In golf, getting to grips with long irons is among the hardest disciplines to master. For new golfers and high handicappers, it can be a whole area of play that frustrates advancement in the game.
Hybrid clubs are emerging as a class of their own, a bridge between woods and irons that can give you more loft, more distance and more forgiveness.
In short, hybrids are a gift to high handicappers.
But not all hybrids are equal. So how do you know which hybrids to choose?
Let us fill your golf bag with the best hybrids for high handicappers, and the last one back to the clubhouse is a rotten egg.
In a hurry? Here’s our top pick.
In a hurry?
This is our Winner!
Best Hybrid For High Handicapper - Reviews
As a high handicapper, you’re striving for balance and advancement. You want a set of hybrids which can significantly improve your golf game, without taking a flamethrower to your bank account.
As such, the Pinemeadow Excel hybrids beat out some of the more spectacular higher-priced hybrids in our list, because they give you enough advantage that you’ll genuinely feel the benefits of hybrid clubs, without breaking the bank.
The Excel hybrids are available for both left and right handed golfers in equivalents from the 3 iron all the way down to the pitching wedge – which is another up-side to the relatively wallet-friendly price – and come with a unique clubhead design which helps you equalize your performance over various terrain types, so you get a smooth, consistent result wherever your ball lies.
The Excel hybrids have differing loft-levels as you progress down the iron-numbers, so you tune in to their performance more smoothly than is sometimes possible with a set of actual irons, especially in the longer irons and in the transition to the shorter ones. Smoother effects with more predictable results are bound to improve not just the practicalities of your play, but your confidence in your shot and club choice as you go round the course.
The clubface on the Excel hybrids has a larger sweet spot than you’d expect on equivalent irons. Larger sweet spots are the friends of the high handicapper, translating into more confident, forgiving contact and flight. And as with all Pinemeadow clubs, the hybrids come with the option of upgrading to graphite shafts, for a more lightweight, faster swing.
If you’re looking for an alignment tool to improve your aim, the Excels have a distinctive red dash on their tops, which marks center mass on the clubface.
There are flashier hybrids on the market, with more hardcore science of golfing victory embedded in their heads and souls. But for high handicappers, the amount of advantage you get with the bigger sweet spots, the smooth journey of the loft-levels down the iron ladder, the terrain-equalizing action of the heads and the option to shed weight and add speed, all within the budget-friendly range of the Pinemeadow offering, feels like a package tailor-made to bring smiles, to boost confidence and to ultimately improve the handicap and the enjoyment you’ll get from any round of golf. That’s why the Pinemeadow Excel hybrids top our list of the best hybrids.
There’s no doubt the Cleveland Launcher HB hybrid irons made a big impression when they were launched. Some reviewers who tried them even claimed they were ‘like legal cheating’ and that it was ‘almost impossible to mishit’ with them.
To be fair, there’s hype, and then there’s justified hype, and the Launchers do more or less everything you want them to do – especially for beginners and high handicappers looking to improve their game.
Coming in everything from the 4 iron to the pitching wedge, the Launchers have been designed to focus on higher launch, straighter shots, and more forgiveness.
Any of that sound bad to you?
Didn’t think so.
Especially for golfers who struggle to get distance with standard irons, the Launchers might be an absolute boon – these hybrids will launch your ball higher, straighter, and unless you’re doing something very intriguing and very wrong, probably more in line with what you intended to do than many standard irons would ever do.
The Launchers may not look like standard irons, but then they don’t perform like them either, in that they’re less restrictive and less like hard work. The Launchers have a thick sole which means you can use them to swing from any lie. They’re dependable, logical, and are able to give you a smooth swing from almost anywhere on the course.
The goal when Cleveland launched the Launchers was to design a set of hybrids that focused on more or less everything high handicappers need – forgiveness, sweet spots, simplicity, distance and a significant improvement in likely accuracies, without stapling a golfing supercomputer to every club.
The company’s delivered on that goal, and the Launchers have been carving a name for themselves ever since. For new golfers and high handicappers, this is a set of hybrids that, while not exactly like legal cheating, do feel like they’ve unlocked a couple of cheat modes that boost your skills.
If you’re looking for some science to back up the rave, each of the Launchers has a fixed, bonded hosel.
What’s that got to do with the number of your handicap? Fixed hosels mean minimal twisting through the point of impact, mean less hooking or slicing from contact to follow through to flight and eventual lie.
Also, the weight in the Launchers has been pushed deeper and lower in the clubhead. Why? The lower and deeper you go, the truer the swing through the golf ball, which translates to more accurate launch angles. It might sound simple when you read it, but it’s a revolution in the real physical world. A revolution that might well shave points off your handicap by translating your intent to the ball, and minimizing the effect of any natural error of the high handicap golfer.The simple but incredibly intelligent things Cleveland has built into the Launchers mean they’re likely to stand up extremely well in any comparison with your existing irons and even with many other hybrid sets. You might well see higher, longer, straighter shots more or less from your first round with the Launchers. It’s not by any means impossible to mishit your ball with these hybrids. It’s just significantly harder than you might be used to.
Being aware of the need for balance between improvement to your golf game and the budget and value-for-money aspects of high handicap play, it’s worth checking out the Adams Tight Lies hybrid.
It’s not without reason that hybrids are frequently described as ‘rescue clubs,’ because if they don’t exactly swoop in, all cape and Spandex, they do often get you out of the tight spots which add to your stroke-count and ultimately to your handicap. Anything that can get you out of those tight lies reliably is going to be a boon to high handicappers, and users say the Adams Tight Lies hybrid has what it takes to earn its place in your golf bag in those circumstances.
Available with either a 22 or 25 degree loft, and a regular or senior flex in its graphite shaft, it applies a kind of useful dynamite if you find yourself in the rough or in a particularly difficult lie, so you can find your way back to the straighter, narrower fairway or green play you’re looking for.
Adams has gone as far as patenting its Ghost Slot Technology, which gives its Tight Lies hybrid a flexible face. The face also has those magical three little words every high handicapper loves to hear – a larger sweet spot – thanks to an inverted design with a low profile. Why do you want a flexibly-faced upside-down hybrid? Simple – the flexibility translates into more jump in your ball – when struck by the Adams hybrid, it’ll go faster, loftier and crucially, with more forgiveness than it would when struck by some of the other hybrids on the market. Flexibility, speed, distance and forgiveness combine in the single concept that is rescue. If you’re in trouble, if there are miles to go before you putt, pull your Adams hybrid and you’re reliably not going to have that problem any more.
Add all of that to a reasonable price tag and what you have is a club which effectively replaces your long irons, and which delivers value for money to your golf bag.
One word of warning though – some users find it actually hits balls too far. If that seems like the kind of problem you’d love to have, that’s understandable as a high handicapper, because distance and precision are the more pressing issues at that end of the spectrum. If you’re looking for a smooth transition down the gears of the irons though, an understanding of what club to use for what shot, it can muddy the waters when you have hybrids lofting balls far further than the corresponding iron would do. The impressive distance play of the Adams hybrid is likely to be more of a positive to high handicap players than a negative, but it’s worth keeping in mind when there are hybrids on the market which mimic the iron-based transition of power-to-club levels.
Increased distance. Increased accuracy. From anywhere, anytime.
Thought you might be.
Welcome to the TaylorMade RBZ Rescue.
The RBZ Rescue has been designed to do a small handful of fundamental, useful things extremely well, and it’s reaped the rewards both in orders from high handicap golfers and positive reviews. It’s becoming a solid first hybrid for many high handicappers looking to explore what a hybrid can actually offer their performance because it keeps things fairly simple and does what you need it to do with a stolid but intelligent reliability.
The low center of gravity in the RBZ means that when you hit the ball, physics becomes your friend – it will loft the ball high, far, and impressively straight unless you go spectacularly out of your way to get it wrong.
TaylorMade has brought its Speed Pocket technology to play in the RBZ Rescue, meaning the launch angle is improved on contact. The quality of that contact’s also been tweaked with a shallow profile. That shallowness of profile translates to a larger sweet spot and sometimes additional forward motion when badly mishit, rather than the traditional hook or slice.
The Rocketfuel shaft is lightweight to increase your swing speed, meaning it acts to boost your distance play, and a strategically positioned mass pad gives you better launch when you play through the ball.
Available in 3, 4 and 5 ‘iron’ equivalents, each with their own loft level, the TaylorMade RBZ Rescue stands out as a reliable hybrid for high handicappers, with a surprising amount of technology and design crammed into it, all helping you improve your game.
We may be down the bottom end of our list, but it’s worth noting that every hybrid on this list will be of immense help to high handicappers, because they’ve all been designed to conquer some or all of the issues that most afflict high handicap golfers.
The Cobra F8 brings the company’s Baffler Rail technology to the party, which uses different rails depending on the lie of the ball, to equalize the effect of contact and give you a smooth swing and a straight shot from wherever you happen to be. Add to that reduced drag through a multi-directional crown, meaning you get impressive distance from your shot, and a backload center of gravity controlled through interchangeable weights, which adds height and even more distance, and it begins to feel like the golfing equivalent of a magic wand.
As with most clubs that make it onto our list, the F8 combines a lot of technological assistance and design into an unfussy club (with, in the case of the F8, the boxy look beloved of many golfers) that delivers maximum forgiveness and mitigation of high handicappers’ issues. It should deliver some serious advancement for little additional effort on the part of the golfer, while boosting the confidence of high handicappers to make progress in their game.
Best Hybrid For High Handicapper - Buyers Guide
There are a few things high handicappers should look out for when preparing to add some hybrid tech to their golf bag.
Keep The Fun Intact
As a high handicapper, golf can sometimes seem like a puzzle. Remember it’s also meant to be fun and don’t buy a hybrid that’s so high-tech it feels over-serious. It’s a game, not a chore. Buy something that can help you unlock more fun out of it.
Go The Distance
When you’re a high handicapper, distance-per-shot may well be a key advantage that can help you lower your numbers. Look for hybrids that can extend your distance-per-shot, while also increasing the forgiveness you get with any swing.
Lots of the best hybrids for high handicappers have enough technological design in them to get you out of situations that would otherwise add to your stroke numbers. Find the right fit for you, but make sure it aids your distance, your straightness, and ideally your loft, while building in maximum forgiveness.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do beginners need hybrids?
Hybrids can offer a bridge between high handicap play and outright iron play – they can help newer golfers or those who struggle to get their numbers down a way into the greater complexities of the game, while boosting their confidence. They can also add fun to any golfer’s game.
What does forgiveness mean in a hybrid?
Forgiveness is the degree to which a mishit will be compensated, corrected for or even avoided altogether by features of the hybrid club, like larger sweet spots and weight placements that deliver smoother swings through the ball. Forgiveness is a function of compassion translated into golf.