I've heard it many times before: "I can't hit a fairway wood to save my life." Hitting a solid 3-wood off the deck is one of the tougher things to do in golf. The shaft is long, there's very little loft, and you're probably facing a longer shot. Let's face it; the situation can be a bit intimidating.
That being said, most players, on most courses, are going to need a club they can hit a long way off the ground.
"A-hem. We have a suggestion."
-Engineers at Callaway
Enter the Super Hybrid
Most golfers are paying attention to the hype around the newly-released Mavrik line. However, Callaway has quietly introduced an exciting product that can potentially help a lot of golfers - the Super Hybrid.
What is a Super Hybrid?
Simply put, it's a cross between a fairway metal and a hybrid.
The New Super Hybrid boasts:
- A shorter shaft than a 3 or 5 or even 7 wood (41.5 inches in the 17-degree model), but slightly longer than any traditional hybrid.
- Clubhead smaller than a conventional fairway metal, but larger than a traditional hybrid.
- A bunch of tungsten MIM (Metal Injection Molded) placed internally deep in the heel and toe to increase launch (easier to hit off the ground) and raise the Moment of Inertia (more forgiveness). You know, because golf is hard.
- Lightweight carbon crown to save weight and push the center of gravity as low as possible and the mass towards the edges of the club for enhanced stability.
- All of Callaway's latest tech used to increase ball speed on their past few driver releases - primarily Jailbreak and Flash Face.
Their goal was to create a club that was easy to hit off the ground, launched high enough to hold greens, and help add enough distance for those long approach shots into par 4s and 5s.
The Challenge of Bridging the Gap
As a clubfitter, I'm often tasked with an entire set of clubs. One of the most challenging parts of building a full bag is gapping between the longest playable iron and the driver.
Despite working with some very high-level collegiate and aspiring professional golfers, the majority of my business is with recreational players.
In my experience, most golfers are less consistent with their longer clubs. Finding something they can reliably hit solid and straight(er) off of various lies can pose a challenge.
Callaway's new Super Hybrid represents an innovation that I believe can build upon the success of traditional hybrids.
The idea is pretty simple - all golfers need something they can hit a long way off the deck, and some folks just flat don't hit fairway metals well.
I regularly have to talk slower-speed players off the cliff when I tell them their new set will not include a 3-wood. If your driver swing speed is less than 80, you are likely going to hit a 4 or 5 wood higher, more consistently, and on average notably further than a traditional 3 wood.
Some major OEM's have already begun marking ladies and junior fairway metals as "3-woods" despite the clubs having 18 or 19 degrees of loft, (that's 5 wood loft folks).
If we strip away the labels, we can examine the design differences of these various long game options and use those measurements to help us choose the best one for a particular player.
Where I See the Super Hybrid Fitting In
Long irons traditionally had steel shafts that matched the rest of the iron set. Now utility irons or driving irons are available with graphite shaft options as well, giving fitters access to lighter weights and higher launching bend profiles.
Hybrids now come almost exclusively with graphite shafts. Most companies' "stock" shaft length for a hybrid is slightly longer than the length of the corresponding iron. Ie. 3 iron = 39” while 3 hybrid = 40.5”.
For a player who is starting to lose some clubhead speed, this added "lever length" will increase clubhead speed and potentially add both height and distance.
Fairway woods take length to the next level. An 18-degree fairway metal stock length is about 42 inches, furthering the potential distance of the weapon. However, understand that this distance comes with a cost. Longer shafts can make clubs more challenging to hit solidly, especially off of the ground.
The Super Hybrid splits the difference between traditional hybrid and fairway lengths. It's attempting to achieve some gains from shaft length but salvage some consistency as well. On a side note, it should be noted that the lie angle splits the difference too, making it appropriate for the length of the golf club.
As far as the shaft being offered, the Tensei CK Pro Orange is the only stock option. And it's a very good one. This "real deal" counterbalanced low launch, low spin shaft is a veritable missile launcher. So far, in my fittings, I've batted 1000% with this shaft. The fittings consisted of establishing the flex of the shaft and tuning the hozel to the proper loft and lie settings. With a stock shaft this good, I haven't had to look to anything else (although there are lots of other options through Callaway's custom department).
As far as technology goes, Callaway is just rolling all their latest advancements into a new package. But they do seem to combine for some excellent results.
I tested the Callaway Super Hybrid against my current setup to gain some insight into its performance.
Precisely as it should, the Super Hybrid bridged the gap between my current hybrid and my 3 wood. It's noteworthy that my current hybrid is 17 degrees, and my 3-bent-towards-a-2 iron (which rotates in and out with the hybrid) is set at 18.5 degrees. I must admit that the Super Hybrid was really easy to hit. None of the shots felt like they were dead center (although they weren't bad either).
While the timing of the release was a bit odd, I think in 2020 we'll be fitting a lot of players into the Callaway Super Hybrid who either don't like fairway metals or struggle to hit them.
As always - test before you buy and work with a qualified clubfitter if you can.