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- Although you may be selecting hybrid clubs or fairway woods primarily to help you escape trouble on the course, it never hurts if the club delivers some extra distance, too.
- The Ping G Series hybrid club sets itself apart from the pack with its ability to keep your swing on path while delivering added length.
Some golfers may resist the urge to add a hybrid club to their bags, preferring to stick to a traditional long iron or a regular 3-wood. However, if you’re a mid to high handicap golfer who’s late to the hybrid club party, you’re making a mistake.
For average golfers — and those who wish they were average — the hybrid club is a must-have in your bag. It looks a bit like a small wood, delivers a better sweet spot than a long iron, and can handle a multitude of lies.
Heck, if you’re a low handicap golfer, you will want a hybrid club, too, because of its versatility.
But there’s still a place for fairway woods in your bag, too. When the lie is just right or when you’re looking for a bit more accuracy off the tee, fairway woods deliver some important benefits to your game.
Features of hybrid clubs
Some people refer to the hybrid club as a rescue or utility club. Taylor Made introduced the first hybrid club in 2002.
Think of the hybrid club as the transition option in your golf bag, combining some of the best features of woods and irons. Versus long irons, the hybrids have a lower center of gravity and a wider sole, according to Dick’s Sporting Goods, making them easier to hit successfully. Additionally, most hybrids have a shorter shaft length by 2 or 3 inches versus a fairway wood, which makes the hybrid easier to control.
Many golfers will choose to use hybrids in place of the long irons in their bags, replacing 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-irons, for example. Some golf club manufacturers even create hybrid designs that can give you distance and loft equivalent to any iron in your golf set, including 8- or 9-irons.
You may find some players who will use the hybrid around the green for chip shots when needing to generate a lot of roll before reaching the hole, according to Golfalot. This club can serve a lot of different purposes on the golf course.
Some golfers may consider hybrids as only an option for average golfers and high handicap players. However, as Golfweek points out, more than half of professional golfers have at least one hybrid club in their bags.
Features of fairway woods
Before hybrid clubs began growing in popularity, nearly everyone carried a couple of fairway woods, usually some combination of 3-, 4-, and/or 5-woods. For many golfers, having at least one fairway wood is still a must, as it can do some things a driver or a hybrid cannot.
Fairway woods take their names from the original material (persimmon wood) used in these clubs, according to Golfballs. Modern fairway woods consist of steel or titanium, which delivers less weight than wood, allowing you to create plenty of club speed.
Some of them have the same weight-balancing designs that drivers use, allowing them to take advantage of modern technologies for better distance and accuracy versus fairway woods of several years ago.
For example, when you’re having problems hitting your driver accurately on tee shots, using your fairway woods off the tee should give you more accuracy without sacrificing too much distance, according to Golfbidder. Fairway woods deliver more arc on your ball than a driver, which will make it easier to keep the ball in the fairway.
When shopping for fairway woods, BobbyJones says it’s important to pay attention to the loft on the clubface. Most beginners will want a bit more loft, maybe around 16 or 17 degrees, to help them gain more arc on their shots and to have more control.
Here are the best hybrid clubs and fairway woods:
- Best hybrid and fairway wood overall: Ping G Hybrid
- Best hybrid for swing forgiveness: Callaway Rogue
- Best affordable hybrid: Tour Edge Hot Launch 3 (HL3)
- Best fairway wood off the tee: Wilson Staff C300
- Best fairway wood for any lie: Cobra Golf King F8
Updated on 10/24/2019 by Owen Burke: Updated prices & formatting.
The best hybrid club and fairway wood overall
The Ping G Series hybrid club sets itself apart from the pack with its ability to keep your swing on path while delivering added length over some other hybrid clubs.
Golfers don’t necessarily pick hybrid clubs because they’re looking for extra length, as a hybrid club is more of a club that helps you escape from trouble or gain accuracy on a day when you’re spraying your driver or long irons all over the golf course.
But it never hurts to have a little extra distance on any club in your bag, including the hybrid club. The best option for accuracy and distance is the Ping G Series hybrid.
The Ping G hybrid delivers an impressive feel that will give you great feedback on whether you’ve made solid contact, according to Plugged in Golf. One Ping G Series hybrid owner agrees, saying Ping’s hybrids consistently outperform those from other manufacturers.
The slight changes in the design of the G hybrid versus previous Ping hybrid clubs give it more length without sacrificing the accuracy and forgiveness that hybrids need to deliver. Hybrids normally bring consistency to the golf course, and the Ping G maintains that consistency while delivering the added length.
Today’s Golfer likes the slightly raised areas on the top of the club near the face, called turbulators, which keep the club on a steadier path to the ball. Some players also may notice a slightly faster club speed with the turbulators.
The Golf review agrees, saying many players pick up half a club length versus other hybrids by using the Ping G. It also allows you to make great shots from all kinds of lies, which is why many people want a hybrid club in the first place.
Meanwhile, Golf a Lot says this club works and feels more like a wood than an iron, which is different from some hybrid clubs, so make sure you’re comfortable with that type of style before purchasing it.
Pros: A hybrid that delivers a high level of feedback on your shots, delivers extra length versus other hybrids without sacrificing accuracy, design helps you maintain a proper swing path, handles all kinds of lies easily
Cons: Above average cost versus other hybrids, performs more like a wood which some won’t like
The best hybrid club for swing forgiveness
Callaway has migrated successful design elements from some of its drivers to the Rogue hybrid, giving this club the ability to let you have success even when you have a mis-hit.
Callaway has had a lot of success with its driver technology in recent years, helping average players have more success with driving the ball off the tee, even on slight mis-hits.
So it’s really good news to learn that Callaway has migrated some of its driver technology to its latest hybrid club, the Callaway Rogue.
As with other hybrid designs, the Rogue will help you escape trouble on the course. But when you’re playing off the tee or out of a good lie on the fairway, you’ll also receive excellent benefits from the Rogue.
As Golfalot says, the interior of the new design on the Rogue includes two vertical bars just behind the clubface — called Jailbreak technology — that deliver a greater level of power to the ball by supporting the clubface with extra rigidity.
Because the Jailbreak design has already proven successful in Callaway drivers from a couple of years ago, those purchasing the Rogue hybrid can feel comfortable that this club design is not being used for experimentation.
By using Jailbreak to provide stability and rigidity, Callaway’s designers are able to incorporate a thinner clubface than you’ll find on most hybrid clubs, which gives you the forgiveness you need for balls struck a little off-center, according to The Hackers Paradise. The Rogue has a large sweet spot.
In fact, the entire clubface is able to deliver a high level of forgiveness and distance, which is a great feature for those who struggle to keep the ball in the fairway because of mis-hits, according to Golftec.
Golf Magazine likes the ability to select from five different clubface lofts in the Callaway Rogue hybrid family, ensuring you can pick a club or two that will complement the other clubs in your bag nicely.
Worldwide Golf Shops customer CJ1010 says the Rogue is a smart choice for helping you escape trouble on the golf course, especially when you’re in the rough.
You can also get the women’s Callaway Rogue Hybrid for $300.
Pros: Helps average players avoid huge problems from mis-hits out of the rough or fairway, uses technologies that have been proven successful in Callaway drivers, delivers five different club loft options, large sweet spot
Cons: Expensive versus some other hybrid clubs, takes some practice to figure out the distance you can expect
The best inexpensive hybrid club
You don’t have to spend a lot to receive the benefits of a hybrid club when you select the Tour Edge Hot Launch 3 Hybrid.
If you have sticker shock most of the time when you’re looking at new golf clubs, you’re going to appreciate the Tour Edge Hot Launch 3 (or HL3) hybrid.
The HL3 hybrid club gives you a lot of similar mis-hit forgiving features that you’ll find in more expensive hybrids aimed at mid and high handicap players, including a large sweet spot that’ll keep your shots straighter without costing you a lot of distance.
You can pick from four different clubface lofts with the Hot Launch 3, and all of them have an extremely low price point.
Beyond the low price, the HL3 has a really nice design. It starts with a rear center of gravity, which makes it easier to have success when hitting this club and trying to generate a bit more loft, according to Golf Magazine.
Mid and high handicap golfers often have trouble generating enough loft on shots, which makes this a key design feature in a hybrid made for this level of player.
HL3 hybrid owner Ains says the Hot Launch 3 hybrid is one of the easiest clubs to hit in his bag.
With balls struck just off-center, the Tour Edge has given the Hot Launch 3 hybrid club Variable Face Thickness technology, which keeps the ball on target better without significantly sacrificing distance, MyGolfSpy says.
The clubface has more of a spring-like effect than some other hybrids, which leads to more distance as well, according to The Golf Warehouse.
In fact, Worldwide Golf Shops customer RonMC says the HL3 hybrid provides about 10 yards of additional distance versus other hybrids.
You can also get the women’s Tour Edge Hot Launch 3 Hybrid for $80.
Pros: Much lower price point than many new hybrid clubs, sweet spot to forgive mis-hits is larger than you may expect at this price, available in a few different lofts, extremely easy to use successfully
Cons: Doesn’t quite have the longevity of some other hybrids, doesn’t give you advanced or cutting-edge technologies like some other hybrids
The best fairway wood off the tee
The Wilson Staff C300 fairway woods use many of the same design features found in the C300 driver, making it a good option to use off the tee when needed.
If you just can’t seem to dial in the performance you want off the tee with your driver on a particular day, you’d better have a good backup plan, or the rest of your foursome will take full advantage in your skins game … and you’ll be going home with empty pockets.
Having a good fairway wood that you can use successfully off the tee will help you remain competitive on those days where the driver isn’t cooperating. Sure, your fairway wood will not give you the distance equal to what you can receive with the driver. But if you’re slicing your driver into the trees on every hole, keeping the ball in the fairway will at least give you a shot to compete.
For this purpose, we like the design and performance levels of the Wilson Staff C300 fairway woods, which give you many of the same design features that make the C300 driver a successful club. However, you’ll find the fairway woods a bit easier to control off the tee, thanks to their greater club face lofts and shorter shafts.
The main feature that sets the C300 fairway woods apart though is the inclusion of Power Hole technology. These are small sections around the face that are filled with a urethane material. As you strike the ball, these urethane areas compress, providing a high level of flex in the clubface, delivering distance, even on balls struck slightly off-center.
Beyond the Power Hole technology, Golfweek says the matte red color on the crown of the Staff C300 fairway woods is attention-grabbing. Some people won’t like the color, but it does cut down on distracting glare as the golfer is addressing the ball.
Today’s Golfer says the C300 fairway woods deliver great backspin, giving you the accuracy you’re looking for off the tee when you’re choosing the fairway wood instead of a driver. However, this fairway wood design is not cheap versus other options.
Even though the Wilson Staff C300 fairway woods feature the same movable weight slugs in the sole of the club that you’ll find with the C300 driver, Golfalot says the fairway wood’s weight design is not as effective.
Because of only one large 12-gram weight in the fairway wood’s design (along with two small 2-gram weights), you’ll have to settle for a draw bias, a fade bias, or a back-weighted center of gravity. You don’t have a second large weight to balance the first slug to dial in a different level of bias. A better spreading of the weights, as is found in the C300 driver, would make this feature more effective.
Pros: Mimics many of the C300 driver’s features so you can have success off the tee, gives you a bit more control than you’d have with the C300 driver, includes Power Hole technology to forgive mis-hits, great looking matte red finish
Cons: More expensive than other fairway woods, adjustable weight slugs aren’t designed as well as in the C300 driver
The best fairway wood for any lie
By adding small rails on the sole of the Cobra Golf King F8 fairway woods, you’ll be able to cut through all kinds of grass with these clubs.
One of the reasons people may carry a hybrid club instead of a fairway wood is to help them have more success escaping trouble on the course, such as after a drive in the rough. But because the fairway wood tends to deliver more distance than the hybrid, you may still want a fairway wood or two available for those long par-5 approach shots.
If you’re looking to save space in the golf bag, a fairway wood that can work well from any lie can be a big help, which is why we like the Cobra Golf King F8 fairway wood.
The design of the F8 includes Baffler rails on the sole of the club that raise the sole above the ground a fraction of an inch and help the club cut through tall grass more easily than a standard fairway wood.
Cobra Golf adjusted the position of the rails on the F8 versus previous designs to surround the center of gravity on the club, thus making it more effective at moving through longer grass in the rough, according to Golfalot.
Golf Magazine says another great benefit of the Baffler rails is that they become steeper in the models with a steeper clubface. Because you’ll probably be using woods with greater lofts in the rough, having steeper rails will provide even more benefits in these tough lies.
But these Baffler rails are small enough that they don’t cost you any distance when you’re hitting from a great lie in the middle of the fairway. The F8 also works well when you’ve sliced your tee shot, hit a tree branch, and bounced back onto the fairway by inches, which is my most common position.
Plugged in Golf likes the aerodynamic design of the clubhead on the F8, as it’s more compact than some other fairway woods designs. It also has textures on the crown and the sole, which add to the aerodynamic capabilities.
F8 owner Richard says the club’s aerodynamic design has helped him add 20-25 yards on his shots with this club.
Additionally, the Cobra King F8 fairway woods have a rear weight center of gravity positioning that helps average golfers gain more loft on their shots, allowing for greater control, according to Golf Discount.
You can also get the women’s Cobra Golf King F8 Fairway Wood for $150.
Pros: Smart design on the sole of the club helps these fairway woods cut through grass of varying heights, rear weighted center of gravity delivers better loft on your shots, aerodynamic design on the clubhead for more swing speed
Cons: Expensive versus other fairway woods, some golfers won’t like the compact size in the clubhead
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