Hybrid Basics

Learn how to hit your utility club


Hybrid clubs are incredibly useful, so long as you know how to swing one. You’d be surprised at how many golfers come to me with hopes of making use of these versatile clubs, often with no clue of how–or of what the hybrid was designed to do in the first place.

To clear up misconceptions about hybrids, as well as how to swing one, let’s look at what hybrids are designed to do. In most cases, hybrids are designed not as fairway-wood replacements but as long-iron replacements. This isn’t the case across the board, but to know for certain, check out the design of your hybrid. If it looks more like a wood, then it’s better suited for a wood-like swing. There aren’t many hybrids like that; most hybrids on the market have iron-like features, meaning these babies are better suited to swing like an iron. That’s what this quick primer is about.

BALL Position: Use your 3- or 4-iron as a guide


For starters, let’s get your address position corrected. The right ball position for your hybrid is just a smidge forward of your 3- or 4-iron. The goal is to position the ball just in front of the lowest point of your swing arc. And by in front of the lowest point, I mean you want to hit down on the ball with your hybrid. It’s not made to scoop! Second, the distance from you and the golf ball should change. This means moving away from the ball, about an inch or so. To get more specific, check your hybrid’s length with your long iron. If it’s an inch longer, then stand an inch farther from the ball.

Hybrid Iron Or Wood?

What is a hybrid, exactly? Most hybrids are designed to be replacement clubs for those hard-to-hit long irons, but that’s not true with all models. The easiest way to determine if your hybrids require more of a wood-like swing or an iron-like swing is to check the design of the face. If the face looks like an iron, then it’s meant to be swung more like an iron. If it has a more rounded profile and looks more like a wood, the club might perform better for you if you have a slightly shallower angle of attack. Now be careful, no matter what, a hybrid is not a fairway wood, and in most cases, your steeper iron swing will prevail. But if you have hybrids that look more like woods, don’t be afraid to make a lower and longer golf swing.
–Staff Report



Hybrids are longer than irons, but, generally, they’re shorter than your fairway woods. That means the plane of your hybrid swing also should be somewhere in between your irons and woods. By how much you ask? Again, not much. In fact, if you follow my advice in the setup, being farther away from the ball will make your swing a little flatter naturally. So don’t force a swing plane to happen. If you swing the club like an iron and move the ball forward and away from your body, the slightly flatter plane will take care of itself.


Just as you would with a long iron, hitting a hybrid effectively means hitting down onto the golf ball, and making a full extension through the hit. In case you were also wondering, it’s perfectly acceptable (in fact, it’s encouraged) to make a divot with your hybrid shots. Follow these steps–hit your hybrids like a long iron, and you’ll be on your way to making the most out of them.

Frank O’Connell, PGA, teaches at We-Ko-Pa Golf Club near Scottsdale, Ariz. For more information, visit wekopa.com.

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