Hybrid – How to Hit and Drills to Help
By Tim Graves, PGA
One common theme we see with golfers is the difficulty hitting hybrids. Hybrids, aka rescue clubs, long iron replacements, or baffles, are the clubs in your bag (hopefully) that are set up to replace the mid and long irons. They are the clubs that are MUCH easier to hit than the long irons because of the broader sole on the clubs. With these more general feet (and lower center of gravity) – the ball will kick up faster and get more height on the shot.
Before we get into how to hit hybrids and a couple of drills to help – let’s discuss why combinations are so important to be in EVERYONE’S bag.
Golf has changed in the past 10 to 15+ years. Greens have gotten faster, harder and more severe (sloped, etc..). The ability to maintain lawns in better condition has increased. In other words, greens are in better shape (for putting), but more challenging to keep approach shots on them. When greens are harder/faster, the approach shot coming into the greens be higher and softer to hold or stay on the grass.
With that being said, 15 to 20+ years ago, you could hit a 3, 4 or 5 iron to a green with medium trajectory and it would stop on the green not anymore. Unless you can hit those clubs high, and have the ball “fall” on the green, they will not hold. Most who hit 3, 4, 5 and even six irons into greens will see them skip off the back or jump off the sides (into rough, bunkers, etc..). Obviously, not what we want.
So, the hybrid iron was created. A club with a greater sole that will help kick the ball up in the air and will land MUCH softer than the equivalent metal. And, because of the more extensive bottom, they are MUCH easier to hit than the comparable iron. Equal irons/fairway woods to hybrids:
Two hybrids – 2 iron – 4 wood
Three combinations – 3 iron – 5 wood
Four hybrids – 4 iron – 7 wood
Five hybrids – 5 iron – 9 wood
Six hybrids – 6 iron – 11 wood
Difference between hybrids and fairway woods: Hybrids are built to stop faster. In other words, both fairway kinds of timber and mixtures have the broader soles and are typically easier to hit than the equivalent iron, but hybrids are built to create more backspin then fairway woods and hence will stop faster than the equal fairway woods. If you are hitting fairway woods into greens, they will roll off (like low hit irons) more than the equivalent hybrids. In other words, you don’t ever want to hit a fairway wood into a green if at all possible. It is much better to have the equivalent hybrid in your hand than the fairway wood (or mid/long iron).
Now, let’s talk about how hybrids should be hit.
- The ball position for a hybrid is slightly forward of its equivalent iron – it is in the “ZONE” of the Alignment and Ball Position Trainer. The stance will be slightly wider (about 1/2 to 1 inch) because the hybrid is typically about 1/2 inch to 1 inch longer than its equivalent iron.
- You will stand slightly further away from the ball with the hybrid in comparison to its equivalent iron (again about 1/2 to 1 inch). Again, because the hybrid is typically 1/2 to 1 inch longer.
- You MUST hit down (create a divot or at least bruise the grass) with the hybrid. This is the problem with most golfers who do not hit hybrids well. They “sweep” the ball with the hybrid and hit the middle/equator, or higher, of the golf ball. Remember as stated above, the center of gravity of hybrids is low, that needs to go UNDER the ball – not into the ball. If you do not hit down on the ball and create a divot, you will be putting “overspin” on the golf ball, and it will not fly correctly, will not reach its optimal height, and you will lose significant distance and spin on the ball.
DRILLS to help hit hybrids:
Divot / Tee Drill:
- Sink/Push a tee into the ground. Push the tee down until just the top of the tee is sticking out of the field. Almost level with the ground/grass.
- Set up to the tee (as if there was a golf ball on the tee) and swing at the tee (with your hybrid).
- You should hit the tee first, then the ground in front of the tee (divot). The tee should break, and if the field if firm enough, the tee will fly out and go backward.
- Do this again and again, until you can hit the tee out of the ground (or at least break the tee) every time.
Tee / Ball Drill
Now – we are going to add a golf ball.
- Do the same set up as above, now put a golf ball on top of the tee.
- Set up on the ball and swing. Do not think about hitting the golf ball, but rather BREAKING the tee.
- Hit properly, the tee should come out of the ground/break, and a divot should be created starting where the ball was and forward.
- When finished, it should look the same as above – divot with a broken tee.
2 Tee / Ball Drill
If you are having a hard time making a divot ahead of the golf ball – add the second tee to your tee drill.
- Place a tee on the ground (with a golf ball on top) and a 2nd tee just in front (about an inch) of the golf ball.
- Now, hit the ball with the hybrid focusing on hitting both tees. You should hit the back tee first, and divot will hit/go through the 2nd tee.
This will help you to make the divot “through” the golf ball, not before the golf ball.
Being able to hit hybrids/rescue clubs/bafflers/long iron replacements is a MUST to play good golf in the 21st century…. Golf has changed, greens have changed, conditions of the course has changed, making hitting higher/softer approach shots a MUST. And for the average golfer with average swing speed, it isn’t that hard if they know how to hit hybrids properly.
Work on these drills – make sure and get “under and through” the golf ball with your hybrids – these exercises will help you to be more successful hitting your combinations and ultimately lowering your scores.
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