Should I Use A 5-Wood or 3-Hybrid?

Unsure on if you should choose a 5-wood or 3-hybrid? We break down the strengths and weaknesses of each type of club

Should I Use A 5-Wood or 3-Hybrid?
(Image credit: Future)

Bridging the gap between your driver or three wood and the longest iron in your bag is a challenge to a lot of golfers, largely because there is a nearly overwhelming amount of options among the best fairway woods and best golf hybrids. Factor in the difficulty level on striking the ball well and accurately from the distances where you would be using these clubs and choosing the right type of fairway wood becomes even more challenging. The choice between using a 5-wood or 3-hybrid is the choice that many golfers are facing, but which one should you be using? Here are some factors to consider...

Forgiveness

Should I Use A 5-Wood or 3-Hybrid?

A 5-wood and 3-hybrid offer different looks at address

(Image credit: Future)

This is an important factor on shots from this sort of distance, or where accuracy is at a premium. While both a 5-wood and 3-hybrid are very forgiving clubs by nature, how they will perform will largely depend on the lie as well as the shot you are trying to hit. 

The head of a 5-wood is marginally smaller head than a 3-wood but notably larger than that of a 3-hybrid. This means the Center of Gravity (CG) is typically positioned deeper, which raises the Moment Of Inertia (MOI) , a common measure of forgiveness off center, and also launch. A 5-wood has been designed to perform well from cleaner lies, such as from the tee and on the fairway but the larger head does make it slightly more tricky to cut through the rough or longer grass if you happen to miss the fairway.

A 3-hybrid tends to be more compact than a 5-wood and often more toe-heavy in shape too depending on the model. The smaller head will typically glide through rough a little easier than the 5-wood, making it a great option for those who aren't overly accurate from the tee, although results can be player dependent. 

A 3-hybrid will typically come with 18° or 19° of loft and a shaft length of 41" or less, compared to a 5-wood which will tend to measure between 41-42". While one inch may not seem like a lot, this difference in shaft length could affect the club speed as well as consistency of strike. 

Distance

Should I Use A 5-Wood or 3-Hybrid?

The Callaway Paradym Ai-Smoke 5-wood

(Image credit: Future)

Opting for a 5-wood or 3-hybrid should also be influenced by how far you want that specific club to go. Despite being similar in loft (usually within a degree) these two clubs will typically travel slightly different distances due to a few factors. Firstly, the larger head of the 5-wood will present more mass behind the ball, that combined with a marginally longer shaft, will create more speed and more force at impact, therefore producing more ball speed and sending the ball further. While there may not be much difference between the two, five yards of extra carry could be the difference between covering the greenside bunker and going for the green, or having to lay up.

Think back to a few recent rounds on the golf course and analyse the shots you had where you would typically have used one of these two clubs and what those shots looked like. You should consider how far you currently hit your longest iron - in most cases people will carry up to a 4-iron and then take note of how far your 3-wood travels. By knowing these distances you can make a more logical decision as to whether the 5-wood or 3-hybrid will slot into your set-up.

One further point worth noting is that most 5-woods we have seen tend to be bonded, meaning they are not adjustable, whereas there are many more hybrids on the market that offer a little more customization through an adjustable hosel. Therefore, if you are someone who prefers the smaller head shape of a hybrid but is seeking the same distance as 5-wood offers, you could always loft the hybrid down one degree or so - just be aware that this will slightly open the face position at address on some models.

Ball Flight, Angle Of Attack and Launch

Should I Use A 5-Wood or 3-Hybrid?

The TaylorMade Qi10 Tour Hybrid has a compact head that will please the eye of the more confident ball striker

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Depending on how you deliver the club into the ball at impact, you will be better suited into either the 5-wood or the 3-hybrid. Players with a steeper attack angle may prefer the use of a hybrid because there will be less resistance with the ground due to the narrower sole, as opposed to 5-wood which will compliment the golfer who is more shallow in their club delivery.

One thing to note in regards to the shorter shaft length of the 3-hybrid is that it will sit with a more upright lie angle and therefore promote a draw-biased shot shape, although manufacturers are building lie angles flatter as standard and more toe weighting to counteract this common complaint. Some even have moveable weight, like the TSR3 hybrid, that alter the shot shape bias. While the lie angle is flatter on the 5-wood due to shaft length, golfers who always suffered with ‘hooking’ the ball may have shied away from them due to the offset presented at address, however more modern 5-woods sit far more neutral behind the ball. 

Because of the CG placement, head design and added speed of the 5-wood, you can expect a higher ball flight than that of the 3-hybrid. This is again something to consider when looking to add one of these two clubs to your bag. If you play most of your golf in windy conditions then you may find you benefit from the slightly flatter ball flight of the 3-hybrid in comparison to the high flying 5-wood and vice versa, if you spend most of your time playing in calmer conditions or firm ground conditions, the 5-wood may be best suited. The height and distance of the 5-wood will allow you to attack longer par 4s or 5s knowing that the easier launch and steeper descent angle should get the ball stopping a little faster.

Which One Is Right For You?

Should I Use A 5-Wood or 3-Hybrid?

The Callaway Paradym Ai-Smoke 5-wood and 3-hybrid

(Image credit: Future)

If you are seeking a club to become your new ‘fairway finder’, has a very high launch and allows you to attack longer holes from the fairway, the 5-wood is a superb option. The high ball flight and distance on offer will make this club a great option for those seeking to bridge a large gap between your long irons and 3-wood.

Should I Use A 5-Wood or 3-Hybrid?

The Callaway Paradym Ai-Smoke 5-wood

(Image credit: Future)

If you prefer the look of a smaller, more compact head with plenty of versatility on hand, then the 3-hybrid may be the more suitable option for you. Performing equally as well from the rough as tight lies on the fairway and often equipped with an adjustable hosel, the 3-hybrid can be the Swiss Army Knife of the golfing world. Golfers with faster swing speeds may benefit from the lower and more workable flight presented by the likes of a 3-hybrid.

Should I Use A 5-Wood or 3-Hybrid?

The Cobra Darkspeed Hybrid was named our best hybrid of the year due to looks and performance

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The choice of whether a 5-wood or 3-hybrid makes it into your bag should be based on your swing tendencies and needs as a golfer. Trying as many different models as possible to find one you like the look and feel of could drastically improve your enjoyment and success with that specific club. Good luck on your search!

Sam De'Ath
Staff Writer

Sam has worked in the golf industry for 12 years, offering advice on equipment to all levels of golfers and as Staff Writer, he tests and reviews equipment throughout the bag. Sam graduated from Webber International University in 2017 with a BSc Marketing Management degree while playing collegiate golf. His experience of playing professionally on both the EuroPro Tour and Clutch Pro Tour, alongside his golf retail history, means Sam has extensive knowledge of golf equipment and what works for different types of golfer.

Sam is a member of North Hants Golf Club in Fleet, Hampshire, where he won the club championship 3 times in succession from 2015-2017. His golfing highlight to date is shooting a round of 10-under 60 at his home club, narrowly missing a wedge shot for a magical 59.


Sam’s current What’s In The Bag?


Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2, 9°

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus, 15°

Hybrid: Ping G430 19°

Irons: Titleist T-100 4 iron, Titleist 620MB, 5-PW

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM8, 50°, 54°, 62°

Putter: Scotty Cameron Select GoLo

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x 2021