In discussion: Do you prefer hybrids or fairway woods?January, 2014
We debate which work best
DM: There are some rounds when I don’t use my hybrid very often. But on other days, and especially when I’m, shall we say, not at my best, it comes out of the bag on hole after hole. I wouldn’t be without it. And if we are really getting down to why, then I’ll come clean. The bad shot I fear more than any other is a roof off the tee. And it’s much harder to do that with a hybrid than a fairway wood.
MT: There have been times when I have had four hybrids in the bag – starting with a 17˚ (that I couldn’t flight) and moving seamlessly all the way to 27˚. These were all put in place after a knowing pro told me I was a ‘digger’. I’m not and they only add to my ‘go to’ problem off the tee – the cold top. This occurs less frequently than the fairway wood which is all down to poor mechanics but I’m unlikely to start compressing it at the age of 42.
DM: What I love about hybrids is the hope. I always think there’s one out there that will solve the problem of any particular moment. So if I’m having a shocker with my 4 iron then I will go and seek out a 24˚ hybrid. If my driver is going sideways then I’ll start researching 15˚ models. Fairway woods just don’t offer that kind of versatility.
The problem I have with fairway woods is that I either find one that is good from the tee; or one I can hit nicely off the deck. The same one is never useful for both. MT: They do offer hope, they also offer confusion. I don’t know anyone who can hit a 15˚ hybrid, other than a low squirty one which ends up the right-hand rough/trees/road, likewise it might be easy to hit (get airborne) a 24˚ but is less so to control. Like many things in life, notably my haircut and dress sense, I am swayed by what happened in the glory days of the 80s. And this was when my trusty 5-wood, which saw me through all manner of scrapes, was in its pomp and why I’m still searching for something very similar.
DM: You’re right, no one who isn’t on tour can really hit a 15˚ hybrid. Still, it sounds great in theory. But what about the fact that even when you top a hybrid it still goes in the air? And, I repeat, it’s nearly impossible to sky one. You can’t say the same about a fairway. So if you imagine a tee shot where trouble lurks and people are watching and you’re not feeling that great, surely you are better off with a hybrid in your hand?
MT: Off the tee when I top a hybrid then I ‘quite literally’ top a hybrid. If you’re worried about crowds then can I suggest the driver, which will no doubt bring more trouble into play, but you’ll do well to steer clear of your dreaded roof. Or, better still, something along the lines of a 23˚ fairway wood. You can forget your colourful drivers, glistening irons or concept putters, the 7-wood done right is the prettiest little club on any shelf. Pretty in its own right, and delightful given its flexibility to get you round when all your other clubs have failed you. They are also very tidy around the greens when the palms are a tad moist.
DM: Many manufacturers don’t even offer a 7 wood anymore so I would respectfully suggest you are in a minority on that. The problem I have with fairway woods is that I either find one that is good from the tee or that I can hit nicely off the deck. I never find one that works for both.
MT: Why not, like your hybrids, try two. One off the tee and a more lofted one to have a go (come up short and wide) of the par 5s. My main concern is getting off the tee when the confidence in the driver has gone south. Which is precisely where I have no trust in the strong hybrid. You also get a few extra yards with a 19˚ fairway than your 19˚ hybrid so you can add that to the list as well.
DM: I didn’t come here for a club fitting, thanks. I probably should do what you say but then people might think I was a bit strange for not carrying a fairway wood and I need to keep up appearances.