The wood vs. hybrid debate has intensified with more golfers, especially with the higher handicaps wondering whether hybrids would be better for their game than the fairway woods.
The four hybrid offers greater forgiveness with higher launch and spin and is suitable for straighter long shots on approach or off the tee. It also is easier to hit from the rough, but the 5 wood offers more distance and control but requires better swing mechanics to hit it consistently.
Let’s compare the four hybrid and 5 wood so you can determine which would be the better option for you and gain a better insight into the general differences between fairway woods and hybrids.
4 Hybrid Vs. 5 Fairway Wood – Lofts And Distance
Many golfers consider hybrids over woods because hybrids are generally easier to get airborne and straight than woods are. Before the advent of hybrids, many golfers were stuck with fairway woods to use from the fairway or off the tee, where more accurate tee shots were needed.
Hybrids are designed more like long irons than fairway woods, so the lofts on hybrids are often higher than the fairway woods they replace, and while this does sacrifice distance in most cases, it does give the golfer a higher probability of a good solid strike.
The five fairway wood has a much lower loft than the four hybrids averaging around 18 degrees against the 22-24 degrees of the four hybrid.
As a side note, the four hybrid would usually replace a four iron in your bag, and a lower lofted hybrid like the three would replace the 5 wood as they have similar lofts.
The lower loft of the five fairway wood means more distance of about 15 yards over the hybrid, a considerable difference between the two. So replacing a 5 wood with the four hybrids would leave a gap in your yardages in the longer clubs as they do not go the same distance.
But, if the focus is more on accuracy than distance and keeping the ball in play or getting it back into play more consistently and confidently from the rough, then the four hybrid would be the choice.
This is where you need to know your game and what results you are looking to achieve overall with your game before choosing either the five fairway wood or the four hybrids, but we will look at this in a little more detail later on.
Hybrid vs Fairway Woods – Accuracy And Control
One of the primary reasons the hybrids are finding so much favor is because they offer the average golfer or those with slower swing speeds like ladies and seniors a viable option for more consistent ball striking, accuracy, and distance with long clubs.
In the past, many golfers have struggled to hit the three and four iron and the three and 5 woods off the deck or from the tee which gave them the lowest fairway hit percentage as they haven’t offered much in the way of forgiveness.
Off-center hits or swing flaws were amplified by the small sweet spots of the woods and long irons and resulted in slices and hooks, leading to lost shots and trepidation when faced with using long clubs on the course.
The hybrid golf clubs longer and broader club face and the more prominent sweet spot made these clubs easier to hit and get good yardage and accuracy, whether with tee shots, from the fairway, and especially from the rough.
The lower CG club head means the ball gets into the air that much easier and will deliver straighter shots more consistently, even on the off-center hits. This characteristic has excellent appeal for golfers who prefer being shorter in play than longer in the rough.
Many low and mid-handicap players opt for the five fairway wood as it gives them the distance they need and good accuracy, but its lower trajectory and lower spin mean that it may hold greens less than the higher spinning hybrids.
Having said that, low and mid-handicap players generally have faster swing speeds. They can generate those higher flighted shots with greater spin needed without losing distance or accuracy.
The longer hybrids are also popular on the LPGA tour, where many players don’t have the higher swing speeds but have great swing mechanics and can achieve distance and accuracy with the hybrids.
4 Hybrid Vs. 5 Fairway Wood–Shaping Shots
Many low handicap players prefer the 5 wood because they can shape and control it better than the hybrid. So when the high fade or power draw is required, the five fairway wood does deliver better control options for these players.
The four hybrids, like most hybrids, are easier to hit the draw with but are more challenging to fade as it tends to have a slightly closed clubface to eliminate this shape with higher handicap players or those with slower swing speeds.
But the hybrid is also prone to overdraw and hooking due to its default design, so if you have a swing that tends to hook or promote a tough draw, then the four hybrid is probably not a great option.
You don’t see long hybrids being used by low-handicap players because they don’t have the shaping capabilities that the fairway woods and long irons offer. This is critical for maintaining and improving course management and individual hole strategies.
This is where you need to be clear about your game focus. So if you want to simply keep the ball in play, hit more greens from afar, and get some yardage from the rough, then the four hybrids would be better.
The five fairway wood is better if shaping control and distance are more important.
4 Hybrid Vs. 5 Wood – Playing From The Rough On The Golf Course
If you tend to find yourself playing from the first or second cut (or worse) more often than not and want something longer than a short iron to play out, the four hybrids would be an excellent choice.
While the loft is low relative to a 7-iron or 8-iron, the clubhead of the hybrid is specifically designed to provide better turf interaction and cut through rough more effectively than a 5 wood could do.
The hybrid is shaped more like an iron than a fairway wood, and this gives the clubhead a far better ability to make solid contact with the ball and get it in the air and straight than a fairway wood offers.
Using a 5 wood from the rough would be reserved for better players, and even then, they may opt for mid-irons if the ball is sitting low or the ball is in the second cut where solid contact with the shallower fairway wood face would be problematic at best.
4 Hybrid Vs. 5 Wood – Forgiveness
The club configuration of the modern golf bag has changed much over the last 40 years as the standard set was driver, fairway woods, and then 3-iron to SW. The introduction of game improvement irons saw the three-iron disappear and more wedges come into play.
Not only that, but the modern sets are usually set up with 4-iron to PW, with players adding their preferred wedges while replacing longer clubs like the 4-iron and even 5-iron with fairway woods or hybrids.
The single biggest factor driving this is that most of the golfing population in the USA and around the world playoff 16 handicaps or higher, which means that they will struggle to hit long irons effectively.
By providing clubs that have more forgiveness as the driver manufacturers have done, clubmakers have provided the mass market with clubs that give them straighter shots more consistently and the opportunity to shoot better scores.
The larger sweet spot will allow off-center hits to travel straighter with more distance than the same strike from a fairway wood will do. It is true that, like the drivers, clubmakers are providing more forgiveness with fairway woods, but they can’t match the hybrids.
If it’s forgiveness you seek on the golf course with your longer clubs, the you like other golfers prefer the four hybrids in your bag.
4 Hybrid Vs. 5 Wood – Versatility Around The Green
While talking about long clubs around the green may seem odd, many golfers have discovered the merits of using their long hybrid golf clubs for touch shots around the greens. The four hybrid does bring a greater level of versatility to the bag and offers some shot options around the greens.
Most golfers, even the pros, would not consider using their 5 wood for bump-n-run shots around the green. Still, the more lofted hybrid can act like a chipping iron, and with some practice, it can be a useful option when you need to hit these types of shots but don’t have confidence in your chipping.
Using the hybrid for these shots allows you to make a putting stroke that is the easiest of all to control, but the longer club and loft means you can get the ball in the air for a short period and then run to the hole.
The 5 wood is one application where you need more accurate long shots from the fairway or where the fairway is narrow and tighter, and a driver or three wood may not be suitable.
The hybrids bring greater versatility as they can be used off the tee, from the deck, the rough, and around the greens, opening more creative shot options for average players.
4 Hybrid Vs. 5 Wood – Who Should Use Use Them
As far as the 5 wood goes, low and mid-low handicap players would opt for the 5 wood as their swing mechanics and ball striking would be of higher quality, and they would also have higher swing speeds which are better suited to the 5 wood.
They would gain greater control and shape with the 5 wood than with the four hybrids, and the distance advantages would be considerably more significant than that of the four hybrids.
The four hybrids would be the obvious choice for seniors, ladies, and high handicap players with slower swing speeds but who want to achieve reasonable distance and straighter shots more consistently.
Remember that the hybrid can be used as a stepping stone to improve swing mechanics and ball striking, especially if you are working with a coach on these aspects of your game.
Once you have achieved some confidence and swing consistency, it may be time to look at a set of fairway woods that offers greater forgiveness but will get you more distance and control on your longer shots.
4 Hybrid Vs. 5 Wood – How To Choose Which Club For Your Bag
First off is your swing speed. If you haven’t had your swing speed measured recently or ever, it would be good to start there. If your swing speed on your driver is 85mph or less, you will do better with the four hybrids.
The likelihood is greater that you will get the ball high and far using fairway woods with a higher swing speed while players with slower swing speeds will struggle with those long clubs.
Secondly, know what results are looking for from your game. If you play social golf and only want to be more confident and straighter on your long shots and distance is not a concern, then the hybrid would be a better choice.
But , if you want to play the game at a more competitive level and improve your handicap with more control and distance, then the 5 wood will suit that purpose better than the hybrid.
The only proper way to see what club will work for you is to select different models and brands of both clubs, take them to the range or use them on a simulator and hit ten shots with each once you have warmed up.
While the metric will tell a story, you also need to know which feels better in your hands and how the ball feels off the clubface. Regardless of the monitor data, you need to feel comfortable and confident standing over the ball with the club.
4 Hybrid vs 5 Wood Conclusion
Each of these two clubs brings different properties and options in the distance, flight, control, shaping, forgiveness, and versatility.
The four hybrid and five fairway wood have their place in the modern game, but it will be up to each individual golfer to decide which works better for them as golf is a game of how many and not how far- although we golfers may forget that at times.