Hybrids vs Fairway Woods: Your Best Bet For Different Situations

Last updated: June 28, 2021

Golfers are often in two minds when it comes to hybrids and fairway woods. Most people think they are very similar; however, both of them are miles apart. From construction to the swing technique, there are several differences between the two. A fairway wood might be a suitable choice in some situations, while in others, you might want to go with a hybrid. 

Whether you should keep a hybrid or a fairway wood in your bag is a matter of debate. The simple answer is that it’s complicated. Both of them have their own merits and demerits on the golf course. This article will explore all the different aspects of where these two clubs are similar and where they differ. 

Construction

Fairway Woods

Fairway Woods usually have a design similar to that of a driver. But they are smaller with a flatter clubface, and the sweet spot tends to be towards the bottom. In addition, fairway woods have the longest shafts besides drivers.

This long shaft also leads to an entirely different swing technique for fairway woods, making the difference between them and hybrids all the more significant. 

3 wood and 5 wood are the most common types of fairway woods in the market. The loft ranges between 15-18 degrees and 20-22 degrees for each of them, respectively. 

Hybrids

While fairway woods are similar to drivers, hybrids are more closely related to long irons. Hybrids are shorter and have smaller heads than woods; simultaneously, they are longer and have larger clubheads than irons. 

The materials used in hybrids are much denser compared to fairway woods. This shifts the center of gravity much deeper and lower, making hybrids far more forgiving than fairway woods. Hybrids have a broader sweet spot than irons and woods, making them ideal for protection against mishits and off-center shots.

Setup and Swing Technique

Fairway Woods

Due to a similar design and construction, the setup for fairway woods is very similar to drivers. Just like drivers, the ball should lie just inside your front foot instead of the middle.

The swing should be level, and the clubface should be parallel to the ground as it sweeps the ball across the surface. Also, at the contact point during the swing, the clubhead should ideally brush against the top of the grass.

In off-the-tee situations, too, the setup for fairway woods is pretty identical to drivers with a tiny modification. Due to the smaller head size, the tee height is usually lower in this case, and it varies from player to player.

Hybrids

Besides sharing a similar design and construction, hybrids and long irons also have some common points regarding the setup and swing technique. With long irons and hybrids, the standard method is to swing down on the ball.

So the ball should be placed in the middle of your feet but slightly towards your front foot. 

The angle of contact is significantly steeper in the case of hybrids which makes divots a common occurrence. The divot will generally appear slightly ahead of the ball position. 

Performance

The definition of performance can be different for every golfer. For some, it might be pure distance, and for others, it might be accuracy. To keep things simple, we have mentioned the performance aspects where both of these two rank highly.

Fairway Woods

If hitting longer and faster shots is your priority, fairway woods are the optimal choice. Their large head size and longer shaft create a wider swing arc, transferring more energy to the ball and causing it to fly longer.

However, fairway woods have a significant amount of roll and if the ball lands on the green, it is extremely difficult to stop it there as well. 

Fairway woods are also one of the easiest to hit golf clubs because of their similarities to drivers. You can use your traditional golf swings for hitting woods and get the best results. 

Hybrids

Hybrids are arguably the most versatile golf clubs that you can have in your bag. You can use them for everything except putting. Due to their long distance, some golfers use them in fairways and even off-the-tee.

In a rough lie, hybrids can substitute your long irons due to their streamlined shape, cutting through grass, and providing more accuracy.

Hybrids are also popular “rescue” clubs and are very useful in approach shots. They deliver high amounts of spin and steep launch, making it easier for the ball to stop on the green. 

When To Use Hybrid vs Fairway Woods?

Fairway Woods

Fairway Woods are best suited for relatively easier golf courses. While teeing off, if you want to land the ball into a narrow fairway, a fairway wood might be a better option than a driver because of higher accuracy without compromising much on distance. Otherwise, you can also use them for reaching the green if too many bunkers or hazards do not surround it. 

Hybrids

Due to their versatile nature, you can use hybrids virtually anywhere on the golf course, irrespective of the terrain. That being said, hybrids are most commonly used as a replacement for long irons. You can use it to play the ball from the rough, fairway, and bunkers too.

Lately, hybrids are becoming immensely popular for playing approach shots because of their high spin and stopping power. 

Should I Keep Both?

If you can afford it, then yes, ideally, you should have both of them in your golf bag. However, if you have to choose one, you’ll have to decide based on your priorities. Keeping both of them in your bag will help you become a better golfer and adjust more easily to varying playing conditions.

Moreover, due to the unpredictable nature of the sport, you never know where the ball will end up and which club you’ll have to use. 

Fairway woods belong to the traditional class of golf clubs and have been around for much longer than hybrids. Therefore, you’ll find them in the majority of the golf bags. On the other hand, as hybrids are newer, a few golfers are wary of using them.

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