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101: Callaway Hybrids, the nitty gritty

3 and 4 irons ARE cool. Do you know what’s cooler? Breaking 80:)

When choosing the perfectly tuned bag set-up there is always one place that becomes a weird grey area. For me, it’s that annoying section around the 4 and 5 iron slots. As I’ve gotten older (44 years old) my long irons more or less went to the 💩’ er. It has been a blow to the ego, to say the least, going from a player that was ALWAYS 2-PW (and really efficient) to now trying to find literally anything in that section that doesn’t cost me shots.

To be fair the modern golf ball was a big factor in my switch into a 5-wood 15 years ago (to replace the 2-iron) and going from a 3 wedge set-up to now 4. The modern ball simply launches higher and spins less creating a new gap system in my bag that only required 4-PW instead of a 2 and 3-iron.

Over the past 4 years, as my body has tightened, my schedule with work and kids became less practice friendly and the 4 and 5-iron became clubs that inspired anxiety and fear. Now it’s not a speed issue, it’s a percentage of quality shots issue. I can still hit those clubs just fine but my misses (which happen more often than not) were killing my scores. I looked into my stats with Arccos and the data told me that just those two clubs were costing me 2-3 shots per round and there was a significant positive uptick once I got into the shorter irons. The point is when I had a 4 or 5 iron in my hand, I had to get lucky to just make a par. That’s no way to live.

Ok, now to the topic of the article which is how to pick a hybrid, I was getting there I promise. In my #golfstruggle to find a solution to this mess I tried COUNTLESS options

7-wood/9-wood
-Utility irons
-Normal Irons (This actually worked shout out Apex ’21)
-No 4 iron and added a 5th wedge (this was fun for a week)

….and lastly 2 hybrids (4HY, 5HY)

This experiment was a BLAST! For the record I hated hybrids, always hit them badly, never found one I liked and the good shots were just ok. HOWEVER, since joining Callaway I became very familiar with the Apex and Apex Pro hybrids, and although they didn’t land in the bag (read my Apex’ 21 articles for the WHY) my takeaway was utter curiosity and a true belief that at some point, one or both would wiggle their way into the bag.

What I learned

I’ll begin with the Apex Hybrid which I tested in the 4HY (21 degrees). “Mindless” is the easiest word to use. Not only was it extremely easy to hit but it was LONG, too long. The 4-iron section in my bag needs to represent roughly 215-220 of carry distance and I was hitting this thing 225-230. As you can see, no benefit there as my gap to the next club would be huge.

The Apex Hybrid has been a total sleeper in the grand scheme of things. It’s a hybrid that constantly catches the eye of our Tour staff and to be honest the only reason it doesn’t see more playing time on the big show is it’s too hot. HOWEVER, that’s where you and I should be perking up. The whole point of a hybrid is to give players more ball speed, launch, and forgiveness as an iron replacement. Why worry about hitting a long iron when you can play a club that is forgiving and launches like a wood but still gives you the proper spin windows to hold a green. These are not distance clubs, they are gapping clubs.

To replace my 5-iron I tried the Apex Pro 5HY (25 degrees). This club was interesting and proved some of my misgivings about hybrids to be inaccurate. I loved the high launch/mid spin flight I got out of it and it also gave me the ability to hit the ball down with little fear of hooking it. That’s always the fear with hybrids and better players, they like to go left. In the case of the Apex Pro HY, I found it hard to turn over and very easy to just hit high and straight. If it weren’t for the Apex ’21 unicorn set I’m currently playing, I’d probably have Apex Pro HY 4 and 5 in the bag. For gapping, they are perfect and my dispersion was on point. Spin was the deciding factor, they both were a little too low spin to make the starting squad. Could be a shaft thing but that’s a test for another day.

Then we introduce this MONSTER

About a month ago I got my hands on the Movie Monster that is Epic Super Hybrid. My first reaction after hitting a few was nothing short of HOLY 💩

See the intro Video below!

This is where picking the right hybrid becomes an honest evaluation between NEED VS WANT.

As a player you have to ask yourself about what you NEED your hybrid to do, is it a distance club? A Gapping club? A get out of jail club?

In my opinion, the Epic Super Hybrid can answer a ton of these questions for your 15-30 handicaps. In that bucket, the biggest deficiency is height combined with carry distance. This is where the driver-like technology in the Epic Super Hybrid comes in handy. Imagine standing 190 yards out having to carry a bunker or a hazard and having a club that will launch out of a driver’s window AND give you the ball speed to hit the number. In many cases, hybrids do either or.

The 90+ grams of Tungsten weighting, the DEEP CG profile, and the fast face of the Epic Super Hybrid give players the ability to go up in loft and still hit the shots they need. I’ll use my Dad for example. He has a bouquet of hybrids, but more times than not I’ve seen him left with a choice. He can hit his hybrid to the number yardage wise but it won’t carry high enough to not only hit the number but it’s coming in at a trajectory that won’t allow him any chance to stop around the hole. Now with Epic, he’s getting both with the same swing. The club is doing all the work for him.

For those in the lower handicap area IE 10 or below, the Epic Super Hybrid gives players a true Fairway wood replacement. The deepness of the face makes it a great off of the peg club and launch off the floor is zero issues. This is where this club got really interesting for me. AND I can move the face around with Opti-Fit which is a HUGE benefit.

I have been a 5-wood player religiously for about 17 years. Why? Because I can hit them REALLY high and when I do I don’t lose overall distance. The Epic Super Hybrid in testing gave me the same thing all while giving me an extra few yards in carry distance. The only caveat is I would be giving up some spin but who cares lol. The ball is going so high and so far that the angle of descent takes care of any spin loss. I will continue to mess with this monster as the fall approaches but I do believe this is a legitimate game-changer for ALL players. It’s the combo of launch, across-the-face forgiveness, and ball speed that makes it such an anomaly.

So NEED VS WANT?

ALL players WANT distance, ball speed etc. But in the hybrid category, you may have to choose one or the other. If you just want a club to tee up and bomb it as far as you can that’s one thing but it’s also leaving meat on the table. The same can be said for a club that just goes up in the air easily but you make distance concessions. Take an honest look at situations where you hit your hybrid and think about every possible scenario. If you look at it honestly you will find that to shoot lower scores the NEED of a club will far outweigh the WANT.

This is why Epic Super Hybrid is so awesome, it gives you the NEEDS and the WANTS.

See what my buddies at TXG had to say:

COOL STORY BRO BUT WHAT ABOUT ME?

Ok here is the secret sauce you will need when choosing your hybrid set-up. The first thing to lockdown is the benefit. What exactly will a hybrid do for me that my irons won’t? The answer to that is fairly simple for MOST golfers, even some low handicappers. They are simply just an easier better option for a wide range of golfers. Hybrids will give you the ball speed, flight, and forgiveness that irons simply won’t. Higher handicappers (18+) should be looking at the Apex Std Hybrid because it offers the best of everything, it’s a fast, high launching, jumbo MOI machine that you will hit 90 times better than any long iron. When I say long Iron I mean that 4 and 5-iron action, not 2 or 3. At this point in the game, I don’t know why anyone would use those anymore. It’s literally leaving money on the table, would you do that if it was your money? No. The answer is no.

The Apex Pro will give better players a nice bridge from woods into the irons without worrying about the dreaded rocket ball that can occur, like I said these are for gapping not distance. Sure, higher handicappers could use a few extra yards but for lower handicappers, it’s more a way of mitigating the diminishing returns in speed and launch that most of us find when we get to the longer irons. What I mean by that is, for a good number of players there is a point as you work down your iron set where your speed plateaus. For me, It’s between 4 and 5 iron. My usual 15-yard gap gets closer to 8 or 10 because I’m not swinging the 4-iron much faster than the 5. Believe me, it’s a thing. Talk to any great fitter and they can unpack that topic for you even further.

Here the three things a Hybrid must do for any player:

  1. HIT THE PROPER GAPPING: If the 5 wood carries 220, the next hybrid needs to CARRY (not roll out) 205 for example. The gaps can tighten to about 12 yards as the clubs get shorter but as a rule of thumb, I like to gap out by 15 yards to leave some room and versatility. Why handcuff yourself.
  2. BALL MUST GO UP: If they ain’t going high and landing soft, they aren’t fit correctly. Both the Apex and Apex Pro have very LOW CG’s to get the ball up and hybrid-specific shafts are designed to help that along. No point in having a hybrid if you can’t hit it high.
  3. FIND ONE YOU HIT OUT OF THE CENTER: This is where the decision between Apex and Apex Pro gets tricky. Hybrids really shine if you can find the middle or close to it a lot of the time. Keep in mind it’s not really handicap specific either. You might be a 3 handicap that responds better to the larger footprint of the Apex Std. The flip side would be a higher handicapper that likes the look of the Apex Pro a little better and simply hits it better. There are no rules to this part of it.

Ultimately your hybrid like your favorite 3 or 5-wood has a few more responsibilities than others. It has to be a good iron replacement, emergency club, and most importantly one you can trust to keep the ball in front of you.

Give it a whirl, try some different setups, and don’t be afraid to try even higher lofts than your ego allows. We want to play good golf, not just have a cool-looking bag. 3 and 4 irons ARE cool. Do you know what’s cooler? Breaking 80:)

So where did I land?

After all that I ended up with a Godzilla Epic Super Hybrid 2H (18@17) with a Fujikura Ventus Blue 8X. I AM KILLING THIS THING.

Happy Hunting

JDub

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