Our hybrid vs. long iron reader test took place at Meltham in West Yorkshire during a Titleist fitting event.
Hybrid vs. long iron test – The methodology
We went along to a Titleist fitting event to explore a few ideas around hybrids and long irons. Do better players prefer long irons? Are hybrids better for those with slower swing speeds?
The introduction of the Titleist 718 irons and 818 hybrids range highlights lots of potential fitting issues at the top end of the bag.
For example, more than 70 percent of tour players split their iron sets as they get into the longer irons and my go from a CB or MB into an AP3 or a T-MB.
And there are two 818 hybrids in the range – H1 and H2 – with different profiles and ball flights.
So whether you are looking to go for a more powerful or forgiving 4-iron or you are simply looking looking to get more consistent gaps at the top end of the bag – you really need to go through everything with a fitter to get the ideal set make up.
We put Meltham member Sam, who plays off eight, and their pro Simon through the fitting process to see what recommendations the Titleist product specialist Nick Sharples recommended.
Hybrid vs. long iron test – The results
First up was Sam who swung the club very smoothly and consistently.
His irons went up to a 4-iron and then into a 5-wood.
But Sam admitted the longest iron he felt confident with was his 5-iron.
The Trackman data backed this up as there was only a few yards gap between his 5 and 4-iron.
So Nick identified a 22˚ H2 hybrid as an ideal club to potentially bridge that gap between 5-iron and 5-wood.
Sam hit the ball very high so the H2 was a much better option for keeping a more penetrating ball flight than the H1.
With the 22˚ 818 H2 hybrid Sam was getting the perfect gap between his 5-iron and 5-wood as you can see from the Trackman numbers.
Simon had a much faster swing speed and was fairly happy with his Titleist 716 CB 4-iron but we did see a bit of a large gap between that and his hybrid.
Nick had Simon hitting the 718 AP3 and T-MB long irons and it was the AP3 model which brought the most consistent results and the best gapping.
The AP3 model has been very popular with tour players like Ian Poulter, Bernd Wiesberger and Justin Thomas.
Like many better players, Simon found better control and consistency with a 4-iron compared to a 4-hybrid.
But he does carry a Titleist 816 2-hybrid which he loved so it was about filling the right gaps with two clubs in between.
So the AP3 4-iron was carrying 182, the AP3 3-iron was carrying 200 and the 818 2-hybrid was carrying 215 which resulted in decent gapping.
The AP3 3-iron was actually very similar to Simon’s 816 2-hybrid but he gained nearly 10 yards for carry with the new 818 compared to the 816.
Hybrid vs. long iron test – NCG verdict
Sam was a perfect test subject as he basically struggled to make a case for carrying his 4-iron.
We bet there are thousands of golfers that are in the same situation. It may be useful for punching it out of the trees but on full shots it basically does the same job – with less consistency – than a 5-iron.
Having the two 818 hybrid models in the range also gave the fitter an opportunity to give Sam a more penetrating ball-flight.
Simon could happily hit his 4-iron but going to a slightly more powerful model in the AP3 gave him more consistency and a bit more distance.
For a CB player like Simon it was really useful to have both the AP3 and T-MB models to try out to find the right model for his game.
The ultimate conclusion from our experiment was that it’s simply not possible to draw any meaningful conclusion about what clubs you should be using without going through the proper fitting process.
Golf clubs are expensive so why on earth would you put any club in your bag that isn’t going to perform a unique job out on the golf course?
A fitting is not just about length, lie, shaft and grip – that’s important but it’s just scratching the surface.
Getting the right models, lofts and ball flights to give you confidence of hitting the right numbers when faced with a particular shot on the course is what custom-fitting is all about.
CLICK HERE to find a Titleist fitting event near you.