If you think buying a set of new irons is only about, well, the irons, you’re probably coming up short. Literally. Today’s irons certainly pack more distance and forgiveness features, but the fact remains that a hybrid is going to give you the best chance at launching the ball high with explosive distance. Hybrids are more forgiving on mis-hits, too, something that happens more frequently as lofts get lower and shafts get longer. So please take our advice and look at hybrid options at the same time you’re shopping for a new iron set.
Ideally, you would do this through a quality clubfitter. It’s easier for a clubfitter, for instance, to regulate the distance gaps between your new irons and hybrids than, say, trying to make a new set of irons mesh with old hybrids.
Either way, the hybrid trend continues to gain momentum. More than one-third of all iron fittings at Club Champion’s more than 70 locations nationwide include at least one hybrid, says cofounder Nick Sherburne. Here’s another tip: Ditch that 3-iron. According to Sherburne, 80 percent of Club Champion’s iron fittings do not result with a player walking out with a 3-iron. That jibes with research from Golf Datatech that shows 80 percent of serious golfers carry at least one hybrid (the average is two). That’s nearly double the percentage from 15 years ago. Still not convinced a hybrid might be more beneficial than a long iron?
Data from Arccos Caddie, the artificial-intelligence-driven stat-tracking app, shows that across all handicap ranges, a 4-hybrid produced a dramatically better distance gap than a 4-iron between the adjacent 5-iron. The 4-hybrid flew 13.4 yards farther than the adjacent 5-iron, and the 4-iron was barely five yards longer than the 5-iron. (For 16-20-handicappers, the 4-iron and 5-iron flew the same distance.)
So, yes, get to work finding that shiny new set of irons, but to make “green in regulation” a part of your vocabulary, a hybrid or two should be in your bag. And for some players, a whole set of hybrid-like irons might be the best way to go. The only way to know for sure is to get fit. Here’s a sampling of the latest irons and hybrids.
1. CALLAWAY EPIC FLASH
▶ A molded tungsten weight sits in the sole to fuel higher launch. Internal rods connect the crown and sole, focusing more flexing in the wraparound cupface. $300/club
2. TITLEIST TS2/TS3
▶ The TS2 is for sweepers, and the TS3 for those who hit down on the ball, but both have the thinnest face in company history for more ball speed. $280/club
3. COBRA T-RAIL
▶ This set of hybrid-like irons, including a full hybrid 4-iron, uses hollow shapes and turf-riding rails on the sole to move weight low for a higher launch. $900/set
4. CLEVELAND LAUNCHER HALO
▶ The high-strength steel face insert provides the distance, and the sole rails solve problems, smoothly moving the head through all sorts of lies. $200/club
5. TITLEIST T100
▶ Shaped by tour-player preferences, there’s also distance (a face almost as thin as a quarter) and forgiveness (66 grams of tungsten in the heel and toe). $175/iron
6. MIZUNO MP-20
▶ Mizuno is known for the craftsmanship of its forged irons. This set’s chromeplating technique from last century incorporates copper for soft feel. $1,300/set
7. MIURA MB-101
▶This classic blade might look intimidating, but the relatively thin sole is slightly wider with more curvature for increased forgiveness. $280/iron
8. CLEVELAND LAUNCHER UHX
▶ This set mixes hollow shapes in the long irons for forgiveness and power and cavity-back shapes in the short irons to better control flight. $800/set