It’s my belief that there’s no such thing as an across the board “better”, regardless of it being a five wood or three hybrid.
It’s all based on your ability, your economic situation, etc. Whether it’s a five wood or a three hybrid, what’s “better” for you may be “worse” for me, and vice versa. I know a thing or two about golf equipment, so trust me when I say to get the most out of anything, your primary goal is to get it fitted.
So, what’s up with the differences between a fairway wood and a hybrid?
They’re different. No shit, right? While it’s possible to find a 5w and 3h with the same loft, there will still be differences:
- Head weight. 5w’s come in approximately (“~” from here on out) 220g. 3h’s are ~240g. It’s manufacturer-dependent, but they generally don’t deviate too far from these numbers.
- Build Length. 5w’s are built to ~42″ long, whereas 3h’s are ~40″ long.
- The Shaft. Wood clubs have a hosel diameter .335″ (some are .350″, but they’re a dying breed). Hybrids are mostly .370″, with some .355″. The shafts tend to be lighter (<80 grams) for wood shafts, and heavier (>80g, or more iron-like) in hybrids. That trend, though, is becoming more blurred in today’s market.
The big “5” lets you know it’s for the five wood lol.
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Right off the bat, without any knowledge of you or your swing, there are two conclusions we can deduce:
- The 5w will be longer
- The 3h will be more accurate
The reason for that is their build qualities. The lighter, longer 5w lends itself to be swung faster, which means more distance potential… but can cause accuracy issues. The shorter, heavier 3h will mean you’ll swing a little slower, but more in control; that means more accuracy, but less distance.
But this is just a generalization. How one works for you needs to be determined by one person: you. Well, two, I suppose… club fitters are people, too!
For some golfers, even with hybrids being a part of the game for some time now, just can’t get comfortable with them. The converse is also true. As with most everything as it pertains to golf equipment, it’s a “YMMV” thing.
Your economical situation may have an impact on club choice, but it’s not that major. A brand new five wood can run up to $300 (!!!), while brand new hybrids can “only” (note the heavy sarcasm) run around $200. Thanks to places like Ebay, it’s relatively easy to find affordable clubs.
Full disclosure: I haven’t owned a 5 wood in a looooong time. I gave it away to a local place that gave clubs to underprivileged kids so they can learn the game. THAT’s truly growing the game.
Back to the article!
Where you need to be concerned is with how it’ll fit into your current set. You don’t want a large gap between your shortest wood and longest iron; that’s a lot of ground to cover with the harder-to-hit longer clubs. A nice, even spacing with a club you can use with your normal swing should be the preferred.
Put another way, you don’t want to find yourself having to decide between a 2/3 5w or trying to swing a 3h 120% of your max. Neither is a good idea.
But that’s where club fitting comes into play.
Fitting isn’t just about finding a driver off-the-rack that works OK for you that day; it’s for all clubs. It’s also about finding the specs that will work with you to get the desired outcome. That includes set makeup, as well.
The details can be endless, so I won’t go too deep into them, but it’s possible to fit you to either a 5w OR a 3h that fills the gap between your 3w and longest iron. Whether it be something like using a lighter, longer shaft in the 3h, or a shorter, heavier shaft in the 5w, or… you get the idea.
The point is, if you want to find the true “better” club when deciding between a five wood or three-hybrid, figure out which one seems more natural to you, then get it fitted.