When you’re first starting out with playing golf, the sheer amount of golf clubs at your disposal can be pretty overwhelming but one of the biggest questions you need to ask yourself is whether you should opt for a fairway wood or a hybrid golf club.
Woods have been around for a pretty long time but hybrids are still somewhat of a recent invention. Some players find that long irons are a little tricky to use so woods are often a common alternative, but some find that hybrids are even easier to use than woods because they have great aspects of irons and woods.
Both of these golf clubs are designed to be used in different situations and both have their own pros and cons, so here are just a few things you need to know about fairway woods and hybrids.
What is a Fairway Wood?
In a lot of respects, a fairway wood is pretty similar to a driver. The main difference is that the fairway wood is designed to be hit much easier in certain places aside from the tee. They usually feature smaller heads to drivers that look a little similar, and they also feature a higher loft angle.
Fairway woods usually have a pretty long shaft, though not quite as long as a driver. This does mean that the way that you play will have to be a little bit different in terms of technique.
When you use a fairway wood, you are meant to graze across the grass and launch at a low angle. The change in loft can usually mean that your shots will be longer when you are aiming off the tee. This can make it a decent choice for people that are looking for more accuracy.
What is a Hybrid?
If you struggle using your long irons, then a hybrid may be just what you need. Hybrids started to become popular fairly recently, but they’re already a very popular replacement for some irons.
They are otherwise known as rescue clubs, and they are usually used for game improvement. This is partially why they’re such a good choice for people that are just getting started.
These clubs usually feature shorter shafts and smaller heads. The deeper club head can be especially useful for people that need more forgiveness, as the weight is spread across the head. This means that any off center hits can be saved because the sweet spot is bigger.
In addition to this, a hybrid is ideal if you need to be able to cut through rough more easily than you would using a fairway wood. The launch is usually higher, and you will be able to get the club under the ball more easily.
Similarities and Differences
There’s a big difference in the loft angles that you get with a hybrid and a fairway wood. This does mean that the distance you are going to get from the two is likely to be slightly different.
Usually the loft angle on a fairway wood ranges from around 15 degrees to 18 degrees, whereas a hybrid loft angle is usually around 22 to 23 degrees.
Usually fairway woods consist of similar materials to a driver, but as a whole they can also be made out f stainless steel.
On the other hand, hybrids are usually made out of steel, graphite or iron, depending on the amount of flex that you want.
The lengths of both of these clubs are somewhat alike in many respects. A hybrid’s shaft is generally only around ½ an inch longer than what you would find on a fairway wood.
Of course, a hybrid’s shaft does tend to weigh a bit more than that of a fairway wood or driver. Generally a fairway wood and a hybrid will be made out of a graphite shaft which makes it a little lighter, in comparison to irons that usually are made out of steel.
If you are looking for more adjustability a fairway wood is better, but you won’t find a lot of adjustability when it comes to hybrids.
There’s usually a little bit more volume on the clubhead of a fairway wood than there is on a hybrid. Usually fairway woods have a larger sweet spot than what you would find on a hybrid. With that being said, a hybrid’s sole is more forgiving than what you would find on a fairway wood.
The center of gravity also differs between the two. It’s generally located on the back end of the clubhead on a fairway wood and this helps you to be able to get the best distance. A hybrid has a COG located closer to the clubface and this generally means that you will get more accuracy.
You will generally get much better distance out of a fairway wood than you wood with a hybrid as long as you make a decent shot. This isn’t to say a hybrid is bad though - you can probably get around 180 to 210 yards out of it.
The aim of the fairway wood is to be able to help you to get to the green on a par 5 more easily. Because of this you can get a distance of around 240 yards out of it. You will generally get better roll out distance using a fairway wood than you would get with a hybrid.
If you want accuracy then you are almost certainly better off using a hybrid.
You are less likely to get as much control and accuracy with a fairway wood than you would with a hybrid.
When Should I Use a Fairway Wood?
As we’ve already established, a fairway wood is a great choice if your aim is to get as much distance as possible, aside from what you would get when using a driver.
It is best to use the fairway wood off the tee or on the fairway - as you may have guessed from the name! Before you pull this club out of your golf club though, you should first think about the conditions. If you are in the rough, for example, you may have a hard time trying to get your fairway wood into the air properly.
It can be incredibly beneficial to drive with a fairway wood, but if you don’t make contact correctly you aren’t likely to see many of these benefits.
If you are using a fairway wood you may find that you get more roll on the green. This means that it can sometimes be a little bit more tricky to be able to stop a ball that’s on the green that has been hit by a fairway wood. It will be important, then, to make sure that you land the ball short then run it up.
If you are playing in the wind, using a fairway wood is a good choice. This is because the loft is lower and the flight path is linear. The ball will be able to remain just underneath the wind and will roll once it has been carried.
When Should I Use A Hybrid?
You can use a hybrid pretty much anywhere on the golf course. These clubs are ideal because when you take a complete swing your shot will be a high, arcing one.
These clubs are very forgiving and tend to have a longer carry than a lot of irons, which means that you can hit off the tee instead of using a driver.
While hybrids do tend to have a lower loft, you will also get less roll with a hybrid than you would with a driver or a fairway wood. You can also get the hybrid to stop fairly quickly, and they are easy to use if you are trying to clear greenside bunkers or any other hazards.
One of the best things about hybrid irons is that you can use them on uneven terrain because the club face is so forgiving.
You can also use hybrids from a short distance, where you will barely get the ball off the ground but it will then roll. It means you can essentially putt with a tiny bit more power, but not make as much of a concentrated effort.
A hybrid is pretty versatile, then, as you can use it in a range of different situations. This is ideal if you are in desperate need of lowering your handicap.
Practice Swinging Your Fairway Wood
When you’re trying to perfect your swing with a fairway wood, you should do so based on your height, but there are some general guidelines.
To start with, you should first put the club that isn’t the fairway wood on the ground so that you can figure out the direction that you are going to be swinging your club in.
Then, line yourself up with the club, making sure that you are positioned in a straight line that is towards your target. Make sure your feet are spread shoulder width apart.
You can then practice by putting the ball on the ground in the correct position for your stance and then line this up with your feet. You need to make sure that your stance is forward, and that your heel of your front foot is lined up with the ball. Make sure you keep your back in a straight position with the right amount of flex in your knees.
Once you’ve gotten used to this, you can take the club away. Always make sure when you are taking your shot that you keep your eyes fized on the ball and that your hips are turned back with the club when you swing.
Hitting a Hybrid
Make sure that the hybrid’s toe is aligned with your left heel, and ensure that the clubface is pointing to you rather than away from you. Your ball should be set up opposite the hosel.
Put your feet at a narrow stance. Make sure that your swing is smooth when you’re hitting a hybrid, as it is a longer club. Hit as you would with a short iron or a wedge - you will still get the distance that you need, and this will give you more control.
Shaft lean can also be beneficial when hitting a hybrid. Make sure that you press your hands slightly forward, making sure that they are even with your left thigh. You should be hitting similarly to how you would hit a mid iron.
Should You Carry a Hybrid or a Fairway Wood in Your Bag?
In theory, you could carry both in your bag, so long as you don’t overcrowd the bag.
Hybrids can make hitting that much easier than with long irons, so it’s ideal if you are aiming to make a big improvement on your golf performance.
In fact, if you’re a mid handicapper, then you can get away with having just a 3 wood and a 3 hybrid, and you can fit the rest of your equipment in around those two clubs.
If you have a high handicap then you could get a single fairway wood in addition to a number of hybrids. There isn’t much point in getting extra fairway woods because they are more difficult to hit, and the distance will be pretty much the same as what you would get from a hybrid.
In fact, you can actually replace your 4, 5 and 6 irons wit hybrids and this can help to make your contact more consistent in the long run. You should always be carrying clubs that you are able to hit confidently.
Ultimately it comes down to personal preference, but you should arrange your clubs based on what you are able to hit best and what will best suit your play style.
So those are the main similarities and differences between hybrids and fairway woods.
Naturally, it’s good to have a mix of both in with your gear, but it’s always important to make sure that you use them in the correct situations.
With practice, these clubs are sure to help you to get some improvement in your golf game.