Clubs vs. Fairway Woods
Golf Ball Engineer
of Golf Swing Instruction, Instant Golf®
a few years ago it was rare to see a hybrid golf club in the
bag of a PGA pro.
Part of the reason was that pros have high
proficiency with long irons and fairway woods, but
it also was a "macho" or ego issue.
all changed when players started winning with a hybrid or two
in the bag. Now over 70% of PGA players
carry and use hybrids. Quite an evolution.
you watched the Presidents Cup you saw hybrids in action all
week at the difficult Muirfield Village Golf Club.
American player had at
least 1 Hybrid in their bag except
Tiger Woods, who carried and used a 5 wood instead.
golf clubs evolved from the "rescue" clubs that were
designed to get a golfer out of tricky situations (i.e.-
rough or tight lies, or from under tree limbs). They were
proven to be very effective and easy to hit off of good lies
too as they combined
characteristics of both traditional fairway woods and irons.
They now serve primarily as replacements for 1-4
irons, the clubs that most rec golfers (and many pros)
have the hardest time hitting.
what's better, a fairway wood or hybrid?
a standing debate, and the answer is different for
recreational players vs. pros. Let's
focus on the recreational golfer in this report.
first point to remember is that hybrids are replacement clubs
primarily for long irons, so they
should be viewed as such. So the debate is less about "fairway woods vs. hybrids" and more about what's
best for your game and ability.
have shorter shafts than fairway woods thus are easier
to control. They also incorporate deeper
heads (unlike long irons) which enables more back
weighting and therefore increases club head stability for straighter shots.
generally launch the ball higher and impart more spin than
fairway woods. This helps the rec player
as well as the pros "parachute" balls into the green.
you have seen Zach Johnson, the winner of the 2013 BMW Championship
float a ball into a green with his 21 Titleist 909H hybrid. He
like a 7 iron!
you already hit the ball very high then a 5 or 7 wood may be
a better choice for your game. It is easier to control
the loft of a fairway wood too as there is typically less hosel offset.
when it comes to the fairway woods, I would like to make an analogy.
Think of a fairway wood as if it is a
sledgehammer, and a hybrid more like a standard hammer.
you really want to get the ball up to or around the green from
the fairway say on a second shot on a par 5, then a fairway wood
is the tool of choice as it combines more driver like qualities with additional
all play on holes where we have a "go" light to a
green where there is limited trouble. In those cases take
that fairway wood with the higher club head speed (longer shaft), make
a smooth swing, and go for it. The rewards outweigh the
you play on courses with more delicate approach or second shots
a hybrid can be the better choice.
carry a 3 hybrid which has about 18-19 degrees of standard loft
and an older 3 wood with 15 degrees of loft.
They each have their place and their own jobs to perform.
end this report with a word about ball position and attack angle
on the ball with the hybrids. This is based on what
I see on the course and at the range.
golfers play the ball too far forward in their stance with the
hybrids. I believe it is because they still feel as if they are
hitting a modified fairway wood.
that hybrids are replacements for longer irons. You wouldn't
play a long iron off your front instep like a driver, so make
sure the ball is positioned somewhere between your front
arm pit or under your shirt logo (right).
will greatly improve your ball contact as it will encourage a
slightly descending blow and shallow divot.
#3-7 fairway woods can be played in this position or slightly
forward. Better players "scruff" the grass in
front of the ball
after impact with woods indicating contact at the bottom
of the swing arc or even a very slight descending blow.
attempt to scoop the ball or help it in the air is not needed
and often leads to frustrating fat (hitting the ground behind
the ball) or topped shots (short shots that don't get airborne
and topple down the fairway).
hybrids and fairway woods have plenty of loft by design. Let
them work for you by making solid contact with a balanced, smooth
reward will be more birdie and eagle opportunities and lower
scores. You'll also have that great shot to brag about with your
buddies at the club house bar; the one from the fairway
that took off like a bullet, disappeared over the hill, and
settled 12 feet from the
your October Golf,