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"Better Players:" Long Irons vs Hybrids


mikedejong33
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I am seriously considering dropping another long iron and moving towards more hybrids. Has anyone had success with this, or have any opinions? I am now approaching 50 years old, I still play a lot, and can still get it around a bit. I am about a 3 handicap and I still hit my driver decently long (about 265-270 yards, nothing too massive, but that's decent for me). But I think I am losing club head speed and I struggle with long irons. I used to hit my 4 iron around 200-210 yards, and I currently have a 3 hybrid that I can hit anywhere from 210 to 225 yards fairly consistently. Just because it seems easier, I am considering looking for a somewhat matching 4 hybrid for that 195 to 210 yard distance. My 5 iron is about 185-190 or so and I am relatively consistent from 5 iron down. But 4 iron, I don't hit as well for some reason. Has anyone gone through this? We have 2 par 3's at our course that typically play between 195 and 220 yards, so this distance does come up for me quite a bit. I am thinking about another hybrid, or a long iron crossover or something. Any thoughts or recommendations? This is our off season so of course, I want to look for something new haha. Thanks.

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Driver & 3 wood: Ping G400

Hybrid: Adams

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I made the switch earlier this year and dropped a 4 iron.  Hybrid is easier to launch high and provides more versatility for me.  Takes some adjustment, but getting better with high cuts for approach shots and a flatter shot for tee shots.  1 handicap for reference with 110mph driver swing speed and just didn’t feel like I had enough speed to properly hit 4 iron and the hybrid has been great.  
 

27* 5 iron and a Titlesit  hybrid playing at 25*.

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I made the switch about 2 years ago.  Our distances are very similar.  I dropped my 4/5 irons and added 2-3 hybrid like clubs. I was hitting the irons fine.  But, hybrids just made life on the course a bit easier. There was an adjustment phase, but it was short lived. Plus, the versatility of these clubs was a nice addition. I use them on long par 3s as well. 
 

Currently play:

- Apex UW 17* - 3/4W equivalent 

- Apex UW 21* = 4 iron equivalent 

- Epic Flash 24* = 5 iron equivalent

- Then into 6 iron

 

I was playing hybrids in place of the UW’s prior to adding them in, but the 3W was in the bag as well. 
 

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We are about the same distances and HC. 
I recently dropped 4i for 23 degree Apex Pro 21 hybrid to match my 20 degree hybrid    
 

Like you, my 5i is 185-190 and there wasn’t much separation between 5i and 4i. I wanted a dependable 200-205 yd club and the 23 has provided this nicely. 
 

it’s not like I can’t hit 4i, it’s just less predictable and anywhere between 185-195. The gapping just didn’t make sense. I guess I could strengthen it but for now this setup is working. Give it a shot. 

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I will offer the counter opinion.

 

I still have a 4i in the bag. Am I less consistent with it than I would be with a 4H? Probably. But I have much better trajectory control with the 4i than I do with my 3H. If I need to hit a low one, especially when I have to go under tree branches (hey, it happens) I'm typically reaching for the 4i.

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I made the switch to hybrids to replace 3&4 irons a couple of years ago and am in the search for 5 iron replacement this offseason. The yardage gaps have leveled back out and allow for a higher landing angle helping to hold greens. I am a 6 index, similar yardages, and old enough to feel no shame with a bouquet of head covers if they help me score better. I am scared that i will some day need to replace 6 iron as that is my low escape “elite punch out” club. 

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It was a no brainer for me.  My handicap is similar to yours and I’m just not fast enough to gap a 4 iron properly with my 5 iron (and that’s not even talking about the ones I clank)..  It goes further but carries about the same, which makes it difficult to judge.  Going to a 4 hybrid gave me much more consistent distance control and much more confidence that every 200ish shot will be reasonable.  The misses are just much more consistent.  The trick for me is finding one that doesn’t go left.  Some just seem not to behave with my swing.  

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Offering a counter point to many of the opinions - I cannot stand hybrids. Have never been able to find one that works for me. I much prefer a well-fit 3 iron and 4 iron, which I not only find easier to hit, but also allow for so much more flexibility. 

 

That said, the above is about me not you. So if you like a hybrid and have found success with them I would not limit yourself by feeling committed to irons you may not hit as well. 

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Sounds like it would be worth the effort to find a hybrid that you hit well.  If you hit your mid-irons well, you probably don't need a high launching fairway wood type of hybrid in the 4 iron spot.  Find a smaller hybrid you like and shaft it (and play it) like the iron it replaces. 

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7 hours ago, DaveGoodrich said:

Sounds like it would be worth the effort to find a hybrid that you hit well.  If you hit your mid-irons well, you probably don't need a high launching fairway wood type of hybrid in the 4 iron spot.  Find a smaller hybrid you like and shaft it (and play it) like the iron it replaces. 

Agree. This is what I did. The Apex Pro is small and more iron like. I would put that on the list to try. 

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I am more old school.  I have never had issues with long irons because I have regularly practiced with them, and long irons require good fundamentals and a lot of confidence.  In my prime, my 2 iron shots go about 200-205, and my 1 iron shots go about 210-215.  I have twenty sets of golf clubs, with four of them having 1 irons, most of them having 2 irons, and only two sets starting with 3 irons.  I use the 1 iron only off the tee, teed up about 1/4", and today at age 53 the shots go reliably about 200.  It sucks getting old.

 

Hybrids carry higher and longer, while long irons have a more penetrating trajectory.  For me long irons are more accurate because the shafts are shorter.  Also, as Jackie Burke said, for accuracy we should try keeping the ball out of the air.

 

The secret to long irons is simple: swing them more like you do your 3 wood (sweeping blow).  Keep practicing them, and they make you practice, which we all need anyway.

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I simply hit long irons more accurately and closer to the pin than hybrids. I no longer carry a hybrid, but when I did I would aim for the center of the green. With a four iron, e.g., I aim for the pin. Oddly, although I hit everything else high, I have a tendency to hit hybrids on a lower trajectory. This results in some undesirable run out on approaches. Go figure.

 

Also, I think the best feeling in golf is flushing a sky-high 4 iron that sticks near the pin. Stony!

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I'm a similar age, handicap, and speed/distance as OP.  I've been going through this "transition" for several years.  Right now, I have a 4 hybrid in, but played a 4 iron most of the season.  My choice is generally about whether I need that club to launch high, and is impacted a lot by what my next longer club is.  For instance, earlier this year I had a 5 wood as my next club.  I hit that extremely high, so the lower flying 4 iron fit nicely.  Right now, I have a TM 3 DHy instead of the 5 wood.  It flies lower, so I want the higher launch of the 4 hybrid.  One other point.  Today's 4 iron, was yesterday's 3 iron based on loft.  I bring that up, because it may make you feel better about switching to the hybrid.

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Same.  I greatly struggle with hybrids and fairway woods.  1 of 4 will be a good shot.  Another will be a serviceable miss (usually a hooky shot).  The other two will be a topped ball.  Ditto fairway woods.

 

So I have no alternative but irons and do hit them well.  So current makeup is driver, eye2 1-iron, set 3-GW.  

 

It's mental I guess and i cant help it despite enormous amounts of range time with those clubs where i stripe them consistently.

 

Struggles with long irons tend to be speed related.  Long irons need clubhead speed.  An easy 8 iron swing doesn't do it.  For me anyway. 

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I would love to test one as I feel like my 4 iron is too inconsistent. 23* 4 iron typically flies 210-215 my next club is 7 wood which flies 230. Would love to try a hybrid that I can consistently get ~215-218 but not sure which loft to try first. I’m thinking 22-23 would be good but not sure.  Other option is to switch out of my blade 4 iron and get a more forgiving club. I play the 0311ST gen 4s for reference.  So many options and I just love to tinker. 

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1 hour ago, Retsof2021 said:

4 iron is too inconsistent. 23* 4 iron typically flies 210-215 my next club is 7 wood which flies 230.


I have a similar distance to your 4 iron, although mine is 22* and 1/2 over, so I bought a 7W to tinker around with that is 22* as well. I cut my 7W down to 41” and put a 90g shaft in it, which gives me about the same distance. My 4 iron was 209y carry and my 7W is 213y carry, so it’s a pretty good replacement. It took a while to get the right shaft profile, playing length and swingweight down, but it’s probably better than my 4 iron which I hit well. I’m a fairly high ball hitter that hovers around 115ft Apex with my 4 iron

 

I also have a 23* Adams Super 9031 hybrid (same club as the Adams Pro Mini) that I put a (OG) HZRDUS Black 6.0 85g in it that plays at 39” which gives me the same 213y carry number as my 7W, but I prefer the 7W over the hybrid and 4 iron ……… for now 😉 

 


 

 

.

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17 hours ago, mikedejong33 said:

I am seriously considering dropping another long iron and moving towards more hybrids. Has anyone had success with this, or have any opinions?

I certainly hit my 3H farther than my 3-iron of the same loft, but I don't know how far I'd hit the 3-iron if it had a graphite shaft like the 3H.  

Lots to consider.  Do you think you'd ever go back to gaming the long irons?  If not, does it matter to you?  I don't game the 3H because I'd rather hit an iron, and because the yardage transition between the irons is theoretically superior, regardless of my actual experience on any given day 😜

You might learn more by taking the irons in question to a launch monitor and giving the hybrid a try to see if it slots in to your satisfaction. 

As I get older, I have a tougher time picking up more distance (go figure). 

Good luck!  

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Great responses, thanks everyone. One good point brought up was how hybrids go so high. I do prefer to hit a long iron into wind, but for how many times I am faced with that, I would probably be better off overall with another hybrid. I am going to search out a 4 hybrid similar to my current Adams 3 hybrid. Should be a cheap experiment too. Thanks for all the input, enjoyed reading it all.

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Driver & 3 wood: Ping G400

Hybrid: Adams

Irons (4 to U): Ping I200

Wedges (56, 60): Ping Glide 2.0

Putter: Bettinardi BB5

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26 minutes ago, mikedejong33 said:

I am going to search out a 4 hybrid similar to my current Adams 3 hybrid. Should be a cheap experiment too. Thanks for all the input, enjoyed reading it all.

I feel like the modern hybrids fly high. 
 

The Tour Edge EXS 220 pro and newer pro model 721? I find similar to the Adams Pro….(Not the Pro Mini),being that they have a lower trajectory, like  some older Titleist like the  816 or 818? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

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Sounds like a consistency issue and not a speed issue. Irons are just infinitely more accurate than hybrids and a 190 5i is still pretty legit speed. No reason at that speed why a 4i can’t still go 200 if you are puring it. Maybe a Fli Hi or SGI esque iron with a graphite shaft would help bridge the gap better than opening the door to the accuracy risk of a hybrid. Bigger face, lower CG.. Especially if this is for approach shots. If it was off the tee I would say hybrid all day, but that’s what your 3h spot is for. Then again some guys like Kuchar prefer the look of a 4h but it’s very rare for a better player I think.
 

This is the spot in the bag where swing flaws get magnified and yardages get bunched bc you are doing some form of flipping or EE to square the face which increases loft at contact. Then your 4i and 5i will go the same distance no matter how fast you swing. So if that’s the case then yeah hybrid will probably get you that extra umph but also that swing flaw will become even more magnified with a longer shaft and hotter face. Tough trade off but personally I would optimize for accuracy and try to soup up some sort of beefy 4i before succumbing to a 4h. So many great beefy 4irons on the market. Mizuno, Srixon, titleist all have really classic looking options 

 

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I’m dealing with this same issue. Been taking the 4 iron in and out of the bag for an older 4 hybrid I have. Easier to get distance with the hybrid but left/right dispersion is all over the place. I just bought a U505 3 utility iron so we’ll see how that gaps with my 5 iron. I might have to weaken the loft a degree or 2 but we’ll see.

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I'm a similar age and level of play, and sound similar to you in terms of distances. I'm still happy hitting long irons however, having always been a solid player at that end of the bag.

 

That said, a few years ago I retired my 1-iron, and few years after that I swapped my old 2- and 3-irons for bulked-up utility models. I could still hit the old ones reasonably well, but the change was very much like the first time I put an Eye 2 in the 1-iron slot in place of an old blade. It felt like cheating. It still does, in fact. I can do everything I could do with the old ones; hit them high, low, shape them as I need to, but with increased forgiveness that means that nine out-of-ten are solid hits insead of seven or maybe eight wth the old clubs. It's easier to hoist them up high when I need to, and the performance on the odd mishit low on the face is much improved.

 

I don't like hybrids. Never have. They quite simply make it harder for me than it is with an equivalent long iron. I struggle to get a consistent strike, trajectory and carry distance, and lot of them either produce spinny floaters or, as with many people, have a tendency to consistently go left. I also don't like the notion of moving to a significantly lighter shaft in a club that's replacing an iron. I've tried steel-shafted hybrids, and whilst they do improve matters a bit, the head and strike still cause me issues. I play the same shafts in my utilities as I do in my iron set for that reason.

 

If I need to hit the ball high, I go with a lofted fairway wood: in my case an old 19-degree model that many would call a 7-wood, but which I refer to as a 4-wood. Call it what you like, but I can hit that high, hit it low, shape it, and it doesn't balloon or go left.

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More good comments. Consistency is definitely an issue for me. I draw everything and I don’t hit it particularly high. So with longer clubs I can start to hit low, smother hooks. I don’t get the ball up in the air very high. For sure a swing issue that I just haven’t gotten around to tackling. And I can still score pretty well, but it’s something I have to look at as well in the future. Changing clubs around is probably more of a bandaid fix.

Driver & 3 wood: Ping G400

Hybrid: Adams

Irons (4 to U): Ping I200

Wedges (56, 60): Ping Glide 2.0

Putter: Bettinardi BB5

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21 hours ago, Lumpy930 said:

I made the switch earlier this year and dropped a 4 iron.  Hybrid is easier to launch high and provides more versatility for me.  Takes some adjustment, but getting better with high cuts for approach shots and a flatter shot for tee shots.  1 handicap for reference with 110mph driver swing speed and just didn’t feel like I had enough speed to properly hit 4 iron and the hybrid has been great.  
 

27* 5 iron and a Titlesit  hybrid playing at 25*.


Agreed about the adjustment and that the 4 hybrid is amazing. I rejected it because of internal stigma but it flat out makes the game much easier, especially when you’re playing longer courses. The main shot it gave me was a consistent fade and as someone who struggles to hit fades generally, it’s a godsend to be able to hit one on command. No idea what makes it easier but it definitely is. Feels as easy as hitting a mid iron and provides a ton of versatility. If you have the right shaft it’s very easy to keep the flight down too. I picked up a 100g Evenflow white extra stiff off eBay for a song and it's amazing in my 818 H1. Similar to above I hover around scratch and driver is around 115. I realize it’s just a lack of education on the metrics,  yet it kills me when I see mid and high handicappers at my club using 3 and 4 irons. 

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5 minutes ago, TigerInTheWoods said:


Agreed about the adjustment and that the 4 hybrid is amazing. I rejected it because of internal stigma but it flat out makes the game much easier, especially when you’re playing longer courses. The main shot it gave me was a consistent fade and as someone who struggles to hit fades generally, it’s a godsend to be able to hit one on command. No idea what makes it easier but it definitely is. Feels as easy as hitting a mid iron and provides a ton of versatility. If you have the right shaft it’s very easy to keep the flight down too. I picked up a 100g Evenflow white extra stiff off eBay for a song and it's amazing in my 818 H1. Similar to above I hover around scratch and driver is around 115. I realize it’s just a lack of education on the metrics,  yet it kills me when I see mid and high handicappers at my club using 3 and 4 irons. 

I think you touch on an important point. The stigma of using a 4H. Nobody would opt for a less consistent club if it wasn’t for the ego. Funny thing, the guy who hits his 2 iron still isn’t impressed with your ego loving 4i even if you flush it. It never ends. You just got to use what gives you a repeatable result to help you score better. 

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... I have been reluctant to replace my 4 iron because it is one of my favorite clubs. Love laying up on a par 5 that is out of reach in 2, playing it off the tee on short par 4's or long par 3's. And for me, money from the fairway. But my home course has fairway bunkers that capture good tee shots because the fairway slopes into them, and they have been letting the rough grow. Those are 2 shots that are much better with a hybrid. So I started rotating a 4 hy in and out of my bag until I became totally comfortable with my Sim Max 4 hy. I do have to choke down a little to get the same gapping but nice to play it at regular length and gain about 5-10yds. 

... I have had so much success with my 4 hy I decided to add a Sim2 Max 3 hy and the results have been excellent. The 3 hy takes the place of my 19* DHY and 18* UDi that I rotated depending on course and wind.  What I tended to hook years ago when attempting to play a 3 hy, is not straight, high and long and it has become a favorite off the tee when I need to hit a fairway. Honestly I do miss my 4 iron but the he's are just so much more versatile.  

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I’m not as low of a handicap as you all. Hovering around 10-12 due to a 3 and 5 year old at home. I was a 7 years gone by when I practiced and played more. I found the Mizuno CLK 2020 hybrids and have loved them. With the stronger lofted irons now, I’m currently carrying a 6 iron as my longest iron since it’s 26 degrees and then have a 5 hybrid above it now. I can hit a 5 iron, but I have found it much easier to hit the hybrid as it flies a tough higher and definitely lands softer for me.

 

Again, not the handicap you targeted but the hybrids I’m hitting are lower handicap targeted I believe.

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1 hour ago, mikedejong33 said:

I draw everything and I don’t hit it particularly high. So with longer clubs I can start to hit low, smother hooks. I don’t get the ball up in the air very high.


A low smothered hook may only be accentuated with a hybrid. 
 

I like a small profile hybrid that is the closest thing I can find to an iron in trajectory since I hit the ball high. I have no problem elevating a 4i but, can I find better results from a hybrid or 7W?
 

I scrapped the 4i and the 4/5 hybrid for a 7w and can’t see changing at this point. It took a while to find what I was looking for, so I ended up in a NOS 2013 Adams Tight Lies (womens) 22* 7 wood, with a Accra ZX 485 M5 shaft, with 3g lead tape added to the head, playing at 41 inches. It’s easy for me to hit high, low, fade (not my strong suit) and draw. It’s better than my 4i and Hybrid out of the rough, off the deck, and pretty decent off the tee, although my 4i may be better there, it’s been a great addition to the bag. 

 

I think it’s extremely difficult to nail down the right hybrid because the playing length are so long stock, same with woods. 
 

I played my 23* hybrid at 3 iron playing length, and that was an inch or more shorter than most 4 hybrid playing lengths. I have the same problem with fairway woods. You go to a big box store to hit some on a launch monitor, but the 7w is 42 inches, so I’m choking up an inch, then they don’t have heavy graphite shafts, and the swingweight feels off to me, so it’s a hard find 


 

Happy Hunting! 

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      SuperStroke Limited Edition Hawaii Collection covers and grips – 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions
      Collin Morikawa's new TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus driver and 3 wood – 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions
      Xander Schauffele's new Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond driver – 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions
      Xander Schauffele's Odyssey Toulon "XS Proto" mallet putter – 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions
      New Odyssey White Hot Versa and Tri-Hot 5K putters – 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions
      Sungjae Im's Scotty Cameron Tourtype F-5 proto putter (with new SuperStroke Zenergy 1.0 PT grip) – 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions
      Scottie Scheffler's new TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus driver and Stealth 2 fairway wood – 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions
       
       
       
       
       
       
       

       
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      • 82 replies
    • 2022 PNC Championship - Discussion and Links
      Please put any questions or comments here
       
       
       
      General Albums
       
      2022 PNC Championship - Thursday
      2022 PNC Championship - Friday #1
      2022 PNC Championship - Friday #2
       
       
       
      WITB Albums 
       
      Nelly Korda - WITB - 2022 PNC Championship
      John Daly, II - WITB - 2022 PNC Championship
      Tiger Woods - WITB - 2022 PNC Championship
      Qass Singh - WITB - 2022 PNC Championship
      VJ Singh - WITB - 2022 PNC Championship
       
       
       
       
       
      Pullout Albums
       
      Tiger & Charlie - 2022 PNC Championship - #1
      Tiger & Charlie - 2022 PNC Championship #2
       
       
       
       
       
      • 28 replies

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