Orange: Hybrid, Black: Iron
Fighting out of the blue corner was a 21-degree 3-iron; fighting out of the red corner was a hybrid of the same loft. A slight reach advantage went to the hybrid because its 40-inch shaft measured 1.25 inches longer. The referee, a launch monitor named TrackMan, was there to keep it fair.
Forgive the boxing posturing, but, hey, we were just north of Vegas.
Our testers -- four players with different swing speeds -- carried the hybrid farther and with a steeper vertical landing angle (meaning shots are more likely to hold a green). Both the fastest and slowest swinger enjoyed gains of more than 20 yards with the hybrid. Likely reasons are the higher launch angles and faster ball speeds on mis-hits common to hybrids.
The one stat in the 3-iron's favor was side dispersion. Testers hit the club an average of 2.75 yards straighter. But considering the hybrid's degree of dispersion was magnified because of its extra carry, this statistic is a wash.
If TrackMan says hybrids hit the ball longer, higher and almost as straight, who should carry long irons? Only elite golfers worried about consistent distance and workability.