Fairway Wood or Hybrid for Beginners?
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Fairway Wood or Hybrid for Beginners?

Long irons are notoriously difficult to hit for any golfer, but beginners would do best avoiding them altogether. As a replacement the most common choices are a fairway wood or hybrid.

Making the decision between these two clubs is a common quandary facing golfers. They both perform the same type of role at the top of the bag and hit the ball similar distances. So, when you are a beginner golfer what club should you choose?

This article will take a look into what the differences are between a fairway wood and a hybrid, plus hopefully help you make a decision as to which club will suit you better.

What is the difference between a fairway wood and a hybrid?

A fairway wood has a larger rounder club head than a hybrid. The hybrid was designed to fit halfway between an iron and a fairway wood, which is immediately obvious when looking at the shape.

In terms of construction both clubs share many similarities in the materials and technology used. They are made mainly from either steel or titanium with the use of other composite materials. Whether it is a fairway wood or a hybrid, beginner golfers should also be looking for game improvement technology that offers easy launching and maximum forgiveness for mishits.

They will both have graphite shafts, but hybrid shafts are normally shorter. This is because a hybrid is designed to be swung more like an iron, with a steeper swing. 

Is a fairway wood or hybrid more suitable for a beginner?

Every golfer is different, so there is no simple correct answer for all beginners. In general though, hybrids are considered to be an easier to hit option for most golfers.

A shorter shaft and higher loft of a hybrid allows for more control and accuracy. As it is swung with the same technique as an iron many beginners can find this simpler to understand. The more compact head shapes are designed for better turf interaction and cut through the rough easier to allow for simpler use from various lies. 

There will be some beginners that prefer the larger club head size of a fairway wood. For golfers completely new to the game it can inspire more confidence when hitting a shot and it makes the sweet spot a bit bigger. The club head size and longer shaft also help to generate more club head speed, which can make it easier to hit the ball higher and further. The downside is this can result in more wayward shots, especially as beginner golfers can struggle with consistency striking the ball. 

The difficulty with fairway woods for many beginners is that they require more club head speed when hitting from the ground. With a slower swing speed it can be hard to generate enough ball speed to launch the ball. Beginners will find that hybrids are better at getting the ball in the air, which can be one of the main problems when first starting golf.

Do you hit a fairway wood or a hybrid further?

The first thing a beginner should know is that a 5 hybrid and a 5 wood have very different lofts. Hybrids are designed to replace your longer irons, whereas fairway woods sit just below your driver. A 5 wood will be around 18 degrees, whereas a 5 hybrid is closer to 27 degrees. In this instance, the fairway wood will be the clear winner on distance.

When you directly compare these two clubs using the same loft, the fairway wood will still go further. Just not by as much. The longer shaft and bigger clubhead help to generate a faster swing speed and higher ball speed, which translates to more distance.

Should beginners have both a fairway wood and a hybrid?

When first learning to play golf beginners will often start out with less than the full 14 clubs that you are allowed. So, is having a fairway wood and a hybrid really necessary?

Well, it depends on when you are going to use them. Beginners can sometimes have difficulty with their driver, so a fairway wood can be an alternative. You can still use a hybrid off the tee, but the additional distance of a fairway wood is important. 

Playing shots from anywhere else on the golf course beginners will find the hybrid a far more useful club. When starting golf beginners can often lack the swing speed and accuracy required for hitting fairway woods or long irons from the ground. This makes a hybrid the perfect solution for hitting longer shots from the fairway.

These clubs can perform different roles and as beginners learn the basics of golf it can be useful to build experience with both clubs. As beginners should not be carrying long irons, there is no reason why they would not have plenty of room in their bag.

Choose the lofts carefully

We mentioned earlier that fairway woods and hybrids hit the golf ball different distances. Therefore, it is important to choose your lofts carefully. Otherwise you can end up with two clubs hitting the ball the same yardage.

When replacing irons with hybrids beginners should check to make sure the lofts all have a decent gap between them. As beginners improve the distances they hit the ball are going to change, but if you have gapped your lofts correctly the distances should all adjust fairly equally.

What should beginners look for in a fairway wood or hybrid?

Modern fairway woods and hybrids targeted towards beginner golfers both feature all the latest game improvement technology. Additional weighting towards the back of the clubs creates a higher MOI for extreme forgiveness and a higher launch angle.

Beginner golfers that do not naturally possess lots of swing speed should choose lightweight clubs and shafts to help improve club head speed too. Whether it is a fairway wood or hybrid, choosing a model that makes you feel confident when addressing the ball is important for beginners.


The simple answer is that beginners are more likely to prefer a hybrid and will find they use it much more regularly. Hybrids require less swing speed to get airborne and the shorter shaft makes them easier to hit. Beginners are likely to need to hit long shots from the fairway or rough on most holes and the hybrid is the much better option for these shots.

That being said, every golfer is different and there will be some beginners that simply prefer hitting their fairway woods. For beginners it is about experimenting with different clubs and shots to find out what works best for them.

There is no rule saying you cannot carry both a fairway wood and a hybrid. My advice would be to try both out and see how you get on. Most importantly, as a beginner golfer, just choose whatever you like and keep having fun golfing!

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