Hybrid Ball Position: Set Up Correctly For a Pure Strike
Hybrids make golf easier.
But if you’re like a lot of golfers I’m sure you’ve asked, “Where should the ball be in my stance when hitting a hybrid?”
It’s a great question because if your ball position is incorrect, it makes it nearly impossible to hit these clubs properly. Which defeats the purpose of using them vs. long irons entirely.
Keep reading to learn more about the best practices for hybrids to build a consistent long game.
Hybrid Ball Position
To better understand this question, let’s first take a look at the history of hybrids as it might hold the answer. Hybrids are a relatively new club that makes golf easier (even though no one would ever consider it an easy sport).
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History of Hybrids in Golf
Let’s be honest, it’s no secret that long irons are hard to hit.
Even the best golfers in the world choose to play utility irons vs. traditional long irons for a little extra forgiveness. If the best players in the world struggle with long irons, everyday amateurs with slower and inconsistent swings can really struggle.
Thus, the hybrid was born as golf club manufacturers saw a huge need for an alternative to long irons. While it might feel like a newer club the first design dates back to the 1970s although not released until 1998. The club was known as the “Baffler” from Cobra Golf and quickly became popular with all types of golfers.
TaylorMade joined in on the new golf club trend and introduced “Rescue” clubs in 2003. These clubs gained even more popularity in 2003 when Y.E. Yang hit a heroic 3-hybrid at Hazeltine National Golf Club to defeat Tiger Woods by a single shot. Seeing a top-tier golfer use this club gave everyday players the extra motivation to test out these clubs and leave their long irons at home.
Proper Ball Position
So how can learning the history of hybrids help with your ball position?
By understanding that hybrids are not fairway woods but an alternative for hard to hit long irons. This means you want to play hybrids more like irons than you do fairway woods.
When it comes to hitting fairway woods, you want the ball positioned more towards the front (or front-middle) of your stance. These clubs are longer than hybrids and have less loft as well. Which means they need to be more up in your stance to bottom out at the correct point and make proper contact.
If a fairway wood is played too far back in your stance, it leads to a steep swing and in consistent contact. This is even more important when hitting a wood off the tee.
But hybrids mimic long irons more than they do fairway woods. Hybrids are shorter than fairway woods and nearly the same length as irons.
For example, let’s compare the Callaway Paradym hybrids, woods, and long irons.
- 4-Iron: The 4-iron from the new set is 38.875 inches long
- Hybrid: The 21 degree hybrid is 40 inches long
- Heavenwood (20 degrees): 43 inches long
- 7-wood (21 degrees): 42.25 inches long
The fairway woods are 2+ inches longer than their hybrid counterparts. This is why you need to adjust your ball position and hit your hybrids more like irons than fairway woods.
The proper ball position with hybrids is the front center of your stance (more towards the middle). If you have a logo on your golf shirt, a good ball position is between your buttons and logo on the polo.
Play Hybrids Like Irons
You want to swing hybrids like irons too.
Since hybrids are closer to irons than woods, which means you need to hit down on them. As Mike Granato said in Golf Digest, “To pure your hybrids, stop thinking of them as mini-fairway woods and start using them like you would a 6- or 7-iron.”
Later explaining, “Instead of trying to skim the club along the turf like a 5- or 3-wood, go ahead and make a small divot — after the ball. “The worst thing you can do is try to hang back and scoop the ball in the air because you’re afraid you won’t get enough height.”
This is an important thing to remember with iron and hybrids; your divot comes after the ball, not where the ball is and definitely not behind the golf ball. Otherwise, you’ll hit it fat and your distance will suffer as a result.
Related: 5-Wood vs. 3 Hybrid
Why Hybrids are Easier to Hit
Hybrids might be a little longer than an iron but they’re still much easier to hit consistently well. Why?
Because they have more mass behind the face of the golf club.
Even forgiving, cavity back irons pale in comparison to hybrids since they’re so much bigger. They’re a perfect “hybrid” size between a fairway wood and long iron.
Aside from the extra mass behind the golf ball, hybrids are easier to hit thanks to the shafts used in these clubs too. Unlike traditional long irons, hybrids come with graphite shafts which are lighter and easier to hit than steel shafts in your irons.
A good setup is to have your hybrid shafts between the weight of your fairway woods and irons. For example, here’s my bag setup to illustrate the different shaft weights between clubs:
- Fairway woods = 80 grams
- Hybrid = 90 grams
- Irons = 115 grams
Lighter shafts make these clubs easier to hit and also help increase launch so your shots hit and stay on the greens.
Replace Your Long Irons Now
Don’t make golf harder by using irons that even elite ball strikers struggle to hit consistently well. Instead, start using 1–2 hybrids
If you’re a higher handicap golfer, don’t be afraid to play a bag of all hybrid golf clubs. These sets are much more forgiving and great if you’re just starting out in your golf journey.
If you’re a mid-handicap golfer and hate long irons, opt for a combo set of golf clubs. These clubs replace the long irons with matching hybrids and ensure they’re spaced out properly in terms of loft and lie angle.
Because if you buy a full iron set without hybrids you’ll then need to find them on your own. This makes it harder to ensure you don’t have any big distance gaps and essentially waste money on your 3–5 irons.
If you’re a low handicap, don’t be afraid to use a hybrid as well. It might help you with long par 3s and second shots on par 4 and 5s. Lower handicap golfers should opt for the smallest head design as they’re more workable vs. the mini fairway wood design.
Hitting Hybrids from Different Lies
Another reason golfers love these rescue clubs is because they’re extremely versatile from just about any lie.
- Off the tee: These clubs can help you find fairways more often on short par 4s and give you a better chance of scoring well on par 3s (which are typically the highest score to par compared to a par 4 or 5).
- From the fairway: Have a long second shot into a par 4 or 5? Use a hybrid… they’re easier to hit off the deck than a fairway wood and tend to go straight too.
- From the rough: Find yourself in the rough? Use a hybrid… they’re easier to hit from the thick stuff than fairway woods as you can get steeper in your downswing. But if it’s very thick rough it’s probably a good idea to opt for a mid-iron so the grass doesn’t twist the hosel.
- Around the greens: Plus, these clubs are great to use for bump and run shots around the greens. If you have a long chip shot or your ball is up against the collar of the rough, use a hybrid to pop the ball and get it rolling like a putt.
Regardless of the lie, these clubs are great for almost any type of shot.
Top Questions About Hybrids
Do you have more questions about hitting hybrids? If so, keep reading to learn the top questions and answers to 10X your long game.
Why do I top the ball with my hybrid?
Topping the ball is one of the most frustrating shots in golf.
If you’re topping the ball it’s from hitting up on the top half… this typically occurs from leaving your weight on your back side. This tends to happen from swaying or improper weight transfer in the downswing.
If you’re topping the ball, make sure to move your weight to your lead leg to start your downswing. This will ensure your mass is on your front leg and creates a downward strike on the golf ball.
Additionally, make sure the ball is in the proper position in your stance because if it’s too far forward, you can hit up on it.
Do you hit a hybrid like an iron?
Yes, hybrids resemble long irons more than they do fairway woods. This is why you need to hit down on them with a small divot and adjust your setup accordingly. Otherwise, you might hit up on the shot more and thin it over the green.
Related: Driving Iron vs. Hybrid
Should I take a divot with hybrids?
Yes, you want a small divot (or at least graze the grass) when it comes to hitting hybrids.
Don’t forget, hybrids are more like irons than fairway woods. You need to hit down on them like an iron to get the ball airborne.
This applies to hitting it off a tee too. While you won’t hit down on it as much from a tee, you still need a descending blow to hit them consistently well.
Why do I chunk my hybrids?
The main cause for hitting hybrids fat is from a ball position that is too far back in your stance. If you’re hitting shots right and/or chunky, move the ball further up in your stance. This will help you bottom out at the right part of the swing and hit it more consistently.
Why am I hitting my hybrids thin?
If you’re hitting your hybrid thin, that means you’re hitting it low on the face and missing the sweet spot. One reason for this is from the ball being too far forward in your stance.
Remember, a hybrid is more like an iron than a fairway wood. This is why it’s vital to play it more towards the middle of your stance vs. the front part.
Do pros use hybrids?
Yes, PGA Tour and LIV golfers use hybrids, utility irons, and even 7-woods to replace long irons. Some of the most notable players to use these clubs include Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Jordan Speith, and countless others.
Does Tiger Woods use a hybrid?
No, Tiger has never used a hybrid (at least in competition). Tiger is known to be one of the greatest ball strikers of all time and doesn’t need the extra forgiveness that hybrids provide. He’s known for hitting his patented 2 or 3-iron stinger as a “fairway finder.”
But in the later part of his career he has dropped a traditional 2-iron and opted for a 5-wood instead. These help with extra launch and still provide plenty of workability as he prefers to shape shots in both directions.
Hybrids (aka rescue clubs) have made the game significantly easier. While golf is still a complex sport, these clubs make it much easier to find the green from long range. Long irons are smaller, shorter, heavier, and not nearly as forgiving as hybrids.
Almost every type of golfer would benefit from adding a hybrid (or two) in their bag. But just remember, you can’t simply swap a 3 or 4-iron out of your bag for a 3 or 4 hybrid.
Hybrids travel further than long irons due to the longer shaft and bigger clubhead. This is why it’s a good idea to replace a long iron with a one less hybrid. For example, if you want to replace your 3-iron, opt for a 4-hybrid (not a 3H).
Finally, make sure your setup is correct to hit these forgiving golf clubs consistently.
While they might not have the same workability as long irons, they’re much better for the everyday player. Start using hybrids soon to watch your scores drop and confidence increase from long range.
How many hybrids do you use? Has swapping them for long irons helped your golf game?
Let us know in the comments below.