So, you’ve ditched your 3-iron, or maybe your 5-wood in place of a hybrid or two (or three or four). Now you may be wondering “Do I use the same swing as with an iron, a fairway wood, or somewhere in between?” In this article we will discuss how to really hit a hybrid club.
In order to answer this question, you need to do a little self-swing diagnosis first. Most people either hit their woods better than their irons or vice-versa. The reason for this has a lot to do with their swing plane tendencies. People with a flatter swing plane typically find hitting woods easier because the flatter swing makes it easier to hit up on the ball or level.
A more vertical swing plane commonly causes people to swing down on the ball and generate the “ball-turf” contact. If you have a tendency to swing down too much, then you’ll want to pick up a few hybrids and learn how to hit them. People with steeper swing planes tend not to hit fairway woods well. The longer shaft makes it harder to make contact with the ball at the right location. Fairway woods also require a “sweeping” swing motion to hit well. The shorter shaft clubs like the hybrids and irons will benefit you and your swing-type more.
In recent years club manufactures have been designing clubs to be “stronger” meaning a certain club, say a 6-iron, would have as much loft by today’s standards as a 4-iron may have had in years past. This applies to nearly every club in your bag, including your woods. There have been changes in the center of gravity of the clubhead as well. Certain manufactures have added adjustable weights that allow you to move the center of gravity around. Unfortunately, the lower lofted clubs are now much more difficult to get in the air for the average player. Hybrids were designed to help overcome these changes and make it easier to hit the ball with a higher trajectory than ever before.
One of our favorite hybrid clubs is the Callaway Rogue Hybrid. It comes in a variety of shaft flexes (Regular, Ladies, Light/Senior, and Stiff) for all swing speeds. The Jailbreak Technology places two steel bars inside the clubhead that stiffen the body. The increased impact load to the clubface promotes more ball speed and greater distance.
Swing comparisons between a Wood and an Iron
With a Driver, due to its lower loft, you are generally hitting either flat or slightly “up” (2-3 degrees) into the ball. A fairway wood may require more of a level, sweeping swing or slightly “down” into the ball, especially if you don’t have a great lie. Obviously, balls in the fairway aren’t teed up, so you cannot swing “up” into the ball as you could with a Driver unless you were lucky enough to land on a fluffy patch of grass.
The biggest difference between swinging a wood and an iron has to do with the length of the shaft. Your Driver will be the longest club in your bag followed by the fairway woods. Irons are markedly shorter than the shafts of most woods. As a result, woods have longer club lengths which will position you further from the ball and create a flatter swing plane angle. People with a swing plane that is too flat will often pull or hook the ball and their flight path typically has a lower trajectory. If this is your swing type and you hit your woods well, then you will probably be better off keeping your fairway woods to take advantage of the greater distances generated from the longer fairway wood shafts.
The longer shaft length of your irons on the other hand require you to stand closer to the ball. As a result you generate a more vertical swing plane. Symptoms of a swing plane that is too steep are inconsistent divots. Oftentimes divots will be behind or in front of the ball or inconsistent depths. These inconsistencies result in “thin” or “fat” shots. Having a shorter club length will give you more control in any event. Hybrid shaft lengths are generally closer to irons in their length. This factor forces you to swing hybrid clubs in a more similar to fashion to irons rather than fairway woods.
Want the best of both worlds? This combo set of hybrids and irons from Callaway will help take your game to the next level.
Tips to help improve your hybrid shots
Using the correct ball position will help all of your shots, not just hybrid shots. Since we typically hit hybrids from the turf (rather than a teed up ball) it is even more important that we know the proper location of the ball at setup. If the ball is positioned too far back in your stance you will contact it early while the clubface is still open and a slice is likely to occur. Conversely, a ball too far in front will catch the clubface as it is closing on the follow-through and you will probably hook.
The best way to know the proper ball position is to lay the clubhead down behind the ball and it will naturally position the shaft at its designed angle. Then all you have to do is hold the club and position your hands in front of your body while keeping the same shaft angle originally created by the clubhead. There is no longer any need to guess where the correct ball position should be – your club will tell you! If you are still having trouble keeping your head steady and aligned, then spend a few minutes training with this Golf Alignment Mirror. The convex face and centerline will provide an excellent visual cue while also being able to keep your head down during your swing.
Developing a better swing plane will help your golf game tremendously. Players develop bad swing habits over time and for a variety of reasons. As our bodies age, we have a tendency to become less flexible or certain muscles tire easily and other try to compensate.
One of the best ways to help avoid muscle strain is to build up your “golf muscles”. The Golf Swing Tempo Trainer is a great tool that helps develop proper swing balance and stability. Strengthening your core muscles with help provide a more balanced center of gravity. It works great before a round by providing a low-impact, quick warm-up exercise to help loosen up your muscles.
If balance and weight-transfer isn’t your weakness, then maybe you have difficulty making solid, flush contact with the ball. One of my favorite tips to help diagnose where contact is being made is by applying contact tape to the head of my club. If you don’t have any contact tape, then regular masking tape can work as well. The feedback you receive will help you start making the proper swing changes.
If you want to save some cash and avoid going to the driving range to get your practice in, then pick up a Swing Impact Bag. They will provide instant swing contact feedback. Know immediately whether the heel or toe is out in front and work to make the correction.
Frequently, poor contact is the result of having an incorrect club grip to begin with. Although there are many different types of hand placements, particularly how the fingers are interconnected, there are some basics that are common with most good club grips. Having a grip that is “too strong” can lead to hooks and pulls while a swing that is “too weak” often results in fades or slices. Learning the proper grip technique will work wonders in your ball striking. Take the guess work out of your golf grip with this Golf Grip Swing Trainer. It works great for learning how to properly hold the golf club.
Having trouble with bunker shots? Check out our article on How to Get Out of a Bunker and start cutting strokes today.