Some golfers may resist the urge to add a hybrid club to their bags, preferring to stick to a traditional long iron or a regular 3-wood. However, if you're a mid to high handicap golfer who's late to the hybrid club party, you're making a mistake.
For average golfers — and those who wish they were average — the hybrid club is a must-have in your bag. It looks a bit like a small wood, delivers a better sweet spot than a long iron, and can handle a multitude of lies.
Heck, if you're a low handicap golfer, you will want a hybrid club, too, because of its versatility.
But there's still a place for fairway woods in your bag, too. When the lie is just right or when you're looking for a bit more accuracy off the tee, fairway woods deliver some important benefits to your game.
Features of hybrid clubs
Some people refer to the hybrid club as a rescue or utility club. Taylor Made introduced the first hybrid club in 2002.
Think of the hybrid club as the transition option in your golf bag, combining some of the best features of woods and irons. Versus long irons, the hybrids have a lower center of gravity and a wider sole, according to Dick's Sporting Goods, making them easier to hit successfully. Additionally, most hybrids have a shorter shaft length by 2 or 3 inches versus a fairway wood, which makes the hybrid easier to control.
Many golfers will choose to use hybrids in place of the long irons in their bags, replacing 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-irons, for example. Some golf club manufacturers even create hybrid designs that can give you distance and loft equivalent to any iron in your golf set, including 8- or 9-irons.
You may find some players who will use the hybrid around the green for chip shots when needing to generate a lot of roll before reaching the hole, according to Golfalot. This club can serve a lot of different purposes on the golf course.
Some golfers may consider hybrids as only an option for average golfers and high handicap players. However, as Golfweek points out, more than half of professional golfers have at least one hybrid club in their bags.
Features of fairway woods
Before hybrid clubs began growing in popularity, nearly everyone carried a couple of fairway woods, usually some combination of 3-, 4-, and/or 5-woods. For many golfers, having at least one fairway wood is still a must, as it can do some things a driver or a hybrid cannot.
Fairway woods take their names from the original material (persimmon wood) used in these clubs, according to Golfballs. Modern fairway woods consist of steel or titanium, which delivers less weight than wood, allowing you to create plenty of club speed.
Some of them have the same weight-balancing designs that drivers use, allowing them to take advantage of modern technologies for better distance and accuracy versus fairway woods of several years ago.
For example, when you're having problems hitting your driver accurately on tee shots, using your fairway woods off the tee should give you more accuracy without sacrificing too much distance, according to Golfbidder. Fairway woods deliver more arc on your ball than a driver, which will make it easier to keep the ball in the fairway.
When shopping for fairway woods, BobbyJones says it's important to pay attention to the loft on the clubface. Most beginners will want a bit more loft, maybe around 16 or 17 degrees, to help them gain more arc on their shots and to have more control.
Here are the best hybrid clubs and fairway woods:
Updated on 10/24/2019 by Owen Burke: Updated prices & formatting.