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Hybrids vs Long Irons: Which One Should You Use?

May 2019

One of the trickiest decisions golfers face is whether to carry a hybrid or a long iron in their bag.

It really should not be that difficult though, especially if you take into account a few considerations that reflect your golf game and skill level.

We will discuss these points later in the article.

Firstly it is important to know what the difference is between these two clubs.

A long iron is merely and most commonly a stock standard 2, 3 or 4 iron. These have the standard ‘butter knife’ profile and are generally seen as fairly difficult to hit.

The hybrid lofts are generally as follows:

  • 2 Hybrid = 16 – 18 degrees (2 iron)
  • 3 Hybrid = 19 – 21 degrees (3 iron)
  • 4 Hybrid = 22 – 24 degrees (4 iron)

Long Irons vs. Hybrids

The hybrid came onto the scene in the early 2000’s and is a mesh between a fairway wood and long iron. It has proved to be incredibly popular among mid to high handicap golfers. Even top amateurs and some professionals are using hybrids, but most are for the social golfer.

A hybrid provides the forgiveness that most amateurs crave in a longer club while still providing adequate distance.

But which is the correct option for you?

A few considerations need to be taken into account with regards to your own game before making the decision.

Ball Striking

Be honest with yourself, how good a ball striker are you?

If you were faced with a lengthy carry over a bunker or water hazard holding and you had a 3 or 4 iron in your hands, are you confident you’ll strike it well enough to carry the hazards?

Or do you think it is a 50/50 as to whether you ‘catch it’ at all?

If you’re just an average or weak ball striker opting for the 3 or 4 hybrid is a no brainer. It will provide the confidence you’ve been searching for by improving your ball striking consistency due to the added forgiveness of a hybrid club.

It will also allow you to get the ball up in the air quicker and higher than you could with a long iron allowing you to possibly opt for some of those 200+ yard shots you couldn’t in the past.

Power and Shot Distance

Now it’s one thing being a great ball striker, but how strong are you and how far do you actually hit the golf ball?

We often watch major championships on television and in particular we see those strong players hitting the golf ball high up into the air and holding a green with a 1, 2 or 3 iron.

If you unfortunately cannot relate to that though we don’t blame you.

To capitalise on using a long iron you need to be a long hitter, that is non-negotiable. There are some modern-day irons like Callaway Irons, that are built for distance, even if you are not a long hitter.

However, if you are average or short off the tee you need to be helping yourself lose 1 to 2 shots per round on average by putting a 3 hybrid in your bag. No question.

99% of the time a hybrid will come with a stock standard graphite shaft so this will aid the average golfer by reducing the weight of the club and adding a few extra yards both in carry and total distance.

Generally speaking long irons and irons in general have stock standard steel shafts which don’t necessarily aid distance.

Comparison Between Hybrids and Long Irons

Hybrids are undoubtedly easier to hit than long irons and that goes for any player whether you’re a tour professional or high handicap amateur. The sweet spot is far greater and center of gravity is lower and further back from the clubface.

Distance is generally the same between a hybrid and long iron although hybrids will carry the ball further.

Long irons will provide a combination of carry and roll, but they definitely roll out more than a hybrid.

A hybrid will launch the golf ball far higher than a long iron and provide a bit more confidence for most golfers if faced with a long carry to a particular target.

A long iron launches the golf ball lower so is more beneficial in windy conditions where you are able to control your ball flight a touch better.

This however goes back to an earlier point of whether you are a good enough ball striker to capitalise on this particular benefit.

So, Hybrid or Long Iron?

Take into account how often you play golf and if you are wanting to have fun and make the game just that fraction easier.

How far do you hit the golf ball and do you carry it a long way? Measure this using common sense and not by playing with regular partners and always being the longest in the group, yet the other three players are actually short off the tee.

How solid are you as a ball striker? Do most of your strikes come out of the center of the clubface? Can you not play for a number of months and then pick up a golf club and strike the ball as if you’ve never taken a break?

If you’re a low handicap player that strikes the ball well then perhaps stick with a long iron as it provides the versatility of being able to shape it easier and keep the trajectory down in wind.

If you play links golf then probably even more reason to stick with long irons because of the fact you would be running the ball up to the target on most occasions.

If you’re a high single figure player and/or an average ball striker or if you’re not exceptionally long in distance then definitely choose a hybrid over a long iron. It will improve your game and very likely lower your handicap by a shot or two over a few months due to added confidence and ball striking.

If you are looking to find great deals on irons or hybrids check out Golf Avenue.

About the author 

Paul Bradshaw

Paul hit his first golf shot at the age of 5, and from that point on was immediately hooked. He went on to become one of the leading amateurs in South Africa, securing a full golf scholarship with the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. Turning professional in 2004, Paul played extensively on the Sunshine Tour and co-sanctioned European Tour events. Paul is our lead editor at Golf Assessor.

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