Should you consider a hybrid iron?

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Hybrid irons are built to be both powerful and incredibly forgiving, yet there still remains a stigma around them.  Is it time to put that all aside and try one?

Like it or not ego regularly plays a role in every purchasing decisions we make.

Whether we’re choosing a new car, smart phone or set of irons our perception of how that potential product will make us look or feel goes a long way to determining whether we buy it... or not.

Take hybrid irons for example. Very few sets are purchased each year despite the fact that they are extremely powerful and incredibly forgiving. The explanation for the lack of sales is, quite simply, ego. In many people's eyes, hybrid-irons label you as an ‘average’ golfer at best. And nobody wants that label, despite - or perhaps beacuse of - the fact that tyhe average club golfer's handicap remains above 20.

While most amateurs and many tour pros have embraced and accepted hybrids as valuable alternatives to long irons, they find the thought of using, say a hybrid 8-iron unpalatable. The stigma has run so deep that only one major brand (Cleveland, with its Launcher HB Turbo) has been willing to go out on a limb and tell the world hybrid-irons are faster, more forgiving and essentially more fun to use,

But thats about to change. Next year three brands will have a crack at unlocking the potentially lucrative hybrid-iron market. Cobra's T-Rail, Wilson's Launch Pad and the Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo promise to help ordinary golfers play better and have more fun. 

How much more forgiving are hybrid-irons?

Wilson Launch Pad iron

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New models, new thinking

Hybrid-irons have largely failed to catch the attention of regular golfers because the whole set look like typical hybrids. While golfers are comfortable hitting hybrids from the tee and turf on longer shots, the idea of hitting a 9- or 8- hybrid to a tucked pin doesn’t sit well with many.

The new breed of hybrid irons though is much more cleverly designed (with blacked out crowns and top lines that look like an iron) to disguise the extra body size, and shaped more towards what’s expected of an iron. And if you can turn a blind eye to the cosmetics and leave your ego at the fitting room door, you like us might well be surprised by the performance on offer.     

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How much better are hybrid-irons?

Cleveland says cavity back irons, just can’t compete against hollow bodies. They back up their thinking by saying the Launcher HB Turbo has a centre of gravity that’s 17% lower and 47% deeper than a typical cavity back iron. Which ups forgiveness and enjoyment.

Our recent test showed how from a similar loft, thanks to a more flexible face, Cleveland’s Launcher generated 3mph more ball speed than Ping’s excellent game improving G410 model. And when it comes to forgiveness Wilson reckon the Launch Pad increases MOI by 3- 4% even over their game improving D7 irons.

Wilson and Cobra both talk about refined sole geometries which improve turf interaction and help prevent digging. Wilson go as far as saying the Launch Pad reduces fat shots by 75%, which adds 4.8 mph of ball speed and 10 yards of carry on heavy hits, which if we’re honest are common amongst club golfers.    

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Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo iron

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Who benefits most from modern hybrid-irons?

It’s no secret the average age of golfers is creeping up year on year. And research shows golfers lose on average 0.5 mph of club speed each year over the age of 60. All three new hybrid irons target lightweight performance, making them ideal for golfers who’ve lost speed and/or distance.

Each set also brings together extra stability and forgiveness attributes, over cavity back irons that beginners, average golfers and super game improvers would find beneficial in terms of scoring and enjoyment.

Once you understand modern hybrid-irons have also been developed to aid ball striking, you soon realise the potential target audience is enormous.

Cobra T-Rail iron