Hybrid Clubs-why the fuss?

What's up with these new hybrid clubs? Everyone is talking about 'em these days. Are they really the game saver that all the hype seems to say?

The fact is, clubs like hybrid type clubs have been around a long time. They used to go by names like "baffler" and "rescue clubs" or just plain utility woods. So are they really something new? Well, yes and no.

The hybrid as we know it today was actually developed with the help of Gary McCord, the TV announcer and former PGA pro. He saw his golf buddies back home struggling with their long irons, so he thought maybe something could be done to make them easier to hit. He went to his sponsor, TaylorMade and suggested they come up with something new.

The result was the TaylorMade Rescue. The first of a new breed. So what the heck did they do to make this new club?

Well, it's called a "hybrid" because it a combination of a wood and an iron. They basically took an iron shaft and and put a new kind of head on it. That head would have features of a wood. Features like a wide sole, low-back center of gravity, and more mass. So what's so different about that? Why not just get a 5 or 7 wood.

The big difference is that shaft. The loft of a 2 iron and a 5 wood may be about the same...but the shafts are way different.

The shaft length on a 2 iron for an average height player is about 39 inches. The length on a 5 wood is about 42 inches. Hybrids are somewhere in between. A longer club will always go farther because a longer club will produce more clubhead speed. That extra speed will also tend to make the ball go higher. The problem with that extra speed is it can make the club harder to control.

Iron shafts are also thicker than wood shafts. I bet you didn't realize that. Not a lot (.03 inches), but enough to make the shaft more stable which adds up to a bit more accuracy.

Starting to get confused? Well here's the bottom line.

Compared to a comparably lofted wood, a hybrid club is: - more accurate - won't go quite as far - easier to hit because it's shorter

Compared to the same long iron, a hybrid is: - easier to hit because the head has more mass and a lower center of gravity - will make the ball go higher, carry further and land softer - better out of sand and bad lies

Hopefully that clears up any confusion.

So which ones to buy?

Today's hybrid clubs are actually quite varied. In addition to a choice of lofts, you can also get different sole widths and face heights. You can get lengths that are longer than standard irons and shorter or just as long as woods. In short, some hybrids offered are more like fairway woods and some are more like irons. Just remember the basic rules of club design...the lower and farther back the center of gravity, the higher the ball will tend to fly. The longer the shaft the farther the ball will go but that extra length may make it harder to control. Remember to make your selection based on what your game needs not the manufacturers hype.

Price ranges for brands are in the $150 to $250 range. You can find custom clone versions for under $50.

Give those hybrids a try. They're bound to help your game.

For a great selection of discount custom hybrid clubs check out GigaGolf. (link to hybrids page) GigaGolf Hybrids