Jeff Summitt Examines The Connection Between Ball Position and Hybrid Selection
Other than perhaps putters, hybrids may be the most diverse category of clubheads from one to the next. Aside from their unique appearance, various volumes, lofts and assembly lengths there may be one key consideration to look for. Hybrids may have an offset like an iron or possess face progression like a fairway wood and this factor might very well be the reason why you should choose one type of hybrid over another.
Each golfer has a comfort zone as to the ball position in their stance relative to the distance between their front and back foot. We get used to that ball position and then when adjust our arm position until we are comfortable. You might not realize this, but the type of hybrid might cause you to change ball position in your stance as much as ¾”, the amount of forward press at address or even the angle of attack in the swing ultimately controlling the ball trajectory, direction and distance. This is with clubs of identical lengths and lofts too.
To help show you why, let us take a close look at three different types of hybrids (see Diagram 1). The head on the left has the most face progression, which is simply the measurement from a shaft’s centerline (blue line) to the leading edge of the club face (red line). The head in the center has a slight offset hosel feature which reduces the amount of face progression. Lastly, the third head has offset like a game-improvement iron where there is virtually no face progression at all.
Let’s say you like to line up with the ball 4” inside your left heel (RH golfer). If you set the club behind the ball with the club on the left in Diagram 1 (the one with the most face progression) it will either force you to do one of two things than if you using one of the other two clubs. First, you may need to set your hands more toward the center at address (see Diagram 2). This can cause the player to hit lower on the clubface or even hit off the leading edge if played too far forward resulting into a bladed shot.
The second and more common approach is to move the club rearward in the stance with a greater forward press than either of the other two clubs with less face progression (see Diagram 3). A byproduct of having to move the club back in the stance is the club becomes de-lofted (see Diagram 4). This may be fine for players who hit a high trajectory.
But another byproduct most people may not realize is the face will be slightly open without manipulating the club closed in the address position and may cause the golfer to push or even slice the ball. If you have a hard time understanding, imagine trying to hit an offset iron with 12 pennies stacked and epoxied onto the face. This is equivalent to ¾” or the range of face progression you can find from one hybrid to another!
This is why I might suggest that hybrids with a lot of face progression reserved for golfers who can hit a high ball, have a steep angle of attack, and prefer the ball back in their stance or a tendency to pull or draw the ball. One other consideration is for golfers who tend to shank the ball as the hosel is far removed from an area the ball can come in contact with.
Offset hybrids (ones with the least amount of face progression) might be better suited to golfers who tend to have a more sweeping swing (don’t tend to take divots) or no forward press at impact. Beginners or golfers with an early shaft release may benefit more from this hosel style of a hybrid. This should help the golfer make more solid contact, get the ball airborne and reduce the likelihood of pushing or slicing the ball by effectively making contact with the ball further forward in the swing arc.
The most common hybrids have a slight amount of offset to reduce the amount of face progression. This might provide a nice balance for golfers who like to have a slight forward hand press at address or at least encourage a slight downward angle of attack in order to get the ball out and up from a tight lie.
Club fitters should have at least one hybrid representative of each category to see which style suits their customer best. For golfers who do not build or fit clubs, I would encourage them to determine your swing style or tendency to know what group of hybrids to select from. This will help you play your best by controlling the ball trajectory and direction for maximum efficiency.