Fairway Woods vs Hybrids – Pro Tips

Fairway Woods vs Hybrids

The fairway wood vs hybrid debate does make a compelling argument. The three wood could be replaced for having extra wedges allocated in the bag. The benefits for both are considered from skill acquisition through to on-course club selection.

I recently heard an interview with the legendary Gary Player. What he said, still makes me think about how spoilt we are golfing wise with the advances in golf club technology.

It was clear when during a live European Tour broadcast, the players’ ball (Not Gary Player!) came to rest in some semi-rough, and the straight go-to answer was the straight-faced hybrid would be Player’s first choice for club selection.

The problem with the rough is that irons lose club head speed upon ball impact. This may be compromised more as the rough thickens with growth. As Mr Player pointed out, the hybrid is so versatile, this club for beginners will save strokes in the round.

Hybrid Swing

The hybrid swing can be broken down technically as: -

  • Like the iron swing (hit down on the ball, make divots!)
  • Levels the hitting zone easier for beginners compared to woods
  • Very handy around the fringes for short game (like a long putting stroke)
  • Highly recommended as a tool to execute recovery shots (especially the rough with the straight face)
  • Much easier to hit off the fairway deck compared to woods

In an interesting article in Golfers Digest featuring Anna Nordqvist, she has similar thoughts regarding the use of hybrids. Players elect to keep both fairway woods (3w and 5w) and use the 3-hybrid which replaces the three iron, bent to 19,5 degrees.

Fairway Wood Swing

The 3-Wood swing attributes are the following: -

  • Full swing with a smooth turn on the right side.
  • Sweeping strike with a swing path from inside to out.
  • Keep the head and sternum behind the ball position at address.
  • Soft hands and straight left arm grip extension through the ball.
  • Keep your eyes focused on the rear of the ball, head absolutely still (no dipping).

Tips on the Teebox

Fairway Wood on Tee Box

Often choosing the fairway wood or hybrid off the tee is the sensible choice

Some players know their yardages, and if it means hitting a three wood, then that could mean a wedge approach instead of considering the hybrid off the tee.

  • If there is trouble off the tee, take the hybrid to build confidence.
  • Three wood can carry extra yards, which also means extra roll-out distance on harder fairways, consider this especially with holes that have fairway bunkers.
  • Because the Driver may not be working, at least both 3W and 3H may be anti-right if the hole is lined with O.B on the right fence.
  • Don’t tee up with your utility clubs too high!

Tips on the Fairway

Fairway wood vs hybrid on the fairway

Get to know the differences between fairway woods and hybrids off the fairway

For beginners, the three wood off the deck may be a goal to work on. It takes time to master the stroke of launching the ball flight higher and knowing how to do it under pressure.

  • If there is no trouble around the green, take aggressive approach with the 3W (especially if there is a headwind).
  • If launch and ball flight are an issue, take the hybrid every opportunity you get on the par fives.
  • To hit higher fades with the hybrid without the tee, consider the address of ball position.
  • Creating a Draw off the deck is easier with the hybrid.
  • Try different distances of carry with the hybrid, with 80% speed swing, and changing the grip to choke down towards the shaft.

Anna said that she knows that the 3wood cannot be less than 215 yards of carry, and her hybrid will be perfect for those high fades of 190 yard carry on a second shot par five scenario. Remember that the sweeping draw will always out-carry the high fade. This comment could also be interpreted as her hybrid carrying over 200 yards with the draw shape. Her 3 wood would carry maybe another 15 yards if hit with a draw and a tailwind towards 240 yards carry. Wind will affect the ball that is launched higher, and the spin rate interacts with the carry dramatically.

Tips for the Fairway Bunker

Fairway wood vs hybrid in the bunker

Its a brave shot but taking your wood or hybrid out in the bunker can pay off big time

Anna uses the fairway bunker as the case for rather taking the hybrid and leaving the fairway wood alone. The hybrid as she describes, allow hers to “hit down” much like she does with her irons.

  • The steeper hybrid swing allows for ball-first contact.
  • Hitting down either leaves a divot, or in this case a puff of sand.
  • Take the decision to carry the trouble when getting out the fairway trap.
  • Keeping still and not moving off the ball are key for recovery shot.
  • Keep your balance in the front left foot, and focus on the dimples on the front of the ball.

Tips from the Rough

Fairway wood or hybrid in the rough

The hybrids have the upper hand versus the woods when it comes to the rough

The rough can be penal, if the lie allows for the 3H to slide over the grain, then that’s the best way to handle a ball resting on top of the rough, if the assessment of the lie is deeper, then take your medicine and get back on the fairway with explosion wedge shot.

  • Setup with the ball position under the sternum, slightly ahead of centre. The hybrid is the safest play in this ball position.
  • If the lie presents space behind the ball, and sweeping the strike with a 3 wood may be on.
  • Take into account that the flyer will be because of trapping grass in between clubface and ball during contact.


Even with the Callaway super hybrid set to launch, I still believe the 5 wood and the 7 wood have their place. Not replacing the woods entirely keeps the skills acuity active in dealing with wind, tight lies, and higher approach shots.

If you are a beginner, and you compare the standard shots of a fairway wood vs hybrid, the carry distance is always further except in the conditions of a tail wind, in which the launch height travels further. Cut Spin will not travel as far as draw spin, and these are also noted from the different lies what the different carry distance will be with hybrids and woods.


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