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3 Wood vs. 3 Hybrid: Which Club Should You Use?

3 Wood vs. 3 Hybrid: Which Club Should You Use?

How did USGA know we would struggle to reduce our bags to only 14 clubs?

There are some differences between a 3-wood and a 3-hybrid that you should know about before you decide. Each of these clubs can help you improve your game in different ways and for different reasons.

I’ll explain how I go about choosing and how each of these clubs could impact your game.


Table of Contents

  • Overview of 3 Wood and 3 Hybrid
    • 3 Wood
    • 3 Hybrid
  • Differences between 3 Wood and 3 hybrid
    • Clubhead Design and Look
    • You can also find out more about the Loft
    • Performance from the Rough
    • Versatility
    • Performance from The Sand
    • Forgiveness
    • Adjustability
  • Pros and cons of a 3-Wood
    • Pros
    • Cons
  • Pros and Cons for a 3 Hybrid
    • Pros
    • Cons
  • Do you need to carry both clubs?
  • How to choose the right club

Overview of 3 Wood and 3 Hybrid

Both the 3 wood and 3 hybrid can be used to improve your long game. On approach shots to long par 4s, par 5’s (and even off the tee of certain holes), these clubs often come into play.

3 Wood

A 3 wood is the lowest lofted wood in the bag. It usually has around 15 degrees loft. The 3 wood can be a good choice for golfers who have trouble with their driver.

With the 3 wood having lower lofts, it’s often difficult to get much forgiveness from the club. When a 3 wood strikes the turf, you can expect a slightly lower ball flight with more penetration and plenty of rolling.

Many golfers use a set of clubs that starts with a driver and ends with a 5 wood, skipping the 3 wood.

3 Hybrid

The 3 hybrid is a combination of a fairway and an iron. Expect the 3 hybrid’s help when you are hitting shots in thicker rough. This hybrid has a loft of about 19 or 20, depending on the model.

With the hybrid’s clubhead having a little extra weight, getting the ball up in the air is easier. Due to their lower center of gravity, hybrids are generally forgiving.

Many golfers have found that hybrids are a great club to add to their iron set.


Differences between 3 Wood and 3 hybrid

Before we can decide whether the 3 hybrid or the 3 wood is a better fit for your game, let’s get a better understanding of the differences between the two.

Clubhead Design and Look

Winner: 3 wood

The look of the clubhead is what makes the difference between a 3-wood and a 3-hybrid. I compare the differences between a blade-style putter and a mallet-style putter.

The blade putter resembles a hybrid while the 3 wood resembles a mallet. The hybrid is a narrower design, while the 3 wood has a rounded shape.

Fairway wood is my personal favorite. I can’t tell if the hybrid looks more like a wood, or an iron. It bothers me sometimes. I’ve gotten used to hitting a hybrid and I hit it quite well, but it took me time to get there.

Both the 3 hybrid and the 3 wood work well – you just have to find the one that appeals to you.

You can also find out more about the Loft

Winner: Three Hybrids

The loft of a 3-wood is lower than a 3-hybrid. You can expect to get more distance with a lower loft.

If distance is what you’re after, the 3 wood is your best bet. The 3 hybrid (with a loft of around 19 degrees) will not travel as long, but will travel higher than a 3 wood. The higher ball trajectory is ideal for ensuring the ball stops on the green.

I’ll get into this more later, but it’s important to remember that a club with more loft also makes it easier to get the ball off the ground.

The manufacturing techniques of golf manufacturers have improved so much that even a 3 wood with less loft can still look as if it has enough loft to launch a ball quite high.

Performance from the Rough

Winner: Three Hybrids

The 3 hybrid is the clear winner when you are hitting from the rough.

I didn’t realize how forgiving hybrids were until I put them in my bag the first time.

That being said, it’ still entirely possible to hit a 3 wood from the rough. In fact, I often find that if my ball is positioned nicely in the sand on a par 5 longer than a few yards, a 3 wood is a better option than an iron.

The ball must be seated up for the 3 wood to work correctly. Even if you golf ball is buried, a hybrid will allow you to hit the shot on or near the green.

Bottom line, if you have trouble from the tee or find yourself in the rough often, the 3 hybrid will be a better choice.


Winner: Three Hybrids

I like to carry clubs that can be used at different locations on the golf course.

The 3 wood is best used from the tee. Of course, it’s a good distance club, so if you can hit it cleanly from the fairway or the rough, you will get plenty of distance.

I find the 3 hybrid to be more versatile. A 3 hybrid is a good option for a par 4 or par 3. You can also hit the 3 hybrid from the rough or the fairway.

The 3 hybrid is also a good choice for knockdown shots. Some golfers have even learned to chip with their hybrid.

Performance from The Sand

Winner: Tie

If you are in a fairway sand trap, either the 3 wood or 3 hybrid will work. If there is a lip on the sand trap it will be difficult for the 3 wood to carry.

You can hit these shots by being smart about the lie and the height of your bunker’s edge.


Winner: Tie

In years past, I’d have told you the hybrid was more forgiving than a fairway wood. Today, I can’t say that.

Forgiveness comes down to the model you are playing with and it’s club makeup. Some 3 woods can be more forgiving that hybrids.

It’s really important to consider the model of the club you are playing and determine if it is the player’s version or something built for a higher-handicap golfer.

If you compare a 3-wood with a 3-hybrid, you will find that the 3-hybrid is more forgiving in the rough. But, you can still hit the ball straight from both faces. Do not only consider the loft of the equipment in your bag. Think about the type.


Winner: Tie

Many 3 woods or 3 hybrids have adjustable lofts. I recommend something with adjustable loft gap to fine-tune and perfect your golf game.

If you find a 15-degree 3-wood a bit too harsh, a clubhead that can be quickly turned to 16-degrees is a great alternative.

Hybrids can be used in the same way, but you should make sure that their performance and distance total are matched to your longest iron or driver.

There are as many adjustable 3-woods on the market as there are hybrids. The 3 wood’s adjustability is essential for golfers who are not sure if the club is right for them.


Pros and cons of a 3-Wood

The 3 wood can travel a long way, and that’s why so many people enjoy it, but it’s also got a few negatives.


  • Long club produces longer distances
  • A larger club head with an extra-large sweet spot
  • A great alternative to using a driver on the tee
  • Penetrating ball flight


  • The lower lofted clubs can be difficult to launch
  • A longer shaft makes it harder to control
  • The challenge of hitting out of the rough


Pros and Cons for a 3 Hybrid

The 3 hybrid is one of the best golf clubs to get the ball out of rough. The hybrid is a great club to use if you are playing a long par 4, and your shot ends in the second cut.


  • Golf clubs that are shorter and easier to use
  • The rough can be very forgiving
  • A higher trajectory will lead to a quick stop at the green
  • More workable than Fairway Woods
  • The bag is available in different lofts that can cover a wide range of yardages.


  • The head may feel and look bulkier than irons
  • Distance is usually a little strong, and can cause distance gaps in your bag


Do you need to carry both clubs?

If you have room, you can put both of these clubs into your bag. I would recommend this to golfers that don’t use fairway woods and think that hybrids are better.

Your set will likely transition into the 4 and 5-hybrids with a 3-wood and a 3-hybrid. With a set-up like this, your bag could have two to four hybrids.

I wouldn’t recommend having a 5 wood and a 3 hybrid. Of course, there are some players that make this work, but the 3 hybrid and 5 wood have more similarities from a loft perspective, so it’s generally not worth it.


How to choose the right club

Now you have a clear understanding of the difference between the 3 wood and 3 hybrid, it’s time to look at which is best for your game. Here are my criteria for choosing the right club.

  • Loft gappingWhat other clubs do you own, and how would a 15 degree or 19 degree club fit with these lofts?
  • Driver accuracy if you hit your driver relatively well, and it’s often in the fairway, go with the 3 wood; if you are constantly hitting from the rough, the 3 hybrid is a better choice.
  • Handicap: don’t use handicap to choose between 3 wood vs. 3 hybrid; instead, look at personal preference and which clubs you feel more confident with.
  • Irons vs. WoodsIf you are a woods player, you should choose the 3-wood; if your irons are better, you should choose the 3-hybrid.
  • Swing speedSlower swing speeds will often get better results with the shorter and easier to swing hybrid. Faster swing speeds can maximize distance on the 3-wood.