitable for hitting from tricky lies or short rough. Then, factor in more distance on tee shots as well. A hybrid might be the most versatile golf club in your bag.

Overall, you can see that there are plenty of benefits to replacing your long irons with a hybrid. There is a reason why the majority of Tour golfers now carry at least one hybrid. 

Should I consider a full hybrid set?

Below a 5 hybrid, the pros and cons of a hybrid versus an iron becomes dependent on what standard of golfer you are and your swing speed.

As you start to compare a 6 hybrid with a standard 6 iron and below, the launch angle and level of control is likely to even out before then improving with mid irons. However, a full set of hybrid irons are still going to offer more forgiveness and distance throughout the set.

Mid to low handicap golfers are normally going to prioritise the improved spin control and consistency of a standard iron set. 

High handicappers, especially with slower swing speeds, should seriously consider the benefits of replacing their entire iron set with a hybrid-iron set. The Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo hybrid-iron set is an example of clubs designed specifically to be more forgiving, easy launching and longer. Many of these hybrid sets include progressive shaping, so that the shortest irons offer slightly better control and feel as well.

Surely if you were to ask many casual high handicap or beginner golfers if they want to use clubs that make golf funner and easier, then the answer would be an easy yes? If you are struggling to hit all your irons consistently and cannot seem to get the ball in the air like your playing partners. Then it is probably worth trying out a hybrid set.

Choose the loft carefully

One of the hardest decisions when buying a hybrid is deciding what loft to purchase.

The correct loft will depend on what iron you are replacing and the distance you hit your other golf clubs. Modern irons regularly have strong lofts now, meaning golfers can hit the ball further than before. However, this makes the iron number largely redundant. It is far more important that you know how far you hit all your clubs, so that you can ensure a consistent yardage gapping.

Regardless of how many hybrids you are buying, you want to try to avoid a gap of larger than roughly 15 yards between clubs. 

Hybrids will typically travel slightly further than the equivalent iron they are designed to replace. The only way to know what loft you should buy is by testing out a few options of the same model to determine average distances. That way you will know for sure the yardage difference between your longest iron and lowest hybrid.

Other options than a hybrid

As discussed earlier in this article, hybrids are an excellent option for all golfers looking to replace their long irons with a more forgiving option. However, there are other options that golfers should also consider.

Driving irons are a great option for golfers that prefer to retain a more iron-like appearance. Additional thickness in the sole and topline, as well as more game improvement technology add plenty of forgiveness over a traditional long iron. They are typically low spin and lower launching clubs, which are popular for golfers that regularly play in strong winds. However, higher handicappers and golfers with slower swing speeds can struggle to launch a driving iron. 

Fairway woods might seem like a strange option to replace long irons. Yet, for golfers that prefer them, they should definitely still be a consideration. There are plenty of high lofted options, such as the Callaway Epic Max that has a 25-degree 11 wood. Compared to a hybrid you will sacrifice some versatility, but the technology remains almost identical.

Conclusion

Knowing exactly what irons you want to replace with a hybrid is an individual decision, because there is no correct answer. You need to ask yourself how comfortable you feel hitting each of your irons. There is normally an iron where you feel you lose confidence in your ability to hit it consistently well. This is the point you should consider the benefits of a hybrid.

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