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Hybrid clubs keep growing in popularity. And the lofts on hybrids keep getting lower. This gives you more options but blurs the distinction between hybrid clubs and fairway woods.

Some hybrids come in lofts as low as 14*. That's lower than many 3 woods. When deciding on fairway woods or hybrids, how do you know you're making the right choice?

Hybrids come in two flavors…

Before comparing hybrid clubs and fairway woods, you need to look at the two types of hybrids and decide which suits your game. They're a little different and affect set makeup differently too.
Knowing how to make distinctions between these clubs can help you develop a short list of hybrids and fairway woods to field-test the next time out.

Hybrid irons.

These hybrids replace irons, have the same lofts and weights as the irons they replace and come in the same finished lengths and swingweights. That means they'll feel the same as the irons in your current set.

The advantages?

That's simple. Hybrid irons simplify the replacement of corresponding long irons. It also keeps your set's progression consistent. This maintains a predictable 10 yard gap between clubs throughout your set. That makes club selection easier.

Another benefit?

Higher long iron trajectories. The lower center of gravity (CG) in hybrid irons produces a higher trajectory with the same effort. Players with lower swing speeds can take advantage of hybrids to get back the long iron yardages for longer approaches to the green.

If you never thought you'd be able to hit a two iron, hybrid irons deliver the out-and-out perfect solution.

Hybrid fairways.

These mimic fairway woods to some extent. They're longer in length than hybrid irons and use different shafts. Hybrid fairways use wood shafts with a .335 tip diameter instead of the .370 tip found in irons.

Hybrid fairways are not as deep from front to back as fairway woods and that affects how they play. Hybrid fairways have the center of gravity (CG) closer to the clubface than traditional fairway woods. This tends to lower trajectory a bit.

How this works…

Fairway woods are a little larger in volume than hybrids, and are wider from front to back. This places the CG farther away from the clubface. During the swing, centrifugal force and gravity push the back of the clubhead down raising the dynamic loft of the club and elevating trajectory. The farter away from the clubface you position the CG the higher the dynamic loft.

Who benefits from hybrid fairways?

My theory is that high swing speed players looking to flatten trajectory do well with hybrid fairways in place of fairway woods. Most fairway woods tend to drift a little higher. Anyone looking to keep the ball under the wind can do that easier with a hybrid.

There are exceptions. An example? The KZG U-Series utility comes to mind. Its very low profile quickly gets the ball up the air. Make sure you know the design characteristics of a utility wood before diving in.

Another advantage? A hybrid fairway's smaller size makes it a better club from difficult or fluffy lies. They simply won't get hung up in the grass as easily as a fairway wood.

Fairway woods have their place too…

Traditional fairway woods are good choices when you want a club that works well from either the tee or fairway. Their slightly larger appearance instills confidence at address.

If your swing speed is about 90 mph or less, a good fairway wood with a low center of gravity helps keep your trajectory a little higher. The lower center of gravity also means you can use stronger lofts for a slight increase in distance.

Putting it all together…

If you struggle with long irons take a look at hybrid iron replacements. They work better for slower swing speeds and integrate easily into your current iron set. Stay with traditional fairway woods with a low center of gravity for an elevated trajectory, better hang time and more stopping power on the green.

Manufacturers are now creating iron sets that progress from traditional short irons to hybrid mid and long irons. The seamless progression from blade-like short irons to hybrid long irons makes more sense for players that have difficulty with long iron distances.

Faster swings and players with naturally high trajectories do well with hybrid fairways. Their higher center of gravity keeps trajectories in check.

Match the right hybrids, fairway woods, or a combination of the two to your swing and you'll have more options when facing long approach shots on par fives, long par fours or tee shots on tight driving holes.

About the Author:
Ken Lopez writes articles for Pure Impact Custom Golf. If you have questions or want assistance in selecting custom golf clubs, you can contact him here:
by Ken Lopez