Hybrid vs Iron: Distances And Lofts Compared

Hybrid clubs are becoming more popular for the average golfer because they’re easier to hit and add distance to your shots. A lot of people have been replacing their long irons with hybrids, but the big question is, which hybrid replaces which iron?

I always assumed that a 4 hybrid would replace a 4 iron, but some people said that wasn’t true. The length of the club, the size of the head, and the center of gravity all impact how the club performs.

I wanted to compare each hybrid to see what iron they’d replace. Mainly, I just wanted to see what the differences were in terms of distance. Let’s jump into the results.

I want to hear from you. In the comments below, let me know if you’ve replaced an iron with a hybrid.

Hybrid vs Iron Distance Chart

ClubLoft (Degree)Distance (Yards)
3 Iron19194*
4 Iron21187*
5 Iron24182
6 Iron27175
7 Iron31168
2 Hybrid17216
3 Hybrid19206
4 Hybrid22195
5 Hybrid25188
6 Hybrid28180
7 Hybrid31173
*I have a tough time hitting my 3 and 4 iron consistently, so these numbers are for shots that I actually hit well. Most “average” golfers have the same problem, and that’s why I’d recommend replacing these with a hybrid ASAP.

To get these numbers, I took 5 shots with each club and recorded the distance. The numbers above are the average distances I got with each club. All of my poor shots were included as well because I think it’s an important thing to take into account.

I’ve read a number of articles that did a similar test to this. One of them said that hybrids will go 8-12 yards more than the same iron. Another said that hybrids are 4-5 yards longer. Mine was pretty much in the middle, so I was glad to see that.

Do Hybrids And Irons Go The Same Distance?

On average, hybrids will hit the ball 7 yards further than the corresponding iron, but the distance could range between 5 and 12 yards. As an example, my 5 hybrid typically hit the ball 188 yards while my 5 iron hits the ball closer to 182 yards.

I know this test wasn’t a perfect solution because everyone will be different. What I noticed was that the shorter irons and hybrids were much closer than the long irons and hybrids. I can hit my 6-9 iron pretty consistently, but when it comes to my 3-5 iron, it’s much more of a coin toss.

The two main reasons why hybrids are longer than irons are:

  1. The center of gravity is lower.
  2. The head size is bigger and so is the sweet spot.

When the center of gravity is lower on the club, it’ll be much easier to launch the ball in the air. With a long iron, if you don’t generate enough speed or you don’t hit the sweet spot, you’ll have a tough time getting any height on your shots.

This is why newer golfers or senior golfers with slower swing speeds like to switch to hybrids. As long as you hit the ball somewhere close to the center, you should get some pretty decent height and distance.

The head size of hybrids is also a lot bigger than the head of an iron. Since that’s the case, the sweet spot is also bigger. That makes the club a lot more forgiving, and when it’s more forgiving, you’ll get straighter (less ball spin) and longer shots (better ball compression).

Another factor that impacts distance is shaft length. The shaft of a hybrid could be an inch or so longer than the same iron. That alone could add a few extra yards.

That being said, I actually prefer clubs that are a bit shorter than standard. Most people use clubs that are too long and it makes it a lot harder to control the ball (see if your clubs are too long). A lot of pros actually use a driver that’s shorter than standard.

Why Use A Hybrid Instead Of An Iron?

As a general rule, you’ll want to use a hybrid instead of an iron for any shots over 180 yards. On average, golfers who use hybrid from 180+ yards out see their greens in regulation number increase by close to 5%.

The main question to ask yourself is what you’re looking for with your longer clubs. Do you want the most control? Do you want distance and forgiveness? Most people will lean towards the second question.

From what I could tell, most people prefer hybrids over the 3 and 4 iron. Here are some of the numbers:

  • Only 9% of golfers have a 3 iron instead of a hybrid.
  • 44% of golfers have a 4 iron instead of a hybrid.
  • 75% of golfers have a 5 iron instead of a hybrid.
  • 92% of golfers have a 6 iron instead of a hybrid.

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time hitting my 3-4 iron consistently. That’s why I’d way rather have a hybrid instead, and I think a lot of other people feel the same way. My 5 iron is decent, but my 6 iron is much more consistent.

I ran across a study that compared greens in regulation to what club was hit. It basically said that for any shot over 180 yards, you’d be better off hitting hybrid. This was the case for all skill levels (except scratch players, probably).

I wanted to test this out for myself, so I hit a number of shots from 180 and 200 yards out (on a few different holes). Here are the results:

GIR w/ IronGIR w/ Hybrid
180 Yard Shot14%20%
200 Yard Shot8%14%

Even though the numbers don’t seem that different, it basically means that you could hit 1 or 2 more greens in regulation per round. That can have a big impact on your overall score.

In summary, I’d have to agree that hybrids are better from 180+ yards out (for most people). For me, that’s anything longer than a 6 iron. It could be different for you.

Hybrids are much more forgiving than irons and it doesn’t take as much speed to get the distance. When you don’t have to swing as hard you can just focus on getting the ball on the middle of the green.

If you’re a beginner or high handicapper and are in the market for a new hybrid, you should read our article on the best hybrids for average golfers. If not, these are the best hybrids for mid handicaps. Anyways, let’s cover a few questions I’ve come across.

Does A 4 Hybrid Replace A 3 Iron?

A 4 hybrid is a great replacement for a 3 iron and should benefit a lot of golfers. Hybrid’s lower center of gravity and larger head size will make it easier to get the ball in the air and will be more forgiving, which should add control and distance.

Most people think that a 4 hybrid would replace a 4 iron. That’s what I thought too, but as it turns out, my 4 hybrid was 8 yards longer on average. It really wouldn’t make sense to swap those two clubs.

For me (and others I’ve seen), hybrids are higher and straighter than irons. That’s why I’d replace my 3 iron with a 4 hybrid, instead of a 3 hybrid.

Does A 5 Hybrid Replace A 5 Iron?

A 5 hybrid will hit the ball farther than a 5 iron and that’s why you’d be better off replacing your 5 iron with a 6 hybrid. A 6 hybrid will have more loft, but the lower center of gravity and increased forgiveness will result in a very similar distance between them.

My 5 iron is the longest iron I’m able to hit consistently, so I wasn’t really expecting a huge difference in distance. My 5 iron normally goes somewhere around 182 yards on average, but a 5 hybrid for me was closer to 190 yards.

That’s almost a club’s difference and is why it wouldn’t make sense to swap them. When I tried a 6 hybrid, my average distance was 180 yards, which is much closer to my 5 iron.

What Iron Does A 21 Degree Hybrid Replace?

A hybrid with a loft of 21 degrees is considered a 4 hybrid and is a great replacement for a 3 iron. The slightly longer shaft, lower center of gravity, and increased forgiveness make up for the loft difference and will hit the ball at a very similar distance.

There are a few 21-degree hybrids on the market but the majority of them are 22 degrees. A 1-degree difference won’t add or subtract distance for the average hacker. A 3 hybrid is around 19 degrees, so that’s why we’d call a 21-degree hybrid a #4.

After testing things out for myself, a 4 hybrid hit the ball 195 yards on average. When I hit a 4 iron pure, it went somewhere around 187 yards. A 3 iron was 194 yards, which was much closer.

Should I Replace My 6 Iron With A Hybrid?

On average, over 90% of golfers have a 6 iron in their bag instead of a hybrid. The only time you’d want to consider replacing your 6 iron with a hybrid is when you can consistently hit your 6 iron 180+ yards.

I asked a number of people (different skill levels) what club they have in their bag, a 6 iron or a hybrid. Over 90% of them preferred having a 6 iron, and I’m in the same boat.

I came across a pretty cool study a while ago that wanted to see if a hybrid would increase your green in regulation percentage. It looked at shots from 200, 180, and 160 yards.

I’ll get into the full experiment in the next section, but long story short, hitting a hybrid from 180+ yards out gave the best green in regulation numbers.

What Hybrid Replaces A 7 Iron?

The hybrid that most closely resembles a 7 iron is an 8 hybrid. These hybrids are typically only available as a full set of clubs, and since that’s the case, you may need to choke down on a 7 hybrid to get the same distance as your 7 iron.

The majority of companies out there only make hybrids up to #7 (some don’t even go that low). When I hit a 7 hybrid, the distance was right around 173 yards on average. My 7 iron is normally around 168 yards.

The only way to get an actual 8 hybrid is to get a set of “hybrid” irons like the Cleveland Launcher HB. Everything down to a pitching wedge is similar to a hybrid. These are normally good for senior golfers who can’t swing the club as fast as they used to.

Those irons aren’t for me, so if I wanted to replace my 7 iron with a hybrid, I’d probably get a 7 hybrid and choke down an inch or so. The distance should be really close.

Do You Hit A Hybrid Like An Iron?

Hybrids are much more like irons than fairway woods, and since that’s the case, you’ll want to hit down on the ball with your hybrid. Hitting a hybrid the same as a 6 or 7 iron will produce the most consistent results.

A lot of people think hybrids are small fairway woods, and that’s why they try and sweep the ball off the ground. If you have trouble hitting your hybrid, that could be why.

What I like to picture is that I’m hitting my 6 or 7 iron. The ball should be right around the bottom of your swing arc and you should take a small divot in front of the ball.

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About Jon Webber

Jon Webber is Out Of Bounds Golf's main product tester and editor. He's been in the golf world for 10+ years and has personally tested over 100 products, from balls to clubs to bags. He started this site for the average player, to make the game a little easier to understand.

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