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The Wedge Guy: The versatile hybrid

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The equipment industry has changed the way we play the game, for sure, but I don’t think any single innovation has done more to make this game easier than the development of the hybrid. In a decade or less, we went from none of us having ever seen one to nearly 100 percent bag penetration with golfers of all skill levels. That’s because they are just so dang easy to hit, compared to longer irons. They get the ball in the air more easily, handle rough so much better…the list goes on and on.

But one great use for your hybrids that doesn’t get much press is how good they are around the greens. If haven’t experimented with them, you should really spend a little time learning what they are capable of.

In my own bag, I carry a Ben Hogan VKTR prototype (from 2015) 17-degree loft, with a UST Recoil shaft. Normal full swings produce about 208 yards, with a nice penetrating ball flight. But this club’s “hidden talent” is as a chipping club when a wedge shot just isn’t the best play. For example, when you find yourself on a tight lie, with the grain of the grass running toward you…even with my wedge confidence, that just wasn’t the shot. So, I usually take my hybrid, put the ball back a little in my stance, and “putt” the ball through the collar. The loft of the hybrid gets the ball on top of the grass, where a putter would not, and it takes a truer roll onto the green.

To hit this shot, you obviously need to grip down on the hybrid, as it is six inches or so longer than your putter. I like to grip down to just have my right thumb and forefinger on the shaft below the grip. I stand up a little straighter than when putting to make up for the added length. You also can “stand the club on its toe” a little bit to further reduce turf drag.

And an important key is to grip the hybrid more gently even than you grip your putter, as it is a lighter club and does not provide the resistance of a putter. A light grip will help you have the feel you need to control the distance the ball rolls.

“Putting” with your hybrid is a great shot to have in your arsenal. It also comes in handy when your ball has rolled up against the collar, with thicker grass behind it. Practice this shot just a little and you’ll find it saving strokes in the rounds ahead.

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Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan, a native of a small South Texas town and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He has had a most interesting 40-year career in the golf industry. He has created five start-up companies, ranging from advertising agencies to golf equipment companies. You might remember Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, or SCOR, but you would certainly know his most recent accomplishment: the reintroduction of Ben Hogan to the golf equipment industry in 2015. Terry has been a prolific equipment designer of over 100 putters and several irons, but many know Koehler as simply “The Wedge Guy”, as he authored over 700 articles on his blog by that name from 2003-2010. For almost 25 years, his wedge designs have possibly stimulated other companies to also try to raise the CG and improve wedge performance.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. The Old Man

    Nov 14, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    Playing a set of Adams hybrids is the best move I made for my game, especially after turning 50. They are more versatile than I ever thought and longer than my old irons. Long par 4s and short par 5s are reachable and my accuracy is like hitting a 7 iron.

  2. myron miller

    Nov 14, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    For me, I cannot hit a hybrid very high at all (at best 10 feet) and it won’t hold any greens for me. And a 7 wood also works as well for certain types of chips. In fact, woods have been used on the senior (Champions) tour for years by various players. I also have more than a few times used anything from a 3-7 wood on the green instead of a putter on some lumpy and slow greens. Try using a regular putter on freshly aerated greens with a Stimp of about 4 or 5 from 60-80 feet away and get the ball within a 5 foot circle.

    In fact, I’d say at least 25-40% of the bags I’ve seen don’t have hybrids in them. His comment of nearly 100% bag penetration for hybrids is way off from what I’ve seen. Of course, I only play 150-200 rounds per year with 3-somes most common (or in other words, about 300-500 other people a year). So I think his claim of nearly 100% of bags having a hybrid in it is severely wrong. I doubt if it’s much more than 70% and may not even be that high in real life.

    • ChipNRun

      Nov 15, 2019 at 6:58 pm

      Lots of people carry three bridge clubs, those sticks between your driver and your lowest numbered iron.

      Some carry two FWs and one hybrid, others one FW and two hybrids.

      And, you have others that are all FWs. A few big hitters who go 2H and 4H, others even three hybrids.

      It depends on your distance needs – in part on how far you hit your driver – and swing mechanics of how you come into the ball. I need the distance of 4W and lift of 7W; my 4H has other uses.

      Some people struggle with FWs, other struggle with Hybrids. Go with what works.

  3. ChipNRun

    Nov 12, 2019 at 10:27 pm

    History note: Hybrid is NOT an innovation of recent years. It is a reload of the Bulldog, a small headed trouble club from the late 1800s. The Bulldog had a head about two golf-balls wide, a loft of about 25 degrees, and was used to knock the ball out of fluffy rough lies.

    For an example, see: https://louisvillegolf.com/collections/woods/products/black-bulldog

    Comment on article: hybrids help SOME people get ball out of rough. For me, a 7W works much better. I play a 7W during warm weather, and swap it for a 3H during November to March, when the winds are higher and the rough is thinner.

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