Driving Iron vs Hybrid: Pros/Cons of Each and When to Use

Choosing the golf clubs that make it into your bag can be difficult.

With only being allowed 14 clubs, the decision as to whether to include a combination of hybrids, long irons, driving irons, and fairway woods really confuses some golfers.

I’ve always found that one of the most important steps is to understand the difference between clubs like a driving iron and a hybrid. Take a look at driving iron vs. hybrid, which one you should have in your bag, and why!

 

Main Differences Between a Driving Iron and Hybrid

Sometimes when looking at a driving iron or a utility iron and a hybrid, you can see quite a few similarities. In addition, both of these clubs are intended to get players’ distance and help with improving tee shots and overall performance in the long game.

However, where you see big differences between the driving iron and the hybrid are in the ball flight, forgiveness, carry distance, and playability.

Ball Flight

Traditional long irons have a low and penetrating ball flight. These clubs have less spin than others in the bag and are designed to have slightly less carry distance but plenty of roll.

When you replace these long irons with a hybrid, you will notice that the ball goes considerably higher. The center of gravity in a hybrid is positioned low and in the center, and it increases the ball flight that players get from their shots.

With a higher ball flight, expect that the ball will stop on a green easier and you can use the hybrid for approach shots with ease.

Driving irons, on the other hand, are very similar to long irons in their ball flight, launch angle, and trajectory. This club is designed to keep shots a bit lower and cut them through the wind and rough conditions.

Both of these shots can be important. The way I always decided which was best for my game was by looking at the golf bag as a whole and deciding where these gaps in performance were. If I already have many high flying shots in my bag, the driving iron may help give me more variety.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness in golf clubs is something that will vary from one manufacturer to another. Sometimes a hybrid golf club can be made to be highly forgiving, and other times it is more of a players hybrid and will instead be workable.

The forgiveness of a hybrid is traditionally a bit higher than a driving iron or a long iron. This is why the club has so much popularity. Traditionally speaking, the average golfer does quite well with the hybrid clubs and their ease of use, especially from the rough.

With driving irons, you tend to see less forgiveness, but this sometimes has to do with the total loft. The lower the loft of a golf club, the harder it is to hit. Many driving irons have a 2 iron or 3 iron loft because they are designed to help a golfer have an alternative to a driver off the tee.

Carry Distance

Carry distance, roll, and total distance are the three parameters used to determine how far a golf ball will travel.

With a driving iron, expect slightly lower carry distances but long total distances. Hybrid golf clubs will have higher carry distances but lower total distances.

Again, this decision will require you to pair up your current level of play to the equipment that will make the most significant difference in your game. For many golfers, carry distance is the most important factor when it comes to accuracy and approach shots that land near the pin.

pin high in golf

Playability

The playability of the club refers to your ability to control the ball’s flight and trajectory, as well as the type of lie that you can use the club from.

A hybrid is typically not the most workable golf club in the bag. Even when you make a great swing, you will notice that the ball goes relatively straight and high, and it’s hard to control this. However, hitting a hybrid out of the rough or even out of a divot is quite easy to accomplish.

On the other hand, the driving iron is tough to hit out of the rough or sloped lie. This is a club that should be saved for clean fairway lies or even on a tee box on a long par 3, or a par 4 with a tight fairway.

However, one of the great things about a driving iron is that you can hit a cut or a draw with this club in hand quite easily.

 

Pros and Cons of a Driving Iron

There are both positives and negatives to any golf club in the bag. More and more players realize that the driving iron can be an alternative not just to the hybrid or long iron but also to fairway wood and, for some golfers, an alternative to a driver.

Pros

  • Comes in a wide range of lofts that help fill in the golf bag
  • Low spin typically increases total roll and accuracy
  • Shaft choices in both graphite and steel shafts
  • Lightweight and aerodynamic for increased clubhead speed
  • More and more options are brought to market each year

Cons

  • Does not have as much forgiveness; the sole is narrower
  • It can be difficult to hit out the rough
  • Seems to be a better fit for the higher swing speed players

 

Pros and Cons of a Hybrid

The hybrid golf club has really revolutionized the game of golf. So many more players are taking out their long irons and putting in hybrids. However, there are still some players who state that the hybrid is a poor decision for their game.

With a hybrid golf club, you are not going to get perfection. Instead, the club does a great job of combining both forgiveness and distance to give players what they are looking for and make the game more enjoyable.

Pros

  • Very easy to launch
  • Great club for replacing the long irons
  • High launch out of the rough
  • Available in many different lofts
  • Lightweight graphite shaft options for higher ball speed
  • Easy distance

Cons

  • Not as workable as other golf clubs
  • It can be hard to control the ball flight
  • Not as many options for the lower handicap player

 

When to Use Each Type of Club

Now that you have a better idea as to what the hybrid and driving iron have in common and where they can benefit your game, it’s time to understand where it makes sense to use each of these clubs.

Club selection is what helps golf course management, and golfers that are good at it have much better results from a scoring perspective.

Off The Tee Box

You can use either the hybrid or the driving iron off the tee box. However, my preference would be the driving iron.

If you are a player that struggles with a club that can be your go-to choice for a straight drive that catches some extra roll, the driving iron is a great club to consider. The tee box allows you a perfect lie on a slightly elevated tee, making it easier to hit the driving iron.

When hitting from the tee box with the driving iron or even the hybrid, it can be smart to learn how to hit a stinger-type golf shot that encourages increased roll.

Clean Fairway Lie

The clean fairway lie is another area of the course where you can hit either the driving iron or the hybrid. This would be a situation where you should choose a club based on your confidence level as well as the goal of the end result.

If you are just trying to advance the ball down the fairway as far as possible, the driving iron makes the most sense. For golfers that want to get a shot to land 10 feet from the pin, try the hybrid.

Think about your game as a whole, and try to remember that golfers who have a slightly faster swing speed tend to have better luck with driving irons from these types of lies.

Out of The Rough

When hitting a shot out of the rough, the hybrid is the clear winner. Hybrid golf clubs have an incredibly high launch, and since their clubhead is designed with a bit of extra weight, the club tends to cut through the rough with ease.

Hitting the ball out of the rough requires paying careful attention to the lie to ensure if it’s going to be a flier or if it may knock down the total distance. If your ball is sitting up nicely and you have a driving iron with a bit more loft, don’t be afraid to give the driving iron a shot.

Smart players will know how to read a lie and then combine that knowledge of what the lie will do with their ability to pull off the shot.

 

Brittany Olizarowicz

Britt O has been playing golf since the age of 7. Almost 30 years later, she still loves the game, has played competitively on every level, and spent a good portion of her life as a Class A PGA Professional. Britt currently resides in Savannah, GA, with her husband and two young children.