5-hybrid vs 5-iron? The choice is a bit more complicated than you think.
As a golfer, your club set can drastically affect your game. Not only do you need to map your bag accurately, but also handpick the clubs in it to be able to tackle all sorts of situations.
Understanding the difference between a 5 hybrid and a 5-iron here is crucial. You don’t even need to use one over the other; the 2 models can have a place in your carry bag.
Based on my decade-long practice of professional golf, I have tried and tested a wide range of clubs from different manufacturers.
In this side-by-side comparison, I’ll explore the substantial differences between the 5 hybrid and the 5-iron, who should use them, and when it’d be better to use one instead of the other.
What Is a 5-Iron?
A 5-iron is a type of golf club that features a short shaft and a small clubhead, at least when compared to wood clubs.
The number “5” refers to the relative loft angle on the clubface. An iron golf club may have any number of 1-10 to indicate the angle of the loft. The higher the number is, the higher the loft.
However, a set of irons can also differ in other features, like shaft length and size of the clubhead, which also affects the loft angle one way or another.
5 Iron Golf Club Specs
Here’s a quick overview of the specs of a 5-iron golf club:
- Use: Fairway and rough
- Average distance: 160 yards
- Loft: 27-28 degrees
- Length: 37.5″ – 38”
- Equivalent club: 11 wood
Why Use a 5 Iron?
A 5-iron is essential in the modern golfer’s set. It can be quite useful in a wide variety of situations.
Pros and Cons
These are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using a 5-iron club:
One of the top reasons golfers use 5-irons is their top-notch precision. Since 5-irons give you more control over the ball flight, precise shots at distances from 175 to 200 yards become possible. If you’re nearing scratch, a 5-iron would be even more critical.
With a 5-iron, you need to care less about distance and speed; instead, you just have to think whether you should work it left or right to get to the green.
However, the golfer must naturally have a considerable swing speed to maintain consistent height and distance relative to the golf course.
Easier Control Over Ball Flight
With a 5-iron, controlling the ball flight is much less challenging than with a hybrid, especially in windy conditions. You can easily hit the ball low or high with consistent results in most situations.
How’s that possible? Easy! It’s because putting the longer iron in the back of the stance while compressing the ball gives you better control over the ball flight. However, it’s also essential that you keep your hands forward.
Professional golfers must be able to conquer the course even in challenging weather conditions, and that’s exactly why all of them have a 5-iron in their sets.
Simpler to Work Both Ways
Working a 5-iron both ways is very easy compared to hybrids. With a hybrid, you’ll probably be conscious about the pull a hybrid would leave.
That’s not the case with a 5-iron since you can hit the ball with great force and still access the green. Accessing the pins is also easier in case of a 2-3 yard draw.
Can be Tricky to Hit at Slower Swing Speeds
One of the biggest challenges of using a 5-iron is hitting it at slower swing speeds.
If your driver swing speed is below 90 mph, chances are you’ll get poor results when using a 5-iron. You’ll be lucky to get a speed of 65-70 mph with it, and you still won’t be able to project it high enough to hold greens.
5-hybrids do a much better job at slower swing speeds.
Harder to Hit Higher and Further
5-irons are great at improving the roll, but when it comes to trajectory and distance, they don’t help much, no matter what your swing speed is.
Since modern golf courses often integrate a high level of undulation, ensuring that the ball goes high enough is a necessity to be able to hold greens.
With a 5-iron, there’s a considerable chance that you’ll miss getting a birdie putt since the ball won’t stop. So, for an uphill shot, you’d better use a hybrid club.
Not suitable for All Lies
A common problem that both beginner and professional golfers face when hitting with a 5-iron is that you can’t hit it from all lies.
Similar to the classic Adams Tight Lies of the 90s, 5-hybrid clubs can be hit from any lie, something that 5-irons lack. Not to mention, you can’t use your 5-iron out of a fairway bunker and not get disappointed.
Oh, and if you’re hitting out of the rough, you can probably relate to how tricky it can be to hit a long iron out of there. The club will most likely twist and turn through the grass. Good luck on being able to get a decent level of loft in such conditions!
What Is a 5-Hybrid?
A 5-hybrid is a golf club that combines the best features of a 5-iron and a 5-wood.
5-irons have a sleek appearance coupled with a long shaft, while a 5-wood would have a bigger footprint than the iron.
A 5-hybrid is a combination of both types of club, hence the name “hybrid.”
Why Use a 5 Hybrid?
The primary reason why golfers use 5-hybrids is the higher trajectory. The clubhead has an extra bulk, translating to a lower center of gravity. This design makes it possible to achieve a higher trajectory more consistently, especially in tricky situations.
Who Should Use a 5 Hybrid?
5-hybrids are more giving when it comes to consistency. Even if you don’t achieve a perfect hit, you’ll still be able to get a high trajectory. That’s why 5-hybrids are more suitable for beginners than 5-irons.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that 5-hybrids are exclusively used by beginners. Advanced golfers also use them when they’re hesitant about hitting the ball with a 5-iron since they’re more forgiving.
In situations when you need to hit out from a heavy rough or wet rough, a 5-hybrid can come in handy.
Who Should Use a 5-Iron?
All golfers of all levels of experience can use a 5-iron. It’s particularly useful when used out of the fairway and from the semi-rough. It can also be used out of the rough, but in all of these cases, hybrids would be “easier,” especially for beginners.
There are scenarios where it can be smarter to use a 5-iron. For instance, when you’re standing on a hill, it’d make sense to hit the ball low, which can be achieved with a 5-iron.
5 Iron vs 5 Hybrid
There are various core differences between 5-irons and 5-hybrids that include roll-out, trajectory, control, and carry distance.
However, the trajectory has a heavier weight in terms of how much both clubs differ. With a 5-iron, the trajectory will be on the lower side, allowing you to strike the ball and make it go under trees from the rough.
A 5-hybrid, on the other hand, will do the exact opposite. When you strike the ball with a 5-hybrid, it’ll go into the trees because of the higher trajectory.
So, it’d be best to use a 5-hybrid only when you need a higher trajectory, which also provides more control and stopping power. A 5-iron will just make the ball roll further, so it shouldn’t be your first choice in long approach shots.
This one is a bit tricky since club manufacturers don’t really notate the loft of each club. Instead, most manufacturers try to minimize the gap between clubs in the same set for better bag mapping.
However, it’s not uncommon for club sets to have widely distributed launch angles. In that case, you’ll just have to experiment yourself until you’re able to map your bag and get used to it.
Similar to loft angles, there’s no standardized way to determine the shaft length of a club and how it affects the variables of the shots.
However, it’s still important to take the shaft length into consideration to maintain a consistent swing. This holds true when you use a 5-iron and a 5-hybrid.
The most common shaft length for graphite and steel clubs is 38 and 37.5 inches, respectively. However, for women, the shaft length is often one inch shorter for both models.
Since 5-irons usually integrate steel clubheads, they can be quite heavy, which will consequently slow down your swing speed. As a point of reference, the swing speed of a 5-irons makes up about 80% of the driver swing speed.
On a PGA tour, you can achieve an average swing speed of 94 mph, compared to a swing speed of 79 mph on LPGA tours.
Distance and Trajectory
Distance and trajectory are where 5-irons and 5-hybrids contrast the most. Lower numbers indicate higher lofts and a shorter travel distance.
However, pinpointing an exact number for carry distance isn’t as easy as you might think since it’s affected by swing speeds.
Though, based on statistics, 5-iron shots average a carry distance between 170 and 205 yards, with an apex range of 23-31 yards, at least without taking roll into consideration. This is also highly affected by whether it’s a PGA or LPGA tour.
Since a 5-hybrid club head has a lower center of gravity, performing accurate shots with one is less complicated than a 5-iron. Many beginners prefer 5-hybrids because they can achieve more accurate and further hits with them as opposed to 5-irons.
Advanced players may also prefer to use a hybrid instead of an iron in certain scenarios. However, they mainly use it for its better accuracy, not the carry distance it can achieve.
Choosing the Right Hybrid to Replace Your Iron
A 5-hybrid can be a good replacement for your 5-iron as long as you meet certain criteria when choosing it.
As a general rule of thumb, a 24-27 degree loft hybrid is equivalent to an iron with a 27-28 degree loft.
Additionally, the difference in shaft length shouldn’t exceed more than a half-inch. Ideally, they should be the exact same length.
What to Do to Get Better?
Here are some tips that can help you take your golf game to the next level:
Set Realistic Goals for Yourself
The first thing you need to do if you want to improve at golf is to set goals. And no, I’m not talking about setting a goal like “become world champion in the next 2 years”.
What I mean is to set goals that are achievable and time-constrained, whether they’re short-term or long-term goals. Some examples of realistic goals include “get to 80% greens consistently”, and “break 90,85, and 80”.
Mix up Your Swing Techniques
As a beginner golfer, it’s essential that you try out new swing techniques until you improve your game as much as possible.
Even a little tweak in your swing technique can make a significant difference. You can, for example, adjust how you bring the club back before hitting the ball. You might also want to try to maintain a constant swing speed.
Of course, this requires months and months of practice. The more you practice swinging, the faster you’re expected to improve. Try to increase the number of shots by experimenting with some new drills.
Create and Stick to a Routine
As with any other sport, consistency and discipline are key factors to get better at golf. You need to be consistent in how you hit the ball. The best golfers have a routine that they follow every time they hit the ball.
The science behind this is something called “muscle memory.” By doing the same things you do every time before you hit the ball, you’re basically training your mind to send the same signals to your muscles to hit the ball in almost the same way every time.
Improve Your Fitness Level
“Golf isn’t a sport that requires physical strength”; wrong!
Despite what many people may think, you still need to enhance your fitness level to get better at golf.
You don’t necessarily need to put on double your body’s weight as muscle mass, but even something as casual as taking a jog every couple of days can help you boost your endurance. You don’t want to be tired by your 5th or 6th swing as it’ll affect your swing technique.
Stretches are highly recommended, too. Doing a few minutes of daily stretches for your hamstrings and back and shoulder muscles will drastically improve your flexibility and fitness.
Pay Close Attention to Your Post-Shot Pose
The way you finish your shot can be a good indicator of how good your technique is. When you hit the ball, notice whether your body is balanced and your hands are positioned forward.
Invest in the Right Equipment
Golf is one of the few games where your equipment can make a major difference.
Choosing the right equipment requires a little bit of experimentation from your side. You could try out different shaft lengths, shaft stiffness, loft angles, or clubhead types until you make your own set.
The good news is that you don’t even need to waste money on the wrong equipment since you can just visit your home club and try out the equipment for a predefined demo period before buying.
Play More Practice Rounds
Practice rounds are much less intense than real games, allowing you to focus on developing your technique.
Try to increase the number of practice rounds you do, at least in your first few years. This can make one hell of a difference in terms of performance.
To recap, there are spots for both a 5-iron and a 5-hybrid in your golf set.
As a general rule of thumb, a 5-iron should be your first choice when hitting the ball. If, for some reason, you’re uncomfortable hitting the ball with it, swapping it for a 5-hybrid would be the better way to go.
However, because of the design differences between the 2 clubs, it may take a while to get used to the hybrid if you exclusively use a 5-iron. So, while 5-hybrids are easier to use, you could achieve worse results than with a 5-iron until you get used to it.
It’s good practice to stick to the same launch angle for your 5-iron and 5-hybrid. This way, you’ll be able to maintain a narrow bag mapping distribution by keeping your hybrid within the range of your iron.