#16 Fairway wood or hybrid?

Published on   2023-04-13 by Kai

Today we're talking about a topic that is certainly still in the future for many beginners: It's about the question of the difference between fairway woods and hybrids and the different uses of the two types of clubs.

Today, beginners looking for suitable equipment often look for complete sets. In most cases, these include a club and bag and thus provide the basic framework for a golf career.

Cheap and good

This approach is usually sensible, because especially at the beginning, when it is not yet necessarily clear whether there will really be a long-lasting love of golf, these complete sets are a cheap and certainly not bad alternative to buying them individually.

Often, these complete offers then include an iron set tailored to beginners to mid-handicappers, which includes everything from the 5 iron to pitching wedge and sand wedge, which is basically needed for a round of golf.

Transport club included

In addition, there is often a driver with a relatively high loft. Recently, a hybrid and/or a fairway wood can also be included as a transport club for greater distances on the fairway.

The latter makes sense, because both clubs - which, like the driver, are classified as woods - are easier to play than the long irons, i.e. 5 irons or longer, and not just for newcomers to the range and course. And this is also the reason why the complete sets do not include the long irons at all.

Several questions

But this raises several questions: Why do the woods play easier than the comparable irons? And in which situation should which wood be used? Both questions can be explained relatively simply and briefly with the construction shapes of irons and woods.

Irons have a relatively flat club head, which can be hollow ("cavity back" - mostly correct for average players), or smooth like a blade ("blade", for ambitious golfers and professionals). Cavity backs have the advantage of greater forgiveness should the ball not be hit in the center of the clubface.

Blades require more accurate play

This is due to the weight distribution, which is guided around the clubface on the back side. Blades require a more accurate game because of a different distribution of weight, better hitting, but ultimately bring more distance and better ball control.

In general, however, the clubface of irons is relatively small compared to woods. They also have a narrower sole, which makes it harder to glide the club across the ground.

Woods are constructed completely differently. Starting with a large hollow body as the club head, which comes with a correspondingly longer sole and also offers a larger hitting surface.

Easier playability

The weight distribution in the head is another aspect here. The weight is distributed over a large area and leads to easier playability, because the ball does not have to be caught in the sweet spot, i.e. the optimum impact point on the clubface, in order to still achieve a good height and distance.

So if you have everything in the bag, players who are not as experienced can leave the longer irons in the bag and use a hybrid or fairway wood for transport shots.

Simple answer

But which club makes sense for which lie? The answer is relatively simple and - if you look at the design of the club heads - almost self-explanatory: The fairway wood has a relatively long, but flat head and an almost straight sole. This type of club is therefore suitable both for a tee shot and directly from the ground, if the grass is not too high and the ground is level.

A hybrid, on the other hand, has a more stocky body and a rounded sole for successful performance in the rough. This is one of the reasons why hybrid clubs are often called "rescues".

Loft is important

It is important, especially for newcomers to the course, to choose the right loft, i.e. the inclination of the clubface compared to the vertical. Many coaches report that their students have woods with too little loft in the bag. The clubface is too steep to hit the ball to a good height.

Of course, there are other factors here that affect ball flight height: The flex property of the club shaft and also club head speed, which is the speed at which a golfer can swing his club. Shafts that are too stiff and swing speeds that are too slow have a significant negative impact on ball flight, especially for beginners.

Pi times thumb values

Note: If you are (still) swinging relatively slowly, you need flexible shafts and more loft in the woods. A driver for beginners should have 12 to 13.5 degrees of loft, a hybrid makes sense from 19 degrees, a fairway wood from more than 20 degrees. Of course, these are thumb values that can change from player to player, from talent to talent, but for the majority of beginners this should fit.

Previous article in the series: How to Golf 15: Pitch or Chip?

Next article in the series: How to Golf 17: With loft in the air

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How to Golf