Christmas is just round the corner, and if you have a golfer in your life whom you wish to gift a present that they will be overjoyed to have, and one by which they will remember you by every week, I will tell you exactly which one to buy for them.
The announcement that made waves among golf gearheads in January 2020 about Irelands leading golfer Rory McIlroy adding a hybrid golf club to his bag may have passed by some of our golfers because Kenyans know it by another name: a Rescue.
Whether by misinformation, indoctrination or just simple ignorance, the name Rescue has stuck. It’s a Hybrid, folks.
The hybrid utility club is the ultimate confidence booster for long shots, especially for the less strong men, youth and ladies.
You may have noticed an LPGA play off earlier this year on a long Par-3, where the three ladies all went at it with hybrids.
Don’t be misled by the name hybrid into thinking that there is now a golf club that runs on gasoline and electricity! Blood and ugali maybe: you still need to pump that club.
In golf, hybrid refers to a golf club that looks partly like a traditional metal wood, and partly like a long iron.
From the top and behind upon setup, the head is and looks distinctly smaller than for a wood, but then again, from the front it looks like an iron. In fact, more like a driving iron, only that the heavy solid back of a solid driving iron is now hollow.
The Hybrid looks more like a wood than an iron and should not be confused with a Utility iron, which looks the exact opposite.
Various golf manufacturers had toyed around with the idea of building a golf club that combined the ease of play and long distance of a wood, with the consistency and accuracy of an iron, among them the Cleveland Baffler.
But it was not until the turn of the century when hybrids cane into vogue. The game changer was Taylormade who took the game to the next level with introduction of the now-famous “rescue” club in the late 1990s.
And that is why the name Rescue stuck, due to the fast take up of Taylormade products who were the market leaders in sale of drivers and woods then.
So why have these leading golfers suddenly switched to hybrid clubs? In simple terms: reality, age and acceptance.
As age catches up, you may no longer be able to lift the same weights at the gym, or keep up the same pace on the track.
Beyond a certain age, the human body needs help if it is to perform to the same level as the yesteryears.
Suddenly, protein supplements, more cups of java, and even the little blue pill become very handy, but hopefully not steroids! Barry Bonds may not agree with the last one, but I digress, you get the point.
The golf set from a hundred years ago comprised of a persimmon driver, one or two persimmon woods, and a whole bunch of scary looking iron blades. The long irons were very difficult to hit, a fact that still remains the same today.
The introduction of metal woods saw players replacing their long irons with metal woods. Thus, the typical golf set in the last fifty years had a driver, 3-wood and 5-wood.
Golfers who had problems getting their 3 and 4-irons up, soon discovered they joy of replacing them with 7 and 9-woods. And right there is where Machismo has messed golf for a lot of our amateurs.
Because women are physically less strong than words; note my words, I did not say weaker, they adopted these high number woods faster than men golfers.
That gave rise to the reference to 7 and 9-woods as Women’s clubs and Macho men would not be seen dead with one in the bag.
How unfortunate! Actually, pretty dumb. A high handicapper has zero hope of hitting a target beyond 180-yards with a 3-iron.
A mid-handicapper, probably twice out of ten attempts.
It is simply not easy to carry that distance. The ball just won’t fly and it does, it will veer to the right pretty fast, the dreaded, slice. So why play with such poor odds?
Savvy golfers carry a 7-wood. Vijay Singh carries a 9-wood with which he literally ripped flags out of the hole from 200 yards.
Some better golfers gave the excuse that these high lofted woods flew the ball too high, something you don’t want in high winds. They had a point.
If you have a 3- or 4-iron in your bag, and your handicap is not in the lower single digits, dude, you have been shooting yourself in the foot all your life!
Lucky for you, hybrid clubs have come to your rescue, for real. A rescue combines the long distance and ease of getting the ball up that a wood provides, with the accuracy of an iron.
The commonest lofts available are 18, 21 and 24 degrees for Hybrid numbers 2, 3 and 4.
For those who have lost trust in their 3 and 5 woods, 14 and 16 degree hybrid options are also available. The 27 degree number 5 rescue is popular with the ladies.
All major golf manufacturers now make hybrids. In the early 2000s, Callaway had a big hit with the Heavenwood, while Taylormade’s Rescue has now gone through several upgrades.
Hybrid clubs are changing the concept of what the contents your 14 clubs in the bag should be.
For starters, a number of leading manufacturers no longer sell 3- and 4-iron as part of the iron set.
A growing trend in composition of Combo sets is replacement of the 5 wood and 3, 4 and 5-irons with hybrid clubs.
Leading the way in that trend is Adams golf. Their Adams Idea A2 to A7 series of hybrids resuscitated this once-dying brand back into the black.
A major advantage of hybrids is their ease of play when the ball is sitting in semi rough. The heavier weight of the head compared to a regular wood makes it easy to slide the club head through the rough; the ball might as well be sitting on the fairway.
The Hybrids on offer in 2020 are works of art and science. They have all the modern features of today’s super driver club.
They are perimeter weighted for stability, have adjustable lofts, adjustable weight for draw or fade, easy glide rails on the sole and tungsten weights at the bottom for a low CG.
The top 2020 offerings include The Titleist TS and 818H and Mizuno CLK hybrids.
Callaway claim that their newly launched SuperHybrid is as strong as a regular wood but still gives you the same distance without sacrificing accuracy.
The one lingering question is, which is the correct way to hit, or even set up to play a hybrid? We know that a wood is played with a sweeping motion while an iron is hit down. Now, what?
Worry not, yee of little faith. The trick is to set up and hit down as if you are playing your 5-iron. That is the secret.
With a hybrid in the bag, you may not have to worry about the ball not sitting in the short grass. You now have no excuse for not hitting that green in two from 200 yards.
LipOuts: When buying a golf club for a golfer, it is very important to check the flex of the clubs they play, otherwise you may get them a club they will never play. The flex will be either Regular, Stiff, Senior or Lady’s Flex. [email protected] @pigamingi1