Hot List

Best Hybrids: Look / Sound / Feel

The best clubs in each category of the Hot List reflect excellence in an array of criteria, as judged by our player testing. For hybrids, that includes the difficult-to-define but vitally important traits of look, sound and feel. Hybrids come in many shapes, sizes and lengths. Some are pseudo fairway woods with long shafts and large clubheads while others are sleeker and give off a super-game-improvement iron vibe. These individual lists provide a way to identify the look, sound and feel within the category. Here you’ll see how 32 players evaluated hybrids, based on each player's interpretation of the criterion of Look/Sound/Feel, with each achieving a minimum of 4.5 stars from our players in that area.

Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke
$280 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$280

Targeting players with average to high swing speeds, this full-service hybrid aims to find a little more distance and tighter dispersion with its AI-generated face design. The weighting and shaping accentuate this player’s needs, including a tungsten weight that pushes the balance of the head forward and deep to calm distance-robbing spin and to promote an efficient energy transfer at impact. The larger shape provides extra forgiveness on mis-hits, and the sole camber extends that forgiveness to turf interaction.

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Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke HL
$280 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$280

Don’t focus so much on the lofts on this hybrid, which are the same as those on the standard Ai Smoke. Because the shafts here are progressively longer with more tip flexibility and because these heads are designed with a lower center of gravity through a wider sole and a shallower face height, the HL model, as its name implies, should provide a higher launch angle. The tungsten in the front part of the sole assists in giving these players even more height.

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Callaway Paradym Ai Smoke Max Fast
$280 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$280

Having a hot, flexible face is important, and Callaway has long used machine learning to achieve this, but that doesn’t matter if golfers can’t generate their own speed. This hybrid can be just what moderate-swing-speed players need. It’s 30 grams lighter than the standard model and has a more streamlined design. Callaway pulls this off in part by removing the adjustable hosel, which also frees up mass to sit lower in the head for more efficient energy transfer at impact. The shallow profile also makes it easier to get the ball in the air.

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Callaway Paradym Super Hybrid
$400 | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$400

For all its complexity (titanium construction, carbon-composite crown, a mineshaft’s worth of tungsten, artificial intelligence-designed face), the Super Hybrid poses a simpler question: What if a hybrid was designed to replace not an iron but a fairway wood? The result is this super-charged hybrid with a driver-like titanium face. The large frame offers off-center-hit forgiveness, and the 91 grams of tungsten in the sole fuel easier launch. The shorter shafts also go a long way to making you question the need for fairway woods at all.

Cobra Darkspeed
$280 | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$280

We get that making a hybrid with a trampoline face is desirable, but all that ball speed without the ability to launch the ball isn’t much use. The ideal hybrid needs its internal weight to be low to boost that launch angle. Darkspeed uses an ingenious internal bridge-like weight bar low and close to the face to make it easier to launch shots high. At the same time, this structure allows the thin face to wrap around the leading edge for maximum ball speed.

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Cobra King Tec
$300 | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$300

When you hire a handyman, you expect him to be able to carry an armload of two-by-fours, bring his own tools and dang sure drive a tricked-out F-150. The busting-out-of-its-flannel-shirt King Tec is that sort of hybrid handyman. With three adjustable weights, a light carbon-composite crown and a high-strength steel face insert, this brute is ready to go to work regardless of the assignment. The weights, including an adjustable hosel, let you tweak launch, dial in spin and wrench away that slice or hook.

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Ping G430
$300 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$300

These hybrids solve your problems so discreetly you might start to believe they are strengths. Suddenly, 4- and 5-iron shots have height and distance because of a wraparound face that increases the flexing area. Carbon composite at the back of the crown drips over the edges of the perimeter to lower the center of gravity so that shots launch easier. With an adjustable loft range of up to 35 degrees, you may never need to hit a middle iron again, much less a long iron.

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PXG 0311 Black Ops
$300 | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$300

A thinner, stronger metal in the face typically means faster ball speed. PXG’s engineers believe the new steel alloy—yet to be named—in this hybrid’s face improves ball speed and more. The face is 10.5 percent thinner, but it also produces a higher launch angle with less spin. Combining faster ball speed and better launch conditions is a recipe for distance and, as it turns out, tighter dispersion. That’s some alloy. Maybe PXG should call it Something Else.

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TaylorMade Qi10
$280 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$280

With a hybrid’s relatively compact size, finding ways to save weight requires imagination. Using carbon composite to stretch the size of the crown, for example, probably matters more in a hybrid than it does on a driver. (The lightweight material replaces steel, which is heavier than the titanium on a driver.) For the Qi10, this means shifting weight to the perimeter to lower the center of gravity for more distance.

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TaylorMade Qi10 Max
$280 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$280

Be honest: You need a hybrid because the last time you hit a 4-iron higher than the roof of your golf cart, you were still carrying a 3-iron. This oversize hybrid addresses your needs with the highest flight in the TaylorMade stable because of a carbon-composite crown that produces a lower center of gravity. The shallow-face height makes this big body more effective, and its size provides more forgiveness across the face.

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TaylorMade Qi10 Tour
$300 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$300

Like business ethics and jumbo shrimp, “players hybrid” seems like a contradiction. Too often for better players, the help from hybrids is excessive and the draw-bias weighting is a turn-off. But even the best players need help as clubs get longer, and this model portions its aid in the right measure. This includes heel-and-toe internal weighting for consistent distance control and a more squared-off look at address. The compact head fosters workability and an iron-like-hybrid drive through the turf—as contradictory as this sounds.

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Titleist TSR1
$300 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$300

This hybrid may look more like a fairway wood, but after Titleist engineers studied the potential market for a lightweight hybrid, they found that bigger is better. The wide sole is easier on the typical sweeping strokes made by players at this level, but more importantly this big-body hybrid provides stability on those all-too-common off-center strikes. The screw weight in back builds in dynamic loft to help shots start on a high-flying trajectory. A tip-flexible, shorter fairway-wood shaft provides high launch, and the overall lighter club weight instills control.

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Titleist TSR2
$300 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$300

Making a hybrid forgiving, which usually requires a deeper center of gravity, can be a problem if it leads to shots drawing too much, especially for faster swings, but TSR2 emphasizes accuracy with its push for distance. A hybrid should be targeting a green just like the iron it replaces. Hence, the wider blade length on the TSR2 offers power and forgiveness and slightly shifts the center of gravity away from the shaft for a more neutral, on-target flight.

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Titleist TSR3
$300 | Golf Galaxy
5.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$300

If you want to design a better hybrid for good players, you could deploy a team of engineers to dissect the needs of low spin, controlled launch and power. Or maybe you just could ask Steve Stricker, who has been rocking an old-school Titleist 816 H1 hybrid since the Obama administration. When the Titleist team looked at upgrading this better-players model, they focused on the Stricker-played shape. Its lower and forward center of gravity works well with more of a steep, iron-like swing and provides more workability.

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Adams Idea
$180 | Golf Galaxy
4.0
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Silver
$180

Adams Golf did not invent the hybrid, but for a time no company did more to perfect this game-saving club. Adams returns to its roots with a hybrid styled after its best inventions with new enhancements. Its original sole channel (the legendary “velocity slot”) creates extra flexing lower on the face where most average golfers make contact. A new carbon-composite crown lowers the center of gravity and allows for a heel-side screw in the sole for some ever-friendly draw bias.

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