Driving Iron vs. Hybrid Debate: Which is The Right Club for Your Game?

Driving Iron vs Hybrid

If you’re like most golfers, you’ve probably asked yourself… should I use an iron or hybrid?

The answer for a lot of golfers is a hybrid, as they’re a lot easier to hit than pesky long irons.

But here’s the thing, so many golfers forget about a third option – a driving iron.

The driving iron vs. hybrid debate is a different one entirely. When I added this type of club to my bag, it made a massive difference than only using hybrids. 

So let’s review which is the best fit for any type of golfer and some of our best recommendations.

Driving Iron vs. Hybrid:

So which one is right for your game? Or, can both help out even more? 

Let’s review… 

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What Is a Hybrid?

So first off, what is a hybrid?

A hybrid is a club that is part iron, part fairway wood…it’s a hybrid of the two clubs, hence the name. They’re about half the size of a fairway wood and can be used in a myriad of situations on the golf course.

Hybrids are easier to hit than fairway woods off the deck and much more forgiving than long irons. They also launch higher than long irons, which is great when attacking long par 4s or par 5’s in two shots. These two features obviously make them the best of the both worlds, as they can give you a ton of confidence in your long game. 

Plus, they’re lighter than long irons as well. Almost all hybrids come with graphite shafts (even if they’re heavier shafts than your fairway woods), which also make them easier to hit. 

Also Read: How To Hit Hybrid Club Consistently

Hybrids have made the game of golf so much easier for so many players since their development. While amateurs love them, pros do too, including the best players in the world who use them weekly on the PGA and other professional Tours.

Golf Hybrid

Driving Irons 

While hybrids are great, let’s not forget about driving irons either (commonly referred to as utility irons as well). 

A driving iron is a long iron that is modified to make it more forgiving and provides extra distance than a normal long iron. As I’m sure you know, long irons are the most difficult clubs for amateur players to hit, as they’re very unforgiving and intimidating. 

Traditional long irons are also much heavier, as they have the same shaft as the rest of your irons. For example, if you play with steel shafts, they can be 100, 115, or 130 grams. If you don’t have enough swing speed, these clubs can wreak havoc on your game. 

But a driving iron takes away the intimidation factor as the back of the club is enlarged to give you more confidence. Some driving irons are nearly the size of a hybrid, while others are only slightly larger. Similar to hybrids, they’re also much lighter as well. 

Finally, they also tend to have a tighter shot dispersion than long irons as well. Since there isn’t as much mass behind the club as a hybrid, your misses won’t be as big, either. This should correlate to more fairways and greens hit, without the high scores from a big miss. 

It’s important to note that driving irons are no longer just for driving either. They now make it easy to hit long irons in 3, 4, or 5 irons too. You can hit them off the tee, from the fairway, out of the rough, and even fairway bunkers (if the lip isn’t too high). 

Also Read: Average Golf Club Distance – How Far Should You Hit Each Club?

Best Hybrids and Driving Irons

Overall, both clubs can help your long game significantly, even if you don’t have a high swing speed. They’re lighter, more forgiving, launch higher, and overall, more inspiring to look at than a small, unforgiving long iron. 

In general, hybrids are geared toward mid to high handicap, while driving irons are made for lower handicaps. But there is a growing product line for both that cater to any type of player.

Here are some of our favorite picks for both hybrids and driving irons.

Best Hybrids

  • Titleist TSi: What’s great about these are that there are three models for any type of player. The Tsi1 provides the most distance and forgiveness, while the TSi3 is made for better players who want more shot shaping capabilities.  
  • Callaway: There are a few options to think about. Better players should opt for the smaller, Apex Pro 21 hybrids. But if you want more distance and forgiveness, check out the new Epic Super Hybrids. 
  • TaylorMade SIM2: If you like your SIM2 driver and woods, the hybrids are a great option as well. The SIM2 Max is the more forgiving, higher launching option, while the SIM2 rescue is for better players who want more playability.  

Best Long Irons 

  • Titleist Utility Irons: They’ve made a ton of driving irons over the past few years and the latest two models are top clubs with pros and amateurs worldwide. The U-505 is the more forgiving of the two and offered in 16, 18, 20, or 22 degrees. While the T200 is a smaller clubhead and geared toward lower handicap players. It’s offered in 17, 20, and 22 degree loft options. 
  • TaylorMade SIM: The DHY is the more forgiving version, while the SIM UDI has the look of a long iron more than a hybrid. Both are solid choices! 
  • Srixon ZX Utility Irons: A sneaky, great club is this driving iron from Srixon. It’s more of a long iron than most on this list, but still has some extra forgiveness in its sleek design. 

Also Read: The 8 Best Driving Irons For Every Budget

Top Questions

What is better: a driving iron or hybrid?

Some players will benefit more from a driving iron, while others will enjoy the benefits of a hybrid. And some golfers will carry both types of clubs instead of high lofted fairway woods or hard to hit long irons. 

A driving iron is best suited for more skilled players as they’re harder to hit consistently vs. a hybrid. While a hybrid is better for mid to high handicap golfers who need extra forgiveness with longer clubs. 

Also Read: How To Hit Long Irons Like a Pro

Is a driving iron easier to hit than a hybrid?

A driving iron is usually harder to hit than a hybrid as the clubhead is much smaller. Plus, there isn’t as much technology in driving irons to enhance the total forgiveness, especially on mishits. But it really depends on the type of driving iron and hybrid as some are more forgiving than others. 

Also Read: How To Hit a Stinger Like Tiger Woods

Does a driving iron go further than a hybrid?

To compare the distance of the two clubs you need to consider the loft and length of each club. If both are 19 degrees and both have the same shaft length, the hybrid should go slightly further thanks to a bigger clubhead.  

Should I carry a 3-wood or a driving iron?

The lowest loft driving irons are usually between 16-17 degrees, which is equivalent to a 1 or 2-iron. But unless you absolutely love hitting a 1 iron (a club that 99% of golfers fear), I wouldn’t ditch the 3-wood yet. 

A three wood is a great club to have in the bag when you can’t hit the driver well but still need distance off the tee. It’s also a lot easier to hit than a low lofted driving iron thanks to a bigger clubhead with more technology. Not to mention it has a longer shaft length which will make it go further too. 

What shaft should I use in driving irons or hybrids?

The shaft choice for either club plays a pivotal role in your overall ball striking. One of the reasons utility irons are so much easier to hit than a stock 3 or 4-iron is a lighter shaft.  

For example, I play 115 gram steel shafts in my irons and a 90 gram graphite shaft in my Titleist utility 4-iron. The 25 gram lighter shaft makes it much easier to swing my 4-iron with enough power to hit it consistently. For my 2H, I use the same shaft as my fairway wood (80 grams) but you can also get it slightly heavier too.

I suggest testing out different shafts with a launch monitor to see how it impacts distance and accuracy. But matching your fairway woods or going slightly heavier is a solid option too. 

What club would a driving iron replace?

A driving iron can replace many clubs in the bag depending on the loft you buy. It can replace a 5-wood, 7-wood, heavenwood, 2-iron, 3-iron, or 4-iron. 

Wrapping Up

Hybrids and driving irons are some of the best ways to improve your long game without changing your swing. Both clubs… 

  • Will help you hit it further.
  • More forgiving than long irons. 
  • Help improve your ball striking (and hopefully your score). 
  • Are lighter than long irons which will help increase swing speed.

For so many amateur golfers, there is no reason to try and hit a normal long iron that matches the rest of your set. These clubs are hard to hit consistently, even for the best players in the world. Put your pride aside and play the clubs that will make it easier to score well consistently. 

Also, don’t be afraid to carry both in your bag. 

For example, you could replace your 5-wood with a hybrid and your 3 or 4 iron with a driving iron. That would make your 4 or 5 iron the longest iron in the bag, which should help your long game significantly.

Do you prefer to use a driving iron or hybrid? Or both? 

Let us know in the comments below! 

Picture of Phil Grounds

Phil Grounds

Phil is an avid golfer, and the creator of The Golfers Gear. He’s been playing golf for 30 years, and is obsessed with improving his game and sharing his experience helping fellow golfers score better.

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