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

The difference between a 5-wood, 5-hybrid, and 5-iron may seem obvious - as always in golf, though, there is a little more to it.

The (obvious) visual differences

  • The 5-iron, which could be the longest iron in your bag, is sleeker in appearance than the other two clubs.
  • The 5-wood has a bigger profile and footprint than the iron and hybrid of the same name.
  • The 5-hybrid (the clue is in the name) is the best of both worlds.

The performance differences

The 5-wood, thanks to design and technology, will hit the ball further than both the 5-hybrid and 5-iron. The more prominent face can 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 on off-centre hits.

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. This is the same theory as fairway woods, just on a smaller scale. Compared to a long iron, the forgiveness offered by a hybrid has made them very popular, with most golfers having a hybrid in their bag.

A sweetly struck 5-iron will send the ball low with substantial roll-out, while the 5-hybrid will send the ball much higher with a soft landing and minimal roll-out.

Are they interchangeable?

Fairway wood and 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 further.

Hybrids and irons: 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.

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, 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.

Can I have them all in my bag?

The answer is a resounding yes.

  • 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.

Finally, going back to that rule of thumb about the numbering of irons and hybrids, 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!

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