2019 Best Hybrids

How many hybrids should you be carrying? More than you probably think. Good news: Today, they can replace every club sometimes all the way to your your 8-iron, and they’re hotter than sriracha-spiced ghost chilis

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You thought you probably knew what hybrids could do for your game. You might even play one, and most likely two. In its survey of serious golfers, Golf Datatech found that the average player carries two hybrids, and nearly one in four players carry three or more hybrids in their bags. In fact, the hybrid has become such a standard piece of equipment that more than half of all golfers in the Golf Datatech study indicated that the hybrids in their bag were purchased as part of their iron sets.

And while golfers en masse continue to embrace hybrids as a necessary substitute for the long irons they used to carry, what is changing about the hybrid landscape are two very important things: better fits for a wider range of player types and the kinds of thin, resilient face performance that used to be only possible in drivers.

The first point is important: Hybrids initially were—and of course still are—a good idea for a lot of average golfers who struggle to get low-lofted clubs launched high and far enough to create more meaningful distances between your longest fairway wood and your longest traditional iron. But as hybrid designers increasingly focused on the needs of weaker golfers, they made clubs that some better players didn’t want to play. The traditional hybrids often produced a natural draw bias with a higher-flying and higher spinning ball flight. That was too much help for better players. Now, however, there are increasing hybrid options for better players that seek clubs that provide just the right amount of game improvement with the ability to flight the ball in ways that let them attack pins. Moreover, the compact shapes of these new “players” hybrids give a better golfer the confidence that he’s got a tool, not a crutch.

Of course, that’s not to say that there still aren’t a full supply of hybrids whose sweeping soles and forgiving oversized face designs provide both more pop and ideal launch from tee, fairway and even the rough. The results are performances that have relegated not only the 3- and 4-iron to the place where persimmon woods used to go; they’ve opened the door to allow regular golfers to consider ditching the 5-, 6- and even 7-iron, too. As an example, Golf Digest asked national fitting chain and 100 Best Clubfitter Club Champion to study just how much better a 6-hybrid was than a 6-iron for an average golfer. The tests showed that for high handicappers a 6-hybrid was an average of 18 yards better in carry distance than a 6-iron. That’s a transformational change to the distance gaps in your bag.

The second point about the new age of distance technology in hybrids shouldn’t be overlooked either. New materials, new face constructions, and unheard of face thicknesses that create new levels of ball speed mean hybrids are an easier way to generate not just longer hits but consistently better hits than the irons they’re replacing. Remember also that hybrids by their very nature are dramatically more forgiving than any iron could be. Hybrids feature wide sole, hollow construction of a metalwood. That makes for a larger, more flexible face that is chock full of perimeter weighting for off-center hit stability (and distance), while at the same time redistributing more mass low so hybrid shots more easily launch the ball high.

Face it: Launching the ball high is what attracted you to the game from the very beginning. Hybrids bring that sensation back, and now they’re bringing it back to more of your set than ever before.