With a quick glance, you can hardly tell the difference between the photos, right? True, both shots look close to identical, but in actuality, they're anything but. The photo on the left is at impact with a 6-iron, and the photo on the far left is the same impact position, only this time with my hybrid.
How is it that these two impact positions can look so similar? The answer has to do with how hybrids are designed to perform. Hybrids, unlike their fairway wood counterparts, are designed to strike the ball with a downward blow. The relatively shallow sole, higher loft and deep perimeter weighting ensure the ball will spin and rise with plenty of pop, making it unnecessary to try to sweep or scoop the ball upward. I see this a lot with amateurs, who feel they ought to try to lift the ball into the air with a hybrid, or at the very least, sweep the grass as they do with a long iron or fairway wood. The correct way to hit a hybrid is to attack with a descending blow like you would with a middle iron, where the clubhead makes contact with the ball first, then the grass. The ball position is roughly the same—stance, swing length and rhythm—they're all virtually the same as your middle irons! The divot should be shallower than that of a short iron, but with a hybrid, there ought to be a slim divot reminiscent of a 5- or 6-iron.
So, if you find yourself making all sorts of swing adjustments in order to hit a hybrid, forget them and start hitting your hybrid like a 6-iron. Better yet, the next time you're on the range, alternate between hitting a 6-iron and a hybrid for each shot until you ingrain a similar motion for both. And by the way, get the shaft on your hybrid checked so that it, too, flexes and performs uniformly with your iron set. If you follow these simple guidelines, you'll see why hybrids are the friendliest clubs in your golf bag.
Jay Larscheid, PGA, is the Director of Golf at Longbow Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona. For more information, visit longbowgolf.com.