Well, the time has come for me to admit that I’m NO longer a long-iron carrying player. I’m a hybrid convert! And I’m not ashamed to admit it, because hybrids help me play better.
My approach shots with my hybrids (which replace my 2, 3 and 4 irons), fly higher, land softer and stop quicker. And when I do mishit these clubs, the results are much better and, more importantly, findable. My only dilemma is that my bag now looks like I have a traveling puppet-show in tow.
I strongly suggest you follow my lead, and to support my suggestion here are my Top-10 reasons you need to play hybrids!
You need hybrids in the bag if you…
If your handicap is higher than 3
Higher handicap golfers must use hybrids because, generally speaking, they don’t have the club head and ball speed to use long irons effectively. Shots with long irons that don’t have ample speed will come out too low, have too little spin, and run off the back of greens. Remember that hybrids are designed to launch the ball higher, spin more, and come into the green softer; all things that the average player will find supremely beneficial.
The higher your handicap, the more fairway woods and hybrids you should have. A general rule of thumb:
- 25+ handicappers should start their iron set with a 7 iron.
- 12-25 handicappers should start their iron set with a 6 iron.
- 10 handicappers or less should start their iron set with a 5 iron.
- 5 handicappers or less should start their iron set with a 4 iron.
If you’re a flat-ball hitter
An LPGA Tour players’ average apex height with their driver is roughly 75 feet, and most amateurs never even get close to that height! I would say that most of my average players hit their long irons in the 45-60-foot range, with landing angles in the 20s and 30s. At that height, golfers simply do not hit the ball high enough to hold the green, which leads to hitting less greens in regulation.
If your misses tend to be thin and right with long irons
The thin miss with a long iron comes from the player trying to lift the ball into the air, causing the hands to flip prematurely. This moves the low point of the swing too far behind the ball, and in an effort to avoid pounding the club into the ground, the player catches the ball thin.
There’s three reason why hybrids help to eliminate this miss:
- The center of gravity is farther back and lower, which helps lift the ball into the air.
- They’re less intimidating. Golfers know, from experience, how much easier and more forgiving higher-lofted woods and hybrids are to hit up into the air, which instills confidence.
- Vertical gear effect, will help increase spin on shots hit low on the face.
If you’ve noticed your club head speed lagging over the last few years
While losing a little swing speed isn’t earth shattering, hybrids will be more convenient as your speed decreases. The slower your swing speed, the less ball speed you can achieve, and the flatter the ball will launch; all bad things if you need to stop the ball on the green. Most of the time, and especially in this circumstance, adding height increases distance.
If the course you play has mostly elevated greens
Whenever you’re hitting into an elevated green, your ball is naturally coming in flatter due to the rise of the slope and the reduced decent time of the golf ball from its apex. Therefore, a golf ball coming in higher will help offset the negative effects of the slope on your approach, and the ball stop quicker on the green. Hybrids offer that solution.
If your long irons tend to chase off the back of the green after landing
Whenever you have a lack of speed, a lack of apex height and a lack of spin, you will have a flatter launch angle and thus, a flatter angle of descent into the green. Why would you want your longer irons chasing? Hybrids will allow the ball to stop because it counters all the above factors. However, if you play in hard and windy conditions, then it might be a good idea to have the long irons handy, because if it gets too blustery, a high and spinning shot will balloon. Approach shots are all about controlling angle of descent.
If your course has tight fairways
Hybrids for the average player are easier to hit, we know, and this helps a player make better swings on more difficult driving holes. Your worst long-iron swings are almost always worse than your worst hybrid swings. Hit 1,000 shots off the tee with each, and I’ll bet you put more hybrids in play.
From a more scientific standpoint, the softer landing angle and added spin produced by a hybrid will keep the ball from running too much when it lands. Tour pros use driving irons (which are basically part long iron/part hybrid) because they have a touch more versatility than hybrids when it comes to shaping shots and changing trajectory. The tour pros don’t need the forgiveness, they need the control — but we aren’t tour pros.
If you play a “distance” ball
If you play a distance ball, chances are that you don’t have the club and ball speed necessary to spin the ball and get the ball up high enough. The carry distance between irons should have consistent separation throughout the bag. The last thing you want to see during gap testing is your shots separated by 7-12 yards in all your irons until you reach a certain length of iron, then have your carry distances close in while the run out increases. Once you start seeing the plateau, that’s where you should start adding in hybrids.
If you struggle hitting the ball solid with your irons
Hybrids can work with varying angles of attack unlike long irons — some good players are more sweepy, while others are a touch more diggy.
As discussed, hybrids are designed with this in mind: they have a wider sole, a lower and further back center of gravity, plus bulge/roll on their faces, which aids gear effect. These are all great designs that help the average player with impact and control. From a psychological standpoint, if you think something is easier to hit, you will make more relaxed golf swings. Relaxed swings are usually better, and most importantly, lead to shots that are findable!
If you want to play better
As little as I play (about 10-15 times per year if I’m lucky!), and the frequency of my practice time (zero), I need all the help I can get. Hybrids do this for me — they make it easier for me to find my shot around the green, not off in the rocks or desert.
I need something that does not require me to hit a million practice shots in order to have some idea where the ball is going to land — not to mention the fact that I just don’t hit long irons high enough for them to be useful under typical playing conditions. I am very honest about my abilities and Trackman has shown me what weaknesses I have. Why fight it when there are clubs that can help?
Golf is hard enough without letting our egos get in the way!
Related: The Best Hybrids of 2015
Mondays Off: Jon Schoepf, Director of Instruction and Master Instructor, Jim McLean Golf
Jon Schoepf Director of Instruction and Master Instructor of Jim McLean Golf School joins the show! He and Steve debate Sean Foley, and Knudson asks if a launch monitor is a necessity to be a great teacher.
Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!
Hidden Gem of the Day: Dodge Riverside Golf Club in Council Bluffs, Iowa
These aren’t the traditional “top-100” golf courses in America, or the ultra-private golf clubs you can’t get onto. These are the hidden gems; they’re accessible to the public, they cost less than $50, but they’re unique, beautiful and fun to play in their own right. We recently asked our GolfWRX Members to help us find these “hidden gems.” We’re treating this as a bucket list of golf courses to play across the country, and the world. If you have a personal favorite hidden gem, submit it here!
Today’s Hidden Gem of the Day was submitted by GolfWRX member golfin8, who takes us to Dodge Riverside Golf Club in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Located just a few minutes away from downtown Omaha, Dodge Riverside sits along the Missouri River, and according to golfin8, it’s a gem of a golf course that is well worth a visit.
“While it’s only 6,400 yards, it’s still one of the best-kept tracks in the area. Makes you work the ball left and right, has risk/reward decisions on almost every hole and the greens are always in great shape and fairly challenging.
It’s kept basically the same layout since opening in 1927, except for a reroute (only changing the start and end holes, the course still flows the same it always has) when the new clubhouse was built and a remaking of the 9th hole after the area had a flood a short while back.
It’s just a classic tree-lined fairway course that is in a town outside a larger metropolitan area that gets drastically overlooked when people think of golf in Omaha.”
According to Dodge Riverside Golf Club’s website, 18 holes during the week will set you back as little as $23, while the rate raises to $31 should you wish to play on the weekend.
How important is playing time in college if a player wants to turn pro?
One of the great debates among junior golfers, parents and swing coaches is what is the most crucial factor in making the college decision. My experience tells me that many students would answer this question with a variation of coaching, facilities and of course academics (especially if their parents are present).
I would agree that all three are important, but I wanted to explore the data behind what I think is an often overlooked but critical part of the process; playing time. For this article, I examined players under 25 who made the PGA tour and played college golf to see what percent of events they participated in during their college career. In total I identified 27 players and through a combination of the internet, as well as conversations with their college coaches, here are the numbers which represent my best guess of their playing time in college:
Player Percent of Events
- Justin Thomas 100%
- Rickie Folwer 100%
- Xander Schauffele 100%
- Bryson DeChambeau 100%
- Jon Rahm 100%
- Patrick Reed 91%
- Jordan Speith 100%
- Beau Hossler 100%
- Billy Horschel 100%
- Aaron Wise 100%
- Daniel Berger 100%
- Thomas Pieters 95%
- Ryan Moore 100%
- Kevin Tway 98%
- Scott Langley 95%
- Russell Hendley 100%
- Kevin Chappell 96%
- Harris English 96%
- JB Holmes 100%
- Abraham Ancer 97%
- Kramer Hicock 65%
- Adam Svensson 100%
- Sam Burns 100%
- Cameron Champ 71%
- Wydham Clark 71%
- Hank Lebioda 100%
- Sebastian Munoz 66%
Please note that further research into the numbers demonstrate that players like Pieters, Munoz, Clark, Reed, Hicock, Langely, Reed and Champ all played virtually all events for their last two years.
This data clearly demonstrates that players likely to make a quick transition (less than 3 years) from college to the PGA tour are likely to play basically all the events in college. Not only are these players getting starts in college, but they are also learning how to win; the list includes 7 individual NCAA champions (Adam Svensson, Aaron Wise, Ryan Moore and Thomas Pieters, Scott Langley, Kevin Chappell, and Bryson DeChambeau), as well 5 NCAA team champion members (Justin Thomas, Jordan Speith, Beau Hossler, Patrick Reed, Abraham Ancer and Wydham Clack) and 2 US Amateur Champs (Bryson DeChambeau and Ryan Moore).
As you dig further into the data, you will see something unique; while there are several elite junior golfers on the list, like Speith and Thomas who played in PGA tour events as teenagers, the list also has several players who were not necessarily highly recruited. For example, Abraham Ancer played a year of junior college before spending three years at the University of Oklahoma. Likewise, Aaron Wise, Kramer Hickok and JB Holmes may have been extremely talented and skillful, but they were not necessarily top prospects coming out of high school.
Does this mean that playing time must be a consideration? No, there are for sure players who have matriculated to the PGA Tour who have either not played much in college. However, it is likely that they will make the PGA tour closer to 30 years of age. Although the difference between making the tour at 25 and 30 is only 5 years, I must speculate that the margin for failure grows exponentially as players age, making the difference mathematically extremely significant.
For junior golfers looking at the college decision, I hope this data will help them understand the key role of playing time will have in their development if they want to chase their dream of playing on the PGA Tour. As always, I invite comments about your own experience and the data in this article!
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