Fitting for Hybrids and Fairway Woods


Editor's Note: Bruce Martin is a PGA Master Professional with the San Diego Golf Academy. SDGAs program offers a curriculum of golf instruction and golf business management at all four golf schools, and provides graduates with the education required to get the golf job they desire. You'll soon be teaching others how to improve their game! Click here to learn more about SDGA

A decision most golfers will make with their set make-up will include what combination of long irons, hybrids, and fairway woods to add or drop from the bag. Modern technology with hybrids has reduced the need for the 2 and 3 irons in many amateurs bags. The 5 wood and 7 (heaven) wood has also seen a remarkable transformation into being replaced by hybrids also. The consumer is now faced with a multitude of options and decisions what to put in the bag between their longest confident iron and driver.


Lets discuss the advantages of modern hybrids over long irons:
Hybrids offer a wider sole that avoids digging.
This technology can be more forgiving in heavy rough and fairway bunkers.
This same sole design is better for a player with a steep angle of approach.
The hollow designs have a higher moment of inertia on off center hits.
Hybrid shafts are typically designed close to iron shaft lengths. This may lead to more control and consistency.
For a player that struggles with long irons and fairway woods, hybrids offer the possibility of distance with no compromise in accuracy.
The 18 degree hybrid will replace your 2 iron, 21 degree hybrid will replace the 3 iron, and the 24 degree hybrid will replace your 4 iron.
The bottom line = they are easier to hit and more forgiving than long irons.
Each year in the future will see a larger percentage of golfers carrying a hybrid from the PGA/LPGA/Champions Tour, to adult amateur and junior golfers.


Advantages of modern fairway woods:
The modern fairway wood style has developed into more of a lower profile head design from manufacturers like Orlimar and Adams in the 1990s = the equator of the golf ball is above the center of the face.
The sleek lower profile heads allow for a lower center of gravity = higher trajectories are easily attainable.
Heavier materials and weighting systems are also added towards the sole and trailing edge to assist in higher trajectories = lower c.o.g.
Rails on some fairway wood designs will assist the club head to skid/slide vs. digging.
The gear effect or bulge in the face will counteract off center impacts towards the toe or heal.
The shorter shaft length vs. the driver will aid in consistency.
Fairway wood lofts are offered as low as 12 or 13 degrees. This will give the consumer the maximum distance off the turf. (With the increased size of the 460 cc driver heads, the old driver off the ground has become very difficult, except for the most skilled of PGA golf professionals and amateurs.)
The strong 13 degree 3 wood is an excellent choice off the tee that does not reduce distance dramatically, and may be more consistent. This is a great asset on tight par 4s off the tee.
PGA Tour professionals will add a higher lofted fairway woods - 14 degrees and up to achieve higher ball flights and softer landings. The Masters requires this trajectory to access par 5 five tucked pins in 2 with firm and fast greens as Tiger Woods has done in the past.
Moveable weight technology has also been added to fairway woods to achieve specific ball flight patterns.
The high C.O.R. = .83 has been added to the face design by some manufacturers, as we find in the majority of modern driver designs.
Bottom line - Fairway woods have come along way since the persimmon and oversized days.