Hybrids vs. Long Irons: Are Hybrids Really Easier to Hit?

If It's True That Hybrids Are Easier to Hit Than Irons - Why?

Callaway Heavenwood hybrid golf clubs
The larger hybrid head helps get the ball up in the air.

 Callaway Golf

Irons vs. hybrids: Which type of club should you have in your golf bag? Golfers often hear that hybrids are easier to hit than long irons. Which leads to two questions:

  1. Is that true?
  2. And if it is true, why is that true?

Yes, Hybrids Are Easier for Most Golfers to Hit Than Long Irons

The first question is easy to answer: Yes. Yes, hybrids are easier to hit than their corresponding long irons. (Remember: Long irons and hybrids cover the same yardages; that is, for the same golfer, a 3-iron and a 3-hybrid should be equivalent in the distance. So a golfer will carry one or the other, but not both. Hybrids are designed as replacements for their equivalent irons.)

That does not mean that every golfer on Planet Earth will hit hybrids better than long irons. There are golfers out there who, for various reasons, prefer long irons to hybrids. But for the vast majority of golfers, and especially for recreational golfers and high-handicappers, a hybrid club will, in fact, be easier to hit than the equivalent iron.

Which leads us to the "why" part of the question.

It's About Clubhead Design and Shot Height

"There is a very true statement in clubfitting," says Tom Wishon, founder of Tom Wishon Golf Technology. "The lower the loft, the more difficult it is to hit the ball high."

Makes sense! But wait, you say, hybrids and irons have roughly the same lofts by number (a 3-hybrid and 3-iron will be roughly the same loft, in other words). True, but there's something about the clubhead design of hybrids that makes a big difference.

"When you watch the PGA Tour pros hit 2-, 3-, or 4-irons, you can see that these players have the swing skills to hit their conventional long irons almost as high as regular golfers hit their wedges," Wishon explains. "Average golfers cannot generate enough height with their long irons because, one, they have a much lower swing speed than pros; and, two, the recreational golfer does not have the swing skill to be able to consistently hit down and through the ball and keep their head behind the ball at impact with low-lofted irons."

For those reasons, it's much, much harder for recreational golfers to get decent height on shots hit with long irons. When golf club manufacturers began designing hybrids, it was that problem they sought to address. And they did it by creating the hybrid clubhead, which, in terms of size, falls between the shallower (front to back) iron heads and deeper fairway wood heads.

"Properly designed hybrid clubs that have the same loft as their long iron counterparts make it much easier to get the ball up in the air to fly because hybrids are much 'thicker' than conventional long irons," Wishon says.

"This greater face-to-back dimension of the hybrid long-iron replacement heads allows the center of gravity to be positioned much farther back from the face. This, in turn, results in a much higher trajectory for a shot off a hybrid club compared to a traditional long iron of the same loft. In other words, at equal lofts, the hybrid - with its center of gravity farther back from the clubface - will help the golfer get the ball up into the air on a higher trajectory than a long iron (whose center of gravity is much closer to the clubface)."