5 Wood vs 3 Hybrid: How to Pick The Right Club for You
Written by Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years. Current Handicap: 8

Updated on December 12, 2023

Which club should you choose between a 5 wood vs 3 hybrid? That is a question frequently asked by readers, searching for consistency on long shots. In this post, I explain how to pick the right club for you.

On top of the distance abilities of each club, I investigate their center of gravity (CG), moment of inertia (MOI), and shot-stopping power. Plus, I look at the best club option of the deck and the tee and advise which club is best for windy conditions.

Those who prefer fairway woods may find our post on the differences between a 3-wood and 5-wood.

 

Overview of The 5 Wood vs 3 Hybrid

Golf Monthly suggests that the average loft angle of a 5-wood and 3-hybrid is 17 to 19-degrees. As a result, you may think that they produce the same launch, ball flight, and distance., but the construction of the clubs lead to varying results.

For example, PXG explains that amateurs enjoy the hybrid’s shorter length because it is similar to an iron, requiring the same setup. Therefore it is easier for beginners and high handicappers to strike the golf ball consistently.

Conversely, the longer shaft on a 5-wood is easier to swing on tee shots, and it offers increased workability and yardage over the hybrid golf club. But, it is less forgiving than a hybrid from the rough and other undesirable lies.

Although I have tested many hybrids in my life, and personally, I prefer a 5-wood. That is because I have used one for over 25-years and was swinging it long before hybrids hit the scene. Plus, I am not fond of their alien-like profile.

However, despite my personal feelings towards hybrids, I cannot deny that they have been revolutionary in aiding amateurs and professionals. Optimal turf interaction, MOI, and a high launch help you consistently get the ball airborne.

 

Differences Between a 5 Wood and a 3 Hybrid

Clubhead

A 5-wood and 3-hybrid share a similar loft profile and lie angle, which in theory would produce the same result. However, hybrids feature a shorter shaft than a 5-wood and a clubhead with increased offset to promote straighter shots.

In addition, Tour Experience Golf (TXG) explains that a hybrid has a wide, deep face that produces superb forgiveness on heel and toe mishits. This feature minimizes sidespin that prompts a slice or a hook, leading to improved accuracy.

Contrarily, the thinner, compact head profile of the 5-wood produces rapid ball speed when you catch it in the sweet spot, resulting in added distance. However, the reduced forgiveness compared to the hybrid can result in nasty slices or hooks when you don’t get it right.

Shaft’s Length

The average length of a 5-wood shaft measures 42.5”, two inches more than a standard 3-hybrid.

In the test conducted by TXG, they found that the longer shaft delivered rapid ball speed, additional spin, and a steep shot-stopping angle. That means it produces a higher launch for maximum carry distance and a steep descent for optimal shot stopping power.

In contrast, a 3-hybrid produced a low ball flight, with reduced spin and a shallow descent. As a result, the ball released and rolled further than a 5-wood.

The shaft’s length also impacts your stance and, where you position your golf ball. You will need to place the ball closer to your front foot when setting up with a 5-wood, compared to a 3-hybrid.

You are probably convinced that a 5-wood is the superior option, and I would agree. It flies longer and stops faster, giving you added control in your long game. However, it is not all rosy.

The player who tested the hybrid and fairway wood in the TXG video is a superior golfer who strikes the ball like a champion. Therefore he does not require significant forgiveness in his game. The story is different for amateur golfers.

If you often strike the ball in the heel or toe of the club, you may appreciate the added forgiveness of a hybrid. The extra MOI and straighter ball flight will keep you in play. If you mishit the small profile 5-wood, you can lose significant distance and accuracy.

Loft

A 2021 article by Golf Monthly suggests that the average loft of a 5-wood is 18-degrees. The average 3-hybrid has a marginally higher loft than a 5-wood, averaging 19-degrees.

Ball Speed

The thinner face of a 5-wood prompts it to generate accelerated ball speed off the clubface, helping you increase your distance. In the test by TXG, the 5-wood generated 4-mph more ball speed than a 3-hybrid.

Although the speed is marginally faster, it can help you achieve a few extra yards. That all depends on the level of backspin rpm and the conditions you are playing in.

Trackman explains that ball speed is key to additional length. However, when your spin rate increases, it can deliver higher ball flight and reduce yardage. The flight causes the ball to descend steeply and stop quickly, reducing roll.

Spin RPM

According to Trackman, spin rate influences the apex and distance of your shot. Generating excess spin can cause you to balloon your strike and lose yards. Conversely, too little spin leads to an excessively low launch and loss of carry distance.

In this TXG video, the 5-wood produced close to 600 rpm more spin than the 3-hybrid. Once again, the difference is marginal, but it did reflect in the launch angle, higher trajectory, and steep descent. The 5-wood launched at 14.3-degrees compared to the hybrid’s 13-degrees.

Despite the increased spin, the 5-wood only landed 1-yard shorter than the hybrid. Plus, both clubs averaged 10-yards of roll. Therefore, the overall result is the same, but the way the balls get there is vastly different.

Forgiveness

Even though modern fairway woods are packed with game improvement technology to boost forgiveness, a hybrid is superior in this department. The heavier clubhead on the hybrid produces increased MOI to optimize forgiveness.

The MOI works to produce straighter shots and reduce the risk of a slice. Most rescue clubs feature a slightly offset profile, which encourages right to left ball flight, or a draw. Encouraging this shape limits the sidespin that prompts a fade shape.

Distance

Even though the 5-wood generated increased ball speed, its higher spin rate reduced its carry and total distance. However, it was only 1-yard off the hybrid in both instances. The hybrid carried 244-yards and rolled an additional ten. The 5-wood carried 243-yards and also rolled ten more.

Overall, the results were minimal between the two, which you would expect when used by a solid golfer.

 

Which Club Typically Hits Further?

In theory, you should hit these clubs an equal distance. However, that comes down to your swing speed and ball-striking ability. If you generate sufficient pace on your downswing and strike the ball cleanly, you should hit both these clubs at a similar distance. The ball will get there in different ways.

Less consistent ball strikers with slower swing speeds may hit a hybrid further than a 5-wood. That is because of its superior forgiveness and wider profile. Ultimately, a beginner or high handicap golfer is more likely to consistently hit long shots with a hybrid or driving irons compared to a fairway wood.

However, low handicappers or professionals should achieve similar results distance-wise with both clubs.

 

Which Club is Considered Easier to Hit?

Without a doubt, a hybrid is easier to hit than a 5-wood because of the added forgiveness it provides. Whether you strike it high or low, or in the heel or toe, you will get the ball airborne and enjoy acceptable carry distance.

Furthermore, the offset profile of a hybrid helps you generate straighter shots for improved accuracy.

 

Do You Need Both Clubs in Your Bag?

No, you do not need both clubs in your golf bag. If you carry both of these golf clubs, it may impact your selection of wedges. Having excess long clubs means you need to sacrifice a wedge, which hurts your short game performance.

 

How to Figure Out Which Club is Right for You

Forgiveness

The best port of call to determine the right club for your game is forgiveness. If you have not mastered the art of ball striking and mishit the odd shot, you will need a forgiving long club. One that compensates for off-center strikes to deliver consistent distance and accuracy.

In the TXG test, the subject Matt produced an average side angle of 0-degrees, meaning he was striking his 5-wood consistently in the sweet spot. That is why he enjoyed straighter ball flight.

When you catch a 5-wood off the heel or toe, it can create unwanted side spin that causes a slice or hook. Golfers in this position are best suited to a hybrid that delivers supreme MOI for consistent distance and accuracy.

Launch Angle

If you’re pursuing a high launching ball and consistent carry distance, you may want to consider the 5-wood. But, you need to strike it in the sweet spot to achieve this.

Lower and mid handicappers can handle the reduced forgiveness of a 5-wood but, beginners and high handicap golfers should stick to the forgiving hybrid for consistency.

Backspin RPM

It may be to the detriment of players who naturally generate excess spin to play with a 5-wood. The additional backspin could lead to ballooned shots and loss of distance and control in your long game.

While a hybrid may offer consistent spin and speed to produce a piercing launch, those players better suit a 3-iron.

Slower swinging golfers who struggle to induce sufficient speed and spin-off the face will benefit from the consistency provided by the hybrid.

Accuracy

The final factor to consider when looking at a 5 wood vs 3 hybrid is accuracy. Think about your shot dispersion rate. In other words, if you hit ten balls, how far apart do they land from one another? Balls that end far apart from one another highlight erratic dispersion and inaccuracy.

The best way to overcome that is to find a forgiving club that offers consistency, even if you mishit your shots. The best example of such a golf club is a 3-hybrid rather than a 5-wood.

 

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Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years. Current Handicap: 8