Are you a golfer who always seems to struggle on the green and consistently leaves your putts short? Believe it or not, the vast majority of amateur club golfers struggle with this very same problem. Is it because they are hitting their putts too softly? Maybe it’s a technical issue?
But have you ever thought that the problem of leaving your putts short could be because of your equipment and not you? Now I know what you’re thinking, every golfer blames their equipment; it’s the easiest cop-out and a great way to blame something other than yourself.
Unlike your putter, which is solely designed and used for putting, other clubs in your bag can play various roles and be used in several situations. Two such clubs are your “hybrid” and your “fairway woods.” Both of these clubs come in very handy for putting; yes, that’s right, putting.
Some situations arise on the golf course where you’re much better off using a hybrid or fairway wood for putting. For example, if your ball is sitting up against the fringe or you’re putting against the grain, these plus any other number of situations can arise in which the putter should be your LAST choice.
You may have seen the PGA Tour pros putting with clubs other than their putter. You’ve probably thought, “what the heck are they doing? Well, now you know, they’re probably faced with a putt that is sitting up against the fringe or just off; in which case they need to get the ball “up and over” the fringe before rolling to the cup.
In this article, we’ll look at:
- How to putt with a hybrid
- Why to putt with a hybrid
- When to putt with a hybrid and much, much more
So let’s get started and see if we can have you mastering the art of putting with a hybrid.
When To Putt With A Hybrid Or Fairway Wood?
How many times have you tried to chip your ball when you’re sitting just off the green? Probably every time, right? And how many times have you “flubbed” the chip only to leave it 30 feet short or 50 feet back down the fairway? Next time you find your ball just off the green, try using your hybrid.
After you inevitably “flub” your chip, you’re left with a long putt and steam belching out of your ears; it’s a recipe for disaster. Luckily, the answer to this problem is sitting right inside your golf bag; it’s just a matter of thinking outside the box.
When faced with the fringe in front of the ball, your hybrid club and fairway wood offer the best of both worlds. Both the hybrid club and fairway wood can elevate the ball up and over the fringe. Once on the green, the ball rolls exactly as it would with a putter. A win-win.
Granted, learning to putt with your hybrid or fairway wood will take time, but once you’ve nailed it, you’re putting, and more importantly, your score will improve dramatically. The putter will always be the “go-to” club on the green, so make sure you choose the putter that suits you best.
30 Feet or Longer
If you’re like most high-handicap golfers, you probably struggle with chipping or pitching the ball around the green. Learning to putt with your hybrid can alleviate the stress and trouble associated with “flubbing” your chip on these long shots.
When faced with a “tight” lie, it’s very easy to dig your wedge into the turf, leaving your ball short or, even worse still, off the green. Your hybrid and fairway woods have plenty of loft on them, making them perfect for long putts or shots where you need to clear the lip of the fringe.
Hybrid and fairway woods are easy to elevate, and once on the green, they run out to the cup much better than a putt with your putter would have.
Playing Into the Grain Of The Grass
Chipping into the grain is challenging and fraught with danger for two primary reasons. First, it’s easy for your wedge to “dig in” or get “caught up” in the grain, and secondly, the extra spin the wedge imparts on the ball will make it stop short.
Your hybrid club and fairway wood will help the ball run to the hole, which is perfect, especially when chipping against the slower grain. Your hybrid club and fairway wood also “glide” over the tightly cut turf, meaning you don’t have to worry about your club head digging in.
If you find yourself short-sided and going uphill, it offers the perfect situation for you to pull out your hybrid club to putt with. You can get the ball over the fringe and then run the ball to the cup much more effectively than if you used your putter.
Obstacles or Obstructions
If you’ve played enough golf, then more than likely, at one point or another, you’ve been faced with a putt with an obstruction directly on your line. More often than not, it’s a dead patch of turf or a sprinkler head that you need to navigate to get the ball rolling on the green.
The loft on your hybrid club comes in perfectly here because it helps get the ball over the obstruction and run to the cup just like a traditional putt would.
Fringe Right Behind Your Ball
There’s nothing worse than when the fringe sits right behind your golf ball, and you can’t get the putter head to it; enter the hybrid club and fairway wood. Both of these clubs allow you to “hit down” on the ball without worrying about your putter head getting caught in the thick rough or buffeting the collar of the fringe on your take back.
When To Avoid Using The Hybrid For Putting
Ok, so before we go into exactly how to use your hybrid club for putting, let’s take a look at four instances in which you SHOULDN’T use your hybrid or fairway wood. When you’re out on the course, I’m sure you’ll find other situations you should avoid using your hybrid, too, but here are the main four.
- Being Short Sided
When using your hybrid or fairway wood for putting, you’ll find that it runs, and runs and runs and runs; that’s right, the hybrid club will impart NO backspin on your golf ball. If you’re short-sided, the last club you should be using is your hybrid. If you find yourself short-sided, your best option is to use your lob wedge and land the ball as close as possible to the pin; this way, you take the risk of “running” by the pin out of the equation.
- Thick Rough
When using your hybrid or fairway wood from the rough, your hosel can get caught in the fescue grass and “turn over,” causing your ball to roll, which, as we have seen, is the last thing you want. I suggest playing a chip shot with your lob or sand wedge when playing from the thick rough.
- Your Shot or Putt Is Downhill
Again, your hybrid club comes in handy when putting, but putting downhill is probably the last situation in which you want to use your hybrid. Putting or chipping downhill will require a deft touch and, if possible, loads of backspin. Unfortunately, your hybrid club and fairway wood “roll” and do not spin.
- Sidewinder or Double-Breaking Putts
Long double-breaking putts are challenging enough, so the last thing you want to do is make it tougher. Using your hybrid club or fairway wood, it’s easy to “blast” through both of the breaks leaving your ball further from the hole than when you started. When faced with a “sidewinder” or double-breaking chip, you’re much better off “flying” the ball as close as possible to the cup to take out both breaks. Although this shot is quite tricky, it is still the better option in this situation.
4 Steps On How To Putt Using A Hybrid
Ok, so now we’ve learned when to use the hybrid club for putting and when to avoid it, we can now look at the techniques used for putting with your hybrid club and fairway wood.
Many high-handicappers will still question or believe that playing a putter from the above situations is still their best option, but that’s just because they haven’t had enough experience and practice using a hybrid for putting. The benefits of the hybrid club are many, but perhaps the most significant is the small swing required to get out of the rough.
Because the swing is compact, it’s simple; even the highest handicapper can confidently make the stroke. Putters are great for when you’re on the green, but when it comes to putting out of thick rough or when you’re up against the lip of the fringe, putters can be problematic.
You can use a “bump and run” shot which is typically played with a mid or long iron, but in the situations that we are focusing on here, the hybrid is the better option because the ball will run. Irons impart much more spin on the ball, meaning they’re better utilized when you’ve short-sided yourself or are putting or chipping downhill.
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Evaluating Your Lie
Before you go reaching into your bag to pull out your hybrid club or fairway wood, you need to evaluate the lie and situation you find yourself in. Ideally, it will be one of the situations I’ve outlined above, and if this is the case, then you’ve got the all-clear to go ahead and play your hybrid.
DON’T use the hybrid club just because it “looks good” and you like showing off; only use it if and when required; otherwise, leave it in your bag and use your putter. One more situation where the hybrid club comes in handy is on wet greens. This is because wet greens run much slower, and the extra roll from the hybrid club helps get your ball closer to the cup.
Time To Read The Putt
Many high-handicappers do not read the putt. They simply forget partly because they’re using a hybrid club and view the shot more as a “chip” than a “putt.” It’s essential that once you’ve selected the club and committed to the type of shot you’re going to play, you must read the lines of the putt.
Just as you would any putt, be sure to read the lines from all angles, both in front and behind your ball and off to the side. Reading your putt from the side is one angle that many club golfers neglect, which is a big mistake. Viewing your putt from the side can help you gauge the distance and provide another perspective on the breaks of the putt.
The only factor that will differ is that when using your hybrid club, you will need to identify your “landing spot.” This is because the ball will be airborne when it leaves the club, and the last thing you want to do is hit the perfect shot only to see it land on a sprinkler head or a patch of dead turf.
Adjusting Your Set Up And Address
Your setup and how you address the ball in golf are among the most critical factors in determining a successful outcome. Luckily when it comes to using your hybrid club for putting, limited adjustment and technical change are required; this is another reason why the hybrid club makes for a great putting alternative.
Firstly would be your stance. As when putting your feet are close together, the same goes for using your hybrid. You’re pretty much using the same stance that you would when putting with one slight difference; your weight needs to be on your front foot.
Placing 70% of your weight on your front foot makes it much easier to attack the ball at a steep angle, ensuring the club head and shaft of the hosel don’t get caught up in the rough or the collar of the fringe. The next thing you need to do is make sure you grip down on the club. Gripping down on the handle allows you to control the club head much better.
Hit It Like A Putt
The stroke itself is almost identical to that of your putting stroke; this can be advantageous and problematic at the same time. Many high-handicappers play the shot more like a “chip” than a putt, and I’m sure this is purely because they have a hybrid club in their hands rather than a putter.
The reality is the stroke is “back and through,” with the only difference being your weight distribution. Keep your arms and shoulders moving in one uniform triangle, and be sure not to “break” the wrists.
Some PGA Tour pros play their hybrid shots off the toe of the club to help stop the ball “jumping” off the face. I do not recommend this technique for the average club golfer because it’s just too hard to hit the ball off the toe of the club consistently.
Time To Hit The Practice Green
Practice makes perfect, and when it to comes to learning how to putt with your hybrid club and fairway wood, this adage rings truer than ever.
Start by practicing from an area of the practice green that is flat and has been well kept; this is because initially, you want to make sure you have the technique and stroke mastered to the best of your ability before tackling shots from more challenging lies and lengths.
It’s best to keep your “new” shot on the practice green until you feel comfortable enough to take it out on the course. Although that being said, players like Tiger Woods don’t wait. Tiger feels that the quicker he takes a new shot to the course, the quicker he can master it.
Lack Imagination And Creativity?
If you are looking for some inspiration or lack creativity when out on the golf course, check out these two YouTube clips of Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson chipping from off the green with their fairway woods.
One of the great things about the game of golf is that there is no “universal” or “one way” to play the game; that’s what makes the game so exciting. There’s an adage in golf, “you don’t need to draw pictures on the scorecard.”
Simply put, the score matters, not how you got there.
The 18th Hole
Thinking outside of the box is one of the most critical skills you can learn when taking up the game of golf. PGA Tour pros can display great creativity, enabling them to get out of tricky situations.
One example of creativity and imagination is learning to putt with a hybrid club or a fairway wood. Many golfers forget they have 14 clubs in their bag, and most, if not all, can be used in many different situations. For those of us experienced golfers, we know that golf offers up new tricky, and challenging situations every round.
Give this alternative to putting a go because I’m sure it can help improve your short game and ultimately lower your score and your handicap.