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
The coveted FedEx Cup Top 30: Why making it to the Tour Championship really matters
This week at the BMW Championship held at Medinah Golf Club in Chicago, the top 70 players left in the FedEx Cup Playoffs are looking to seal their spot in the top 30 and get to East Lake for the Tour Championship.
Not only does getting into the top 30 mean a chance at winning the FedEx Cup and a cool $15 million bonus for winning the event, but heading into the 2020 season, being in the top 30 comes with some big perks. This top 30 threshold allows players the opportunity to build their schedules around the biggest event in golf.
Let’s take a look at what punching a ticket to East Lake really gets you
- An automatic invitation into every major in 2020: The Masters, PGA Championship, US Open, and The Open Championship. For many players qualifying for these events, especially The Masters in a lifelong dream.
- Invitation to all the WGC Events: There are only a few event on tour that get you an automatic paycheck and FedEx Cup points. Being eligible for the WGCs shows that you are a world-class player, and with these events on the schedule, you don’t have to worry about qualifying through world rankings.
- Invitation to all limited field events: This includes the Genesis Invitational (formerly Genesis Open / LA Open), The Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Memorial, and The Players Championship.
If a player was to play every one of the qualified events that would put them at 12 events for the season—to maintain a card for the next year a player has to play in at least 15 events. If you conclude that many of these are also winners and will play in the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii that would put the players at 13 events.
This is why being in the top 30 is such a vital line in the proverbial sand—it gives these top players the ability to pick and choose their schedules for the 2019/2020 season without the stress of worrying about what events they are in. Although not to the same extent, this is also why every cutoff is so crucial for each player, whether it be the PGA Tour top 125, PGA Tour 125-150, or those players that gained their cards through the Korn Ferry Tour. Every dollar and every point earned accumulates towards playing opportunities for the next season!
WRX Q&A: NewClub’s Matt Considine
A friend of a friend pointed me to NewClub’s website. Having never heard anything about the effort previously, my first impression of NewClub was a product of its homepage, which looks something like (OK, exactly like) this.
“Sounds great,” I thought. “But what the heck does all of this mean practically?”
To get the answer to that question, I got in touch with founder and CEO Matt Considine, who was kind enough to answer a few questions about the venture.
GolfWRX: Let’s start with a little bit about your background in golf…
Matt Considine: As Lebron likes to say “I’m just a kid from Akron” and like many Midwestern kids, I’ve loved playing games with my friends, especially the game of golf. I grew up working and playing at area clubs, munis, and driving ranges. I always had a club in my hands — my mom will attest to all the divots in her carpet and repaired windows in our house. My first internship in college was with IMG Sports in Cleveland and that was my first formal introduction to the golf industry.
WRX: How did arrive at the concept for NewClub?
MC: Golf societies have been around since 1744, so I’m not sure I can take credit for conceiving anything. We took an old idea and made it new again, something that would mesh with the life of a modern golfer.
The first time I was introduced to a golf society was in 2005, and I haven’t been able to shake the concept since. Like many people I’ve talked to, I was burnt out and frustrated with golf, so I quit my college team and shipped off that summer to study at University College Cork in Ireland for 9 months.
I left to get away from golf but it was my experiences in Ireland that introduced me to a whole new way of enjoying the game. After getting laughed off Cork’s Hurling team (Ireland’s native sport) they found out I could play a little bit of golf and offered me a spot on the club team (league rules permitted one American per squad). My dad shipped my clubs over and I was back in business. Because their University teams operated on a lean budget, we would play matches against local societies and clubs in between the college matches to keep the competition sharp. It was those matches and people I met that taught me a whole new way to look at, appreciate, and enjoy the game of golf. It was a miraculous blessing looking back on it now.
Fast forward 10 years, I was living in Chicago working in business development for a technology company. I kept meeting people who were self-proclaimed “golfers,” but not playing much golf. So a small group of friends took a trip over to Scotland where we had an especially enlightening experience playing the Old Course and hanging out at The New Golf Club of St. Andrews after our match.
It was our experience there that was the final spark that NewClub needed. We enjoyed our lunch while The New Golf Club members file through the entrance, four golfers at a time to reminisce about their game on one of the seven links courses available to them through the St. Andrews Links Trust and their golf society membership.
We met teachers, bankers, architects, grocers, police officers, accountants, and fishermen. We heard stories about legendary members like Tom Morris and Sandy Herd. The New Golf Club of St. Andrews is a magical place where any golfer in their community, anyone in good standing with a passion for the game could make their golfing home.
When I returned to Chicago from that second pilgrimage in May of 2015, I decided it was time to start enjoying golf again. Just like the way I used to as a kid, the way those clubs and societies did in Ireland, and the way those members did at The New Golf Club of St. Andrews. That summer I started a standing game every Saturday at any compelling course I could find and my golf society was born. Then in 2017, we made NewClub official with 50 founding members and 5 clubs in Chicago willing to host the society.
WRX: What’s happened since launch and where you are now?
MC: The society has grown to over 300 members and we have relationships with over 50 private clubs and golf courses that we find fun and compelling places to play the game. We have standing tee times every Wednesday to Sunday throughout the golf season and host five tournaments and three trips every year. Next Spring, we have our first NewClub trip scheduled to back to Scotland.
We’ve also introduced an ambassador program for people from all around the country. It’s been amazing how many people we’ve met who are eager for something like this in their own community, a golf society that they can genuinely be proud of.
WRX: Anything more about what members are saying and what the feedback is been like?
MC: In a lot of ways, we’ve set up this really unique society golf experiment, so we’re not afraid to try new things and see how people respond. Our members have been incredibly helpful with feedback. We’ve been listening a lot, watching how they use the mobile app, how they play their golf, learning about things they need, things they don’t. It all has helped us get to where we are now.
Overall, we’ve found that people have enjoyed the access and discovery of new and exciting courses, but the more pleasant surprise has been how much our members enjoy meeting new people and playing with each other. Nobody ever thinks (or admits) that they need golf buddies. But what we’ve found is that people are far more likely to play a round if they know they’ll be playing with someone they actually want to play with.
We’ve also learned that match play is very unappreciated in our country. Members love the matches, and match play is one of our core principles at NewClub.
WRX: What’s next for NewClub?
MC: We have plans for our second market launch in 2020 and will continue to grow our ambassador program to show us the road ahead. People are starting to stand up and say “this is how I want to experience golf,” so we know there is a serious need out there and we want to make sure we are meeting the demand by growing in the right way.
WRX: What do prospective members need to know?
MC: We have a really straightforward and proprietary application process on our website. Every prospective member needs to complete the application before being considered for membership. We look for applicants who possess a high quality of character, passion, and respect for the game of golf, and always leave the course in better shape than they found it.
Slow play is all about the numbers
If you gather round, children, I’ll let you in on a secret: slow play is all about the numbers. Which numbers? The competitive ones. If you compete at golf, no matter the level, you care about the numbers you post for a hole, a round, or an entire tournament. Those numbers cause you to care about the prize at the end of the competition, be it a handshake, $$$$, a trophy, or some other bauble. Multiply the amount that you care, times the number of golfers in your group, your flight, the tournament, and the slowness of golf increases by that exponent.
That’s it. You don’t have to read any farther to understand the premise of this opinion piece. If you continue, though, I promise to share a nice anecdotal story about a round of golf I played recently—a round of golf on a packed golf course, that took a twosome exactly three hours and 10 minutes to complete, holing all putts.
I teach and coach at a Buffalo-area high school. One of my former golfers, in town for a few August days, asked if we could play the Grover Cleveland Golf Course while he was about. Grover is a special place for me: I grew up sneaking on during the 1970s. It hosted the 1912 U.S. Open when it was the Country Club of Buffalo. I returned to play it with Tom Coyne this spring, becoming a member of #CitizensOfACCA in the process.
Since my former golfer’s name is Alex, we’ll call him Alex, to avoid confusion. Alex and I teed off at 1:30 on a busy, sunny Wednesday afternoon in August. Ahead of us were a few foursomes; behind us, a few more. There may have been money games in either place, or Directors’ Cup matches, but to us, it was no matter. We teed it high and let it fly. I caught up on Alex’ four years in college, and his plans for the upcoming year. I shared with him the comings and goings of life at school, which teachers had left since his graduation, and how many classrooms had new occupants. It was barroom stuff, picnic-table conversation, water-cooler gossip. Nothing of dense matter nor substance, but pertinent and enjoyable, all the same.
To the golf. Neither one of us looked at the other for permission to hit. Whoever was away, at any given moment, mattered not a bit. He hit and I hit, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes within an instant of the other. We reached the putting surface and we putted. Same pattern, same patter. Since my high school golfers will need to choose flagstick in or out this year, we putted with it in. Only once did it impact our roll: a pounded putt’s pace was slowed by the metal shaft. Score one for Bryson and the flagstick-in premise!
Grover tips out around 5,600 yards. After the U.S. Open and the US Public Links were contested there, a healthy portion of land was given away to the Veteran’s Administration, and sorely-needed hospital was constructed at the confluence of Bailey, Lebrun, and Winspear Avenues. It’s an interesting track, as it now and forever is the only course to have hosted both the Open and the Publinx; since the latter no longer exists, this fact won’t change. It remains the only course to have played a par-6 hole in U.S. Open competition. 480 of those 620 yards still remain, the eighth hole along Bailey Avenue. It’s not a long course, it doesn’t have unmanageable water hazards (unless it rains a lot, and the blocked aquifer backs up) and the bunkering is not, in the least, intimidating.
Here’s the rub: Alex and I both shot 75 or better. We’re not certain what we shot, because we weren’t concerned with score. We were out for a day of reminiscence, camaraderie, and recreation. We golfed our balls, as they say in some environs, for the sheer delight of golfing our balls. Alex is tall, and hits this beautiful, high draw that scrapes the belly of the clouds. I hit what my golfing buddies call a power push. It gets out there a surprising distance, but in no way mimics Alex’ trace. We have the entire course covered, from left to right and back again.
On the 14th tee, I checked my phone and it was 3:40. I commented, “Holy smokes, we are at two hours for 13 holes.” We neither quickened nor slowed our pace. We tapped in on 18, right around 4:40, and shook hands. I know what he’s been up to. He understands why I still have a day job, and 18 holes of golf were played—because we both cared and didn’t care.
There you have it, children. Off with you, now. To the golf course. Play like you don’t care.
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