The one club you need
January 07, 2010
Try these seven shots with a hybrid
Ideally, you want the clubface covering most of the ball. Maybe a quarter of the ball can be above the face, but that's it. The way the hybrid is weighted, it's easy to get the ball airborne when you tee it low. The only other tip for a hybrid tee shot is to swing as if you're hitting a fairway wood: You want a sweeping approach into the ball.
From a fairway bunker, the most important thing is angle of attack. Play the ball slightly back of center in your stance, and then swing the club on a shallower path into the ball than you would with an iron. Coming down more from inside the target line will help.
When your ball is happily resting in the middle of the fairway, remember to stand a little closer to it. Because hybrids have a fairway-wood look about them, the tendency is to address the ball as if you were holding a 3- or 5-wood, with the arms extended from the body. But some hybrids are only 39 inches long -- that's a standard 3-iron length. So make sure you address the ball as if you were hitting a 3-iron (left), not a wood. Having to reach for the ball greatly decreases your chances of making solid contact.
One of the great things about this club is the way it cuts through the rough. The problem is, you need to convince yourself before you hit your shot that the rough will offer little resistance. I suggest taking an extra practice swing or two to see just how easy the hybrid gets through the long grass. Also, consider playing the ball back a smidge, and hit slightly down on it instead of trying to sweep it.
If you need to punch out, the hybrid is your club, especially in pine straw or sandy areas, because the leading edge won't get caught up in the junk the way an iron will. Grip down on the handle an inch or so, and play the ball toward your back foot. Then make a three-quarter swing with your arms and shoulders, keeping your lower body quiet throughout.
The swing motion you want here is a cross between a chip and a putt. The chipping portion comes from hinging your wrists as you take the club back. The farther the shot, the more hinge you need. The putting portion comes from making a stroke with a quiet lower body. Your hips should barely move. The ball will jump off the face, so make a smaller swing than you think you might need.
If you hate when your ball is just off the green but up against thick grass, then you'll love what the hybrid can do from here. No more having to belly a wedge. Instead, make a longer backswing, and gradually accelerate. It's not a pop shot; it's a smooth stroke. Acceleration is very important, but what I don't want to see is a short backswing and a quick move into the ball.Nick Price, winner of 18 PGA Tour events, including the 1992 and 1994 PGA Championship and the 1994 British Open, lives in Hobe Sound, Fla., and practices at nearby McArthur Golf Club (shown here).