Panel test: Hybrids

Three panelists, five hybrid clubs - which will they favour?

Fri, 7 Mar 2008

Panel test: Hybrids

In a new monthly equipment feature, a panel of three Golf Magic members get to try out five new clubs on the market and provide their no-holds-barred opinions.
This month our fearless threesome tackles a quintet of new hybrids, but will they be so forgiving as the clubs claim to be?

The panelists (Left to right)

Mark Clements
Handicap: 14
Home Club: Langdon Hills, Essex

Steve White
Handicap: 15
Home Club: Coombe Wood, Surrey

Tim Plumtree
Handicap: 17
Home Club: Slinfold Park, West Sussex

Wilson Staff FYbrid FY
Contact:Wilson Staff
Loft:19.5 degrees
Shaft Flex:Regular
Price: £109

They say: There are six clubs in Wilson Staff’s FYbrid range of fairway utilities. They are the FY 3W (15), FY 5W (18) FY (19.5) 3H (21), 4H (24 and 5H (27). The FY (19.5) has a 41-inch shaft and is designed to sit between a 5-wood and a 3-hybrid and replace three clubs: the 2-iron, the 2-hybrid and the 7-wood. Each club features a sole plate with heel, toe and central bars, which creates a rail system that prevents the club from bouncing at impact. Comes with UST V2 graphite shaft as standard.

Mark says: “Looked and played more like a fairway wood. I found it easy to hit off the tee, but far less successful off the deck. It didn’t seem the most forgiving of the bunch.”

Tim says: “I didn’t particularly like the look of this, and in contrast to Mark, I found it quite tough to hit it off the tee. Conversely it was much more effective off the ground. Sounds solid off the clubface and gets plenty of yardage.”

Steve says: “I took an instant dislike to the pear-shaped head, which was rather bulbous and more reminsicent a fairway wood, but then I guess that is the concept of this range. I’d prefer one or the other and its design created an uncertainty in my mind about how to hit it. I would prefer to carry on using my Wilson 7-wood, which went just as far.”

Nike SQ Sumo2 hybrid
Contact:Nike Golf
Loft:19 degrees
Shaft Flex: Regular
Price: £130

They say: Featuring a square head design, the Sumo2 offers generous offset and extreme perimeter weighting to deliver the highest moment of inertia on a hybrid. Designed to produce high launching, soft landing shots, the head features a Hot Cryo Steel Face, which is thicker in the middle and gets progressively thinner at the edges. PowerBow Weighting sees weight placed low and to the perimeter — to produce a forgiving and stable head at impact.

Mark says: “Once I’d got used to the head shape, I managed to get some good results with this off the tee, but found it wanting when it came to getting it airborne off the fairway. I liked the matt finish to the head, but somehow expected more from this club, given its high price tag.”

Nike SQ Sumo2 hybrid

Tim says: “Not the look I want to see from a hybrid, whatever its design capabilities. However, the low profile head gave me confidence to make clean contact off the fairway. With the slightly offset head I found I was getting a good draw with this, but found it hard to hit it dead straight when I wanted to. One of the longest clubs we tested, and worked equally well from the tee.”

Steve says: “The large, square head gave it the look of a fairway wood, rather than a hybrid, and I wouldn’t be confident using it out of the rough. The shaft was also longer than some of the others, which made it harder to control. I liked the alignment aids on the crown and the clubface and I hit this very well off the tee, with a nice drawing ball flight and good distance. The ball flight was too low when hit off the ground, but this is one of the least lofted hybrids in the range, so perhaps that’s to be expected.”

Cleveland XLS Hybrid
Loft:19 degrees
Shaft Flex: Regular
Price: £109
They say:The Cleveland HiBore XLS Hybrid features a blunt toe and symmetrical shape. Its increased offset promotes a square face at impact, helping to prevent slices and offering greater directional and trajectory control. Available with Fujikura’s Fit-On M Red and Gold shaft fitting system offered as a standard option. This unique fitting system allows each player to determine if a Tour Trajectory (Red) or Standard Trajectory (Gold) is right for their particular game.

Mark says:"I hit this well off all lies, with a nice high ball flight and plenty of yardage. The concave shape to the crown is novel, but I liked the grip with its hand placement lines. This is the one I’d spend my money on."

.Tim says: “Felt really comfortable in my hands, and I liked to overall look of the head, with its matt finish and rounded toe. It worked best for me off the tee, with plenty of height and good distance, although it sounded a little dull off the clubface.”

Cleveland XLS Hybrid

Steve says: “I liked the compactness of the head, although the sole design is a little too fussy. I got plenty of distance off the tee, and found it by far the easiest of the clubs to hit off the ground. Forgiving and long, it was a clear winner for me.”

Srixon AD Hybrid
Loft:19.5 degrees
Shaft Flex: Regular

They say: The AD Hybrid utility woods feature an ‘Autoturn’ design, which incorporates a tungsten nickel weight to lower the centre of gravity. The centre of gravity in the higher lofts is placed towards the heel and moves progressively towards the toe in the lower lofts for more accuracy and optimised trajectory. They are available in 3 (18), 4 (21), and 5 (24) lofts, with SV-3000 graphite or True Temper Dynalite steel shafts.

Mark says: “It felt slightly heavier than some of the other models, and the longer face width was noticeable. I hit it well off the grass, but it came up shorter off the tee than its rivals. I wasn’t impressed with the Lamkin Crossline grip.”

Srixon AD Hybrid

Tim says: “Slightly open face at address and clean design inspired confidence and I hit this very sweetly off the tee and the grass, with a medium-to high ball flight, plenty of length and a gentle draw. Can’t ask for much more than that, and it’s my No.1 choice.”

Steve says: “A more traditional hybrid shape, with an iron-look to the crown with a wood strapped on the back. The face appeared much longer (ie wider) than the others, which although made it more forgiving, looked less compact.”

Ping G10 hybrid
Loft:18 degrees
Shaft Flex: Regular
Price: £129

They say: The G10 hybrid features a sloped crown to create a high-launching, solid feeling, versatile alternative to mid and long irons. Discretionary weight from the crown and face is combined into a weight pad running parallel to the ground that positions the centre of gravity low and back to increase launch angle and reduce spin. The variable face thickness design is plasma welded for higher ball velocity and a consistent response across the hitting area. The sole design is tapered and the bounce height is increased in the higher lofted hybrids to provide added performance. Available in 15, 18, 21, 24, 28 and 32-degree lofts to replace 4-9 woods and 1-6 irons.

Mark says: “This looked most like a traditional hybrid, with the head giving the impression of an iron from the top. I hit it longer than the others off both the tee and the deck, but found it difficult to shape any shots. It was very straight and more forgiving than my 3 and 4-irons, but I struggled with it out of the rough.”

Ping G10 hybrid

Tim says: “I repeatedly tried to hit this off the ground, but whatever I did failed to hit it sweetly. On the rare occasions when I found the sweet spot it went a good distance, and the ball flight was fairly penetrating. Off the tee it was a different club altogether and I found I couldn’t miss, with shots flying long and straight. A real Jekyll and Hyde performer for me.”

Steve says: “I wasn’t a big fan of the glossy head, but I liked the sloping crown and it felt nice and heavy and gave the impression that it packed a punch. This was certainly the case on the range, with balls flying long and straight on a medium trajectory.”

The Golfmagic Verdict
Favourite:Cleveland XLS Hybrid
Cleveland’s XLS Hybrid came out on top with both Mark and Steve, with the Srixon AD winning Tim’s heart. Both offer traditional hybrid looks with more compact heads. The square-shaped Nike Sumo2 was a popular second choice, but more for its prowess off the tee, than its performance off the deck.

When looking for a hybrid it’s clearly important to test it from all sorts of lies, and see that it works well off the tee, the fairway and from the rough. You also need to work out what club you are trying to replace, be it long irons or lofted fairway woods, as the varying designs will appeal to different elements of your game.

Our thanks to The London Club in Kent for use of the range and the International Course. The club will be hosting the European Open on its Jack Nicklaus-designed Heritage Course from July 3-6, where defending champion Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke and a host of international stars will be taking part in this prestigious European Tour event. For tickets call 0800 023 2557 or email your interest to For details on booking a tee time at The London Club visit.

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