Hybrid clubs make the game so much easier and more enjoyable that it's amazing to consider that they barely existed only three short years ago. Today, hybrids account for close to 20 percent of the total metalwood market. As the class continues to grow, so do the options in terms of performance, head styling, loft and trajectory. Bottom line is the hybrids listed here give you the ability to dial in long-game distances and ball flights much like wedges allow you to do in your short game.
The HALO (High Angle Lift Off) is constructed like a wood--it has a hollow steel head--but is meant to be a long-iron replacement. The halo effect is a large hitting area and stability on mis-hits.
$150 (steel), $191 (graphite); 800-999-6263 or clevelandgolf.com
Alpha 300 Steel (lighter than standard stainless steel) is used to construct a hot face just below the legal limit (0.83 COR). A 10-gram tungsten plug in the rear medallion contributes to a low, deep center of gravity to help shots get airborne easier.
$199; 888-502-4653 or orlimar.com
Srixon AD Hybrid
The varied sole thickness on this club allows the head to recoil at impact, which in turn causes the ball to linger on the face. This phenomenon produces a higher launch and lower-spinning shots. And that means they go farther.
$199; 888-477-4966 or srixon.com
TaylorMade Rescue Dual
Identical in shape to the original Rescue Mid, its two weight ports and removable plugs combine to move 36 grams rearward for more forgiveness. The plugs, which weigh 2 grams and 14 grams, help you create a draw bias or "neutral" head weighting.
$250 (steel), $300 (graphite); 800-888-2582 or taylormadegolf.com
Tour Edge Bazooka JMAX Houdini
Billed as a fairway-wood replacement, the Houdini has offset, a wide radius sole with lots of weight, and a one-inch shorter shaft than fairway woods of comparable lofts. The payoff is better Control and a high launch.
$89 (steel), $99 (graphite); 800-515-3343 or touredge.com
Wilson Staff HB5
The HB5 hybrid features a low profile stainless-steel head with a long face from heel to toe. The 0.370-inch shaft (in steel or Nano-tech graphite) supports the cause: to resist twisting at impact for playable misses.
$200 (steel), $250 (graphite); 800-469-4576 or wilsonstaff.com
Hybrids on a need-to-know basis, from the Top 100 Teachers
"Know specifically what you want it to do. If possible, try the club on your home course--compare distance, trajectory, and consistency of your strikes with that of the iron you want it to replace. Don't be afraid to change set makeup from course to course."
"Try one hybrid at a time so you adjust to the club and see what it can do."
"Not all hybrids are the same. Some are more like irons with flat faces while others have some bulge or roll. Some have fade built in, while others have a bias for the draw. The length of the shaft is shorter than a wood but longer [a half to one inch] than a long iron. Unless you are a very good player, I recommend hybrids in place of long irons because they are easier to .hit from a variety of lies."
"These are easier to hit, more forgiving and don't require as much head speed as long irons. They go higher and stop quicker on greens."
"They are good out of the rough and stay in the air longer. As guidelines, I use the conversions: 17 to 19 hybrid = 5-wood or 2-iron, 20 to 21 hybrid = 7-wood or 3-iron, 22 to 24 hybrid = 9-wood or 4-iron and 25 to 27 = 11-wood or 5-iron. Look for the distance gaps in your existing set."
"I look at gap fitting and trajectory control. What Distance are you trying to fill, and how high do you need to hit the shots for your course?"
"Hybrids are a good Compromise for someone who is too macho to hit a lofted fairway wood. The only drawback is that most of them are made too upright so hitting pulls is a tendency."
"Pick a hybrid the same as your wedge. You need one that fills a gap in your clubs."
"Consider the loft and design that fills the gap between your longest iron you can hit consistently well and strongest fairway wood."