The long iron vs. golf hybrid debate has been going on for years.
Personally, I have always been a fan of hybrids. They are versatile, easy to hit and seem to give me a few extra yards compared to a long iron.
But they do still cause me concern at times.
They can spin too much and fly too high for me which makes them unusable into the wind.
And when you catch them out of the toe they can be a bit hooky.
But there’s still a case for all handicap golfers to be carrying at least one hybrid.
PGA Master Professional Dennis Clarke has devised the following guideline:
- If you hit a 7-iron 140 yards or less, a 6 iron should be your longest iron. The 3, 4 and 5 should be hybrids.
- If you can hit your 7-iron 150-160 yards, think about nothing longer than a 5 iron and look at 3 and 4 hybrids.
- If you can hit your 7-iron 160-170 yards, think about swapping your 3-iron for a hybrid.
- If you can hit a 7-iron more than 170 yards, you can use any set make up you choose.
That’s all well and good but what if you were still unhappy with the ball flight you were getting from your hybrid or hybrids?
If I was finding the middle of the club but still not happy with the ball flight of my driver or irons, I’d be seriously questioning the shaft.
With hybrids we often just have the same model flowing down from our driver.
But what about a specific golf hybrid shaft?
That’s exactly what KBS Golf have brought to the market and I was mustard keen to find out if it could help my game.
Paul Steels is the KBS Golf Shafts rep on the European Tour and works closely with many of the top players to get them into the right iron, hybrid and wedge shafts.
I met up with him at Leeds Golf Centre to see if a KBS Golf hybrid shaft could help me improve the performance of my 19˚ hybrid.
KBS are the brainchild of Kim Braly whose father invented frequency matching – a scientific method of providing the correct flex for each club in a golfer’s bag.
Why have KBS introduced a golf hybrid shaft?
“Kim only wants to make something if it’s better than what’s already out there,” Steels said.
“And with the hybrid shaft he feels he has done that. He won’t put something out there that’s just the same as everything else.
“Once he had studied the graphite, understood it and applied his knowledge of irons to it, he was ready to put something out there that was better.”
What will a KBS golf hybrid shaft do?
“The difference with the KBS Golf hybrid shaft compared to what’s out there now is that our doesn’t spin the ball up and it really doesn’t want to go left on you,” Steels added.
“Lots of tour players won’t use hybrids because they spin too much and go left and they find it hard to get the right distances consistently.
“With this graphite hybrid shaft it flies in the same flight path as an iron so it’s more predictable on how far it’s going to go.
“It doesn’t spin up and stall in the air.
“What Kim is saying is he’s basically taken everything away that you don’t like about a hybrid so it will now play like an iron.
So will more tour players be using a golf hybrid now?
“It’s fantastic in the driving irons as well – lots of tour players have gone out of hybrids and into driving irons with the graphite hybrid shaft.
“The shaft has less weight and it allows them to get the ball flight they want.
“It’s not just a one-trick pony.
“It has gone from being a complete stranger on tour to the go-to shaft for pretty much every manufacturer on tour.”
Which tour players have you seen have success with it?
“I can’t name anybody because we don’t pay anybody to use out shafts!
“But all the players I have given it to have say ‘my god, that’s not a hybrid flight’.
“A hybrid or a driving iron might not be needed for every tournament depending on conditions – they can go in and out of the bag.
“I’ve called it the two-hit shaft as that’s the average number of times it takes for a player to make their mind up about switching into it.”
Which KBS golf hybrid shaft did I get fitted into?
It was time to put Paul’s two-hit theory to the test.
I’m not a tour player, a million miles from it, so it can take me more than a couple of hits to find the middle of the club.
I’ve been carrying a 19˚ Callaway Big Bertha OS hybrid for the last nine months or so.
It’s fantastic. I love the ball speed off the face. It’s user-friendly and confidence inspiring at address.
I can get it to carry 200-210 yards so it’s an option off the tee on a short par-4 and can pretty much ensure I can reach any par-4 in two.
But it wasn’t custom-fitted. It was just a stock sample which Callaway sent in for testing and I asked very nicely for them to let me keep it.
As with all non-custom fitted clubs there can be a nagging doubt about the suitability of the shaft.
And my main issue with this club was it went too high – great for when playing downwind but virtually unusable into a stiff breeze.
So I was keen to see if this new KBS Golf hybrid shaft could give me a more penetrating ball flight.
It took us a little while to find the right weight and flex combination.
— James Savage (@JamesSavageNCG) April 26, 2018
We finally settled on the 95X. I was happy with the 95S+ (which is between stiff and extra stiff) but Paul was happy I had the speed to make the X work.
If anything, my miss was still a little bit of a pull to the left. If the shaft was too strong for me my miss would have been out to the right.
Does the KBS Golf hybrid shaft work for me?
The difference between the ball flight with the original stock shaft and the KBS Golf hybrid shaft was clear to see.
I was hitting out of a fitting bay and Paul couldn’t see the ball flight without sitting down with the first shaft because it was going that high.
The original shaft just seemed to send the ball straight up into the air and I could almost see it hanging, not moving forwards before it plopped to the ground.
With the KBS Golf hybrid shaft there was much more of a rainbow flight.
The shaft did everything that Paul told me it was going to do which was really nice and it gave me a lot more confidence in a club which I feel is really important for my game.
It also gives me that added confidence which you get from going through the fitting process.
Is a KBS Golf hybrid shaft the answer for all golfers?
Sweeping statements about which golf equipment is going to work for particular players is something I try and avoid.
However, if you struggle with hybrids because they have a tenancy to go too high and left on you then you should really think about giving one of these a try.
I don’t care who you are, a 3-hybrid is easier to hit than a 3-iron.
So if you can get a shaft to give a hybrid the right launch, spin, flight and direction then it seems like a no brainer to me.
More information can be found on the KBS website.