High-Lofted Fairway Metals vs. Hybrids

From the Miles of Golf Club Fitting Staff

One of the most common issues in golf is the inability to hit lower lofted irons consistently, with a high enough trajectory to stop the ball on a green or near a desired target. The solution to this problem can usually be found in some sort of hybrid iron or high lofted fairway metal. These types of clubs are much more forgiving and will produce a higher ball flight compared to an iron with the same amount of loft. But which one should you play?

Both high lofted fairway metals and hybrids can act as a good replacement for lower lofted irons because the head shape has a larger overall surface area and the shafts are longer in length than a conventional iron. This larger head shape helps with forgiveness and higher overall trajectory by shifting the center of gravity or “CG” of a club head farther away from the club face. As the distance between the club face and the CG of a club head increases, so does forgiveness, launch angle, and spin rate. Because trajectory is a product of launch angle, spin rate, and ball speed, using a club with rear placed CG, like a hybrid or fairway metal, produces a higher launch angle and increased spin rate, while the added shaft length can help improve club head speed, hopefully translating into more ball speed. Furthermore, the added forgiveness can provide more consistency, and the higher trajectory increases stopping power from longer distances.

There are differences between fairway metals and hybrids as well. The first being versatility. A hybrid typically has a slightly smaller head than a fairway metal. This smaller head allows the club head to travel through long and thick grass more easily. Hybrids also have shorter shafts than fairway metals, which can offer more control and accuracy. In contrast, the longer shaft of a fairway metal makes it easier to generate more club head speed than a hybrid. However, the larger head shape makes these clubs better suited for shots from shorter grass or off the tee. Another main difference between fairway metals and hybrids is the aforementioned CG placement. The larger head of a fairway metal places CG even farther back than a hybrid. Once again, leading to more forgiveness, higher launch and increased spin rate. Even though these might not be quite as versatile as hybrids, they are great for producing high trajectory shots that land soft. 

When deciding on which type of clubs to put in your bag, it’s important to consider your individual game and style of play. Most players carry a combination of irons, hybrids, and fairway metals, but the mix can vary. If you are looking for a lower, more penetrating ball flight, a low lofted iron might be in your best interest. However, if you would like to add some forgiveness, versatility, and higher trajectory to your long distance shots, a hybrid could be the answer. If you need to add even more height and forgiveness to your long game, a high lofted fairway should be the answer.  Most importantly, find the right club that fits your individual needs and helps you play better golf. 

Good Manners in the Bunker

When you see your ball bound into a bunker you know your round just got a little tougher.  And what’s a player to do, but shake off dejection and bound into the bunker too.  Just don’t shake off the etiquette.  Be thoughtful and fair to other players and maintain pace of play.  Here are 10 tips just for the sand.
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  • Before you go into bunker, pick appropriate club, visualize your shot and take your practice swing in the grass.
  • Enter at low point near your ball. Protect those fragile, high-maintenance bunker faces.
  • Don’t touch sand with club or rake to test conditions. This isn’t etiquette – it’s the rules.  (Good to know – under NEW Rules 12.2a and 12.2b, the player is now allowed to touch or move loose impediments in a bunker.  Read about that here.)
  • Take same path out of the bunker to minimize raking and time.
  • Leave no footprints behind.  Rake it back and forth, nice and smooth, and use the back of the rake too.  No ridges, please.
  • Put the rake in its place.  In Misc./2 Decision the USGA admits there’s no perfect answer for position of rakes, but recommends placing them outside the bunker.  In addition, The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America recommends that rakes outside the bunker be placed flat on the ground (tines up) and parallel to the hole’s direction of play. These guidelines seek to minimize rakes’ influence on play.  Extra etiquette points for placing rake at some distance from other rakes, saving steps for the next sand-bound soul who comes this way.
  • Some courses ask that you leave the rake inside the bunker, so pay attention.
  • Lend a hand.  Sometimes a player gets out of the bunker but is still the next to play.  She’s got to rake, dust herself off, move to her ball, size up her shot, pick her club,  all those things.  If you’re nearby, offer to rake while she prepares for her next shot.
  • Speaking of smooth moves, have you noticed the way the pro’s bang their shoes with their club after they exit a bunker?  It’s an emphatic, “I’m-out-of- there!” flourish.  Probably worth a try.
  • A matter of terminology.   You won’t find “Sand trap” in the Rules of Golf. “Bunker” is the word for it.
  • And check out the USGA video on bunker etiquette!