Differences between a 5-wood, 5-hybrid & 5-iron

Thomas Tanner
Mar 11, 2021
6 minutes
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Last updated: 29 November 2023

The a 5-wood, 5-hybrid, and 5-iron may all share the same number, but beyond that there is not too much else that is the same. They all look very different, do a different job on the golf course, designed and made from different materials, and will launch and fly with three different profiles. And because of all this, there is no reason why you cannot have two, or even all three in your golf bag. Find out which one(s) will be best for your game below.

What are the (obvious) visual differences?

The 5-wood has a bigger profile and footprint than the iron and hybrid of the same name. This larger clubhead means its built with distance in mind. A great alternative off the tee or for reaching longer holes in two shots.

The 5-wood has a bigger profile and footprint than the iron and hybrid of the same name. This larger clubhead means its built with distance in mind. A great alternative off the tee or for reaching longer holes in two shots.

The 5-hybrid (the clue is in the name) is the best of both worlds. It is smaller than the fairway wood so it can glide through longer grass easier, but bigger than the iron for easier launch and increased forgiveness.

The 5-hybrid (the clue is in the name) is the best of both worlds. It is smaller than the fairway wood so it can glide through longer grass easier, but bigger than the iron for easier launch and increased forgiveness.

The 5-iron, which could be the longest iron in your bag, is sleeker in appearance (with a narrower top line and sole) than the other two clubs. It is designed for more precision and therefore will have less forgiveness than the other two options.

The 5-iron, which could be the longest iron in your bag, is sleeker in appearance (with a narrower top line and sole) than the other two clubs. It is designed for more precision and therefore will have less forgiveness than the other two options.

The performance differences

The reason a 5-wood, 5-hybrid, and 5-iron all exist is because they're all designed to do different jobs, and therefore will perform different to one another. Below is a brief summary on how each will perform compared to the others, and which golfers are they suited for?

5-Wood

The 5-wood, thanks to design and technology, will hit the ball further than both the 5-hybrid and 5-iron. The bigger club head allows the face to flex more at impact, returning more energy to the ball for more ball speed and distance. The larger head also makes fairway woods more forgiving than irons and hybrids on off-centre hits. A 5-wood will be the longest of the three clubs, and with more length, accuracy and control of the ball can start to fall away.

Golfers who carry a 5-wood will do so because it flies a specific distance and fills the gap between their longest iron and 3-wood or driver. For a beginner, a 5-wood would not provide a big enough performance difference to warrant carrying one. Instead opt for a 5-hybrid.

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5-Hybrid

Looking at the shape of a 5-hybrid head compared to a 5-iron you'll notice extra bulk in the hybrid. This additional mass gives it a lower centre of gravity than its iron counterpart, resulting in a higher trajectory and more forgiveness. The theory is the same as fairway woods, just on a smaller scale. When comparing to a 5-wood, a 5-hybrid is smaller which allows it to cut through longer grass easier and therefore be used form a wider variety of lies - including the rough.

As they are more versatile than a 5-wood, and easier to hit than a 5-iron, a 5-hybrid is the perfect choice for a beginner. They are very popular with golfers of all levels, with many having at least one hybrid in their bag. 

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5-Iron

The main performance difference between a 5-irons and the other two clubs is that the 5-iron will be the hardest to hit and therefore should only really be in the bag of better players.

The performance specifically, although very similar in loft, a sweetly struck 5-iron will send the ball lower with more roll-out, while the 5-hybrid will send the ball much higher with a soft landing and minimal roll-out. The performance difference between a 5-iron and 5-wood is the same but the distance gap will be much wider.

Are they interchangeable?

5-Wood and 5-iron: The fact that both the iron and wood share the number 5 is nothing more than how woods and irons have always been named. They are not interchangeable; the wood will hit the ball much further.

5-Hybrid and 5-iron: At its most basic level, if you are uncomfortable hitting your 5-iron, then swapping it out for a 5-hybrid might the way forward. The trajectory, control, carry distance, and roll out can vary, but the overall distance should be similar.

5-Wood and 5-hybrid: The 5-wood and 5-hybrid are closer in visual than the other two comparisons but could not be seen as interchangeable. The hybrids will offer a blend of forgiveness and versatility, while 5-wood are designed with distance in mind. 

As a general rule of thumb, hybrids are numbered and have lofts along the same scale as irons, so a 5-hybrid will, in theory, do the same job as this 5-iron and can replace it in a set. However, you could have a 5-iron from one brand and a 5-hybrid from another and find the hybrid goes much further than the iron - or vice versa! See the table below for more details.

However, this is only a rule of thumb as there is no industry-defined standard to equate irons to hybrids. Manufacturers are anticipating golfers doing this and build irons and hybrids with specs to allow blended sets.

What are the equivalent clubs to each?

As mentioned, there is no industry standard for lofts and how they correlate to numbers on golf clubs, the table below is based on the current line up of Callaway Paradym golf clubs. If you're in any doubt most 5-woods and 5-hybrids have both the loft and number stamped on the head. Just remember the number is not directly linked to the same iron.

Which one should you have in your bag?

If, for some reason you've only got room for one of these three golf clubs, which one should you go for? 

As a beginner or game improver the decision is a simple one - go for a 5-hybrid. As we've mentioned already this is the easiest to hit and most versatile of the three options. It will also provide the biggest performance difference between the two clubs either side - a 6-iron and 3-wood.

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For better players, it will be more complex decision. Are you trying to fill a distance gap, have a club that goes a specific distance, or replace a club which you don't use that often? If you're looking to hit more par 5s in two, then a 5-wood might be the right choice, or if you want an alternative or to replace any of your long irons then a hybrid might be the right club to add to your bag. In either of these cases you'll need to try a couple of different options so why not take advantage of our 7-day trial on second-hand golf clubs and make sure you get the club you're looking for.

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Can I have them all in my bag?

The answer is a resounding yes, but knowing which club you need is important.

  • A 5-wood could be in there as an option for an easy to hit wood.
  • A 5-iron because it's part of a set of matching irons.
  • A 5-hybrid because it's easier to hit than the 5-iron from tricky situations (like hitting out the rough, or maybe a fairway bunker) while offering a different ball flight to a 5-iron.

If you did decide to have all three in your bag, as long as you've not got more than 14-clubs, the weight of your bag is not going to be a problem.

And finally, if you're stuck, and don't know where to start when buying a new 5-wood, you can start buy reading about the best fairway woods for under £100. Or jump straight in to our stock of 1000s of fairway woods using the button below. 

Shop Fairway Woods under £100   

Further reading

One of the most confusing things when assembling a set of golf clubs can surround the choice between an 18 degrees fairway wood, hybrid and/or utility iron. They may all share the same loft, but this does this mean they do the same job?

With the rise in popularity of hybrid (sometimes called utility or Rescue) woods (click here to view our guide to choosing Hybrids), deciding which fairway wood to opt for has become a little trickier - not least because the line between a fairway wood and a hybrid is often quite blurred.