Building your Bag: 5 Wood vs 3 Hybrid

Difference between 5 wood and 3 Hybrid

While golf isn’t an easy sport to play, club manufacturers are helping the average player make it slightly easier. Hybrids, high lofted woods and utility irons make some of the most difficult shots in golf much easier than ever before.

Players no longer have to use long, heavy irons that look more like butter knives rather than golf clubs. Honestly, if you look back at some equipment the great players won with, it’s astounding what they were able to do.

Golfers have a lot of options, making it difficult to choose the right equipment. You might be asking yourself this question. “Should I play a 5-wood vs. a 3 hybrid? Or, a utility iron?” 

These are great questions to ask as they can make a huge difference in your long game. Before heading to your local golf store to buy a new club, let’s dig in on the pros/cons of each club.

Keep reading to find out more about each club and when they should be used on the course.

5-Wood vs. 3 Hybrid – Finding The Right Club For You

For a long time, the most common set was a driver, 3-wood and 5-wood. However, times have changed and the set-up for most golfers is very different. 

Some players have a driver, mini-driver (sorta a 2W), or a hybrid club. Some players have more than one hybrid in their bags. Others carry a mixture of hybrids, woods, and utility-irons. 

Which club should you put in your golf bag?

Choose the one that suits your game and swing. Amateur golfers can benefit from the right golf equipment to help get the ball airborne… even with slower swing speeds.

Too many male golfers choose to use clubs that their friends tell them to or stick with the stock ones. This is often a mistake and makes it difficult to hit long shots. As you’ll see, 5 woods and hybrids are some of the most versatile clubs available.

Let’s review some aspects of each club to see which is right for you.

Forgiveness 

When choosing between a 5-wood and a 3 hybrid, forgiveness is an important factor. Each is a forgiving club, with a large sweet spot, and even if you don’t make solid contact, still perform better than a long iron.

Which one is more tolerant? It all depends on the lie and the shot. 

This one is tricky because high-lofted fairway woodens are easier to hit on tee shots than for average golfers. Here are some fairway woods that are more forgiving for beginners. However, some golfers have difficulty hitting the fairway woods down to make a strike in the rough or fairway.

If you plan to use the club from all sorts of lies, I would suggest a rescue club vs. a 5-wood as it’s the most versatile. Whether you’re in the rough or a thin lie, hybrid clubs are so much easier to hit in those situations.

Overall, both clubs are more flexible than a long iron from the same loft and provide greater distance. Hybrids are shorter than woods, so they can be more forgiving. 

The clubhead size is also important. Some companies now have large, oversized heads while other hybrids might be the “pro” model and less forgiving.

The clubhead is an important part of the game, but the shaft plays a major role in rewarding center hits. This is a case by case basis but in general, you don’t have to worry about forgiveness very much as it’s the sole objective of these clubs. 

Ultimately, a hybrid might not go as far but it’s more forgiving. Your shot dispersion should decrease, which will lead to better misses and hopefully lower scores. 

Carry Distance & Total Distance

Distance is another factor that can help you decide which club is right. 

Ask yourself: How far do you want your ball to go? Is there a big gap in between your 3-wood iron and the longest iron in your bag? Or, which shot on the course do you wish you had a club for?

It is easier to work backwards to determine which club will be most helpful. For example, some golfers don’t like having a 3-wood (15 degrees loft) and 5 wood (18 degrees loft) as they’re too close in distance and not very helpful. While other golfers prefer a hybrid as it’s more versatile and easier to hit off the turf. 

Which club will go further? A 5-wood will usually go longer than a hybrid, even if they have the same loft. Even with the same swing speed and ball speed data.

Why?

Because a hybrid is smaller and doesn’t have as much mass behind the ball. A fairway wood is larger and will travel further. 

A lot of woods that are similar to hybrids are also longer than those made from them. The overall distance can also be affected if the shaft is longer.

While a 5-wood might be more accurate in terms distance, it may have a higher shot dispersion and negatively affect your score. It is important to pair your 5-wood with the correct shaft. Too much flex can also affect accuracy. 

Launch Angle

Consider the launch angle when deciding between a 5-wood hybrid and a 3 hybrid. You might be wondering, “What is launch angle?”

Let’s defer to Trackman Golf for a formal explanation. “The vertical angle relative to the horizon of the golf ball’s center of gravity movement immediately after leaving the club face.”

The launch angle will determine the shot’s height as well as distance, as noted in the Trackman article. If you’re looking for the highest launching of the two, I would go with a 5-wood. The loft of a 3H is the same, but a 5-wood has a longer shaft and broader clubhead to increase launch angle.

Hybrids fly lower due to their design and shaft length.

You can make hybrids launch faster by making sure you have a higher-powered launching shaft. The key is to make sure it isn’t too high and “balloons” up in the air, and will lose so much distance if it’s windy weather conditions. 

Trackman Case Study   

2nd Swing Golf did a fantastic job YouTube video breaking down the difference between a 5W and 2H, both of which are 17 degrees. The launch monitor provides additional information about spin rates, landing angle, ball speed, swing speed and other data. 

Lie Angle

Launch angle is important but what about lie angle? Let’s refer to TGW to give us the definition of it and how it impacts your longer clubs in the bag. According to TGW

“Lie angle is the angle created between the center of the shaft and ground when you put your iron down in the address position. The proper lie angle will ensure that the sole of your iron rests on the ground when the club is placed behind it.

The lie angle refers to the space between the shaft of the clubhead and the ground on its heel side. Lie angle also increases as the loft increases.”

Your lie angle must match your swing. Otherwise, you will always miss to the left or right if the club is too flat or upright. This is a simple fix with wedges and irons, as someone can bend the hosel to adjust loft or lie. Obviously, this isn’t the case with hybrids and woods as they’re not made of the same material.

Go here to learn more about a Golf Club’s lie angle.

Many hybrids and high-lofted woods have adjustable hosels that can alter the line angle. But club designs have changed lately and most hosels aren’t adjustable, which means the lie angle is fixed. 

Let’s take a look at the Callaway Rogue woods and hybrids to compare lie angle. The Rogue ST Max 5 wood has an 18 degree loft, 42.75 inch length, and a lie angle 56.5 degrees. The 3H is 18 inches loft, 40.50ins long, with a lie angle at 58.0 degrees. 

While it might seem like a big difference (1.5 degrees) in terms of lie angle, it’s important to remember the 5W is longer. Longer clubs are flatter in terms of life angle as they’re also longer. 

Make sure that your new hybrid or fairway wooden has the right lie angle to suit your swing. You can also adjust the lie angle to match the rest of your irons. 

Versatility  

I think the versatility of hybrids is why they are so popular with golfers. You can use them from the fairway, in rough, around the green and even under trees. While woods aren’t quite as versatile as many golfers would like.

I’m confident in saying that hybrids are more versatile than woods (hence the name, “Rescue” clubs). My hybrid can be used for all kinds of shots, including attacking par 5, punching shots under the branches, and even chips on the greens. 

Also, don’t forget about working the golf ball with these clubs too. Both can shape shots left to right or left to right. This is also dependent on the type and brand of clubs you purchase.

Some hybrids are more versatile than others. The Callaway Rogue ST hybrids come in three models: a Max, normal, or Pro model. The Max model is more similar to a fairway wooden and is easier to shape shots. While the Pro model is smaller and more like an iron, so it’s easier to shape shots on the golf course. 

Once again, this comes down to your personal preference and what you’re looking for in a club. Higher handicap golfers will prefer more flexible woods/hybrids, which emphasize straighter ball flight. While lower handicap golfers will prefer smaller club heads so it’s easier to adjust trajectory and shot shape. 

5 Wood versus 3 Hybrid

Next Longest Club 

The last thing you should think about is the length of the next club in your bag. You don’t want to be able to see distances of between 180-250 yards and 25-35 yards.

Here’s my setup to provide a better understanding of how I gap my clubs to set myself up for success:

  • 3W = 270
  • 2H = 250 (off a tee) – 235-240 off the deck 
  • Utility 4 iron = 220-230 Yards 

As you can see I have a strong club for every yardage and can always find a club to cover 10-15 yards. This setup will give you 10X the confidence to take any shot on the course. 

Utility Irons 

While we’ve covered a lot of different factors when comparing the two clubs, it’s important to bring up longer irons too. Long irons can be very difficult to hit. Long irons that come standard with sets are less forgiving than fairway or hybrid woods. Utility irons are also available as an alternative to long irons.

These are longer, harder to hit long irons and are a great substitute for hybrids. Some players prefer to swing irons over hybrids or wedges. Utility irons are a great option for extra distance and forgiveness.

As I mentioned, I have a 3W, 2H and utility 4-iron. This gives me enough versatility to hit any shot, no matter what the playing conditions are or the type of lie. Whether I’m in the rough, under trees, or need to hit it high from 230-250, I have a club that can make it happen.

To match the loft of an 5-wood, you will need to purchase 2 or stronger 3 irons. A 1-iron is usually 16 degrees. Utility irons can be hit better, but they are still not great options for everyday players. As the old saying goes: “Even God himself can’t hit a 1-iron.”

There are many utility irons that look great and can be used to fill this gap. Here are our favorite long iron replacements.

Titleist U-505

As Titleist said, “Looks like an iron, flies like a hybrid.” These irons are used by a wide range of players and work in a variety of situations on the golf course. These irons are very high-launching with a thin forged L face that allows for maximum speed. 

Looks wise, they have a great design that looks like a large cavity back but isn’t overly bulky. These should be very easy to hit from fairways but might not be ideal for thick rough. 

This iron is.75 inch shorter than the TSi2 hybrid so it may not travel as far. It will launch higher due to its design and comes with a hybrid shaft. You can choose from 16, 18, 20, or 22 degrees of loft. 

TaylorMade Stealth DHY 

TaylorMade’s Stealth line now includes drivers and woods. These Stealth DHY clubs are great for hitting par 5s in two, and achieving accuracy on tight driving holes. 

This iron is ideal for skilled players and is a low-to-medium launching club. But they’re still plenty forgiving thanks to a big sweet spot and wider sole. 

You want to know more about driving irons. Check out our top picks Here

FAQs about Fairway Woods & Hybrids

Are you unsure if a 5-wood, a 3-hybrid, or something else is best? No problem, we’ll help make your buying decision easy with our commonly asked questions and answers section below.

Is a 5-wood better than a 3-hybrid?

A 5-wood can travel further than a 3hybrid depending on its loft, length, and club type. If the lofts of both clubs are the same, the 5-wood will likely go further because there is more mass behind it.

A lot of fairway woods are also longer than hybrids, which has an impact on distance. Remember, the farther you go, the longer your club! 

If you’re losing distance with age, a 5 wood might help more than a hybrid in your golf bag.

What hybrid is equivalent to a 5-wood?

Each club manufacturer makes a unique loft and lie. In general, a 5-wood loft is between 18-20 degrees. It would be a 2 or 3-model model to match the loft with a hybrid. 

How do you hit the hybrid?

A hybrid is similar to a fairway wood but since it’s shorter and has a different lie angle, does require some changes in the swing. Learn how to hit hybrids. 

Do I need to have more than one hybrid?

My biggest tip is to forget about your ego, and only play the clubs you love. You don’t have to hate long irons. Try several hybrids. Buy hybrid-style or cavity back irons if you want more forgiveness. 

Don’t let your ego get in the way of playing your best golf. Also, don’t be afraid to experiment with different club setup to see what suits your game the best. 

Is it more difficult to hit a 5-wood than an hybrid?

Some golfers may think a 5-wood is more difficult to hit than a Hybrid, while others might think the reverse. It comes down to many factors, including:

  • Loft
  • Shaft flex/weight
  • Type of swing (shallow or steep) 
  • Hit the ball from the rough or fairway? Or off the tee? 

In the end, you want the club that will give the most confidence for the majority shots. For example, if you love your 5-wood but can only hit it off the tee, it’s not as versatile as a hybrid. If your 5-wood is too high or gets knocked in the wind, it may not be as efficient. 

Should I play a 5 or hybrid? 

The club that gives you confidence and hits the shots you want should be your choice. Consider how you want the club perform before you decide to buy one.

Ask yourself some questions like:

  • What is my ideal ball flight and why?
  • Do you need help getting the ball to airborne?
  • How far do the ball need to travel? Do I need more distance?
  • Can I use it off the tee?

Should I have a 3H and a 5-wood?

No, this is not recommended as they’re so similar and have about the same average loft. You might consider:

  • 5W and 4H 
  • 2H and 3W 
  • Utility iron and 5W

The clubs will play a similar role in your bag and leave a large gap in distances. Or, the clubs could cause a huge gap in your wedge play and negatively impact your short-game.

Instead, choose to play with clubs that reduce distances by 15-20 yards. This will give you the best chance to score well on any given day. 

Do I need both a 3 or 5 wood? 

It’s a common setup for a lot of golfers including PGA and LPGA players. Ultimately, it depends on the rest of your bag setup and making sure you don’t have any big distance gaps between clubs. 

I think it’s more useful to have one fairway wood and one hybrid for maximum versatility. A hybrid can save you from tough spots around the golf course when a 5-wood isn’t a solid option.

To see the full pros & cons of each, please read our article on 5 versus 3 wood.

Final Thoughts 

There is no one answer to the question of choosing a 5 wood or 3-wood hybrid. These clubs are extremely useful and easy to hit for the average golfer. They’re much easier to hit than a 2 or 3 iron as even the best golfers on the planet struggle at times with these clubs. 

Here’s a quick recap about hybrids:

  • More versatility
  • Lower ball flight 
  • It’s easy to hit and easier to forgive 
  • The shaft is shorter, which allows for greater control but also limits the distance. 

High-altitude woods also have their benefits

  • The tee is longer
  • Higher ball flight 
  • It’s easier to hit the tee while playing for position

Before you decide to pull the trigger on the 5-wood or 3-wood hybrid debate, there are many factors you should consider. You should consider the distance you want the club’s to travel and have it properly gapped with the next longest club. This will ensure that you avoid long distance gaps and maximize the performance of your long game. 

You can use new technology to get the ball closer towards the green or on the regulation line. Your long club game will be significantly improved by using a larger head and smaller irons.

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