5 Wood vs. 3 Hybrid: Settling the Fairway Wood Hybrids Debate
If you’re like most golfers, I’m sure you’ve wondered… “Is it better to have a 5 wood or 3 hybrid?”
It’s a good question because both clubs can help from that pesky 180-230 yard range depending on your swing speed. This is a distance that most golfers struggle with but luckily, there are tons of alternatives to long irons.
Now, there’s so much selection that it’s actually hard to decide which one you should buy. Let’s find the right one for your game.
5 Wood vs. 3 Hybrid: The Debate
Before talking more about the pros and cons of each club, we need to talk about loft. To make an apples to apples comparison, each club needs the same loft. Otherwise, it’s not really a fair comparison.
For the sake of this article, we’ll assume that each club has 18 degrees of loft. This is pretty standard for a 5-wood and usually correlates to a 3 Hybrid.
Let’s compare two of the popular models from Titleist; the TSi2 hybrid vs. the TSi2 fairway metal. Both are very popular among everyday golfers and not the more advanced model (TSi3), which is made for lower handicap golfers.
Distance: 5 Wood vs. 3 Hybrid
When debating between a 3 hybrid or 5-wood, the first thing to consider is distance. In general, a 5-wood will win in a head-to-head challenge in terms of total distance. This happens for a few reasons.
First, the 5-wood is longer. Comparing the two Titleist examples, the TSi2 fairway metal is 42 inches while the TSi2 hybrid is 40.5 inches. A 1.5 inch difference between the two might not sound like a lot, but that correlates to 5-10 yards depending on your swing speed.
Second, a fairway wood has more mass behind the golf ball than a hybrid. More mass equals more distance. Combined with a longer shaft, the fairway metal wins in both carry distance and total distance.
Forgiveness: Hybrid vs. Fairway Wood
The second thing to think about when comparing these two clubs is forgiveness. Luckily, both clubs were made to help the everyday golfer replace 2 or 3 irons, so forgiveness is in their DNA.
The 5-wood is more forgiving off the tee, but the 3 hybrid is more forgiving when hit from the rough or fairway.
Accuracy: Hybrids vs. Fairway Woods
While both clubs are forgiving, let’s not forget about accuracy either. Since golf is a game of misses, this is an important topic when comparing the two golf clubs.
Since the 5-wood has more mass behind the club, that means the misses can become much bigger. Think about it like this, the bigger the clubhead, the bigger the miss.
That’s why you miss big with drivers compared to a short iron. More mass and longer shafts lead to bigger misses.
If you struggle with accuracy, the 3 hybrid is a safer bet. It will spin less and make your bad shots more playable and hopefully, not get you into as much trouble.
- Ideal combination of speed, stability and CG placement to promote easy launch, long carry and soft landings – exactly how a hybrid is expected to perform
- High strength 455 stainless steel face-thin, high-strength stainless steel maximizes face flex for increased ball speeds and distance across the entire face
Ball Flight: Hitting Each From Different Lies
Next, you want to think about how easy it is to hit each club from a variety of lies you’ll find on the golf course.
- Off the tee: Both clubs are easy to hit off the tee and there isn’t a clear winner here. The key is making sure you don’t tee them up too high as you still want to hit down slightly on these shots. A lot of golfers think they need to “help” it up in the air instead of hitting down on it. Instead, tee it so it looks like it’s almost on the ground and promote a downward strike.
- Fairway: From the fairway, a 3 hybrid is much easier to hit than a 5-wood as it’s more compact. With a fairway wood, off center hits are much more noticeable and you can miss big when hitting from the deck. Meanwhile, hybrids are much easier to hit from the short grass, will launch high, and land soft. Plus, if you don’t find the center of the clubface, the miss is much more playable than a poor strike with a fairway metal.
- Rough: The hybrid wins again here too. Hitting fairway metals from the rough is challenging, even for skilled players. In the rough, the hosel twists the clubface and makes it hard to hit fairway woods well. But a hybrid gets through the rough easier and provides a better turf interaction which leads to solid contact. Even in thick rough, you can use a hybrid.
- Bare lies: Finally, if you find yourself on a thin patch of grass (or dirt), the hybrid is much easier to hit than a bulky fairway metal.
Plus, you can use hybrids for all kinds of “rescue” shots too. They’re easier to flight down if you need to avoid trees or branches. Not to mention, you can use them for bump and run type shots from around the green as well.
Also Read: How To Hit Hybrid Club Consistently
Finally, let’s not forget about shaping shots with a 3 hybrid or 5-wood.
Since the hybrid more closely resembles an iron, it’s easier to shape shots. The 5-wood has a larger footprint which makes it more difficult to turn the ball and adjust trajectory.
Meanwhile, the hybrid provides you all kinds of different shot shapes. You can hit it high pretty easily, choke up and flight it low, and more.
Last Item to Consider
Finally, don’t forget that each golf manufacturer has an array of different hybrids and fairway woods to match each type of player.
For example, Titleist has three options:
- TSi1: These are the most forgiving options and made for higher handicap golfers. Both the hybrid and fairway metal are geared toward distance and forgiveness above workability.
- TSi2: The TSi2 is a good mix and offers distance, forgiveness, and some workability too. A great option for a mid-handicap golfer with an average swing speed.
- TSi3: The last option is designed for low handicap golfers. These clubs are the smallest in design, have the least amount of spin, and made for shot shaping over distance.
Just make sure you buy the right type of hybrid or fairway metal that matches your swing and forgiveness needs.
Top Questions Regarding 5 Wood vs. Hybrid
If you have additional questions about choosing between a high lofted fairway wood and hybrid, the Q&A below should help you out.
What hybrid is equivalent to a 5 wood?
A 2H or 3H, depending on the loft and brand of the golf clubs. But hybrids are usually 1-2 inches shorter, even if they have the same loft as a 5-wood.
Is it better to have a 5 wood or hybrid?
There’s no question a hybrid is easier to hit than a 5 wood due to it being more forgiving. It’s to get the golf ball airborne when hitting with a hybrid so very useful when your lie isn’t slap back in the fairway. That said a 5 wood will give you more distance and carry off the tee.
Is a 5 wood easier to hit than a hybrid?
Both clubs are very forgiving and easy to hit. A 5-wood might be easier to hit in some situations while a hybrid is better from the rough or tight lies.
I think most golfers can benefit from a 5-wood and a hybrid (as long as they are different lofts). A 5-wood that is 18 degrees and a hybrid that is 21 degrees allows you to have multiple clubs and play all types of shots on the golf course.
What goes further, a 2 hybrid or 5 wood?
As we mentioned above, a 5 wood will travel further than a 3H, despite being the same loft. But a 2H is typically 16 degrees of loft and about the same length as a 5-wood so it will be closer in terms of distance. The 5 wood might still go a few yards further, just because there’s more mass behind the golf ball.
How far should you hit a 5 wood?
It depends on a variety of factors including weather, elevation, loft of club, swing speed, golf ball, teed up vs. off the deck, and more. Some players hit 5 woods 220, while others hit them 260 or more.
Can you hit a 5 wood off the tee?
Yes, you can hit a 5 wood off the tee (or any club for that matter). Tiger Woods once said that even if he’s hitting a wedge on a short par 3, he always tees it up and recommends amateurs to do the same.
Having the ball tee up makes it easier to make better contact. This is one advantage you get on each hole and one you should take advantage of for a better golf shot.
Both a 5 wood or hybrid can help your long game significantly.
I don’t think it’s necessarily one or the other as every golfer is different. Instead, you want to evaluate the distance you need and where you plan to hit the shot to decide which one works best for you.
Since long irons are so challenging to hit, even for the most talented players in the world, a wood or hybrid is great for everyday players.
In the past, there weren’t a lot of options and golfers had to suck it up and play long irons. But now, there’s no excuse to play clubs that are hard to hit and make this sport even more difficult.
Instead, play the clubs that make the game easier and more enjoyable.
Do you like hitting hybrids or fairway woods more?
Let us know in the comments below!