We’ve all heard the quip that if you are ever caught on the golf course in a thunderstorm, hold a 1-iron towards the sky because “even God can’t hit a one-iron.” Most golfers have trouble with a 2, 3 and even a 4-iron too. Hybrid golf clubs were created to be an easier to hit alternative to a long iron.
Some of the early hybrids were introduced in the 1970’s and included the Ginty and the Baffller. In 1973 Stan Thompson introduced the “Ginty” rescue wood, a laminate wood with a large zinc keel shaped sole plate and a shorter more upright shaft. He even launched a Ginty iron set with the keel shaped sole.
Cobra Golf introduced the Baffler utility wood in 1975. It featured a rail sole with an extraordinary amount of weight that made it easier for golfers to hit successful shots from difficult lies. They later introduced the “Baffler” utility metal in 1998, which was a spin-off of their Baffler utility wood. The Baffler fairway wood had a patented sole-design engineered to help players hit the ball from difficult lies.
TaylorMade’s “Rescue” clubs debuted in 2003. While the Ginty and Baffler made a mark in the hybrid category, TaylorMade was definitely one of the companies that can be credited with creating the mass appeal that these clubs now enjoy.
Rescue clubs were meant to help launch the ball higher than long irons and help escape bad lies—which is what led to the “rescue” name. Hybrids became an alternative to high-lofted fairway woods since they offered more “iron-like” control because of their shape and the length they are built at.
Adams Golf was also an early pioneer in the hybrid game and by the mid-2000’s Adams would make the claim that their clubs were in more PGA Tour player’s bags than any other hybrid.
The popularity of hybrids started to gain momentum in the early 2000s. According to the Darrel Survey, 7% of golfers used a hybrid in 2004, but this usage jumped to 30% by 2007. According to Golf Digest, the number of golfers using hybrids has now reached more than 80 percent, nearly doubling in the past 18 years. Today, the average golfer carries two hybrids with them.
Hybrids are a great example of an innovation that was designed to make golf a little easier and improve the enjoyment of the game.
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