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   NO. Without doubt, one product has totally dominated the golf equipment market over the last decade: hybrids or rescue clubs. The main reason hybrids have become popular is the common feeling that long irons are hard to hit.

   Sure, long irons may be harder to hit, but I don’t buy into the conspiracy theory that owning a 3-hybrid will help me break 80. Utility clubs are the rave of the golf world, but at the end of the day, double-digit handicappers like Tim Geary, are no better now than when they used to play with a good, ole-fashioned 3-iron.

   By the way, does anyone remember what a 3-iron looks like? Last year, I bought a set of Taylor-Made Burner irons and a 3-iron wasn’t even included. I was bullshit! Since when does Taylor-Made, Adams, Calloway, Cobra or Nike start telling me what I should be playing? I don’t want a hyped-up, state-of-the-art rescue club endorsed by Fred Couples or Gary McCord. Those late-night golf infomercials on The Golf Channel are designed to make you spend, not to make you better.

   Call me old school, but my golf bag has a driver, 4-metal, 3-iron through sand wedge and putter. I know why I don’t break 80. And it’s not because I don’t carry a 4-hybrid, it’s because my putting sucks.

   According to Rankmark, golf club hybrids are so popular, about 90 percent of players carry at least one in their bag. The concept is not new because clubs that were called “rescues” because they helped you get out of trouble or “bafflers” have been available in the fairway wood category for years. Much like a hybrid, rescue woods had smaller heads and sometimes rails on the bottom that helped you get through rough and sand more easily. They had the same length and basic shape as woods so they were still considered woods.

   One reason that a hybrid club is considered better than a comparable long iron is that the head design allows the center of gravity to be moved lower and further back from the face. This gets the ball up easier and at a higher angle. Based on my “demo” experience with an Adams hybrid, the best result for me came when hitting from downhill lies in the rough. Some interesting conversations that I had with many loyal utility club players, with handicaps ranging from scratch to 28, established that they all believed they hit the ball better, but most were not sure if they have improved their game.

   And isn’t golf fun when we score low and hit the ball solid?

   According to John Moynihan, our expert from Joe & Leigh’s Golf Shop in Easton, where Jim Furyk purchased a $39 putter on Sunday Sept 5 and went on to win the FedEx Cup and $11.3 million, Adams Golf and Taylor-Made debuted hybrids in the 1990s. The product was so overwhelmingly popular that within four years every major golf manufacturer followed up with a new line of rescue clubs and utility clubs of their own. Nothings breeds copycats and huge profit margins like a successful golf product, especially without gimmicks.   

   “Hybrid clubs continue to be in demand because they allow players to hit the ball easier, getting it in the air quicker and to get more distance,” said Moynihan, who has been in the golf business 24 years. “Hybrids have revolutionized the golf equipment industry because every golf manufacturer produces several varieties, and every season it is a club with very high demand. The clubs typically retail from $99 to $199 and most players would consider it an investment in their game, because it makes the game easier and more enjoyable.”

   Moynihan also explained that the 2-hybrid is typically 17 degrees and would match up with the 2-iron loft. The 3-hybrid corresponds to the 3-iron with 21 degree loft, and so forth, with the 6-hybrid offering 28 degree loft. Got it?

   I just don’t see actual results in players employing hybrid clubs. Most are convinced they are able to hit better shots, with better control, accuracy and distance, which are a wonderful recipe. The best advice I can share to dramatically improve your game: invest time and money to purchase a putter, which is the most important club in your bag. Next time out, work on improving your course management. And, the #1 way to improve, get a damn lesson from a pro!    

 

(Tom Gorman, a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, International Network of Golf and Golf Travel Writers of America, is a Boston-based freelance golf writer.)

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