Hybrid vs. Fairway Wood — (Distance, Loft, & Shaft Comparisons)

hybrid vs fairway wood advice from tell me more golf coaches and instructors from the pga tour

One of the most popular topics we receive questions about at TellMeMoreGolf is hybrids versus fairway woods. What are the differences between the two types of clubs? Which one should I choose for my game?

We turned to the TellMeMoreGolf experts for their guidance on the hybrid vs. fairway wood debate. They compiled this guide to talk about their differences and how to determine the best one for your swing and skill level.

hybrid vs fairway wood advice from tell me more golf coaches and instructors from the pga tour

Hybrid Distance vs. Fairway Wood Distance

The distance you can hit a hybrid will typically be less than your fairway wood.

There are several reasons why fairway woods are longer than hybrids. They typically have longer shafts, more clubhead mass, and less loft than hybrids.

For example, a #1 hybrid and a 3-wood will have lofts between 14-16 degrees, but golfers with the same swing speed will hit the 3-wood 15-20 yards longer than the #1 hybrid.

Hybrids have a higher center of gravity and loft, producing a higher launch than fairway woods.

The longer shaft and lower loft of fairway woods produce a lower launch angle and more ball speed for more penetrating ball flight and longer distances.


The best way to discover which club is best for you is to experiment with both.

The first step is to analyze your golf game and find your weaknesses.

One thing to consider is the type of swing you have. Hybrids are better if you have a more upright, steep swing because they play more like long irons. 

However, the sweeping motion required to hit fairway woods will feel more natural if you have a flatter swing.

If you need help hitting your long irons consistently and need to hit more greens in regulation, replacing them with hybrids could help your game.

On the other hand, if you struggle to hit your driver or need more carry distance, fairway woods can help fill that gap in your game.
The average golfer will probably do better leaving the fairway woods in the bag and using the chart below to replace long irons like the 2, 3, and 4 irons.


Main Differences Between The Hybrid vs. Fairway Wood

The main differences between hybrids and fairway woods are fairway woods have broader soles, longer shafts, and a larger head than hybrids. These factors combined to allow them to be hit further with a lower trajectory.

There’s a reason hybrid clubs are also called rescue clubs. Hybrids have shorter shafts and smaller club heads and are easier to hit and more forgiving on mishits than longer irons. In addition, the smaller clubhead makes them easier to hit from the rough than long irons or fairway woods.

Hybrids also tend to have more loft than fairway woods for a higher ball flight that can help approach shots stop on the green more quickly.

Both hybrids and fairway woods made by TaylorMade, Callaway, Titleist, and other companies can help golfers hit better shots than long irons due to their larger sweet spots.

Loft Comparisons

The lofts for hybrids versus fairway woods vary depending on the club. Here’s a chart to help you see the typical lofts for different hybrids and the clubs they typically replace in your bag.

#1 Hybrid: 14-16 Loft – 1 iron/3-wood

#2 Hybrid: 17-19 Loft – 2 iron/4-wood

#3 Hybrid: 19-21 Loft – 3 iron/5-wood

#4 Hybrid: 22-24 Loft – 4 iron/7-wood

#5 Hybrid: 25-27 Loft – 5 iron/9-wood

#6 Hybrid: 29-31 Loft – 6 iron/11-wood

#7 Hybrid: 32-34 Loft – 7 iron/13 wood

When looking at the loft of a fairway wood vs. a hybrid, even though they may have the same loft, you’ll hit your fairway wood longer than the hybrid due to the longer shaft and more oversized club head.

Most golf sets now come with either a three-iron or four-iron as the longest irons in a set, and as a rule, you can replace an iron with a hybrid of the same number. 

However, you might hit the same degree hybrid further on average than an iron of the same loft so consider that when you’re using a hybrid to replace your long irons.

Shaft Length Difference Between The Hybrid vs. Fairway Wood

Typically hybrids have shorter shafts than fairway woods. This is because hybrids are designed to hit a wide range of shots, and the shorter shaft length can help players with control and accuracy. The typical shaft for a hybrid shaft is around 39” for men’s clubs and 38” for women’s.

Fairway woods typically have longer shafts than hybrids because they are designed to generate more clubhead speed and distance. The average length for a fairway wood is around 42” for men’s clubs and 41” for women’s.

Both fairway woods and hybrids use graphite shafts of different flexes and weights that can also impact the balance and feel of the club. 

FAQ Section

Why Use a Hybrid?

Golfers who struggle with accuracy can turn to hybrids to replace the harder-to-hit clubs in their golf bag, like long irons or fairway woods.

A hybrid golf club combines the features of a long iron and a fairway wood. Hybrids are typically more forgiving than long irons because they are less likely to twist or end when struck off-center.

They also tend to have a shorter shaft and a more compact head than fairway woods, making them easier to hit from different lies.

Hybrids are versatile clubs that can be used for various shots during a round, like long approach shots, tight fairway shots, shots from the rough, and even fairway bunkers.

Why Use a Fairway Wood?

Fairway woods are excellent for players who struggle to hit their driver or long irons. They have a longer shaft and a larger head than irons which gives them a larger sweet spot and makes them more forgiving on off-center hits. 

This combination means players can generate more distance with a fairway wood than with an iron of the same loft.

Compared to the driver, fairway woods have smaller clubheads and shorter shafts, so they can be much easier to hit. Fairway woods are also more versatile than drivers, as you can use them from the tee, the fairway, and the rough.

Fairway woods can help golfers increase their distance and accuracy compared to long iron and driver.

What Is Better, a Fairway Wood Or Hybrid?

Both fairway woods and hybrids have their unique strengths that can make them a valuable addition to your golf bag. Finding the best choice for your game will depend on your preferences, swing type and speed, and skill level.

Fairway woods have a longer shaft and less loft than hybrids, giving them a lower, more penetrating ball flight for more distance. This lower flight can also be handy if you play in windy conditions.

Hybrids have shorter shafts, smaller heads, and more loft and can be used for all types of shots, from heavy rough to fairway bunkers. In addition, they can help launch the ball higher into the air so the golf ball will stop more quickly on approach shots.

When To Hit a Hybrid vs. Fairway Wood?

Golf is a lie-dependent game. The versatility of a hybrid, or rescue club, lets players hit shots from challenging lies like deep rough and fairway bunkers that you can’t hit a fairway wood.

Hybrids are better for high handicappers because they are more forgiving, have a high launch, and often have a draw bias which can help golfers hit the ball straighter. In addition, the higher trajectory of a hybrid is great for approach shots where players would typically have to hit a long iron to the green.

Depending on the lie, you can use fairway woods from the tee box, the fairway, and the rough. Fairway woods are an excellent choice for a mid-handicap golfer with the swing speed and skill to hit it consistently from the tee or the deck. They can help them on long par fours or going for the green in two on par 5.

Tour players rotate between hybrids and fairway woods depending on the course they are playing and the weather conditions during a round.

Conclusion: Research by Tellmemoregolf.com

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Both hybrids and fairway woods are popular on the PGA tour, and many professionals carry at least one hybrid and a fairway wood in their bag.

For the average golfer, both clubs offer many benefits. For example, golfers who need extra distance in their bag can use a 3-wood or a 5-wood off the tee without sacrificing too much distance from hitting a driver.

Golfers who need versatility and forgiveness can turn to hybrids to replace the longer irons in their bag to help them hit more greens in regulation.

Playing golf well and shooting good scores requires hitting good shots from various distances, both off the tee and on approach shots to the green. 

The best way to find out which type of club is best for your game is to experiment with both to see which you can hit better, more consistently, to help you shoot lower scores.


Patrick Corley Tell Me More Golf Instructor and Coach
Patrick Corley
From a golf scholarship to a Southern California University, to a private golf coaching career and an instructor position at a nonprofit organization, I’m here to help you get better at golf! With my 50+ years of golf experience; I bring you Tell Me More Golf. A golf coaching website that helps your game with instructional golfing content that’s ultimately geared toward making you a better golfer and having more fun!
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