Jake was a competitive golfer for over a decade dating back to the days of being the Captain of his high school golf team. He has played more than 200 courses across 32 different states in the US. Now semi-retired, Jake continues to golf 3-4 days a week with a current 2 handicap, gives golf lessons to his friends and family, and provides a wealth of knowledge to Golf Circuit from his competitive playing days. Jake combines practical expertise with technical knowledge to create golfing strategies and training techniques for both beginners and scratch golfers.
We only get 14 choices for the golf clubs we can play with on the golf course. Therefore it makes sense to choose the clubs that will benefit your golf game the most.
I have gone back and forth several times through the years between keeping the 5 wood vs 3 hybrid in the bag. The performance from each is a bit different and you have to be smart about what suits your game the best.
5 Wood Vs 3 Hybrid: What Is The Difference
The biggest difference between the 5 wood and the 3 hybrid is the shape of the clubhead. One is built as a fairway wood, and one is a mix between an iron and fairway wood.
With the design of these two clubs being different, the performance is considerably different and will create a variation in the golf shots you can hit.
The standard loft of a 5 wood is 19 degrees, and the standard loft of a 3 hybrid is also 19 degrees. However, both a 5 wood and a 3 hybrid can have lofts running from around 18 to 21 degrees.
With two golf clubs having the same loft, they should technically fly the same distance. However, this is not always the case.
The 5 wood is a little longer than the 3 hybrid. The difference is typically around an inch to a half inch, depending on the manufacturer and any customizations that may have been made to the club.
The total club length for a 5 wood is usually between 41 and 42 inches, considerably shorter than the 3 wood and driver.
The club length in the 3 hybrid is closer to 41 inches and sometimes even slightly less.
The longer a golf club is, the further you can hit it. This, of course, requires you to also have a fast swing speed to hit the ball solidly when swinging with a longer golf club in your hands.
The hybrid ball flight is more like an iron ball flight, and it will typically be a bit higher, with more spin. Fairway woods are hit more on the upswing as opposed to the downswing, and it can create a more leveled-out ball flight.
Great players are often able to control the flight of the ball and the trajectory, but many golfers are stuck with what the club is capable of. Keep in mind that some golf clubs have an adjustable loft or launch that will impact the ball’s flight.
One of the reasons that people like a 5 wood compared to a 3 hybrid is because it is considered a very forgiving 5 wood. However, when put up against a 3 hybrid, the club won’t feel as forgiving to people.
The thing that I find most interesting here is that the 5 wood is one of the more forgiving fairway woods, and the 3 hybrid is one of the least forgiving hybrids. So when you compare these clubs against other similar golf clubs, the forgiveness factor can be a little tricky.
I can tell you from experience that the amount of forgiveness in both golf clubs is really similar. In fact, they are both considerably better than trying to swing a 3 iron, and that is all any amateur player needs to know!
Most people hit their fairway wood a bit further than they hit their hybrid. With the clubs having the same loft, this difference in the distance comes from the total length of the golf club.
Remember, too, that distance is a mix of ball speed, a center strike on the golf club, and equipment that fits the specific needs of your game.
Spin on the golf ball will impact how it flies and also how it reacts when it lands. The spin on a 5 wood is more likely to be a forward spin that encourages extra roll and distance.
With a hybrid, there is a bit more control in the way the ball is hit and therefore you will notice that there is more backspin on your golf shots.
Players tend to need a mix of high and low spin golf clubs in their bags. The key is to put together the perfect combination to work for your skills and the strengths and weaknesses of your game.
How To Choose Between 5 Wood Vs 3 Hybrid
As you saw when I was explaining the difference between the 5 wood and the 3 hybrid, there was no clear winner as one club being better than another. That’s because this decision is more about which is best for you, not which is the better golf club.
Here are the factors to keep in mind when choosing between a 5 wood and a 3 hybrid.
The faster your swing speed is, the easier it is to hit the longer golf club. Those with fast swing speeds should see great trajectory and distance from a fairway wood.
However, when your swing speed slows down a bit, the hybrid clubs tend to be more accurate and easier to be consistent with.
In fact, many golfers that struggle with keeping their swing speed up will switch to hybrid irons overall and have them throughout the entire set. The hybrid typically has a low center of gravity, making it easier for slower swing golfers to get the distance and flight they need.
What is your current set makeup like?
I highly recommend having at least one hybrid and at least one fairway wood. Each time we play golf we run across different situations that require certain equipment.
If you are playing with a set of clubs that does not have a fairway wood or a hybrid, you may struggle to get something that is the right fit for your needs as a player. The current set makeup needs to blend well from the driver to the irons and vice versa.
Some players skip putting the 3 wood in their bag because it can be a little harder to hit. If this describes you, I would recommend going with the 5 wood as you will want to bridge the gap between driver and irons with some type of a hybrid.
Some golfers are great at hitting down, and through their golf shots, others will be better at sweeping the ball.
Take a look at your golf swing on video and see if you tend to be a little more steel or shallow on your approach to the ball. Shallow-swinging golfers will do really well with the fairway wood.
Those that have more steep swing should benefit from the 3 hybrid. Although golfers can learn how to adjust their attack angle, it is always best to go with something that is a bit more natural.
Some players looking to add long game clubs to their bag need distance, while others need accuracy and control. If you are a golfer seeking pure distance, the fairway wood is the better choice.
With lower spin rates and a more penetrating ball flight (like stinger shots), most golfers see about 10 yards more with a 5 wood than they do with a 3 hybrid.
Remember that all golfers are looking for extra distance in their game, but with these clubs, you must fill the distance gaps you need. If you hit one of your fairway woods and hybrids the same distance, you are probably not varying your performance enough.
One of the most common questions we are asked is whether or not handicap comes into play when choosing between a 5 wood and a 3 hybrid. This really should not impact your decision one way or another.
Many lower handicap players struggle with long irons or can’t stand fairway woods. Your preference for the 5 wood or the 3 hybrid comes down to your ability to make great contact with the center of the clubface with either of these clubs in your hands.
You should consider the forgiveness of the individual 5 wood or 3 hybrid you choose and make sure that matches your skill level.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about the 5 wood vs. 3 hybrid debate and a few things you should consider before you decide on the perfect choice for your golf game.
Is a 3 hybrid equivalent to a 5 wood?
A 3 hybrid and a 5 wood typically have the same loft. This helps them to fly relatively the same distance, but there is still a difference in performance when it comes to ball flight, spin, and workability.
What hybrid is equal to a 5 wood?
The hybrid that is closest to the 5 wood is the 3 hybrid.
Is it better to have a 5 wood or hybrid?
If you don’t have any other fairway woods in your bag, it is better to have the 5 wood and then maybe put a 4 hybrid into play. The key is to have a mix of performance across all clubs to benefit from them.
Should I replace my 5 wood with a hybrid?
If you struggle with consistency from your hybrid and ball flight trouble, you may want to consider a 3 hybrid instead. With the hybrid being a bit shorter in length, you can get some added control.
What club does a 3 hybrid replace?
A 3 hybrid will replace a 3 iron, but it can also be used instead of a 5 wood. Golfers can build a set out however they like, as long as the lofts and gaps work well for their needs.
Hopefully, you now feel a bit more educated in the differences between a 5 wood vs 3 hybrid. Each of these clubs can be beneficial from a performance standpoint as long as they are the right match for your golf game.
Typically speaking, golfers seeking pure distance go with the 5 wood, while those with more of a concern about control will go with the 3 hybrid.
One of the most important things is to choose golf clubs that give you a variation in the types of shots that you can hit.