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What really makes a hybrid?  Is it an iron or fairway wood?  When they first came out, they were a bit odd looking, like a cigar on a stick. I understand the concept, being able to locate the center of gravity further back and lower, creating an ability to get the ball up fast e.t.c.   Jesse Ortiz, decided to go the other way in his latest hybrid designs for Bobby Jones.  I can not really tell the difference between them and fairway woods. So what makes them a hybrid?  Perhaps, shorter shaft? Weighting? Another thing that makes Ortiz's different, is the curved sole plate and inverted runners. They are much like the fairway "bafflers".  I don't know...just a muse I suppose.  In any event, I really like what he has done.

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First of all a bit of history. Hybrid-type clubs didn't suddenly emerge in the early 2000s. The forerunner was the Bulldog,  a hickory-era club with about 30* loft, a small face about two

HickoryBulldog.jpggolfballs wide, and a short shaft.

During the 1970s came the arrival of trouble clubs, which looked like FWs but had higher lofts and sole configurations designed to cut through rough. The Stan Ginty.jpgThompson v-sole Ginty was a more famous one. Also, the first-generation TaylorMade Raylors has sole rails to help flush balls out of the rough in the 1990s.

Then, hybrids came on strong starting about 2005. At the 2004 U.S. Senior Open in St. Louis, most of the seniors were still playing 5Ws and 7Ws.

Cobra Bafflers and TaylorMade Rescues were early hybrid entries. As per @mvmac, Rescue was merely the TM name for its early hybrids; we could possibly call these traditional hybrids - with shaft lengths between long irons and FWs - as compared to Iron-Replacement Hybrids, which had loft and shaft lengths matching equivalent irons of a particular model.

Hybrid Head Design

V4hybrid.jpgAdams V4 hybrid (right) next to VR iron.

Some people complain that hybrids are a hook machine. This has to do in part with the head design. Lots of standard hybrids have a draw bias in the head, whereas those tagged Pro or Tour have a square face or may be slightly open. Some hybrids, such as the TM M1, have head weights which can be adjusted to either neutral or fade bias. Also, the Pro or Tour hybrids tend to launch the ball lower than standard hybrids, due to COG positioning.

And, don't forget the shaft. Lots of variety for flexes and weights.

Counterattack of the FWs

But not all golfers want lots of hybrids. Some do better with higher-lofted FWs, a back-to-the-future move by the manufacturers. Back about 2000, Callaway made FWs in the 7, 9 and 11-wood range. Early return to the high-loft offerings include the Callaway RazrX Black FWs (2012; up to 11W), continuing through XR16; most manufacturers joined in and offer up to 7W for their GI fairways.

Other Tidbits

Here's a short history of hybrids and bafflers from Golf.

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(edited)

@WUTiger Very interesting! Thanks for the insight. I have seen and used some of those years ago, I just did not know what they were other than what they were called at the time like for example the "Ginty".  It does not surprize me that Jesse Ortiz is making good on his "back to the future" marketing. I have seen people with an entire bag full of woods, long before they were called hybrids. I am sure there are some subtle differences in the Jesse Ortiz's and the older high loft woods. I have yet to read your link above, but will do so now.

Thanks again!

footnote: a lot of techno explanation such as M.O.I.and C.O.R. come into play here. Tom Wishon has published a few articles which were quite interesting in that regard.

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23 hours ago, Hacker James said:

What really makes a hybrid?  Is it an iron or fairway wood?  When they first came out, they were a bit odd looking, like a cigar on a stick. I understand the concept, being able to locate the center of gravity further back and lower, creating an ability to get the ball up fast e.t.c.   Jesse Ortiz, decided to go the other way in his latest hybrid designs for Bobby Jones.  I can not really tell the difference between them and fairway woods. So what makes them a hybrid?  Perhaps, shorter shaft? Weighting? Another thing that makes Ortiz's different, is the curved sole plate and inverted runners. They are much like the fairway "bafflers".  I don't know...just a muse I suppose.  In any event, I really like what he has done.

Basically they are made to replace long irons and benefit golfers by having fairway wood like characteristics. Lower center of gravity, hotter faces, larger heads, more forgiveness. They are designed to launch higher than a typical long iron but lower than a 7 wood. Some irons are more "driving iron" like (Callaway Apex Utility) others are similar to fairway woods (Bobby Jones, TaylorMade M2) and others are in between (PING G, Callaway Apex, TaylorMade M1).

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16 minutes ago, mvmac said:

They (hybrids) are designed to launch higher than a typical long iron but lower than a 7 wood.

This is a key point. My 4H almost bumps into my 7W in yardage, but each has a different trajectory and uses. 7W really blasts the ball out of medium rough, while 4H can deliver a low hot draw when needed (er, usually). Both are versatile when hit off a tee box.  

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(edited)

@mvmac Although my OP was somewhat rhetorical and what you point out is definitely the case, I was alluding to the wide disparity in the make up of these clubs. The Bobby Jones Hybrids, especially this years model "Black", to me looks nearly identical to the higher lofted fairway woods albeit there are subtle differences.  As @WUTiger points out in his response, they have been around for a long time and have improved greatly. The technology today in explanation gives us a good scientific description as to what effects as center of gravity, hotter faces, as pointed out by you and others have on their performance. I was looking at two in my bag, one being the Calloway Diablo Edge 4H ,the other the newly acquired Bobby Jones. they are quite different in appearance. For me, the Bobby Jones is much easier to hit consistently well.

9 minutes ago, WUTiger said:

This is a key point. My 4H almost bumps into my 7W in yardage, but each has a different trajectory and uses. 7W really blasts the ball out of medium rough, while 4H can deliver a low hot draw when needed (er, usually). Both are versatile when hit off a tee box.  

Yes, that too...I carry a Ben Hogan Speed Slot 5W and I use it frequently on longer approaches in lieu of the metal 3W. I just feel more confident with it, and I prefer a smaller head size. Some argue that the larger heads are more forgiving, while that is true, I would also argue that with the smaller head size, there is less margin for error, you either learn to hit it well, or miss altogether (slight exaggeration).

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