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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