Instruction: Hybrids from the rough
February 05, 2014
- Jordan Spieth hits out of the rough at Torrey Pines. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
By Wes Owens, Staff Instructor, PGA TOUR Golf Academy World Golf Village
One of the most versatile clubs in the bag is the hybrid. It's most frequently used as a replacement for the long irons, but it's very handy from the rough, on tight driving holes and long par 3s, and around the greens (as an alternative to chipping).
What makes it so much more effective than an iron from the rough? First of all, it has a much wider sole than an iron, so the clubhead glides much easier through the grass. It doesn't dig or get caught up as easily as a narrow-soled iron does. Secondly, it has a lower, deeper center of gravity more in line with a fairway wood, which helps you to get the ball airborne and launch it higher. Lastly, it's lighter than an iron, which allows you to generate more clubhead speed. The more speed you're able to muster, the more spin you'll produce and the higher the ball will fly.
To maximize distance from the rough with a hybrid, position the ball slightly farther back from where you'd normally play it (i.e., slightly forward of center), set about 55 percent of your weight on your front leg, and choke down 1 to 2 inches on the grip. Because you're choking down, you'll also want to stand a little closer to the ball than normal. These setup adjustments will help to steepen your angle of attack into the ball, minimizing the amount of grass you catch between the ball and the clubface. It's very hard to compress the ball from the rough, so the more clubface you can put on the ball, the more height and distance you'll be able to generate.
As far as the swing, you'll want to feel as if you're hinging the wrists a little sooner on the backswing, so the clubhead works more up than around your body. Again, this helps to create a steeper angle of attack into the ball. Through impact, it's vital that you keep your wrists firm and locked in place (front wrist flat, trail wrist bent back), and the shaft leaning forward.
The firmer the wrists, the easier it is to keep the clubhead stable through impact. You don't want to flip your hands at the bottom of the swing, otherwise you'll hit the ball about 30-40 yards. Imagine you're hitting a punch shot -- keep the trail wrist bent and the handle leaning forward for as long as possible, and finish with your hands low, just above waist height. The lower the finish, the longer you'll be able to sustain the down in the swing, applying more pressure on the ball at impact.
If the lie is particularly gnarly, and the ball is sitting way down in the rough, then it's best to take your medicine and wedge the ball back into the fairway. Take some practice swings to the side of the ball in a similar lie, gauging the resistance of the grass. The more resistance you feel, the more you want to tighten your grip pressure (in both hands) and firm up the wrists through impact. If you encounter too much resistance, pitch it out sideways.
Wes Owens is a Staff Instructor at PGA TOUR Golf Academy World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. For more game-improvement tips from the TOURAcademy instructors, on-the-spot club recommendations and 3D previews of each hole you play, download the TOURCaddie PRO app at www.pgatourcaddie.com