Hot List 2008January 3, 2008

Instruction Tips

Turn your chest to hit a hybrid

Sweep the ball the same way you would a long iron or wood.

Sweep the ball the same way you would a long iron or wood.

Hybrids have become an important part of many players' sets, and for good reason. They're easier to hit than long irons, and the way they're weighted helps launch the ball into the air even from bad lies.

But I've heard some of my students say they've gotten conflicting advice about how to hit a hybrid. Are you supposed to hit it like the long iron it replaces, with a sweeping swing, or with more of a descending blow like a short iron?

In most situations, you want to swing a hybrid the same way you would a longer iron, with a more sweeping action. A hybrid clubhead is designed to skim through the grass like a fairway wood, and the extra weighting behind the face sends the ball up high like an iron does.

The most common mistake I see players make with a hybrid is using a lot of arm swing to make a very steep up-and-down move to hit the ball. When you do this, you're robbing yourself of all the game-improvement benefits designed into the club. You'll get a better result than you would with a long iron­--an arm swing with your 3-iron would smother the shot right at your feet--but you'll struggle with consistency.

When you set up to a standard hybrid shot from the fairway or light rough, concentrate on making more of a turn with your chest back and through. Your arms will follow in a more sweeping motion, and the club will travel on a flatter plane. The clubhead will glide through the grass the way it was designed to, and you'll get that trademark hybrid ball flight: a high launch with a soft landing.

When I hit my hybrid, I like to take a wide stance--almost as wide as I would with my driver--to give myself a very stable base. The wide stance also promotes that sweeping, flatter move that works so well with this kind of club. My feet are set just a little wider than my shoulders for a middle iron, and another two inches farther apart for my hybrid swing.

The one time you would make a short-iron-type swing with a hybrid is from deep grass. The mass concentrated at the back of the hybrid clubhead is great for powering through deep grass, especially when you have a long distance to cover. Play the ball farther back in your stance--in the middle instead of the three inches forward you would play it on a standard shot--and make a shorter backswing. Hit the ball with a punch-shot action. By hitting down instead of sweeping it, you'll avoid getting the club caught in the long grass before it gets to the ball.