5 Hybrid vs. 5 Iron
A 5 iron and 5 hybrid golf club share the same number at the beginning of their name. Outside of that and a similar loft, not much is the same. Materials are different. The type of swing needed for maximum effectiveness is different. Loft, trajectory, typical ball flight, carry distance. All different.
But how do all of these characteristics change how you play the game (and make it easier)? Find out below.
Main differences between a hybrid and iron golf club
Iron golf club construction
Golf iron club heads were initially made of wood and then iron or steel. Today’s iron heads use carbon steel with urethane and other material coatings.
When comparing 5 hybrids vs. 5 iron, the 5 iron will have a lower trajectory and shorter carry distance but more roll and more control.
A 5 iron golf club will have a loft of anywhere from 21 to 27 degrees.
Hybrid golf club construction
Hybrids are a newer concept in the world of golf and have a different type of construction. While irons have been around since the inception of the game, hybrids only recently became prevalent.
You’ll have a greater carry distance, higher trajectory, and maximum distance with this type of golf club. Even if it’s struck perfectly, it won’t travel the same distance as its iron counterparts—you’ll always hit the ball higher and get a few extra yards.
These clubs have a hollow head and are made with steel or titanium. Both the club head and club face are larger in size than an iron. With lighter clubs, it is easier for most golfers to generate more club head speed, ball speed, and better ball contact with this type of golf club.
A 5 hybrid has a loft of about 25 degrees, give or take a couple of degrees.
Why the differences matter
There are no professional golfers reading this, so we’re looking at it from the point of view of the average golfer. Golfers need to prep for when they don’t hit it square. When you struggle with consistent contact, it is important to know what clubs will help or hurt.
Hybrids incorporate features of an iron and fairway wood but have the highest trajectory. They come together as a combination that’s easier to hit and splits the distance difference between the two. For example, a 5 fairway wood goes farther than a 5 hybrid, and a 5 iron cannot go as far as either.
Finding the sweet spot
Hybrids have bigger sweet spots than irons. With larger club heads, the design of a hybrid makes it so you can hit the ball almost anywhere on the club face and generate good contact.
A hit on the heel or toe is far less costly with a hybrid in your hands. Because of the small head of irons, weight is heavily concentrated in the middle.
As you expand the face and body, weight is more evenly distributed, and you can generate power from a wider area. Don’t get me wrong, a hit square in the middle of the face will always be better.
By looking at the heel of each club, you can tell the difference. With an iron, the area in which you can make contact begins small and gets progressively larger as you make your way towards the toe. With a hybrid, the surface area is larger and squarer. It expands somewhat as it gets away from the shaft but not as extreme as with an iron.
When you hit the ball off the heel with an iron, it’s off the hosel. A shot off the heel of a hybrid will still have some carry distance and tends to be more of a slice than a shank. Neither are great, but the hybrid has more control.
Hybrid golf clubs advantage
Hybrids come in all shapes and sizes. Well, maybe not all. But there is far more variation than irons as you try to find the club you feel the most comfortable with.
More greens in regulation
Natural ball flight is higher with a hybrid than with an iron. When you’re hitting onto a protected green from 175 out, you want a shot that will land and stay on the green. You have a higher likelihood of doing this with a hybrid.
This becomes less true as irons get shorter, but with a long iron, it’s always true. Long irons have a lower, piercing ball flight that produces roll, whereas hybrids have a softer, arcing shape with more carry distance.
Forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness. Misses on any part of the clubface will have less of a negative effect than with an iron. Even from the rough, the club cuts through smoothly and generates solid contact.
Launch angle effect
Because of increased launch angles, you will generate more distance with a hybrid than an iron of the same loft.
A rescue club for all situations
Some people call a hybrid club a rescue club. I call it a bailout club.
The hollow head of a hybrid requires less swing speed to generate distance. It’s also surprisingly effective for punch shots and chips that require covering some distance. Get it going on the right line, and you’ll be in good shape because of the roll produced.
A reason why irons are difficult to hit is also a major advantage. Irons can be shaped for cuts, draws, fades, and hooks. When you’re in control of an iron, there is no obstacle you cannot get around.
Just as with ball shape, it is easier to generate backspin with an iron. A steep downswing at the golf ball and altered points of contact are better controlled with irons than any other type of club.
Digging the ball out of the rough
When a ball is deep in the rough or sitting in a divot, an iron is more capable of digging it out. While hybrids make divots, a deep iron divot does not always mean a bad shot. In this case, you can strike the ball squarer on the face.
Sticking with what you know
Continuity. If you’ve been playing golf for a long time, you’ve always had irons. You know how to hit them and understand how they react in different situations. A hybrid presents an entirely new set of problems, even if there is some upside.
Which club is better for a high handicap?
You hit a drive on the way up, the same as long irons. Hybrids play closer to your 7 through 9 irons, where you hit down on the ball with a steeper swing. Knowing how to swing at each ball based on club selection is essential to hitting the shot you want—and really hitting any shot well.
Hybrids are in the middle and you can be successful with either type of swing. Above all, they’re forgiving even when execution is not perfect and you only have an average swing speed. Low handicap golfers can adjust their point of contact on a swing-to-swing basis. High handicappers cannot.
Making the decision
Drivers and woods tend to be difficult to hit. Irons are easier. Hybrids are a transitional club designed to bridge the gap between the families of clubs. Your iron command is also a great way to judge how far you’ll need hybrids to take you.
Your 7 iron is the first particular club you feel comfortable with? Don’t be afraid to run your hybrids all the way to a 6 (you’ll want to carry a few hybrid clubs). If your iron play is fine and you struggle the most on the greens, it is more acceptable to carry longer irons.
Due to the precision demanded by long irons, they are not easy for high handicappers to hit with any type of consistency. As you go down your bag, irons become easier to hit, and the added support of a larger club head (hybrid) becomes less necessary.
When it comes to a direct comparison of 5 iron vs. 5 hybrids, the decision is not too difficult. Go with the hybrid. If you’re a high handicapper and even considering a 3 iron vs. a 3 hybrid, stop. If the answer is clear with the 5 hybrid, it should be even more so with the 3.
The more clubs that offer distance, consistency, and forgiveness support, the better.
We recommend blended sets, especially for high handicappers. This means hybrids and irons in the same set and switching to hybrids once you get to the iron you’re uncomfortable hitting.
Why does a 5 iron have a different shaft than a 5 hybrid?
As far as the actual shafts, an iron shaft is made of heavier and more durable steel. Hybrid shafts use more lightweight materials.
Going back to the idea that hybrids serve as a bridge between woods and irons, you’ll find their shafts are longer. Even though we’re talking about long irons, hybrids are longer clubs in a practical and distance measuring sense.
As a rule, you will not use the same shafts for the two clubs. This is not only because of the actual club but because hybrids tend to have adjustable weight, loft, and face settings—which irons will never. Even if both clubs are using a graphite shaft, that shaft will be different.
Swing speed effect
Hybrid golf clubs are lighter, as are the shafts used with them. This makes it easier to generate greater swing speeds using them. This is a major reason you will see older and other amateur golfers struggling to increase swing speeds and carry more hybrids in their bags.
Even a light swing will generate solid launch speed. If you were to attempt the same with an iron, consistency would be more difficult in terms of direction and distance.
Can you carry both in your golf bag?
Short answer, yes. Carrying both a 5 iron and 5 hybrid is completely normal and, of course, allowed by the rules of golf.
As a reminder, there are no restrictions on the composition of clubs you can outfit your bag with. If you want to carry 14 pitching wedges, you can. No idea why you would want to, but there’s no rule against it.
Now back to the clubs in question. As you’ve learned from reading this article, hybrids and irons are used for different shots and in different situations. Even clubs with the same “number” written on them have different uses and go different distances.
The practical part
Forget the numbers; look at how you can use the different golf clubs.
It is for this reason that we actually encourage you to carry both in your bag. As long as there is enough of a distance gap between the 5 hybrid and 5 iron, and your club count allows it, carrying long irons and shorter hybrids is a great idea.
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