Hybrid Confusion

One question I field with regularity is regarding hybrids and which club they replace.  There are two common misconceptions.  The first involves the engraving on the sole.  For instance, if a hybrid has the number 3 engraved on its’ sole, then a #3 wood would be the equivalent.  The other involves loft; if the loft is the same so too will the distance.  Well, in neither case this is true and let me explain why.

Below is a quick conversion chart to give you a little guideline on what hybrid (plus loft) replaces a particular fairway wood or iron. Your mileage (or I should say distance) may vary as some players are better fairway wood players than they are with a hybrid or iron and vice versa, but I find the chart is more right than wrong. As you can see, there is no direct replacement for a #3 wood with a hybrid.

The conversion is for overall distance which takes in account the roll. Often times the fairway wood will produce a higher trajectory for more carry but less roll than the corresponding hybrid or iron to produce the same overall distance. This fact may be a consideration for those that play in windy conditions. Most hybrids also possess larger tip diameter shafts which are stiffer tipped and produce a lower trajectory than a fairway wood shaft.

The centers of gravity of a fairway wood, hybrid and iron are also quite different due to their size and shape.  Even with the same lofts, the trajectory and spin of the ball coming off the face may differ.  Comparing #3 hybrids and 3-irons can also be misleading as the hybrids often are less lofted and will create more distance.  It is not uncommon that a #3-hybrid may be 19 or 20 degrees loft where the added loft will lead to proportionally longer distances.  In addition, not all 7-woods will have 21° loft angles some may be greater such as 22 or 23.  The added loft will lead to proportionally shorter distances.  This is why in some cases a 7-wood and a #3-hybrid may be overlapping clubs that produce the same distance, but if they are the lofts will not be identical.

Hybrid heads are also heavier than fairway woods.  As a result, their assembly lengths are different which subsequently creates slightly different swing speeds.  While the shorter length hybrids may be swung a little slower, the shorter assembly length does increase the chance of solidness of contact.  This is one reason why hybrids are so popular today.

When selecting a hybrid to replace a particular fairway wood, pay close attention to the loft. By utilizing the chart, you should be able to select the proper club(s) for your set and toward a lower score.  Hopefully this will take some of the confusion out of your next purchase.

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  1. James says:

    AWESOME chart, thanks Jeff!! I have to explain this exact thing to customers in my shop literally on a daily basis (more like several times a day). But a lot of times what I explain goes in one ear and out the other, because many people have a hard time getting over the preconceived notions that they have in their head. I actually just got done with a fitting where I had to explain to the customer no less than 5 times why he needed a 5 wood and also a 5 hybrid in their set, but not a 3, 4 or 5 iron. His thinking was “If I get the 3 & 5 woods, wouldn’t I want to get the 6 & 7 Hybrids and then 3-PW on the irons?” It took several explanations to make it clear to him that hybrids are not numbered the same as woods, rather they are a replacement for the corresponding numbered iron. So with your persmission I’d like to print this chart and use it as a graphic illustration to help explain things a little more clearly.

  2. Jeff Summitt says:


    No problem printing off the chart to share with your customers. It has been on our site for years, but gets buried in all the information we publish.

  3. Eric says:

    Thanks for the chart. I’ve found it confusing looking at the lack of consistency amongst clubmaker with respect to the lofts and numbering of the hybrids. for instance, on hypbrid with list itself as a 3 with a loft of 18 degrees, and the next will classify their hybrid as a 2 with a 20 degree loft. I used to hit a 2 iron, but they are becoming increasingly hard to come by, therefore, I switched to an 18 degree hybrid an get roughly the same distance out of the club.

  4. Ken Moum says:


    When you say, “The first involves the engraving on the sole. For instance, if a hybrid has the number 3 engraved on its’ sole, then a #3 wood would be the equivalent,” in the first paragraph, I assume you mean 3 iron.

    That’s what the chart indicates.


  5. Jeff Summitt says:


    That was written that way to dispel the myth that a 3 wood and 3 hybrid go the same distance just because there is a 3 on the bottom of the club. But that can also go on to include a 3 iron. The chart is the real meat and potatoes to go by.

  6. James says:

    I think the different numbering systems is the part the confuses a lot of people. There is the “wood” numbering system which goes 1, 3, 5, 7 (and sometimes 9), and they usually start with a 14-16 degree 3 wood and then spaced 3-4 degrees apart. Then there is the “iron” numbering system which runs 3-PW (AW, SW, etc) and they usually start with a 19-21 degree 3 iron and are also spaced 3-4 degrees apart. Far too many people think that a 3 hybrid is the same as a 3 wood, simply because it has a similar shape and a graphite shaft – and usually a longer length when bought off the rack – but that’s not the case at all. All hybrids are numbered according to the iron numbering system, not the woods. But even so, a #3 hybrid will typically hit a little further than a #3 iron because 1) it is more forgiving and therefore your ball contact will generally be more consistent, and 2) it will typically have a lighter weight graphite shaft and often times a slightly longer length.

  7. Rod Clemmons says:

    Thanks for the helpful chart, Jeff. Just to expand on your note on shaft diameter, I find that clients who are replacing an iron with a hybrid are happier with the feel and trajectory of a hybrid with a .370 shaft, and those seeking to replace a wood are happier with the .335. In both cases, the stiffer tip of the hybrid shaft seems to give the player a greater freedom to take a healthy swipe at the ball.

  8. William says:

    Very helpful.
    I just ordered some hybrids from Hireko and will be putting stiff shafts in them. Ive been using the Synchron II wood set i bought here last year and doing really well for a newbie who cant really hit drive well enough to trust it yet (got a few 91’s).

    Ive been wanting to switch over to all hybrids so I ordered the even numbered (2,4,6,8,pw) Power Play System Q Adrenaline Hybrid. I really like the uni rail sole of this hybrid design.
    If all goes well I’ll order the rest of the set early this season after Ive had a chance to try these out on the course for a while.

    Ive been using a 5 wood for my tee shots because I can trust it. Oddly Ive been driving nearly as far as a lot of guys I end up playing with hit their driver. Not sure how that is happening since its not like these guys dont hit very well.
    The chart shows that the #2 hybrid will be similar to my 5Wood.

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