These days it’s really common to see golfers hitting a rescue club even when they’re not in trouble. So if you don’t need rescuing then why would you use one?
What are rescue clubs really for? They are a cross between traditional style woods and modern irons. The point is to have a head design that offers the better launch of a fairway wood but is easier for higher handicap players to hit – like an iron. You will also see them referred to as hybrids – rescue clubs are essentially one and the same thing.
There is far more to these clubs though, read on for the details you have to know to take advantage of them and cut shots from your score.
What Is The Purpose of a Rescue Golf Club?
The first rescue/hybrid clubs were designed by TaylorMade back in 2002. The club was actually named the TaylorMade Rescue and that’s where the name comes from.
These clubs can be used from any point on the golf course (well maybe not to putt…). You’ll see players tee off with them when they’re on a long par 3 or a tight par 4 that absolutely requires them to hit the fairway. They’re used for approach shots into long par 4’s and 5’s. You can even play bump and runs with them, too!
Mostly though, the club is designed to be used out of the rough. The larger head size is designed to glide through the grass and not get wrapped up. With an iron this would turn the head over and lead to a horrible result. With a hybrid though you can get more of the club face to the ball, helping you get back into play and down the fairway.
The design of the head also allows more weight to be shifted down and further back from the club face. This helps the club to get more launch, shooting the ball higher into the air. This is one of the more popular features for players who struggle with long irons…2, 3, 4 irons are notoriously difficult to get off the ground so many players will now replace these clubs with one, or sometimes even two, hybrids.
The 5 Wood vs the 3 Hybrid
This is a really common question. To be honest there’s no particular “correct” answer. It will very much depend on the individual players style and ability with both clubs.
The two clubs can be quite different. For example, my 5 wood is 18 degrees of loft. Most 3 hybrids are around 21 degrees so more consistent with a 7 wood.
The head weight of the clubs will be slightly different. Most 5 woods have a head weight of around the 220 gram mark. Most hybrids are around 240 grams. Now that doesn’t sound like a lot but when you’re swinging the clubhead on the end of a 40-something inch shaft then it’s a noticable difference.
The build length of the club is another difference, woods are almost always longer than the equivalent hybrid. Most woods are around 42 inches in total, hybrids around 39.5 inches. Again not a huge difference but this can have a significant impact on your shot dispersion. Most players will find they are much more accurate with a 3 hybrid than a 5 wood.
Shafts in the two clubs are also quite different. Woods tend to have a lighter shaft (less than 80 grams normally) compared to hybrids where the shafts, although normally graphite, are much closer in weight to those used in irons. This means hybrids will have a heavier feeling swing weight because of the different distribution in wight across the club. For example, the Ping G400 series 5 wood has a D0 swing weight whereas the equivalent hybrid is a D1.
So, what can we learn from the above…well there are two things we can probably say regardless of knowing how you play:
- Your 5 wood will go further
- Your 3 hybrid will be more accurate
It’s simple physics, you’ll be able to swing the 5 wood faster so it will go further but that will probably lead to accuracy issues.
As ever though, you’ll need to decide what works for your game. You’d be better testing out the two to see what results you get. Hybrids have been around for some time and some people still struggle to use them (including me if I’m being honest!) Whereas others simply couldn’t hit a fairway wood if their life depended on it!
You need to look at how you’d fit one club (or possibly both) into your current set up and what yardages you’ll hit each. It’s no good having two clubs that go almost the same distance, for example, and then have a large gap to your next one. That often leaves you between clubs, forcing you to choose between trying to hit a hybrid much harder than normal, or trying to hit a soft 5 wood. Neither is likely to have a good outcome!
This is why you should get on the range and have a proper gapping session. Work out how far you hit each club (and which you’re most consistent with) and you’ll be able to figure out if you should be carrying the 5 wood or 3 hybrid. You’re looking for something that fits between your 3 wood and your longest iron and that works for you.
Pros and Cons of Hybrid Golf Clubs
There’s a case to be made both for and against hybrid golf clubs. There’s no doubt many beginner golfers/high hanicappers/older golfers have benefitted massively from this technology over the last few years.
For those golfers who do use them they find that hybrids are much higher launching than regular irons. This helps get out of the rough much easier than an equivalent lofted iron would. The shape of the head is also designed to cut through longer grass to allow you to get more of the clubhead on the ball, leading to better, more consistent strikes.
The weight in the head of the club can also be pushed lower and further back, again helping with forgivness. You can use these clubs off the tee when you absolutely need to find a fairway too.
Perhaps the biggest pro of a hybrid is the fact it’s not a long iron. So many golfers simply cannot sing a club fast enough to be able to properly use a 2, 3 or 4 iron. They just hit horrible low cuts and often can hit their 6 iron further. By taking the long irons out of the bag and replacing them with hybrids they can often shave a good few strokes off their game.
The cons are almost the same as the pros – the ball launches really high. For better golfers with faster swing speeds this is an issue. They will hit a very spinny shot with a hybrid that will probably lose a fair bit of distance. Better players will also have the ability to control long irons much better and hit intentional fades and draws with them as well as keep the ball low in windy weather conditions. For these guys, long irons absolutely rule over hybrids.
What Irons Do Hybrids Replace & How Far Should I Hit Them? Hybrid Loft Chart
The below values are estimates. Your distances will vary based on swing speed, quality of strike, air temperature etc. The yardages are for male players with a slow-medium-fast swing speed. Always do your own research though and get to the range to find out for yourself!
|Club||Loft||What It Replaces||How Far Should It Go|
|1 Hybrid||15 degrees||1 iron||170-195-225 yards|
|2 Hybrid||16-18 degrees||2 iron||160-190-215 yards|
|3 Hybrid||19-20 degrees||3 iron||150-180-205 yards|
|4 Hybrid||21-22 degrees||3/4 iron||140-170-195 yards|
|5 Hybrid||23-24 degrees||4/5 iron||130-160-185 yards|
Do Pros Use Hybrids?
For many years there was a stigma among tour pros about using hybrids. They were regarded as being for players who couldn’t hit long irons and no pro wants that reputation. Over the last few years though that has changed significantly to where seeing a tour pro with a hybrid is a pretty common sight.
Jason Duffner, Webb Simpson, Jimmy Walker and Matt Kuchar all use hybrids. Colin Morikawa used the TaylorMade Sim Max hybrid in 2020 depsite previously not being a fan. Other TaylorMade tour pros like Rory McIlroy have them in the arsenal too.
Teeing Off With a Hybrid
Most players think of hybrids as purely rescue clubs, designed to get them out of trouble when they’ve gone off track with their driver. But lots of amateurs would be really well served by prioritising accuracy off the tee rather than distance. After all, most of us would rather be in the fairway than 30 yards further on in the trees and having to chip out sideways!
Hyrbids are also great on longer par 3’s where you might otherwise be looking at a 4 or 5 iron off the tee. Most par 3’s will have some type of hazard in front of the green meaning you have to hit a high shot that carries all the way to the green but then lands softly enough to held the putting surface.
Most of us can’t hit our long irons anywhere near well enough to pull off this shot. Hybrids though are designed to launch high and land at a steeper angle. This means you’ve a much better chance of pulling off this shot with a hybrid.
Give it a try next time you’re out on the course. Just make sure to tee the ball up with about hald the ball above the club head. Move it further back in your stance than your driver (around level with the logo on your shirt) and sweep the ball off the tee.
Why Do I Hook My Hybrid?
This is such a common thing I hear from people! Nearly everyone who has tried to get along with hybrids has gone through a period of hooking them and it’s sunch an incredibly frustrating thing. Try these tips and see if any of them help –
- Move the ball further back in your stance – people often subcnciously move the ball forward in their stance as if they were hitting a wood, this means the club is arcing around and by the time it reaches the ball it’s following an out to in path to target which with a closed face is a recipe for a hook!
- Tilt the shaft forward of the ball as though you’re playing an iron
- Distribute weight equally between your left and right side
- Hit down on the ball slightly as you would an iron