Hybrids Test 2015

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This year's crop are the most versatile ever, blending escapology with tee-box power and towering fairway flight. But which does them all that little bit better?

Rooted in its ability to trounce irons from cuppy lies, the hybrid has evolved to become a lot more than an escape artist. When clubmakers reached the driver's legal limits, their focus shifted to fairway woods and hybrids. The good news for us is that many driver technologies – like adjustability, variable face thickness, and optimised CG positioning – enjoy increasing presence in the latest hybrid heads. The modern utility doesn't just get you out of a hole – it gets you much further down one. And we've put 16 of the latest models to the test, to see how well they do it.

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  Our panel of testers

James

James Ridyard

Handicap: Pro
Club speed: 103.7
Hybrid: TaylorMade Rescue TP 19o

Duncan

Duncan Lennard

Handicap: 7
Club speed: 93.4
Hybrid: Ping G25 20o

Matt

Matt Leader

Handicap: 8
Club speed: 103.2
Hybrid: Adams Pro Mini 20o

David

David Simmons

Handicap: 14
Club speed: 81.1
Hybrid: Titleist 915h 24o


 

  How We Tested The 16 Hybrids

Their very versatility makes hybrids tough to rank; how do you rate a hybrid whose design prioritises escape against another that champions power? As a consequence our hybrids test for 2015 delivers relevant performance information – gleaned from painstaking TrackMan launch monitor data-gathering – alongside our usual testing protocols.

  • Information includes launch angles, peak heights, descent angles and carry distance for each club. One of the traditional values of the hybrid – if you can use “traditional” to describe such a modern genre – is easier launch and a steeper, green-holding descent when compared to the equivalent long iron. Those values, then, will help you determine which hybrid on test offers the trajectory you’re looking for. Launch monitor TrackMan is capable of measuring all of these aspects, and shots hit by our resident expert pro James Ridyard were used to create a benchmark reading for each club. However, the range of lofts supplied – allied to the various design goals – means these figures cannot be used to assess comparative performance. The figures are for information only.
  • Our Testing protocols include distance consistency, looks, feel/sound, forgiveness and versatility. While a club’s overall distance cannot be compared, its ability to group balls certainly can; and given the hybrid’s role in hitting greens from distance, or producing accurate lay-ups, distance consistency is a vital performance parameter. We assessed distance consistency by taking a standard deviation reading for five solid shots hit with each club. This figure was used to create a mark out of 10.
  • Elsewhere our protocols of looks, feel, forgiveness and versatility were assessed by James, equipment editor Duncan Lennard, and TG readers Matt Leader (8hcp) and David Simmons (14hcp). The versatility figure was a blend of shots struck from range mat, low tee and light rough. These views are by definition subjective – Matt and Duncan favour versatility, David power and James control – but their feedback lends an important personal aspect to the testing process.  
  • In each category, marks out of 10 were awarded by all four testers, and averaged to create a final mark. These five figures were then averaged out again to create a final ranking, once more out of 10. 

 

  Who Took Part

We asked golf's major brands to submit their latest hybrid in lofts as close as possible to 20º, and in stiff and regular flexes. We also asked them to submit the better-player versions of that hybrid, if they produced one. Sixteen brands sent in this equipment for our team to trial.

Hybrids Test

 

 The Results

Yonex

Yonex Z Force

Progen

Progen Chromo


Benross

Benross Hot Speed 2


Wilson

Wilson Staff D200

John Letters

John Letters TR47


Tour Edge

Tour Edge Exotics E8 


Nike

Nike Vapor Speed/Flex

Mizuno

Mizuno JPX850


Callaway

Callaway XR/XR Pro


TaylorMade

TaylorMade AeroBurner/TP

Titleist

Titleist 915H/HD


Bridgestone

Bridgestone J15HY


Srixon

Srixon ZH45

Cobra

Cobra Fly Z/ Fly Z XL


Adams

Adams Blue

Ping

Ping G30


 

 

 

  Four things we learned

How lie and shaft length affect hybrid performance!

Consider the lie angle
Some clubs on test sat more toe-high (upright) than others. The typically forgiving sole cambers mean there is little chance of the heel digging in these cases, but upright lies effectively close the face, promoting shots to the left. This is not too bad a thing for slicers, as it will help them start the ball a little further left; but it is certainly something you should consider when buying. 

Opt for a playing test
The modern hybrid can be used from tee, fairway, rough and even sand. Because of this, a few swats from a mat is not asking enough questions of the club’s performance. Wherever possible, try to book a playing test with a sample, during which you can put the club through its paces in all those scenarios. Three of our testers admitted to changing their preferences regularly through the testing process, based on the club’s performance in each situation.

Focus on distance gapping, not distance itself
While a powerful strike is an important attribute for the hybrid – it is after all a distance club – a very powerful model is of limited use to you if it flies the same distance as your 3-wood. Effective hybrid choice is a question of picking a club or clubs that neatly fill the distance gaps between your longest iron and shortest wood. You will make your soundest buying decision when you know how far you hit those two clubs. A launch monitor-based session with a pro is the best way forward. 

Shaft length and head size
Most clubs on test were around the 40in mark, but the longest club was about 2in longer than the shortest. Our testers typically created more clubhead speed with the longer-shafted clubs, as you might expect, but without any major drop-off in consistency, which you might not. This suggests the forgiveness attributes of hybrids can happily compensate for slightly longer shafts. Longer shafts, though, can make the head look a little smaller – an illusion our testers succumbed to once or twice, and worth taking into account.

Hybrids Test

 

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