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I've finally taken the time to upgrade my golf clubs. I ordered a matching 9.5° RBZ driver with a 19° 3-hybrid with stiff shafts. I already have a 3-iron (and 4-PW) and three wedges (50°, 54°, and 58°), all with stiff shafts. I'm not sure what to do with the 3-hybrid.

I will be getting fitted. My thought is to replace my fairway woods (3 and 5-wood) with a "driving hybrid" (perhaps by decreasing the loft of the hybrid to distinguish itself from the 3-iron and/or consider suggestions by the fitter). I can count on one hand how often I used my 5-wood. I would use my 3-wood off-the-tee for precision, but I find gratification hitting the driver. I rarely used my 3-wood elsewhere.

I understand this is a personal choice, but my question is along the lines of feasibility. Would a "driving hybrid" be an adequate replacement to a fairway wood? What steps can I take to determine feasibility?

  • Can you hit a ball with 3 iron? How far does it fly? If you can't hit a ball with 3 iron, it will be very difficult for you to hit a ball with a driving hybrid. That's based on my experience. I don't like stiff shafts. That's for pros or semi-pros who hit under sometimes. I shoot usually 80 to 85 and I think it will depend on how good you are. I tried them a few times, but I don't see any difference from my fairway woods. – user10632 Oct 20 '16 at 18:44
  • Yes I can, around 215 yards (and with mid-flight...between line-drive and high). I am fitted into a stiff shaft because my driver swing speed is ~110 mph. My old set of irons were regular shafts, and according to a playing partner recently, I was "fighting" myself to make the clubs work. – user527 Oct 20 '16 at 19:02
  • I think you shoot far better than I do. I started golfing 19 years ago and started with stiff shaft thinking it had more to do with the swing speed and accuracy (like a pro), but I changed my shaft after my coach said shaft makes no difference to amateurs and the less stiff, the better. I played better after changing the shaft. Golfing is such a difficult sport for an amateur. Good luck. – user10632 Oct 20 '16 at 19:07
  • My best score is 91. Contrary to your experience, I was told my clubs were hindering my game. I lose the most strokes around the green...mostly because I haven't devoted the time to develop a short game or putting touch (though I have my moments...a good chip after a skull or a good putting day, for example). I've also been away from the game for some time. I look forward to learning to hit my new clubs, but more time on developing my touch. I agree that this game is difficult...especially to those who don't spend a lot of time and money on it. Thanks. – user527 Oct 20 '16 at 19:26
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What steps can I take to determine feasibility of replacing a fairway wood with a "driving hybrid"?

I would ask three questions:

What is your skill level?

Generally, the lower your skill level, the higher the need to replace your long iron with a hybrid is. This is typical for beginners because they usually struggle with long irons. If you fall into this category, use the hybrid to replace the long iron, not the fairway wood. For more information on the construction of hybrids vs. irons, refer to this guide.

For those who have an adequate skill level to make further adjustments, continue reading.

What's in your bag?

Note: At a pro level, bag setup is very important. There is a crude correlation between bag setup and success(1).

My old bag setup was: Driver, 3- & 5-wood, 3-hybrid, 4-9 iron, pitching wedge, and two wedges (56° and 60°). Replacing a fairway wood with a hybrid would have been redundant.

My new bag setup (before adding my hybrid) was: Driver, 3-9 iron, pitching wedge, and three wedges (50°, 54°, and 58°).

There are many paths to go from here. Do you add a 3- or 5-wood? Do you add another wedge? Do you replace your long iron with a hybrid? Or...to my initial question, do you replace a fairway wood with a hybrid?

These questions can be answered in the next section.

What are your preferences?

A lot of golf is preferences and specific to an individual golfer. With the questions presented in the last section, preferences will help you answer those questions.

If I were a short game enthusiast, then I can add another tool of the trade with another wedge. For me, my choice would be a 62°.

If I were a beginner, or otherwise have a low skill level, then I would replace a long iron with a hybrid (see the first section for more info) before I replace a fairway wood with a hybrid.

For me, I'm not keen on using a fairway wood. I don't really have a good reason...just a club I prefer not to use often. This was the motivation for the initial question: Would a "driving hybrid" be an adequate replacement to a fairway wood?

If you are serious about replacing a fairway wood with a hybrid, look at this Golfsmith article. According to Golfsmith, my 19° hybrid is equivalent to a 5-wood. As originally stated, I thought about delofting my hybrid. According to Golfsmith, a loft of 14-16° would be equivalent to a 3-wood. If I do deloft, it would be to 17°.

Also, I was surprised to see my 19° hybrid be as long in height as my previous two 5-woods. My previous 3-hybrid was not as long in height as my previous two 5-woods. This was a promising start to my question.

Another consideration is how you address the ball and swing the club:

  • For a fairway wood, you set up in which the ball is forward in your stance, and sweep the ball off the ground.

  • For a hybrid, you set up in which the ball is in the middle of your stance and hit down on the ball (like an iron).

Furthermore, the hybrid is colloquially called a "rescue club." In the event you find trouble off the tee, the hybrid is more able to cut through grass and get the ball up in the air quickly. There is a place for a fairway wood; in light rough in which the ball is sitting up, a fairway wood is better suited due to its ability to sweep the ball.

I have a steeper swing, so a hybrid would complement my swing. Again, this is preference. A fairway wood has a place in many golfers' bags.

Note: These points are just a starting point for your consideration. More specific questions can be directed to and answered by someone who is experienced in this subject matter, like a fellow golfer or someone who can fit you to your golf clubs, for example.

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The only way to know is to try it when you get fitted. Since there's no technical category of "driving hybrid", I presume you just mean a lower lofted hybrid, such as a 17-18 degree, which is generally considered a "2-hybrid".

Note that the 3-hybrid you purchased is intended to REPLACE the 3-iron. The hybrid will be easier to hit, all other things considered, because the head on it is deeper.

The question is why don't you use your 5-wood? Hybrids in many cases come full circle and are equivalent to many higher lofted fairway woods.

As far as shaft, there is no objective standard for what is "regular", "stiff", etc. Making blanket statements that only pros should use stiff, and ams use regular is nonsense. It also has more to do than with swing speed. My driver SS is only 97-99 mph, but I'm fitted into a stiff because I have a fast transition and load the shaft.

  • Yes (see my 2nd paragraph). I realize the 3-hybrid replaces the 3-iron (especially for beginners, who usually struggle with long irons). I don't use my 5-wood...maybe because I find it easier to hit a hybrid than a fairway wood (and the combo I bought came with a hybrid, not a fairway wood). My 3-hybrid is as long in height as my 5-wood (and an article from Golfsmith says they are equivalent, to your statement in paragraph 3). Good comment about your transition requiring you to have a stiff shaft...I only stated my fit and why. – user527 Oct 27 '16 at 19:18
  • The 3 might have the same length and loft as your 5-wood, but you'll most likely hit them different heights and distances. Depends on the head and the weight distribution inside the head. The only sure-fire way to know is to try it. What works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another. – LarryBud Oct 28 '16 at 15:03

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