The fairway has been buzzing with the word "utility," the
name for a new type of club that is transforming the strategies
of amateur golfers, and even pros on Tour, for whom hitting
a long iron is a major challenge.
manufacturers’ R&D departments
started pondering the question; why not combine the fairway
wood’s features with those of a high-precision iron, to make
middle range (under 200yard) shots easier, too? Like an iron,
it would make setting up easier and give better directional
control, even when driving against strong winds. The result
was the Hybrid concept - the answer to many golfers’ prayers.
are a combination of an iron and wood, incorporating various
each into one product
to replace hard-to-hit traditional irons. These new hybrids
offer significant advantages over traditional irons and,
result, have experienced impressive growth in recent months
throughout the golf industry. Manufacturers love them because
they do not require exotic materials – steel heads work
perfectly- and the consumer gets an affordable club.
Most golfers struggle
with their long irons (3, 4 and 5 irons) for a couple of
possible reasons. The long
irons have a relatively small sweet spot compared to other
irons, and even more importantly MANY golfers don't generate
enough clubhead speed to get an adequate "launch angle" for
the longer irons.
These hybrids are
designed primarily for a player who has difficulty getting
the ball airborne and with
distance from trouble lies, or even the fairway. Most hybrids
have a low center of gravity to enable getting the ball
quickly. The majority of pros don't use hybrids for the same
reason they don't use high lofted drivers, cavity back "game
improvement" irons, alien sand wedges and 11 woods– the ball
goes too high.
But, as always,
there is an exception to the rule – Todd Hamilton and Tim Petrovic are just two Tour
winners who are both converts and proponents of the hybrid.
The acceptance of the genre by touring pros, especially on the
Champions Tour, has been somewhat of a revelation. The
long irons once were the clubs that set professional golfers
apart, but the benefits of hybrids have been too significant
even for the best players to ignore.
The key to swinging a hybrid correctly is to
look at what club(s) the hybrid has replaced. Because most
hybrids are designed to be iron replacements, you will be well
advised to swing your hybrid as you would yourr middle irons.
As such, remember
that it’s not necessary to
try and scoop the ball upward (as many feel they have to do
with low-lofted irons). Instead, you need to allow the low and
deep CG of the hybrid to work its magic and launch the ball at
a high and optimal angle. The trick? Don’t be afraid to swing
down and through as you would with a mid- or long iron.
Hybrid irons provide the playability of a
fairway wood coupled with the accuracy of an iron, giving even
average golfers more airtime on the difficult long approach
shots. These new utility clubs are making shots in the
200-yard range so much simpler. Hybrids can be used on any lie
where irons are used.
In technical jargon, because the center of
gravity is farther back, usually because of a wider profile,
there's a higher launch angle (ball therefore stops quickly on
the green) and because of the flat face, the ball spin rate is
higher versus a regular iron head. It is also true that the
ball may carry slightly farther for average and lower swing
speeds and the roll distance may also decrease.
These conditions are therefore ideal for many
slower swingers and for those golfers who do not consistently
hit the center of the face.
So, should you switch to hybrids?
- If you feel more confident hitting higher lofted fairway
woods than irons, or
- you don't use your #3, #4, or even #5 iron any more, or
- you can get more distance from a 9-wood than a 5-iron,
- you seldom take a divot when hitting your middle irons,
- you have even considered carrying woods like the #11 or
Then hybrids may be your answer to better
golf shots and more enjoyment of the game.
We have identified
the six best models, out of 32 tested, that you should
consider in choosing a hybrid -
the "gotta haves". As always, the object of the exercise is
to be custom fitted or to properly select a hybrid so as to
you to hit the ball the same distance as a perfectly hit long
iron. A well-selected hybrid will also give you far more
height, ease and repeatability than using those difficult to
hit long irons.
One other bit of advice - find the best shaft
that works for you with your hybrid. There is a difference.
Numerous shaft manufacturers have specifically designed hybrid
shafts. These are the most popular: UST's Irod, Aldila's Gamer
and Blue ByYou, Mitsubishi's ECU, Graphite Design's AD,
Aerotech's Steel Fiber, Penley's Heater, Mitsubishi's Diamana
and Fujikura's Banzai shafts.
Tour Edge Exotics CB
Possibly the best of all the hybrids
revolutionizing the game with the introduction of the Bazooka
hybrid, Tour Edge has more magic up their sleeves, with the
new Exotics CB Max2 hybrid utility club. This is a "ultra-hybrid" club
that fits in between a hybrid iron, a fairway wood and
a hybrid wood with tendencies of that of a
short-shafted 7-wood-like club with wide and low profile faces
and lots of forgiveness.
This sleek and powerful state-of- the art
hybrid features a low profile design and a moveable weighting
system, kit included, that simply outperforms 99% of hybrids
on the market.
The CB2 combines a forged, lightweight
15-3-3-3 beta titanium cupped face that is chemically bonded
to a heavier hyper-steel body. Chemical bonding eliminates the
need for welding around the face area to promote greater feel
and longer carry and roll. The offspring of the wildly popular
Exotics fairway wood, the CB2, shares the same
The hybrid also features a cold-rolled
titanium cup face that is computer-milled around the edge of
the cup with a high precision rim. The remaining body is
precision cast to include an interlocking channel. The steel
body and the cupped face are chemically treated, pressed
together, and vacuum heat-cured for permanent bonding without
The CB2's remarkable distance is also the
result of multiple face thickness (MFT). With MFT technology,
the perimeter of the face is thinner and the center is
thicker. The slender edges allow the face to flex and rocket
the ball at impact. The resulting distance and feel is not
only desirable but also exceptional.
The CB2 has two weight ports with removable
6-gram screws. For enthusiasts looking to dial in their ball
flight, the screws can help hit a draw, fade, or even
eliminate a slice. The optional weight kit comes with four
additional screws (2-gram, 4-gram, 8-gram, and 10-gram) that
can be employed to fine tune the CB2 to any swing.
The CB2 boasts a Tour Edge X-Quad Graphite
Design shaft. Developed with Graphite Design to improve the
performance of the CB2, the X-Quad. The CB2 produces more
distance, as much as 12 yards, that the majority of the
hybrids now on the market.
16°, 19°, 22° and 25° are
available. The CB2 Hybrid is available in right hand only
Design X-Quad, Aldila NVS Hybrid graphite and Nippon 950 GH
The club's optional weight kit includes: a
tuning wrench, 2-gram weight, 4-gram weight, 8-gram weight,
and 10-gram weight.
MSRP: $219.99 per
hybrid $29.99 weight kit
Adams Idea Pro iWood
This extremely popular
hybrid has long been the favorite of many pro players
especially on the Champions Tour. Adams Golf has built a solid
reputation in game-improvement clubs and this new generation
of hybrid will continue to solidify their reputation.
The Idea Pro iWood features pull face
construction with a custom steel face that creates lower spin
and increased ball speed and an adjustable weight port for
swing weight and shaft adjustment.
club sets up square to the target line rather than closed
and is extremely
easy to hit and is very
responsive from both the fairway and rough. It is also "sneaky" long
and very forgiving. Our testers really enjoyed playing this
club and especially its different color
Adams Idea Pro hybrids come in loft offerings of 16°, 18°, 20°, 23° and 26° and
with the Aldila VS Proto Blue ByYou Graphite in all flexes.
One of the pioneers of
the hybrid genre, Sonartec has gained acceptance of their
hybrids for the past few years by Pros and amateurs alike.
Since their original introduction of the Sonartec Md
Transition club their newest model is the new, high-launch,
low spin HB-001. The HB-001, which features its battle-tested
rail technology, has a neutral face angle, which promotes a
square clubface at address.
The 455 stainless steel head provides a solid
feel and crisp sound, reminiscent of Sonartec's fairway metal
roots. Its perimeter weighting and deep CG produce a high MOI
for maximum forgiveness.
With its lower flight and compact head, this
club is a low-handicapper's dream. It features a slightly
deeper face, which allows punch shots, a feeling of power and
stability at impact and has a superb feel on chips - heavy,
dense and substantial; bad swings are punished.
Golf teamed with Graphite Design International and created
the "ONiN2" hybrid
shaft to match the HB-001 head for additional accuracy
and distance and it
lofts are 17°, 19°, 21° and 23° and in left handed 19° and 23° with
availability in October.
Nickent 4DX Iron
company has, over the past two years, become one of the
predominant players in the golf industry.
Having John Hoeflich, formerly of TaylorMade,
and Clay Long of Nicklaus fame, as designers, have rocketed
their tour usage and sales at retail. In addition to their
outstanding drivers and fairway woods, their original Genex
hybrid and 3DX hybrids and fairway woods, not to mention their
irons, Nickent is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with on
the Tour level as well as at retail.
Nickent, who developed the first hybrid to
utilize a patented brazing technology that fuses a titanium
crown with a steel body; all while making the crown the
thinnest it has ever been on a golf club head, has combined
this technology into the 4DX hybrid.
The 4DX Iron Wood now features a titanium
crown rather than a steel crown previously found in the older
hybrids, which has saved approximately 50% of the weight in
the crown. The .4mm crown is also half as thick as on the 3DX
DC hybrids, so when both attributes bare combined, the new
crown configuration weighs almost 4 times less than the crown
of the 3DX DC hybrids.
The face height of the 4DX
is 2mm taller than the 3DX models, giving the 4DX less spin
and a more penetrating ball flight. This design change creates
a perfect trajectory that fights the wind and lands softly
from long distances, while catering to every swing speed.
Inserts, which have become the driving technology behind
Nickent product in the 2007
line, are made of Tungsten Polymer to reduce vibration and
to be used for swing weight adjustment. Nickent espouses, “it's
like having moveable weights without the hassle and without
relying on bulky screws that add a harsh feel at impact”. You
be the judge.
lofts are 13°, 15°, 17°, 19° and 21°
MSRP: $179.99 Steel
TaylorMade's Burner Rescue
put, nobody in the golf industry is as good at what they
do as TaylorMade.
Their R&D division is
simply the best in the golf industry.
Headed by Dr. Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade
continues to introduce golf products that simply make playing
golf so much fun these days.
The leader of the pack and the most popular
of all hybrids period, are the TaylorMade Rescue clubs.
TaylorMade Burner series of clubs are the fastest selling
clubs today at
retailers. Led by the Burner Driver, the new Burner Rescue
Hybrids are finding their way into many golfers’ bags.
Why? Simply because
they are extremely easy to hit, forgiving, offer a higher
launch angle and a longer carry than most other hybrid models
AND they are well priced. They are also beautiful to look at
on setup being a one-piece head. The crown features
TaylorMade's distinctive SuperFast Technology crown
TaylorMade's Burner Rescue Steel Shaft
features an extremely light total weight with a light shaft
and light grip, which promotes a faster swing speed for added
power. The steel clubhead and Pull-Face construction provide
high MOI and high COR for tremendous forgiveness and a faster
The steel clubhead is 7% larger than the
Rescue Dual in volume, and has a 13% larger footprint to give
a higher MOI and tremendous forgiveness for long, straight
results on off center hits. Its shallow clubface design moves
the CG position lower and farther back which makes the club
easy to launch high and long!
Don't be surprised to find yourself laying up
off the tee box just to have an excuse to put the club in
lofts are 19°, 22°, 25° and 28°
TaylorMade RE*AX SuperFast 50 Graphite (A, R, S), TaylorMade
T-Step 90 Steel (R, S)
MSRP: $159.99 Steel
E21 - Emc² Hybrid
In 2004, the golf industry was introduced to
a brand new metal, developed originally for space
applications, called Scandium (The 21st Element on the
Periodic Table). Scandium has been introduced to the golf
industry in shafts by the e21 Golf Company. Very light and
very strong, with a 70% weight to strength advantage over
steel and 40% over graphite, Scandium was considered to be a
material of strategic importance and only recently has been
de-classified for civilian use.
strength and weight superiority of Scandium makes it a
to the steel and
graphite shafts of the past. This superior material uses
space manufacturing techniques, creating perfectly round,
seamless shafts. The quality of the Scandium shaft is 99.5% as
compared to some of the best steel shafts that average around
85%. The torque of the Scandium shaft is 1.4, which is
the lowest in the industry, and results in “bulls-eye” accuracy
and phenomenal forgiveness on off center hits.
Metal shafts are manufactured using a proprietary 25-step
process to create seamless,
extruded shafts. Because of the advanced manufacturing
techniques used to create E21 Scandium a vibration dampening
technology called “ShockBlokª” was invented
which reduces shaft vibration up to 300% compared to steel and
contributes to the shaft’s unprecedented soft feel.
internal steps in a Scandium shaft redirect the shock waves
the golfer’s hands, elbows
and shoulders and back into the clubface for added
distance. Scandium seems to incorporate all the best
features of steel and graphite into one shaft, and take
distance and accuracy to a whole new level. In recent months
a number of high profile golf professionals have switched to
began testing E21's Eagle One shafts.
The sleekly designed E21 Hybrid features a
louvered crown for laminar flow stability and as an alignment
aid and has shape integrity at impact as well. The club also
features a high recoil liquid polymer packed cavity. As with
all other hybrids, it has a low center of gravity to launch
the ball easily.
Its open face angle enables users to control
straighter shot patterns for a wider range of players.
lofts are 18°, 20°, 23° and 26°
High Lofted Fairway
(Nine woods, eleven woods, thirteen
If you still struggle with your long and mid
irons, or even if you struggle with your short irons, you
might want to consider high lofted fairway woods:
- 9 wood = 5 iron
- 11 wood = 6 iron
- 13 wood = 7 iron
- 15 wood = 8 iron
- 17 wood = 9 iron
- 19 wood = Pitching Wedge
- 21 wood = Gap Wedge
Try a nine wood or an eleven wood. You will
absolutely hit it more consistently than the equivalent iron.
Numerous manufacturers have the 9 and 11 woods available.
These higher lofted woods are available from Golfsmith and