Hybrids are charged with the simple task of outperforming traditional long irons. Lately, however, we’ve seen driverlike technology (high-MOI shapes, faces with bulge and roll) sneak into their designs. Many of the following hybrids even look like miniature versions of drivers by their respective brands. But fear not: They’re easy to hit, and hit long.
Miura Precious Edition MU23
The first-ever hybrid from Japan’s esteemed forged-iron producer, the MU23 has a rich color and a pleasingly rounded back. Its square-at-address face is slightly offset, but we found working the ball was simple. The shaft we tried—Graphite Design’s Tour AD, available as an upgrade—was up to an inch shorter than the others we tested, but we experienced no loss of shot distance. Trajectory was medium to high, and the ball tended to hit the ground running, indicative of the low spin rate the MU23 is designed to generate. $339/Tour AD shaft, $239/stock. Call 866-466-4872 or visit miuragolf.com.
TaylorMade Burner Rescue
This steel hybrid comes in two models, both of which employ the company’s new thin-walled Dual Crown Technology, in which the rear crescent of the clubhead is weighted for higher launch and less spin. The Standard Launch version (shown) boasts TaylorMade’s largest-ever footprint (how big the club appears at address) for a steel hybrid. The Tour Launch has a slightly smaller head but a deeper clubface, a look better players prefer. The center of gravity (CG) in the Tour model is positioned higher, to create a more piercing ball flight, and toward the toe, to minimize draws. $219/graphite, $175/steel. Call 866-530-8624 or visit taylormadegolf.com.
Nike SQ Sumo²
Like the matching Sumo² driver, this hybrid is designed to maximize moment of inertia (MOI) and shot-shaping ability. The unusual shape is unobtrusive at address: The black part of the crown is conventional in appearance, and a beveled silver-colored rear completes the square. The head features ample offset, to help it square at impact. Sound, feel and distance were as good as any club we tested, and thanks to the PowerBow weighting scheme, which positions mass low and toward the perimeter to help stabilize the clubhead at impact, shots launched high and landed softly. $180/graphite. Call 888-799-6453 or visit nikegolf.com.
Tour Edge Exotics XCG
This is an extension of the Exotics XCG driver, the company’s marquee product for 2008. Like the driver (and unlike most hybrids), the XCG hybrid boasts no-weld technology: The titanium face and crown are “combo-brazed” to the steel body, then vacuum-heat cured for a permanent bond. The process allows weight to be added to the sole instead, which helps the ball get airborne quickly. A rounded sole minimizes ground contact, making the XCG easy to hit from any lie, and variable face thickness—slimmer outer edges and a thicker center—creates a large sweet spot. $219. Call 800-515-3343 or visit exoticsgolf.com.
Callaway extends its multimaterial Fusion Technology into hybrids, combining a stainless steel clubface and body with tungsten in the sole plate. This technology positions the CG for optimal trajectory control and increases the MOI, yielding forgiveness on off-center hits. The plain-looking head features a slightly closed face with a hint of bulge and roll. Many players will appreciate the addition of a traditional ferrule—at address the FT looks nice and clean.
Decide which model (Draw or Neutral) is best for you via Callaway’s OptiFit system, available at golf shops nationwide. $199. Call 800-588-9836 or visit callawaygolf.com.