Even though ‘utility’ or ‘hybrid’ golf clubs are now common and most golfers have at least one or two in their golf bags, there still seems to be a difference in opinion amongst instructors as to the proper ball position for these clubs. Should you play it like an iron, or like a fairway wood? In my opinion you have to take into account a number of variables before you can answer that question. Swing tendencies (are you a ‘sweeper’ or a ‘digger’), club head design (how much face progression/offset is present), specific loft of the club (there are numerous loft options available), and shaft length (similarly lofted clubs can vary an inch or more in length from one manufacturer to another) all need to be taken into consideration when determining optimum ball position.
Try this process next time you are on the range to help you find ‘your’ optimum hybrid ball position. Start off hitting shots using your ‘fairway wood’ ball position (about the width of a ball or more closer to the target than the center of your stance). This ball position will maximize trajectory while still taking advantage of the built in forgiveness of these clubs when hitting the ball lower on the club face (thin). This forward ball position also helps minimize interaction with the turf (maximizing club head speed through impact). If you are hitting the ball ‘too thin’ or topping it in this position, try a ball position about ½ an inch farther back in your stance until you find one that delivers consistent center faced contact without taking big divots. This is now your hybrid ball position off of a fairway lie. To hit this club out of the rough, try putting the ball just a little farther back in your stance to get a slightly more descending blow. Now that you have figured out your ball position, don’t forget to practice some ‘chip shots’ with these clubs as well.