There’s a lot fewer long irons played on the PGA Tour these days than in years past. That’s because the pros have realized that some of the long irons they used to play aren’t as consistent as similar-lofted hybrids, which they can also hit higher and farther. Unfortunately, many amatuer golfers haven’t caught on with the trend, and are still using long irons with outdated constructions that make the game more difficult.
We hope that you’ll tell them that the technology in today’s hybrids makes them longer, straighter and better looking than in years past. They also can help fill important distance gaps between a golfer’s fairway woods and long irons. Click here to read GolfWRX Featured Writer Rich Hunt’s story, “The importance of bag setup: Long irons or hybrids.”
We’ve listed our picks for the best hybrids of 2013 below, which for the first time includes several adjustable models that have a lot more “bling” than we’re used to seeing at address.
Adams Super LS
Adams’ Super LS hybrids have titanium faces and crowns to lower their center of gravity, adding forgiveness and playability. They also have Adams’ VST Technology, slots in the sole and crown to give the clubs an insane characteristic time of 250, seven microseconds less than the USGA’s limit.
Those two features together give the Super LS extremely high ball speeds and low-spin launch conditions, making them one of the longest-flying models for mid-to-high-speed golfers. The one deterrent is cost; they’re selling for about $230 at most retailers.
Callaway X Hot and X Hot Pro
The Callaway X Hot and X Hot Pro hybrids have a redesigned Callaway Warbird sole that makes them one of the best with dealing with tough lies. Their thin 17-4 stainless steel cup faces also provides tremendous ball speeds and forgiveness, while the matte gray finish and black PVD faces offer a pleasing look at address.
Both the X Hot, which has a larger, more forgiving head design to provide a higher launch and more spin, as well as the X Hot Pro, which has a smaller, less forgiving head design that creates a more penetrating ball flight, received top marks for our panel. Even better news is their current price, which thanks to the end-of-the-season price wars has been lowered from $179 to $129.
Cobra AMP Cell
Don’t be fooled by the four color options. Cobra’s AMP Cell hybrids are more than just a fashion statement; they’re one of the easiest to hit hybrids on the market for golfers with slower swing speeds, and have an unrivaled 4-degree range of adjustability.
They come in three different head options: 2-3H (adjustable from 16 to 19 degrees), 3-4H (adjustable from 19 to 22 degrees) and 5-6H (adjustable from 22 to 25 degrees). Along with the four lofts, each head has two “draw” options in the middle lofts, which make the club more upright at address. Like the X Hot hybrids, they’re selling for $129 (about $60 cheaper than their original price).
The Ping Anser hybrids have been around for more than a year, but they continue to be the best model on the market for many golfers. It hasn’t hurt that Brandt Snedeker used a 20-degree Anser hybrid to win the 2011 PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoffs, and that Phil Mickelson won this year’s British Open with a 17-degree Anser.
The Anser’s success is based on its balanced design. The lower-lofted hybrids have a low, deep CG to help golfers hit the ball higher, while the higher-lofted hybrids have a more forward CG to help prevent ballooning. Its matte black-painted crown was also a favorite of our testers, as was its solid, traditional feel.
TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2
Low and forward. That’s TaylorMade’s mantra for more distance, which means that the RBZ Stage 2 and Stage 2 Tour hybrids have a lower, more forward CG than their predecessors.
Like Callaway’s X Hot and X Hot Pro hybrids, the Stage 2 models target different types of golfers. The Stage 2 is slightly larger and higher spinning to help golfers with slower swing speeds hit the ball higher. The Stage 2 Tour offers a flatter trajectory, but its 3-degree adjustable hosel gives golfers to ability to tweak ball flight to their preference.
Both models use TaylorMade’s “RocketSteel” faces, which along with the company’s improved “Speed Pocket” (the slot in the sole) creates more ball speed on shots hit across the face.
Titleist 913H and 913H.d
Titleist’s 913H and 913H.d give golfers the total package when it comes to hybrid design. The 913H has a slightly larger head with a more rearward center of gravity that produces slightly more spin and forgiveness than the 913H.d, which has a smaller head and a more forward CG to increase workability and offer a more penetrating flight.
Both models include Titleist’s SureFit Hosel, which offers 16 different loft, lie and face angle combinations, and come with two of the company’s interchangeable sole weights to allow golfers to tune swing weight. Our testers like the 913H and 913H.d’s traditional look and feel, as well as the premium stock shaft options: Mitsubishi’s Diamana S+ 72, D+ 82 and Aldila’s RIP Phenom 80. They retail for $229.